NotBlueAtAll

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

Live Longer Through Community

April17
I’ve read a few articles lately about the one thing allows people to live longer and healthier lives and I was not at all surprised, though many have been. It’s feeling connected to community. I can honestly say without hesitation that without that connectedness, without my local fat community, I wouldn’t be here. Fat community keeps me alive when even I don’t want to be. That is the truth in it’s purest form, folks. I have gone through many big life events in the last ten years and fat community was there for me at each and every turn.
Your community may not be fat, it might be queer or feminist or all three of those things at once. Your community may be nature fungi foragers, only you know what your identities and people are. How does one find their community, though? Ultimately, that is something I cannot answer for you. I can say that you have to seek it out, that it may suck at first, you may feel more lost or unconnected, but you should definitely keep trying! My first several attempts at fostering fat community locally failed, but in the end I found my peeps and some lifelong friends, too.
My fat community finding/fostering began with setting up a meet up at a local mall. I think I posted on Fatshionista, a LiveJournal group that I adored and was popular at the time. It was more of a “Hey would anyone be interested in meeting up and going shopping together?” We met up at the Cheesecake Factory and it was my first time meeting folks of size outside of work/school/life things. I was still new to calling myself fat in a positive way. It felt radical to be meeting in public as fat people, we took up space and then some and it was awesome! We ordered our food without guilt, though other needs were discussed (for medical or other reasons). We chatted and relished stories of coming out as fat, so to speak. We had about 12 people, if memory serves me, from the entire spectrum of fat (babyfat to superfat, if you will).
After we ate we decided to hit up Torrid in the mall. I had only ever been to Torrid once or twice at that time, I didn’t really have a sense of my own style as I had spent my youth hiding beneath layers of baggy clothing to conceal both my fat body and my femininity. But I was soooooo stoked to be in a fat pack of awesome people cruising the mall together. Torrid didn’t know what hit ’em! One couple bought each other sexy things to wear and even modeled for us and it was so fun and empowering and visually dazzling! I bought two heart necklaces that I still own and wear regularly (I cherish them, even if they are plastic).
Next we headed to Lane Bryant, the only other option in that particular mall. At LB I did try on clothes and had fun with some of the other folks from the meet up in the dressing rooms. Just that feeling of, “Oh hey this is cool we all get that this is hard so let’s make it fun” sort of a thing. Like tossing each other things to try and others running to get each other different sizes. I recall a classic trench coat I had wanted badly, but even their 26/28 was ill fitting in how the buttons gaped. We discussed sizing bullshit and size-ist bullshit and it was a great time. I never really heard from or saw those folks again, save one.
I tried several more times and once I opened my own cafe I started a regular one on Saturdays there. It was great to have my own space and to host, something I’d never been able to before. Accessibility being a struggle, always, it was so important to me that my own cafe be open and inviting to all, but it was also a historic building where there were no ramps. My meet ups there were intermittent in attendance, but I was there and hopeful for every one we scheduled! More often than not, no one showed, but I shrugged it off and kept at it. Luckily I had also started this blog around this time and got to meet some of my readers this way. I made great friends at that time and some I still consider tried and true, though I’ll admit that others have come and gone, for better or worse.
I first realized that I had fat community, and that I was (am) fat community at a Big Moves dance show, the first I attended. It was also my first time going strapless in public and I was accompanied by my two bffs. I had chatted with Marilyn Wann online about something (honestly can’t recall) and we were to try to meet each other after the show. The show itself was a life changer! Never before had I seen such joy embodied entirely, start to finish. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much! After the show we waited outside, but Marilyn never showed. Through happenstance we asked a nice person nearby to take our photo. It just so happened to be one of the original Fat Lip Readers, former professional portrait taker, and the ever lovely and fabulous Carol Squires who supports Big Moves to this very day!
I did end up meeting Marilyn Wann at my cafe not long after. She signed my copy of her book, “Fat! So?” and even made me feel better about a haircut mishap I was feeling bad about (though the front was hella cute). Through these meet ups and Fatshionista and Marilyn, I was riding high on my fat activism and positivity at that time. It was 2011 and International No Diet Day was an epic event for me, still is. I met people at that “Flesh Mob” that I still call friends (I have written about it here).
Soon I was attending NAAFA and NoLose conferences, BBW Dance Clubs and a Bash and figuring out where I belong, if I belonged at all. The short answer is that I didn’t belong, at least not in those specific groups/conferences. So I started Fatty Affair, which was a fat positive event in San Jose, California, free to the public, that included performances, a clothing swap, a bake sale and vendor tables. It was intended to be a one-off event, but turned into two; the first in 2012, the second in 2013. I have had many people ask me about another (some downright demanding), but alas we outgrew our awesome venue and I have yet to find another suitable spot for our fabulousness.

It seems through all of the great fat things I was doing and attending, I gathered my own version of community close to my heart unwittingly. I began performing with Tigress in the annual Big Moves shows. I started to find power in my vulnerability and a strong sense of responsibility to do the very things for others that were such an inspiration to me before I was part of that world. That is what keeps me going. It’s a belonging, it’s a connectedness, but it’s also a community of misfits.
When you think about community as a basic word, we often think our neighborhood or schools, associations we may be a part of. When you think about what you truly feel connected to, when the chips are down as they say, what do you envision? Do you see your city council members or mayor? Do you see the PTA? Do you see your family and friends? What makes you feel most fulfilled and connected? For me that has been fat community, hands down.
I was recently out of work for a spell and not just down on my luck but truly heading towards dire straits. My blog’s annual hosting bill was looming and as the deadline drew closer I was afraid that I would have to lose it entirely. I didn’t want to ask for help, but didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t need to look far, my local fat community stepped up in a big way! I was so surprised and moved! It actually got me back into writing again, too! My blog saved and so many people wishing me well and sending good vibes and love, I felt connected and seen and humbled and inspired. You can’t put a price on that.
Rad Fatty Love to ALL,

<3
S

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Fatty Affair: So Many Feelings!

January30

It is so difficult to put into words just how I am feeling right now. It’s the Sunday afternoon, after Fatty Affair. If I told you it wasn’t nerve wracking and worse beforehand, well, don’t believe it for a second! But now? Now that it’s all over and done with? I’m in this love overdose afterglow! I feel sort of like a blissed-out version of a hangover. It’s surreal. It’s magical. It’s overwhelming! I am so full of love and positivity! I feel floaty and dreamy and inspired.

So many things fell apart and came together right up until the moment before it began (and even after and during). I felt a bit out of control. I felt guilty for sort of “checking out” of life the last couple of weeks. There were some surprises and disappointments. In the end it all found this incredible harmony and was a total blast! It was a big fat positive party, y’all! My nearest and dearest were there (with one exception, but I love ya P) and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more supported and cared for in my life!

Truth: I was so stressed to the max before we’d even gotten things set up. I was shaking! I was on the verge of a panic attack. This little fact, or the fact that I have had a few of said attacks previously, frightens people and maybe even challenges their idea of me. But I always manage to come through it better off somehow. I know that I need to get better at asking for help when I need it. I did a lot of that. I did some serious delegating, too! This is such an improvement for me already. Some friends really stepped things up and brought not only my stress level down, but made the event the true success that it was.

That I was able to make something I’d only dreamed about become a reality is still boggling my mind, but I know that I could not have done it without the help, love and support of my friends and the fat community itself. It is the thing that energizes me and inspires me and keeps me going. It is for the fat community that I did this. It is my way of giving back the love that has been given to me over the years. The community that gave me my love of style and fashion again. The community that gave me back my confidence! The community that gave me the strength to open my own business and become an activist and writer and so much more! I would not be the gal I am today without it!

A commenter mentioned recently that I sound like I am more alive than ever. I agree completely. I am more alive! I am more keenly aware of the world around me. I am more present and playing a more active role in my own life! It is a powerful thing. I have found that it is only when I stick my neck out, stand up and out, and most importantly get outside of my comfort zone that these amazing things and incredible people come into my life. I urge to to look around and choose for yourself to follow your passions and shove fear aside!

Had I let fear hold me back, Fatty Affair would not have happened. My cafe would never have happened. I would not be wearing dresses again…oh so many pretty dresses! I wouldn’t even think of attempting to write a book! No, fear can go fuck itself in a cold, dark corner! I’m through with fear. I’m through with my inner critic and I am learning to embrace my own vitality and awesomeness! Because “‘To dance or not to dance?” Should never be the question!” and not giving a damn what other people think of me is such a weight lifted from my soul!

I have never been so moved, touched, loved and supported in all of my life. This feeling is beyond words. The people I met and hugged and belly bumped yesterday have changed my life! The work was worth it because of them. The difficult choices I have had to make are all the more clear to me now and why I had to make them.  I feel nearly invincible. I have no fear of an ego growth though, this was not the fruits of the labor of one. No, this was a village effort! This was a tribal celebration! This was what fat liberation/acceptance/pride means to me!

I want you all to know, the many that could not attend the event due to various reasons and circumstances: You were right there with me! You were holding me up and making me smile! I pretty much smiled for five hours straight!!! Ha-ha! It was for you that I strutted my stuff on the “catwalk” and shimmied and danced! It was in your honor that I wore what I wore and said what I said. You give me so much and I want you to know that I am feeling it! I am accepting it! And I am loving it! <3

*You can pretty much count on this entire week being about Fatty Affair! More pictures to come, too, lovelies!

Fears Faced

January20

Sometimes when you step outside your comfort zone you can sort of lose yourself in the moment. I sort of caught a glimpse of my reflection and didn’t recognize myself. It surprised me, but I liked what I saw versus what I was thinking. It was an interesting moment. Life is a tricky thing and perception can be trickier. But I also think that things do happen for a reason. We can’t always see beyond the moment we’re in at the time, but can begin to come together in unexpected ways, too.

I get so caught up in my own thoughts from time to time that I can literally stress myself out sitting still! Not healthy! I needed to do something. It was eating me up inside. Time, after so many years, can lose it’s reliable pace. Childhood summers often felt endless while winter break always seemed so fleeting. We work full time and forty hours can feel like torture. The monotony of life can weigh us down and we may not even realize it. Soon we’re simply part of the machine or system or matrix…

It takes something unexpected to jolt us back to reality. It takes an event, a tragedy, a person, a gift, a stumble, a windfall. Something occurs and you can’t understand how you ended up where you are. It’s like you’ve just been walking and forgot what your destination was. I turned around and looked at where I was and was surprised that I was where I am. It made me sad. It made me depressed. It made me angry and I began to fight back, but without knowing what I wanted I couldn’t find my next step.

So I faced some fears. I stared them in the face and said, “I just don’t care!” I have to finally live for me. I have to be my most authentic self and grow! Being miserable was never a life goal, so what if that’s how I spent a lot of my time. I always thought I’d get beyond that old shit. I just never did. It was always there, holding me back. I had been so depressed it began to affect my health. I had no appetite. My gust were in knots. My digestion a disaster. I didn’t enjoy things any more. Life just became a routine again. I looked back and realized that the cafe was so awful because it sort of concentrated these feelings into a full time job. That isn’t how I wanted it to be.

I’m not looking for riches. I’m not looking for fame. I’m not looking for anything but my own journey here. I know that I need to break out on my own and see what I can do. It terrifies me and excites me! If I fail now, I do it on my own terms. If I succeed, same thing. This is life! I can “ride my own melt” and find pleasures wherever I seek them. I don’t know what new adventures and challenges this will bring, but that is okay. I’m doing it and I’m in it, for me. <3

“Obesity” Is Trending?

October20

My homepage is Yahoo the first thing I see when I log on is that “obesity” is trending…and my heart sinks. One of those kind of mornings, eh? Alright, let’s do this… I did not and refuse to read the comments sections on these articles, I will leave that choice up to you.

*Trigger Warning for various forms of fat hate or just misrepresentation of facts*

The first one I noticed was from the Obesity Action Council about the launch of a new campaign called “Bias Busters.” That actually did intrigue me so I read the article. And I went to the OAC website. And it’s left me as cold as the morning air…they see “obesity” as a disease, “rising health epidemic in our country.” WTF?! Gah! NO! I do appreciate the effort, whatever that may be – though it seems it’s just an awareness/newsletter campaign, but to frame it this way only perpetuates the fucking stigma, guys!!! Way to miss the mark…COMEPLETELY!!!

Then I see this gem of a headline, “Moving out of high-poverty areas may lower obesity, diabetes risk.” *HeadDesk* So, wait…if I move out of my poor neighborhood into let’s say some magical land of milk and honey, I won’t be fat? How does this work exactly? Oh of course, no one fucking knows!!! It’s all a giant guess. Seriously, read the article, it’s a big friggin’ guess. I get that they are trying to say that access to healthier foods, an environment more conducive to exercise, less stress…these of course would improve anyone’s health. We all know how stress affects our bodies, let alone our minds. This is all just malarkey, if I must say so. But they do make a connection, “Oftentimes, research really focuses on people’s decisions, and what they do wrong, and how they are at fault, essentially, for being obese or having a disease or a poor diet,” says Blanchard, who was not involved in the study. “This provides evidence that it’s not just the individual’s decisions, but…also the environment — the neighborhood — that really does matter.”

As a long time subscriber and lover of BUST magazine, I was especially bummed out by their piece “Fat” Fashion Bloggers or Just Fashion Bloggers?”  Um, what? Really? Because I think it’s absolutely necessary! I do not read fashion blogs that do not feature women MY SIZE! Why? Because if I see someone wearing an item of clothing I fall in love with, I know I may be able to buy it. If I were to sink myself into a self-torture mode, then yeah, I would read more fashion blogs in general. I used to enjoy, oh what’s her name, but then she said some fat hating shit…that’s the other reason I don’t read straight sized fashion blogs, body hate, yo! I don’t hang with that shit and neither should you! “I don’t quite understand using size as a defining characteristic when it comes to style.” I understand using my size as a defining character because if I don’t the world will do it for me. The department stores will do it for me. The asshole in a truck driving down the street while I’m out walking my dog who decides to yell hate at me will define it for me. I would prefer to define myself for myself, thank you!

Obesity program targets kids under age 5” Dude, I feel so much sadness and anger over the kids in North and South Carolina, it seems once news got out that they had fat kids, the world keeps fucking with them. Ugh! They are now trying to “combat childhood obesity in young children through increased outdoor activity, better nutrition and parent education” Sometimes it does seem that no one truly understands a damned thing anymore…I mean, read a book people! You’re paid all of this money to help the children, but can’t even be fucking bothered to do some actual research on the subject? Case in point: “We want to keep up with the times and we understand there is an obesity problem and it’s caused by bad choices with food. If we can start the children off younger with good choices it will help” Yes, because infants and toddlers just love their endless stream of junk food. Ugh! Misguided, for sure. I just…I am sick of these self-appointed saints and martyrs for a “cause” that doesn’t fucking exist!

Now this one I quite like, but I would, because I adore Nigella Lawson: Lord Lawson: Tackle the economy not obesity “There is a genetic element you can’t do anything about and the rest is about eating less and drinking less and if the government were more concerned about doing something about the economy, where it does have responsibilities, and less about obesity that might be sensible.” Yep, gotta say, I agree with him on this. Well, except not all fat people over eat or binge drink, but the heart of his message is good: “Indeed, may I suggest it is not something the government can do at all.

Mexico Tackles Epidemic of Childhood Obesity They want school children to enroll in a public weight loss program. However, “three-quarters of Mexico City’s 2,400 public schools don’t have playgrounds or gyms for exercise. And 80 percent of the schools don’t have water fountains. Experts stress the importance of drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks to prevent and reverse weight gain.” Seems a simple thing and preferable over a public weight loss, read: stigma inducing bullshit, campaign. Just my opinion.

Your thoughts? Rants? Lay it on me!

 

Prohibition Then And Now

October6

After watching Ken Burns’ PBS series “Prohibition”  this week (three parts, each two hours – you can watch online at the link), it is no small wonder to me how anyone could see the similarities between the 1920’s and now. I would venture that every era, every generation has some social swell of some specific issue or struggle to address and/or overcome. Why, right now, we’ve got a tome’s worth! I am thinking about our social climate. Our financial struggles. The environment. Our prison industrial complex. So many things all going down those proverbial tubes. We’re all scratching our heads, clenching our fists, muffling our sobs and hoping beyond all reasonable hope that something will give, something will improve…it has to!

Prohibition began as a moral movement. Basically, how I took it, was a religious/conservative group gathered and organized on the platform that alcohol consumption led to corruption, prostitution, spousal abuse and other criminal activities. They believed the only solution was to prohibit, enforce and criminalize alcohol in all of its many forms. Does this sound familiar? No? Okay, consider for a moment the bootlegging that took the place of saloons and brewers. Many people died as a direct result of the illicit ways people got and distributed the booze. Think of the doctors prescribing whiskey as medicine, if you knew the right doctor that is, medicinal use being legal even after the nationwide ban on alcohol. Yet the consumption of alcohol itself wasn’t technically illegal. In fact you could make your own wines at home as many families did back then.

Many saw prohibition as a direct attack on immigrants who held fast to their cultures and rituals and often saw nothing at all wrong with alcohol. Suddenly self-appointed rabbis of any background were enjoying their own private supply as this, due to its religious significance, was also still legal. Soon petty thieves found themselves knee-deep in opportunity and flush with loads of cash for any and all liquor they could get their hands on. With this money came power they hadn’t the conscience nor education to put to good use (my opinion mind you). And basically, all hell broke loose! Speakeasies were raided, people were killed in clumsy displays of not in my backyard and many were jailed for periods far outweighing their crimes.

Sound familiar yet? Okay, let me put it this way, there are a lot of problems we currently have in this country. Many of these same problems were happening back in the twenties, too. The solution for the lack of jobs, floundering economy, a country overcome by unemployment and despair: end prohibition! How did they do it after such a long and successful battle by those who sought to turn this country into some sort of moral compass for the world? They found the right woman for the job! She had money, connections, charisma, power and above all else, she was fearless!

Right now we could fix a lot of our problems both environmental and economic. We need sustainable products to replace things like cotton, paper, oils, etc…we need to create jobs and fast…we need new revenue to get our deficit down and our economy flowing again! The solution: end prohibition…of cannabis!!! Think about it, it got its bad name and reputation because of a certain media mogul of those same roaring twenties: William Randolph Hearst! Hemp threatened his empire and so he sought to destroy it and whoa did he?! This may be my lay person’s grasp of it, but he did more than just destroy the industry itself. What he did (or eventually happened) was outright demonize not just hemp but cannabis itself in all of its various forms and uses.

There in lies the problem. Our prohibition of cannabis has turned petty crooks into power hungry lunatics. Ordinary citizens into life-sentence-serving prisoners thanks to steep drug laws, ravenous politicians and corrupt law enforcement and judges…not to mention California’s three strikes law. Ugh! That needs to be repealed, man. By ending prohibition on cannabis and repealing all laws to restrict, enforce, criminalize, stigmatize and whatever else they’ve chosen to throw at us, we could actually improve our entire socioeconomic situation!

 

 

New taxes! State-run dispensaries! Safer access! Hemp fiber industry jobs! We could actually bring manufacturing back to the USA with hemp. We could corner the market and find new ways to use the stuff. My husband was just telling me about the dire situation every winter in the colder parts of our country where senior citizens are forced to choose between heating oil and other necessities due to the endless rate hikes in oil. Hemp seed oil would be so much cheaper! Hemp is stronger than cotton, too. My grandpa had an old hemp rope that seemed a thousand years old. Ha-ha!

After watching the final installment of “Prohibition” last night I told my husband that what was needed to end the prohibition of cannabis was the right person to represent the movement. Someone with charisma and power. Someone well-connected and hopefully with lots of money! Someone who understood the impact and improvements possible with its repeal. I don’t know who that person could be, but I do believe that this simple thing could truly help us as a nation. If we can just step away from the stigma of it and focus on the hard facts, I think it could make a real difference.

I know that this post has absolutely nothing to do with fat, but it was on my mind in a big way. I spent the first part of this week very depressed. I’m not sure I’m out of it completely yet, certainly the police activity in my area has not been great for my anxiety and paranoia, but part of it is absolutely the economy and how it has ravaged my life and those I love. The arguments against cannabis are preposterous, absurd and full of stereotypes and stigma. I have yet to actually meet a person who is anti-cannabis. Even people who have never used it recreationally (as a drug or whatever) still understand its many varied and great uses and how it could improve our economy. It is something I believe in made all the more clear thanks to Ken Burns and his fabulous documentary series. I admit that I have always felt a deep connection to the prohibition era and it will always be an important era in my heart and mind. But that my lovelies is a post for another day…

Thank you for reading. Do share your thoughts on the topic. I would love to hear your suggestions, too. Take care of YOU!

!

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