NotBlueAtAll

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

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

Support This Blog If You Are Able

November14

Dear Readers,

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that this blog’s hosting bill ($150 for the next year) is coming up in a few short weeks. I’ve lost my job and my unemployment benefits have not yet begun. I’m faced with the possibility of having to shut down my blog entirely and that breaks my heart. I know I have not written much in awhile, but I see my stats and the archives are still read, relevant, and valuable to many.

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), but I am hoping enough people can donate a buck or two in order to keep this little safe space alive another year.

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

*Edited to add donations received have reached $106! Thank you so much! I am in awe and humbled by this outpour of love! <3

I have never accepted advertising or sponsors of any sort. I have always been a firm believer in creative freedom and ownership of my writing. I want to write more, but the stresses of life have been incessant obstacles to that as of late. I am a better human for having this blog for nearly ten years. I have struggled and grown with the love and support of my readers. My readers have become friends and confidants, over the years.

I am working on a few stealthy projects with other incredible fat activists that I hope to share with you here very soon! If for some reason this blog must go dark, I will continue to share links and articles on the FB page, but doubt you’ll find much personal writing or content there as their advertising and privacy policies are, well, bullshit. I hope, if you are able, that you will support this blog in some small way, and other writers and artists and activists who also believe that we are more than just a Fat Body. We are multifaceted individuals born to stand out and to make a difference in this world.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

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

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

LSP: Unintentionally Inspirational?

August7

This is “LSP” or “Lumpy Space Princess” (if you’re nasty?!)…she’s from a cartoon I love called “Adventure Time” on the Cartoon Network. She sounds like a valley girl and is, um, lumpy! I fucking love her!!! She floats around and generally just talks smack and snarks at people, but you also see the insecurity behind the lumps, if you will, and how difficult it is to be a teenage girl in today’s society. LSP is both sassy and confident and insecure and dying to fit in (she once wanted surgery to smooth out her lumps so she’d be seen as hot or attractive)! It is because of this, her realness and honesty, that I love her so.

Her catchphrases include: “Lump off!” “What the lump?!” “Oh my glob!” and “You can’t handle these lumps!”

In fact, I love her so much I want to dress up as LSP for Halloween this year! I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and only now started to look into it online. When I looked up “Lumpy Space Princess Cosplay” in google images? Holy amazeballs! So many rad fatties!!! I realized right then that I couldn’t be the only one to notice this possibly unintentionally inspirational rad fatty cartoon character! Yay!

And oh how inspiring the fatty cosplay stuff is! People never cease to amaze me! So fucking creative and awesome! I love them all, but I won’t lie, the one that really made me want to be LSP for Halloween was this one:

There’s actually a bunch of pics of this rad fatty in her LSP costume (on Tumblr) and it’s so fabulous! There’s also tons of human-like fan art of LSP:

So fun! If you haven’t seen the show or just aren’t into cartoons, well, you might like it? It’s sort of a fantastical world where magic and shit happens. All in the name of ADVENTURE!!! *SwordThrust* I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m hooked! My favorite character changes often, but LSP has some great and memorable lines. Watching her character struggle and remind me of some old pressures and cliches, I’ve grown to love her so!

What do you think about LSP? Accidental fat inspo? Do I have it all wrong? Hit me up in comments! 😉

 

 

(I love her so much that when my bf saw a little plushy LSP at the store he exclaimed, “Oh! I have got to get this for you!”I now keep her on my bedside table. <3 “You can’t handle these lumps!”)

 

Fats Hating Fats

July25

I know that I no longer really use the term Fat Acceptance anymore, but for the context of this post I will. I have been a fat activist and fat acceptance blogger/supporter for many years. Gosh, how long has it been now? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but a long ass time. For me it all started with a copy of BUST magazine and the article about the U.K. Chubsters fatty gang. I immediate hopped online to discover all I could about  them and the movement they represented and talked about.

Soon I found myself jumping from link to link to blog to blog until finally happening upon the community that would change my life for the better: LiveJournal.com’s Fatshionista community. Without that community I never would have dabbled in fashion, question my own internalized fatphobia, learned to heal my relationship with my body, taken a helicopter ride over Maui (had to buy 2 seats and feared fat shame, so glad I did it!), started my own small business or this very blog.

I longed for fat friends, solidarity and community. It took awhile, but I did find it. The key was that I refused to quit no matter how hard it got. The first few meet ups I organized were disappointing. When I had my cafe there were times when no one would show up at all. Or the clothing swap where only four people came and I was left with a car full of left over clothes to donate. Slowly but surely though I met the right people and found my community in fat acceptance.

I have met some very famous fats on my journey but only one gave me that awkward “OMZ! I have your book!” feeling and moment. What I have found is that most fats, famous or not, are awesome people. I never had fat friends growing up and the few that I did hated themselves and the world, too. I haven’t always been fat myself, but was fatter than most and then some once I hit puberty. I had a fat bff when I had the cafe, but her refusal to accept my fat body and her constant self hate was too much for me to handle.

Years of attending fat events and conferences and meet ups and dances and picnics and more and I thought I knew what my local fat community was: awesome! What I hadn’t realized until the last year or so is how it is also very fluid. It changes and reshapes itself constantly. There are the veterans and the newbies and while I thought everyone was accepting and positive and loving and all of that, I was very wrong.

Even in a community where we share the same pain, oppression and battle against a society brainwashed by marketing schemes, there are still cliques and mean girl attitudes that continue to shock me. This past weekend I heard stories of fats hating fats. Of famous fatties saying things like, “I’m fat, but not mid western fat!” or terms like “Forklift fat” and more. I’ve heard disabled fats feeling invisible or worse, that their needs were “just too much.” It seems even in a community where we bond over our mutual struggles in the world, there is still so much room to grow in just loving and accepting each other. The worst is the whole “good fatty versus bad fatty” mentality. It has got to end if we are to make any progress outside of our own community.

Racism is an especially vital subject that often isn’t addressed in the fat acceptance realm. Racism is something I have been keenly aware of, an activist and ally against and a struggle in my own life as far back as I can remember. In a space like No Lose I learned so much last year in the anti racism workshops and white allies group on Facebook. I had no idea until then what a privilege I have by having grown up in such a diverse community (the San Francisco Bay Area). I was looking forward to doing more of this type of work and learning this year and was excited to jump back into the tough dialogues and conversations necessary to make this community inclusive and safe for everybody.

What I hadn’t thought I would hear in such a space is how I and other white allies, regardless of the work we do within our community and at home, would be reduced to nothing but a skin color. I heard a story from a fellow fat that in seeking information to coordinate for a workshop they were told, “I’m not talking to white people this week.” and dismissed. Had this person given them even a moment to speak they would have thanked them for helping them through a difficult time last year, but they never had the chance. It breaks my heart to see past connections broken like this. I have no idea what caused this, nor is it my place to guess, but it was still a surprise and in an activist space I do not think that this is okay.

From the No Lose page:

NOLOSE* is a vibrant community of

fat queers and our allies,
with a shared commitment to feminist, anti-oppression ideology and action, seeking to end the oppression of fat people!  

I did not see this philosophy or attitude at the conference itself. The workshops I attended did not once mention solutions, healing, community support or even open discussion. It seemed to be more of a sharing of painful stories, anger, frustration and experiences thing and not a workshop at all. I understand and support having a safe space for connecting and bonding over shared pain and experiences. I think that it is important and vital to have this, but not alone. There needs to be more of a creative mindset, I feel. There were caucuses for this, but workshops? Nothing was “workshopped” in my eyes. At least not in the five or six workshops I attended.

No Lose may provide a more revolutionary space than the straight world has to offer, but it is not the inclusive utopia it strives so hard to be. There is work being done, don’t get me wrong. But the work and solutions versus accusations and calling people out and insisting upon accountability without making it safe to do so just isn’t happening or working. In a previous post I was put upon to hold those accountable who bullied me at the conference. If you’ve ever been bullied you know this is not an easy task, often it is impossible to feel safe to do so.

I was minutes away from a full blown panic attack when I was physically pushed aside by a smaller fat. This was moments before the talent show began. When it was time for me to hit the stage there was an issue with the mic stand on the stage (I needed it moved in order to dance) and then my music started late and I could barely hear it and I forgot all of my choreography. The moment I left the stage my panic attack hit me harder than a brick wall and I ran hysterically crying up to my hotel room. By the time I’d composed myself and calmed down enough to re-enter the conference space again, everyone was gone. The dance party was canceled and so I chose to hang out with some awesome people in the bar for an hour instead.

The following morning was my volunteer shift bright and early and then the Sunday Salon where I read my controversial piece “Fatty Dancer” and things would never be the same again. Not once did I feel safe enough to report or hold accountable the people that bullied me (physically or emotionally, there was way more than the pushing incident). There was so much going on, and in the end, what would it have accomplished? All I have ever wanted to be is myself. I fight for the right to be me and to live the life I want to live everyday in the straight world. I didn’t have it in me to fight for that at No Lose. Perhaps that is on me, so be it.

Since no one is willing to tell me exactly what I have done wrong, what specifically in my piece hurt people or is racist, I cannot see that anything with it or me is wrong. I was held accountable, I got up in front of the entire conference and acknowledged the pain I’d caused without knowing how or what caused it. In an activist space I expected more information, compassion and discussion. There was no discussion that I was allowed into. Many superfats felt invisible in a conference where the social currency was fuckability and always the smaller fats deemed more popular/accepted.

I wanted to quit being an activist due to how I and other fats were treated. But fuck that! I am an activist. I have always been and always will be an activist! I may not always have the spoons to speak up for myself but I almost always want to help and stand up for the underdog. I know the work I have done and continue to do can speak for itself. My events are inclusive to all. There is talk and sharing of pain and struggle, but always with a message of healing and connecting and community. No one is an island, but we all know what that feels like.

Living in a fat body in western society is hard enough. We are the embodiment of many people’s worst nightmares. Those on either end of the spectrum of oppression get it worst of all and that doesn’t take or give to anyone else. We have to stay connected and work with each other and for each other in order to make things right. Hating people you do not personally know is continuing the oppression you claim, as a fat activist, to want to end. What the fuck is that about?! We can do better! So stop spouting hate about who is or isn’t in your cool fatty club and realize that you’re harming all of us by doing so. There are so many great minds and vibrant voices being silenced and shut out. I refuse to sit idly while this happens. I will not be silenced and I will not stop working towards something better. Please join me.

Rad Fatty Love to you ALL!
<3
S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Lose 2013: Sunday Salon Submission “Fatty Dancer”

July24

This is the piece I submitted and read to the attendees of No Lose for the Sunday Salon. A lot has been said and assumed about this piece and about me because of it. I have reflected and acknowledged that people were hurt by this piece at the community feedback session that same day (see my quote/response and thoughts below).

No Lose 2013: Sunday Salon Submission  “Fatty Dancer”

I want to tell you that I am fat. I want to tell you that I’m a dancer. But the truth is I haven’t always been either of those. I started dancing when my toddler feet hit the ground, but I was a weird, skinny kid who always felt awkward and ugly. At age five I was at a friend’s house dancing to the radio when her sister came in and told me, “What do you think you’re doing? White girls can’t dance!” I was crushed. I ran home crying and begged my mother to change me so that I could dance once again.

As friends went to dance lessons and gymnastics, I stayed home and danced in my carport. I pretended there was a grand ball or a life changing showcase for all to witness my amazing dance skills. I danced with my bff to the radio and cassettes. We had dance routines for everything! We had big dreams and bigger hearts. We loved to dance and refused to stop.

Junior high meant social dances, just like in the movies. Only, the big song of the day was “Me so horny” and I was boy crazy! Puberty hit and with it so did a lot of other stuff. Drugs, boys, depression, weight gain…these things are common, for sure, but for me it felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders, too. High school was a special kind of torture. I fell in with the “wrong” kids and started cutting classes, experimenting with drugs and sneaking out at night to kiss boys in graveyards.

By the time I met my abuser I’d forgotten all about my dancing days. Somehow I thought having a boyfriend was the biggest priority. Oh if I could shake some sense into my fourteen year old self! Meeting that individual would change the course of my entire life. I spent the next five years as a hostage in my own home. Every aspect of my life was controlled by him. I would spend so much time in my head and retreat and disconnect entirely from my body. I had to. I disconnected to protect myself from the abuse. I would fantasize about escaping, about being saved, about evaporating into a vapor. I did not dance for those five years.

When I finally escaped I was 19 and didn’t know who I was or how I fit into the world. At a size 20 I soon realized that I didn’t. I wore baggy corduroys, baggy t-shirts and coordinating flannels to hide what my body had become: fat! I was in a new town with a new job and no idea what my life was supposed to be now. I’d been given another shot at a life, but I was so depressed and unknowingly suffering from PTSD that I mostly just sat home and cried a lot. Soon my old friends came back into the picture and insisted I get out and dance!

We tried dance clubs where we could get in, but not being 21 made that tough. Until they talked me into going to a goth club in San Francisco called “The So What” and it was like a light bulb moment for me. I fought and resisted, “What is this goth shit anyway?” I complained. But they dragged me there kicking and screaming with smuggled in liquor and the promise of a good time. I didn’t believe them for a second. Until we hit the dance floor and this industrial band was playing and in a flash, I was in love!

The fashion, this different style of dance so new to my eyes. I was among the freaks and the weirdos…my people! They were free spirits and moved as they pleased, on their own, no couples! This was fantastic and I soon fell right into it! I bought a cassette of the band (16 Volt) playing that night and tucked it into my back pocket. Years  later I got to meet and hang out with those dudes in San Jose. So cool!

I went back to that club with friends and on my own. Sometimes I would go just to have a space to dance without people judging me. It always felt so free and right when I would dance there. It was when I first tried to love my body. I wore an oddly put together mish-mash of lingerie pieces and satin and random chains and crosses. I didn’t know how to do my own make up and would just sort of smear black eye liner here and there.

When I met my future (and now ex) husband, he wasn’t into dancing at all. He went with me to the goth club once but just stood against the wall, I’m sure trying his best to have a good time. I never went back. Later, that club closed and I never found one even close to as good as that.

13 years later, after so many careers, pitfalls and even running my own cafe, a friend talked me into going to FFE (full figured entertainment) in Oakland. I hesitated, but then figured I was in good fat company. I’d been a fat activist and blogger for some years and felt comfortable in my own skin. But dancing? I thought I was “too old” for the club. Ha-ha! I didn’t really know how to dress, but went with it just the same. I didn’t know most of the music but I picked up some new dance moves on the floor and had the best time! Soon I found myself returning to FFE with my friend as well as others. I got to know the club promoter, Tigress and even tried other dance clubs.

I did find a goth night in San Jose, but it will never be anything close to as awesome as “The So What” but what can ya do? It was perhaps a moment in time. I go to 80’s and new wave nights, I go to goth nights and sometimes I go to a local BBW club when my friend talks me into it. I’m not into the whole BBW scene, but when you’re with the right people and dancing you kind of forget about all of that other stuff (at least I try to).

When Tigress asked me to join her in a dance duet for Big Moves Bay Area’s spring show “En Masse” I said yes without thinking. I had not performed on a stage in seventeen years! I had moments of doubt and insecurity, but Tigress was awesome and we had so much fun busting our humps rehearsing for the show. I had never before experienced that whole “runner’s high” thing until those rehearsals. I get it now! It is a wonderful feeling. It is addictive. I fell in love with dancing all over again!

What was amusing to me was how few people knew I could dance or that I enjoy it. Some friends were shocked, others cried at my performance and many thought it would be a very different style altogether. Okay, they thought I’d be doing a bunch of booty shaking, which I’m obviously not opposed to, but they were so not expecting a serious number from the likes of me and Tigress. Ha-ha! I love that! It was such an honor to be a part of “En Masse!” It was a fantastic show and I would have attended even if I wasn’t in it.

I felt like a bit of a phony at first. These other girls had been performing and rehearsing and who was I to be in this big amazing show?! But they were all so kind and supportive. It was an emotional journey for me as well as a physical one. I had some childhood stuff come back to haunt me but worked through it with some major help from my friends. After our tech and dress rehearsals I had so many people tell me how fantastic our piece was that I couldn’t believe it. Then after the two performances, to see the looks on my friends and new boyfriend’s faces?! Well, that is priceless!

I felt a bit of loss after those shows were over, though. No more rehearsals? No more laughing and being silly with Tigress? Nothing to look forward to or work towards? I was in mourning for dance. I hit up the club as best I could, but that local BBW club’s DJ is the worst ever and it just wasn’t filling the dance gap. When I saw that No Lose was looking for people to be in the talent show I signed up, again, without even thinking. I had no ideas, no song in mind and no inspiration. I had to dig deep for that one! Ha-ha! I wanted to do it just to keep dancing.

I want to tell you that I am fat. I want to tell you that I’m a dancer. And I am both of those things now. I spent far too much time away from doing the thing I love to do that I just cannot stop now! I want to be the dancing granny on YouTube, in a dancing grannies dance troupe! I want to take every opportunity to move in a joyful way! I often say that human connection is the spice of life for me. Conversation is my drug of choice and listening to my glorious gut will never steer me wrong. But now I also know how very powerful movement can be.

I used to watch the Big Moves performances and be in tears the whole time. They were tears of joy, mind you, but inside of me lived an ache for dance. A knee injury and lack of health insurance kept me fearful for so long that I thought I could never do it. A little low-cost acupuncture here and learning to stretch properly there and being mindful and connected to my body now and I can honestly say that I have never felt better!

I know and love every roll, lump and wrinkle on my body now. I feel like I own my body and don’t just lease it. I had to learn how to eat things that would support my body better as well as my dancing. Because, leg cramps!!! Ha-ha! When people see me dancing all night long, all arm fat flailing and rump shakin’ goodness? I no longer care what they think of me. I’m having the time of my life while they’re holding themselves back. I cannot worry about that or them. I can only worry about what the next song will be and how I am going to bust all the moves when it hits! And when “California Love” comes on? You better clear the dance floor because that is my jam and I am going to get down! Ha-ha!

It took me 35 years to get here. To be the dancer I always wanted to be. To love the incredible gift that is this body, all 325 lbs of it. To understand and heal and appreciate what it can do for me and where it can take me. As it changes shape, I get to rediscover and reconnect with it. My grandma often told me, “Never get old, Sarah!” and while I can’t promise anything on that note, I can honestly say that I feel so much younger now than I did in my twenties. I no longer carry the weight of the world, I only carry my own. And I am happy with that.

Now I choose to celebrate life with every step…Dancing!

This is what I said at the feedback session later that day in response to several people saying that they were hurt by this piece, that it is racist or has “clear racist undertones” and I felt I needed to respond and respect their feelings.

“I want to acknowledge that people were really hurt by the piece I wrote for this morning’s salon. This was not my intention. I wanted to share my lived experience. I am going to take some time to reflect on it and I do not want to place that responsibility on anyone else. Racism is something that I work on in my life everyday and will absolutely continue to do so. Thank you.”

I never thought I would ever in my life be accused of being racist or that something I wrote would or could have racist undertones because of how and where I grew up and how and where I live my life now. I have always been committed to equality for all and work very hard within my communities to create a safe space for everyone. I know it is not the responsibility of those who were hurt by this piece to educate me on the how’s and the why’s. At the same time I do not at all understand but I want to very badly. I understand accountability and mistakes and I would absolutely admit to such an occurrence. What I don’t yet fully get is how sharing my lived experience has hurt people.

I don’t consider myself an ignorant person, despite the fact that I’ve had only up to a 9th grade education. I work very hard to be informed, educate myself and be involved in community and activism, not just in issues of size acceptance. I consider myself an ally to the oppressed and feel that everyone’s story is important and should be heard. When we take away the voices of others, when they are silenced and shut down, we continue that oppression.

I have done a lot of thinking on this and discussed it with others. It was brought up that perhaps how I was dressed/presented myself that made me appear a certain way that isn’t actually true of my real life. I was dressed in my Sunday best because I was speaking in public to a large audience. I felt safe to do so. I had planned my outfits over many months and was excited to get into my costumes for No Lose.

I would and could not hurt someone intentionally. I do my absolute best to not hurt anyone ever. To have my words twisted and misrepresented is hard and painful. What was worse was getting thanked and called brave for apologizing from other white folks when in fact I hadn’t apologized. What hurt more than that was not feeling allowed to talk about it, to question it or to ask what I could do to make things right. I have survived so very much in my short life, I help other survivors and those who are currently struggling, all of the time. I do it because I care and because I have been there. I am a compassionate individual but also a very publicly vulnerable one. This has taken me years of work to get here and I’m finding it hard to stay true to myself while carrying the burden of fear and shame along, too.

If you have questions, please ask me. If you have a comment, please leave one. I am always open to discussing things. I don’t pretend to know everything, far from it, and always seek more knowledge. I do realize that putting myself “out there” carries a risk. I have always accepted that risk. I want to be responsible in my vulnerability and compassion, though. Fat people get enough shit thrown at and on them and it has been a real eye opener to see that come from other fat people (not just on the subjects of this post). I hope that together we can improve things so that everyone feels safe in our community. I am willing and ready to continue to do the work.

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