NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

The Lies They Sell in the Name of Body Positivity

December28

Women’s Health (Ha!) magazine published an article by Anonymous (Not the cool one, I assure you) entitled, “How Becoming A Nudist Helped Me Accept My Body” (I refuse to link because fuck that magazine and all it promotes) with the following image at the top:

(Photo depicts a thin, white, seemingly able-bodied woman from behind with long wavy brown hair coming up out of the water.)

My immediate and initial reaction was an overly dramatic eye roll. Not at being a nudist, mind you. Nah, to each their own, live and let live is my way. My reaction was mostly to the photo. My inner thought was a very snarky, “Oh sure, it’s a helluva lot easier to love your body, especially amongst nudists if you are the embodiment of western social beauty standards! Psshht!” Today I decided to examine my own snark and read the actual article. My initial reaction, I found, was not wrong. Ugh!

This was written by someone who claimed to already love their naked body, to feel their best when wearing nothing at all. They then go into how they were at their largest size after years of yo-yo dieting. The writer then aims to demystify what nudism is and how meetups and events work. Sexual and lewd behavior is not allowed, it’s all very normal and nice, just nude. I was open to what they had to say until it ended with:

“Now that I feel a healthy acceptance of my body, I feel all the more motivated to improve it. The body that I love is healthier than ever, and I consistently make an effort to nourish it, exercise it, and pamper it.

After all, I have quite the audience these days. And I love it.”

One of these days I will surely get my eyes to permanently roll so far back the can no longer sit in their natural place! For fuck’s sake! How did I fucking know?!?! This person never loved their body and they still fucking don’t! This person points directly to how their size increased and then recommits to the same destructive pattern in yet another futile attempt to “improve it” after participating and feeling part of a community that has embraced her and believes:

“Nudists (or naturists, if you will) consider the human body a beautiful creation, and something of which no one should be ashamed.” 

What in the actual living fuck?!?! NO! This is not how that works! Why did I read this infuriating article? Why am I sharing this here and with you at all? Because we all need to recognize and think more critically about this bullshit that gets shoved down our throats in all media, even and maybe especially when it paints itself in pretty, body positive colors. UGH! Yeah “body positivity” is really just another way the weight cycling (read diet/fitness/etc) industry adds to its billions of dollars in profit. That profit comes from those who just want to feel better, to feel like they belong in this world, to feel whole and human and right. It’s all lies!

You need only to scratch the surface to find co-opted language ripped from the fat positive/acceptance movement directly. I remember the gross, deep, awful feeling that sat in the pit of my stomach as I saw for the first time the weight watching ad depicting an outright rip off of Marilyn Wann’s “Yay! Scale”. I’ve seen companies such as lane bryant pushing a seeming body positive message in order to shill their control-slimming-torture garments in order for us all to fit in…or is it really just fall in line?! No thank you!

All bodies are good bodies

“There is no wrong way to have a body!” I believe originally said/written by Lesley Kinzel, but google results were too numerous and varied to prove this, thanks to further co-opting in the name of body positivity that actually isn’t at all. We don’t need media further profiting off of us when we’ve been beaten up our entire lives by a society that sees us as inherently wrong and othered. I refuse to consume anything that makes me feel like shit or tries to convince me to. Fuck that noise! That’s all it is, too, is noise. It is a din that finds its way into our very pores and then sells us pore minimizing creams lest the rest of the world discovers we inhabit actual human bodies.

I am obsessed with Sailor J, who has a YouTube vlog in the style of makeup tutorials. Only she uses her fantastic and sarcastic sense of humor in such a way I have not encountered online. To find inspiration in someone so much younger than myself is humbling, but awesome! One of my closest friends is 24 and while the world opens its doors to her as it slams them on me, she is open-minded and willing to see what that means and why that is. Sailor J reminds me of her, but funnier and more feminist in her own way. Love them both! I think it is both easy and wrong to dismiss the views and experiences of those younger than us/me. I highly recommend Sailor J’s Contouring 101 video. I have no interest in the subject itself, but it is a fantastic commentary on the absurdity of beauty standards in a patriarchal society.

I am fat. And I have this radical idea that I am allowed to exist.

There is nothing wrong with having a fat body, of any size. There have always been fat people, throughout time! Humans seek to control anything that feels out of their control. Today’s beauty standards have not always been based on thin, white, euro-hetero-centric bullshit. How fucking boring and unreasonable is that?! I love the diversity of where I live, the San Francisco Bay area in California. I love that nobody looks the same or is shaped the same. I have visited places where that is seriously not the case. It was surprising to me and I couldn’t feel comfortable in those locales. Why anyone would want that I will never understand, nor try to, honestly.

While we cannot change other people, or their beliefs or ability to see people of size as whole and equal, we can choose to laugh in the face of those who oppress us with those boring and small-minded views. We are not here to be pleasing to everyone, or anyone, other than ourselves, dammit! We have just as much a right to exist in this world, to seek happiness and create a life of our choosing, as anyone else. They will try to lie to our very faces and insist we live a life confined by their standards and miseries, but that isn’t the life I want. That isn’t the path to fulfillment. Follow the money, examine what media you consume and think critically about it. They love to take and take and take from us, but to walk in our radically self-accepting shoes would rock their damned world!
(Que “Fat Bottom Girls” by Queen LOL!)

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,

<3
S

 

P.S. Check out and use the hashtag: #FatAndFree on Insta & FB!

Donate to this blog here: https://www.paypal.me/notblueatall

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (and updated daily): http://on.fb.me/1A18fAS 

Or get the same “shared” content on Twitter: @NotBlueAtAll

I also have an Instagram I’ve finally started to actually use: https://instagram.com/notblueatall/

And as always, please feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers. (Tell me your troubles, I don’t judge.): notblueatall@notblueatall.com

You’ve Got You!

December25

Everyone is talking about “The Holidays” but I won’t. I don’t buy into societal obligations that leave us stressed out and feeling like garbage. NOPE! And, No Thank You!!! I want to talk about our support systems, most importantly starting with ourselves. Yes, you are the biggest and most important part of your support system. It seems like no one talks about that vital component. It’s always addressed in the external. Your friends, family, etcetera. In our quietest moments, in the darkest of times, the one thing we have always is ourselves.

That thought used to make me feel a great sense of unease. It wasn’t until one of the darkest times in my life that I really faced this fear of being alone with my thoughts. I had avoided it for so long, relied on so many coping mechanisms, quite successfully, for so long that I wasn’t sure what would be left to face and that was enough to avoid it. Brains that have experienced the amount of trauma, especially during more formative years such as I have, work extra hard to avoid the scariest bits of both our minds and the world. It doesn’t matter how long ago the trauma happened, it’s all still in there.

It was the day I had filed for my divorce. I had left my husband six months prior but kept putting off that final step, though we’d signed all the documents well before this. I went to the courthouse alone, didn’t see much reason not to, though my husband later wished he could have gone along, that’s just who he is. I had paid Legal Zoom to prepare all of the paperwork since such things make my head spin (like taxes), so I felt prepared. The court clerk was helping someone else before me. As I waited and couldn’t help overhearing how this woman had already filed a restraining order against her husband and was trying to finalize a divorce that seemed to have been dragged out, my heart hurt. I felt fine otherwise, but she began to cry and I wanted to comfort her but who the hell was I to this person, ya know?

Soon it was my turn at the clerk’s window. I handed over my stack of papers and said, “I would like to file for divorce, please.” with the meekest smile that ever crawled across my lips. The clerk began to go through the papers and soon started shouting what seemed to me to be random letters and numbers, getting louder and more insistent with each repetition. I was taken aback and stunned and confused. This was certainly apparent on my face as the clerk became overly flustered. “I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t know what those letters and numbers mean.” I pleaded. Finally, and I mean a good five minutes of this bullshit, she explained that I had in my packet an extra and unnecessary form. Why she couldn’t simply say this from the start I don’t know, but she slid it back to me under the security glass and I tucked it away from her sight. After that, all was done and I was told I’d be contacted for my court date.

I drove home, it was still pretty early in the day, about 10 or 11 am at the latest. I text a couple of friends, I didn’t contact my husband that day.  A sinking feeling took hold of me. Then wave after crashing wave of inexplicable sadness. I was so confused and felt abandoned and more alone than ever before in my life. “But why?!?!” I kept thinking and even whimpering to myself in my dim and later dark bedroom. It felt like mental hell, but I couldn’t figure out why and that was the worst of all. Then, finally, hours later, a bff I had known for over twenty years replied to my text from that morning, “Yeah, it just feels like the worst failure ever, even when you know it was the right thing to do. Ride it out.” (They are not the empathetic or compassionate sort. We’ve since lost touch.)

It did feel like the worst failure ever. I had an amicable split and remained close friends. We weren’t happy together, but we didn’t really fight or ever betray or lie to each other. Others thought we had the perfect relationship, and in a lot of ways we did, but I knew better. I left to find an identity for myself outside of any relationship, something I had never in my life had. I felt compelled to leave, it was what I wanted and needed to be happy or to at least seek the happiness I thought the world might hold for me. Yet I couldn’t avoid the feeling of failure. I wasn’t talking to my family at all by this point, but my grandma is always in my heart and mind. Would she understand? (She had passed just a few months before I was married, but we’d been engaged for 3 years, together for 6 before then.) I forced myself to face these demons alone in my room that day and evening. It felt like facing death. (I was not so well versed in the ways of my panic attacks at that time. Now I would have recognized the preceeding symptoms and possibly have been able to prevent the eight hours of crying and hyperventillating.)

After about eight hours (I know how dreadful that sounds and I can assure you it felt worse), something finally gave and I started to feel a sense of why this all was. It was for me! It was my choice, I did this to create the life I wanted. This mattered so much! It felt like a beacon of light from within myself. It felt like a baby step towards the person I wanted to become, my truest self. It felt like a friendly and helping hand, only from within. I put on some music and lay on my bed, wrapped in blankets, still fully clothed from that morning’s outing. I tried to envision the life I wanted to carve out of the world for myself. I pictured dancing, laughing, hugging fellow rad fatties, creating and crafting, touching and moving, all seemed to be in support of myself through the service and support of others. And that realization was a breakthrough. I didn’t leave my room until the following day, but I felt loads better before actually finding solace in sleep.

I spent five years of my teens in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. It had stripped away more than just my identity. It left me physically and mentally destroyed. Escaping was an obsession, but I was mostly obsessed with who would or could save me. In the end, I saved myself, with the support of one of the few friends I had in the world (though when they re-entered my life I barely knew them). They sensed something was very wrong without knowing exactly what. They offered me a place to live twenty miles away from my abuser. While it wasn’t exactly that simple and straightforward, it did truly save my life, they saved my fucking life! We never talked about what was wrong or why I needed to leave, no one wanted to, especially me. They were going through a divorce at the age of eighteen, I was lost and terrified at age nineteen. We became great friends for a time, we had fun and leaned on each other for support. I’ll never forget the first week after I had moved in, we had an epic whipped cream fight after buying a pumpkin pie at the store.

It took me years of self-loathing, both related and completely unrelated to my body and eating disorder issues, some damaging behaviors, and risky encounters before I finally met someone who saw me for me. That was when I met who would later become my husband. We were friends at first, but abuse survivors recognize each other, even unconsciously. We bonded over that shared pain and fell in love when we both split from our relationships. I still love my now ex-husband, but I can’t speak for their feelings for me. I left when I realized that all of the trying in the world on my part wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans if they refused to do anything at all to save our marriage. I had saved myself before, but this time I had to save us both by leaving. It hurt, a fuck ton!

This time I had no more self-loathing, I had healed most of the harm done to me at the hands of others and myself and had very few fucks left to give. I had never lived alone, though. I had found a room for rent about three blocks away from my husband and best friends apartment building. My new roommate was a stranger to me and it took us both a long time to warm up to one another, though we were always kind and accommodating. There were no distractions, though, not even from myself. I was forced to deal with all that I hadn’t until that point. It was hard, and it was powerful. What I had was a better foundation within myself and support system in my friends.

Years later I finally enjoy being alone. I often prefer my own company, and that of my puggo, to general socializing. I have been through another fucked up long-term relationship, an even more fucked up breakup, mental and physical trauma from a couple of terrible jobs, but I have and know myself more than ever! I know what I am capable of and feel quite certain and sure of myself. I have found great strength and inspiration in the works of the Bronte sisters and Luisa May Alcott. The women in their books often had nothing at all but themselves and yet they didn’t die and even when they failed and flailed and struggled through the most desperate of times, they held onto that inner sense of self for strength and persevered.

I now see the world and my own life’s journey very different than even just a year ago. I am beholden to no one but myself (and my ridiculous puggo). Yet I feel more supported and loved and wanted and needed in the world than ever before in my life! I’m broke as shit, have been unemployed for two and a half months and have had to face some severe depressive episodes, but I feel strong. I feel more me.  Sometimes I feel the tap on my shoulder of depression or the whisper in my ear of self-loathing and self-harm, but I know that deep down, even if I succumb to those often unavoidable moments and spells, I will pull through and be a better me on the other side of it. I can face these things head on even when I don’t get a toe-hold before they take possession of me for awhile.

Yes, I have friends that make me feel cared for and loved and seen, but what makes that possible is that I am able to do that for myself, too (though not consistently, I’ll confess). It takes a shitload of self-work, self-reflection, and exploration, sitting with feelings that make me want to scream and run and crawl out of my skin, being the most vulnerable with myself and deciding to just fucking own it. I no longer run from my aloneness. I don’t avoid the deeper and darker crevices of my own mind. I sometimes prefer to dig even deeper because I know it will be meaningful and provide perspective and growth that others simply cannot provide. I have to be here for me first, before anyone else, or I won’t survive. And I have been through far too fucking much to hide from all of that again.

I have found incredible strength and inspiration, especially very recently, by those who have found some value in my words and stories here on this blog. I know I don’t write like others, I still struggle with some hidden shame in that, but I love that I am able to help others find their inner light and strength by sharing my own and how I got here, how I keep fighting and trusting in the journey that this life has given me. I cherish each voice and story that reaches me. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I love you. It is an awe inspiring thing to connect in this way and I thank you ever so much for coming along for the ride.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

P.S. Check out and use the hashtag: #FatAndFree on Insta & FB!

Donate to this blog here: https://www.paypal.me/notblueatall

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (and updated daily): http://on.fb.me/1A18fAS 

Or get the same “shared” content on Twitter: @NotBlueAtAll

I also have an Instagram I’ve finally started to actually use: https://instagram.com/notblueatall/

And as always, please feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers. (Tell me your troubles, I don’t judge.): notblueatall@notblueatall.com

You Can’t Change Someone

November20

(White text box with black text that reads: “You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with their actions.”

Aprox. 9 minute read
I came across the above-unattributed statement whilst scrolling my Facebook feed and whoa did it strike the nail right on the head! Whew! We need to talk about the people in our lives who abuse, shame, blame, and frame us! I would say especially this time of year, but no, these assholes are always dragging us down and we just allow it until, well, we don’t. I’m definitely of the “don’t” group more often than not, as I have learned far too many times the hard way that sooner is better than later with these jerks. Yeah, jerks! 😛
Okay, first of all, you can’t change someone else, in my opinion. You can influence, you can encourage and reinforce, but you can’t actually change another human being. Like, yes by knowing someone we all over time change, but that’s not what this is about. This is about the people in our lives we may, in fact, love, but who simply refuse to see how damaging or unreasonable their behavior is. Typically at first, it’s easy to forgive a misstep or misunderstanding. I am not an unforgiving soul, but I’m also not willing to be complicit in my own oppression. That is what this is really about!
I know it’s easier for some than others to cut someone out of your life. I have sort of become known for this trait. I don’t hold this as a positive or negative, only something that is necessary from time to time. Some may view this as heartless, cold, or unreasonable, but in most ways, for me, it’s been a matter of sanity and survival. Personally, this has been my bio-mother, friends, romantic partners/interests, and later my step-mother and finally my father. It’s never easy, or something you truly want to do. You want the other person to see how much they are hurting you or how they make you feel. I think all anyone really wants in their relationships is to be seen and understood and supported. When you look at the people in your life, do they make you feel seen, understood, and supported? Do you think you do that for them? It’s something to think about. (And Gaslighting is a real thing that happens more often than we can tell, check out this article on the topic, it was an eye-opener for me.)
I think it’s very telling (and vital) to pay attention to how you feel, that first natural feeling when someone’s name pops up on your phone (call or text). I think most of us ignore that fleeting feeling and move onto action mode, which is unfortunate. If you take a beat and a breath after that name pops up, what then? I think it’s a moment of honesty and self-reflection. If someone makes you feel gross, about anything, maybe give some space and time to that relationship and see how you feel in a few weeks. It will give you time to process your feelings and assess the relationship from a new perspective. It’s healthy! And often by doing so you can improve and strengthen that relationship! It’s not all doom and gloom! Haha! I have often advised friends who were uncertain about whether to break up with someone or end a friendship that they should change their phone contacts’ name for that person to how they make them feel. This way when they get a call or text they’ll see, “betrayal, shame, hurt” instead of Pat. Kinda forces you to think about it if it’s something you were avoiding. I have heard it helps. I’m just glad that Android and most social media settings allow for blocking certain people all together!
My step-mother lied to my entire family (had 3-4 different stories, depending on whom you asked) in order to get them to stop talking to me…for three years! What did I do? NOTHING! In fact, I went out of my way at every opportunity with her (agreed to let her legally adopt me as an adult) in order to keep peace within my family and make my dad happy. Ha! No one was fucking happy, doubt anyone is now, but I digress. No one ever told her that her incessant lying and manipulating was wrong. When my little brother asked her calmly and plainly why she lied to him as she was in the middle of the lie she would start to cry and go right into the next lie to get out of the first. Maddening! When my then-husband and I would meet up with my  family for dinner at restaurants, even when there was no present drama (she once burst into tears and threatened to make us all leave because her shrimp was spicy…she ordered the Cajun shrimp. *sigh*), I would fall into a deep depression for sometimes two weeks afterwards. Mostly due to how both parental entities interacted with my brother (telling him to shut up the moment he said a word), or outdated and offensive jokes they would later deny knowledge of. I didn’t even catch it myself, but my then-husband did. He hated seeing me suffer, and we talked about it.
Guess what? You’re an adult! (I’m guessing, but perhaps not. No biggie! I still think you get to decide for yourself who you allow in your life.) You get to decide who you let into your life and share space with. With the exception of work, I suppose. Can we all just agree to try to nip toxic behaviors in the workplace in the bud collectively? Cool. If you’re not one for confrontation, it is perfectly okay and acceptable and grown-up to let someone know that they are making you feel uncomfortable. There’s no argument against stating your immediate feeling. I prefer to tell someone to their face that their behavior is unacceptable, but your mileage may vary. Another helpful phrase I recently heard was, “We don’t do that here.” It’s a plain and neutral statement, no need for further explanation. Solid! In a society built upon white supremacy and misogyny, we all need to work together to keep these clueless assholes from continuing their reign of violence and idiocy!!! Ahem.
Yeah, I’m going there because we all need to fucking go there!!! Because some people who find themselves with a particle of power will find a way to abuse it! More often than not, this goes unchecked, maybe forever. I say fuck that! Life is too short and too precious to put up with that bullshit! Seriously, even in small doses or minor-seeming offenses, these things add up and they can tear people and families and companies and democracies apart! Microaggressions are real and they chip away at our self-esteem and hold us back from having the lives we work so hard for. It’s important to take a moment to pause and really consider how people impact us. Sometimes it’s our own behaviors exacerbating a problem or perhaps we’re just not seeing eye to eye and a sort of relationship stalemate occurs. This is pretty common, I think. Two of my oldest friendships are definitely there. I don’t think any of us actually hate or condemn one another. It’s just that we live very different lives and kind of forgot how to relate to each other now. This is natural.
Substance abuse has a huge impact on all of our lives. Though I haven’t struggled with addiction myself, I have been very close to many who have. It is heartbreaking what it can do to otherwise brilliant humans. After spending five years as a hostage in an abusive relationship with someone addicted to many substances, I became hyper-aware of those behaviors in others. I once had to walk away, though temporarily (thank the universe), from even my oldest friendship because I felt unsafe and was at the time unable to process those feelings and associations. I felt bad about it at the time, but I see now how integral to my survival it was, too. I do think it is okay to walk away from something you just know you can’t handle. It’s extra hard when you know that the person you’re walking away from isn’t the person you truly cared about, to begin with. Substances change people and turn them into monsters, though not always. I have a lot of compassion for anyone’s life’s struggles, it’s not an easy feat for anyone to go through.
At the end of the day, you have to look out for yourself. You can’t help others if you’re suffering, too! This is a life lesson I have learned, the hard way, repeatedly. I expand and contract with each new human I allow in my life and bond with. I trust until I can’t and then I never want to again, over and over. It feels sometimes as though everyone only wants to take from everyone else or they’re out to get you. I know it’s not true, but dammit if it doesn’t feel that way at times. Especially when going through tough times, it feels as though folks would rather watch you go down flames than offering any actual compassion or support. Yeah, that’s part of the reason why I haven’t been able to write for so long. When people make you feel unsafe or gross about being yourself: RED FLAG! I worked hard to become the person I am today, hot mess that I am. It is a journey and I don’t need fuckers throwing nails on my road, dammit!
Truth is, I’ve written about this subject before, but it was centered around fatness. I think this post does a bit deeper dive into interpersonal relationships, rather than our bodies. Our bodies are not the cause of other people’s behaviors, though they will claim that it is and that it’s all our fault, every step of the way. It’s not. You and I and everyone deserves to exist in the world and live the best life that they can! There will always be fat haters, but you don’t have to allow them into your actual life! You can tell them why, or not, whatever works for you. Fat acceptance is about autonomy, plain and simple! That’s it! Live and let live, ya know? I’ve had a few people cut me out of their lives without explanation, a couple even said that they honestly didn’t know why, and then continued to not want to communicate after and I respect that. It’s not for me to decide what’s best for them. Nor is it anyone else’s to decide for me. Autonomy! Woo!
Are you struggling with certain relationships in your life? Are you dreading interacting with certain people? Are “The Holidays” giving you anxiety because of certain people you feel you can’t avoid? Have you cut someone out of your life? What other relationship struggles are you dealing with? Let’s talk, discuss, and share!

Thank you so much for your continued love and support! I have been truly touched by the kindness and generosity of the readers of this blog. My fat community has been such a bright light in a dark time. You have my undying gratitude and affection!

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

P.S. Check out and use the hashtag: #FatAndFree on Insta & FB!

If you are able, please consider donating any sum you see fit to support and keep the blog alive until I’m back on my feet again. It isn’t much to raise ($150 for hosting), but I am hoping enough people can donate a buck or two in order to keep this little safe space alive another year. I have more things I want to share with you and some exciting fat projects I’ll be partnering on soon! Stay tuned!

Donate here: https://www.paypal.me/notblueatall

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (and updated daily): http://on.fb.me/1A18fAS 

Or get the same “shared” content on Twitter: @NotBlueAtAll

I also have an Instagram, I rarely use it but would like to more…encourage me to?:
https://instagram.com/notblueatall/

And as always, please feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers. (Tell me your troubles, I don’t judge.): notblueatall@notblueatall.com

When “The Holidays” are Triggering…or worse!

November17

(Image of small illustrated holiday tree with the following written above it:
Reminder: we don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired.)

*Aprox. 11 minute read

I came across this image and text whilst scrolling my FB feed and I instantly clicked and shared it to my own timeline, but then it wouldn’t leave my mind immediately and I realized just how much I’m processing and working through so much of my own stuff around this time of the year. My own current circumstances may differ than many/most, but I hope to alleviate some of the negative things we all think about and carry with us through this complicated season. This isn’t about religion at all, for me or for this post, but more about family dynamics, consumerism, societal obligations, and general toxic behaviors. I hope you will comment below with your own thoughts and feels and advice if you have them to share. These thoughts and feels are my own, no matter how unpopular. Ha!

*************************

The media and marketers want us to buy into the idea that “The Holidays” are about family, togetherness, giving, kindness, celebration, gratitude, helping those in need, etc. What that really looks and feels like in our actual lives is often very different. And even if it is still about those things, it doesn’t mean that’s what we’re actually feeling while in the midst of it all. It’s more often than not the most stressful, saddest, toughest, coldest, rudest, and most triggering time of year. I personally feel that the brunt of this hustle and bustle and work and emotional labor (not to mention the shopping, gift wrapping, housekeeping, cooking and such for these gatherings) falls on women almost exclusively, but that isn’t what this post is about. This is about the toll these things take on us. The impact they have on our quality of life and most of all the trauma we endure and ultimately have to carry as a result of it all.

Yes, I said Trauma. It’s a heavy word, but necessary. We are exposed to people, places, and things at this time of year that we just aren’t the rest of the year. There’s the travel aspect if that’s something you must go through to visit with family. As a fat bodied individual, you are subject to an entirely different set of rules if traveling by aircraft on a commercial airline. You may be forced to buy two seats, you may be forced off of a flight you’ve already boarded, you may be abused or assaulted by fellow travelers and even airline personnel. This is something we accept as part of the privilege of air travel, but it is traumatic. You can plan for everything, but the world still chooses (IT IS A CHOICE!!!) to oppress fat people throughout the world. It might be the only time of year you travel because of this. You might be preparing for your travels now and considering if it’s truly worth it or not. This doesn’t even bring the financial impact of air travel into this equation, but I’ll get to that shortly. You do this to be with Family! Your Loved ones! They would do it for you…right?!

Family traditions! Oh, the warm and fuzzy wholesomeness of being Home with Family for The Holidays! Right?! Isn’t that what this is all about? Every family has their own traditions and rituals or ceremonies. My family would go to Midnight mass after spending Christmas Eve at one of my grandparents’ home for a big dinner. The next morning we’d open our gifts at home but then rush over to our other grandparents’ house for the opening of more presents, followed by a full day and evening of family revelry. We’d usually get home late, exhausted (I often had to be carried to the car or into the house after passing out), but full of that family love that everyone hopes to have in their lives forever. I just didn’t realize I would only have it for 13 years. Ha-ha!

That’s not always so close to reality, that wholesome image. Often, families at this time of year consist of a variety of personalities, values, and beliefs. Sometimes those beliefs are outdated and downright damaging. But we’re expected to remain silent (especially women!) and “just try to enjoy the holiday!” So what exactly are we getting together to celebrate here? If we have to just shut up and sit down for this shit, we become part of our own oppression. Wait! Aren’t we supposed to be celebrating togetherness?!

Okay, okay…Family! Maybe your extended family isn’t toxic. Awesome! You sit around the dinner table passing all those delicious homemade dishes you’ve been looking forward to. Grandma’s pie and Auntie’s casserole, but the minute you take a helping for yourself all eyes are on your plate! If it’s only that you’re lucky. Often our worst food and body policing come from those who claim they love us most, Family. If it’s not monitoring your portions or actual food choices, it’s comments on your body, unsolicited diet advice, mentions of abusive ex-boyfriends (okay, that one’s personal), and more. I don’t care what they say, they are not concerned about your health at all! If they were they wouldn’t make you feel like absolute shit for simply inhabiting a fat body! It isn’t your fault! You have done nothing wrong!

The foodstuff doesn’t seem to end, really. If it’s not one holiday feast it’s another, or a potluck at work, it’s always something! And there is always some miserable ninny who will ooh and aah at all those delightful and delicious delectables, only to loudly shame and blame anyone actually eating the fucking food! I hate this person, and I don’t care who they are! This person hates themselves, hard! This person is mad at you for not feeling as bad as they do. This person will steal joy from a toddler! Seriously! Unforgivable! There must be some requirement for every company ever to hire this person. UGH!!! Anyway, fuck them, enjoy and nourish yourself!

The financial impact of this season is perhaps toughest of all. How many of us have gone into debt all in the name of giving? Or had to go without necessities yourself so that you could give to those you love? I get it. It’s hard to make those choices. And I don’t know what it’s like to have the added pressure of having kids who expect things this time of year. I grew up poor, but my grandparents always made sure we didn’t go without too much. Though being an 80’s kid (born in ’77, after all), it was the height of the toy craze. I’m kind of glad about this part in a way, I mean even now I never really want or expect the newest/coolest/hottest/top of the line anything! Ha!

For me, one of the worst parts of this time of year is the societal obligations and phoniness. People you know who outright hate you will somehow make you feel as though you should be buying them a special gift just for knowing they exist. Then there are the competitive gifters! You know the type. You think you got them a nice, thoughtful gift and then they get you something ridiculous like fucking plane tickets or some nonsense (I realize how that sounds, I’m a very untrusting human, because that very thing happened to me). There’s just so damned much you’re “supposed to do” because of what time of year it is and that just stinks, in my opinion! Even if you aren’t religious, there’s this whole American way of consumerism that drives folks out in hordes, and often against each other, all in the name of bargains. It’s disgusting. (I worked retail for ten years.)

Look, it isn’t all terrible. I love the smell of the crisp, late-autumn air! Few things in this world exhilarate me like that or fresh and new rains (it’s so rare in California, I cherish every drop!). The scent of douglas firs and pine and veggies roasting in a hot oven. I love giving gifts most of all and take it very seriously! But the pressures of the holidays are just too fucking much, dude! Gift giving is my love language and let me tell you, I have been hurt and burned far too many times. Now I hold back, I can’t just give because I want to anymore. Not just because I’m broke as fuck, but because often folks don’t know how to handle a thoughtful gift, given directly from the heart. It can be too intense for some.

I’m voluntarily estranged from my family as I write this. I’m also divorced, single (no romantic partner to speak of, not that I’m prioritizing that at all right now, obv.), and unemployed, living alone for the first time in my life.  I don’t know how to feel this year. Mostly just terrified for my survival, but aside from that, how does one celebrate when all of the trappings of the season do not apply? How can I not let all the past traumas of my life drag me down in my darkest hour as these dates approach? I am fortunate to have an incredible friend group who feels more like family (most of the time) than my own ever has. But they each have their own families to celebrate with. I’m not “Oh woe is me!” over here, I am simply looking at patterns and behaviors and society more critically these days.

I used to love Christmas! I would wear Santa hats and eat a candy cane every day with glee! In my town, we have a Candy Cane Lane where all the houses in the neighborhood decorate and the fire department gives out candy canes to the kids, and families and couples stroll along the sidewalks in the evenings. It’s really lovely and special (and you probs have one in your town, too), and I miss all of those feelings that used to go along with all of that. I miss my grandma and my aunt Jo and I can’t ever think about this time of year without them, their warm and inviting homes and arms, their cooking and hilarious banter. This year especially! I have never felt more alone in the world in my entire life! Not lonely, mind you. I just miss what family meant back when ya know? I miss the matriarchs of my family in a deep and cutting way I can’t quite put into words.

This time of year also brings up a lot of memories of my adolescence, like my first love. We met just 1 week before Christmas. I’d sneak out at night and walk around my neighborhood with them or sneak them in my window and just kiss and hold each other for hours. I don’t know how I never got caught! Ha-ha! It felt so romantic though, to be freezing cold out, but so full of warmth from a connection between two people. It didn’t last long, but it is still fresh in my mind and I just haven’t ever had to think about this time of year as a single, solo, independent human. It feels complicated! Ha! I’m glad to have my own space and safe place to live. I just miss having someone to stay in and keep warm with.

Facing December without a job is so tough! Most companies won’t start hiring until mid-January when the new budgets come out. So I have to just stick it out and hope for the best. I have been applying to allllll the jobs and have already had a bunch of interviews, but these things take time. Patience I have, but money I do not. I’m actually far worse off financially than ever before in my life, and I know I have published those exact words the last time I would out of work. I can assure you that this time it is far worse. C’est la vie!

I share all of my absurdities because I want you to know that it’s okay to question what has “always been”. It’s okay to not want to do things that you didn’t or don’t get to have a say in. It’s perfectly awesome to start or create your own new traditions and rituals, with whomever you choose! Seriously, what other point to adulthood is there?!  You get to decide what you will and won’t stand for in your life and in your celebrations. There will always be hard times, complicated feels and so much to navigate through this time of year. You can choose to opt out or to opt-in, in whatever way feels right for you!

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If you do not have a support system of your own for the coming festivities, I offer my unbiased and empathetic ears/eyes. Send me an email, take a load off your mind or chest or whatever, I get it and I’m here for ya! notblueatall@notblueatall.com I’m also on some other apps and things if you need real-time support. I don’t yet know what my plans are for celebrating if I even feel like it at the time. But I’m always glad to be able to provide some emotional support for someone who truly needs it.

What gets you through a difficult holiday season? How do you prioritize your own self-care? What helps you stay away from self-destructive behaviors when it’s so easy to fall into those traps? What is your favorite part of this time of year? Least favorite? How do you stay true to your beliefs when surrounded by others toxic behaviors? Do you have a new tradition or ritual you started? Do you have a fave handmade item or recipe you’re proud of? I wanna hear it all!

Thank you so much for your continued love and support! I have been truly touched by the kindness and generosity of the readers of this blog. My fat community has been such a bright light in a dark time. You have my undying gratitude and affection!

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

P.S. Check out and use the hashtag: #FatAndFree on Insta & FB!

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A Rant: This Too Shall Pass?

July30

Um, so I’m in a bad place (temporarily) and the post you are about to read is a rant and a half, filled with profanity.

You have been warned.

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Trying really hard to see the silver lining, brighter side, etc, but just feeling super beat up by everything right now. I do all I am asked to, required to and more and nothing seems to fucking matter. I have to fight for everything, just to survive. I’m fucking tired of the struggling so hard! I’m exhausted physically and emotionally. I conserve and ration and plan and for what?! One step forward, two steps back and back and fuck you!

After weeks of back and forth and getting nowhere I finally figured out why two months of unemployment payments have not been coming my way: the state unemployment service (EDD) never updated my address in their system for debit cards when they updated it with my new claim. Way to fucking go! So while there is money somewhere for me, just sitting there all lonely like, I can’t actually touch it! Brilliant! I cut up my old edd debit card when my old claim ended. When I called to get a replacement I was told that they can’t issue me a new one until EDD updates my address in their system. Which would be at least another week anyway and my rent is due on the first.

So, what’s this broke fatty to do? I have to PAY $15 to get SOME of the money Western Union wired to me so I can pay my rent on time. I was in a real pinch and was considering putting my rent on my credit card (last month my amazing roommate paid my rent + utilities) so at least I can get some of it. But that’s not the point, right?! The point is that this government agency drops the ball and I have to pay for it. What the fuck else is new?!?! Poor folks always getting the fucking shaft from the government. Write a book about it already! LOL!

It sucks and it’s bullshit and it just gets slapped up on this massive pile of bullshit that I’ve been struggling with lately. I feel so fucking vulnerable because I’ve done all the things and have to just fucking wait for shit to happen now. Really?!? More waiting?!? Can things just start to happen for me now? Please?! I haven’t heard back about my latest job interview yet, but should this week. But please, if you know someone who is out of work, don’t fucking ask them about it all of the fucking time!!! It is just another brick in the face that is every fucking rejection, every damned day! Stop it! We know you care, caring is cool, but it hurts after awhile, the endless asking, “Have you tried XYZ?” “Have you heard back about XYZ?” “You should really look into XYZ.” Please just stop and give somebody a consensual hug!

I don’t get angry often, but I have to right now. If I don’t I’ll fall into a puddle and may never return at this point. I’ve been hiding out in my room, crying a lot and mostly just trying to process, be patient and heal. It’s fucking hard! I’ve been avoiding social scenarios because I’m not sure I won’t just cry the whole fucking time. I’ve had the luxury of a personal puggyman security detail since Saturday. My ex is moving into a new place and asked that I take the puggo until shit is settled. Which I don’t entirely mind, he did also bring me tacos de oro today, but I hate the open endedness of it at the moment. I’m sure he does, too, though.

The truth is, things are shitty right now for a lot of folks. I know it’s not just me. Most of my friends are going through some tough and/or horrible stuff at the moment. It sucks. I’m trying to be a good friend while also trying to take care of me but I feel like I’m failing on all fronts. I’m so insecure this week it’s fucking painful. Strangely, I’ve taken to liking being alone the last two days. I am fearful of others in small ways. Last night I was home alone with the two grumpy men (mine and my roommate’s dogs) and I was jumpy as fuck! Every little noise, every everything and I was a paranoid mess! I was literally shaking like a leaf when one dog started barking, because he was by the front door. I was paralyzed with fear. Then angry at myself for getting so worked up over nothing. *Sigh*

I have moments where I’m sitting or laying and wanting to get up to do something (or needing to pee) and it takes everything in me to get the power to actually do it. Like, I’m stuck or something. I hate it! This isn’t me, dude, this sucks! The people I want to be with most are or will be out of town this week. The few locals left are dealing with their own shit and I already feel like a burden just talking to them lately. I know I’m usually able to just get on with life and let go of the pain and hardships, but today is not that day. Ha!

Thanks for reading my rant. Tomorrow I’ll post pics of my NoLose 2013 Talent Show performance. Yay!

 

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