Stationary Drifting


It Gets Fatter!

A good friend (and neighbour!), her friends, and the internet at large, have started this amazing new video project called It Gets Fatter (tumblr & also vimeo). Its a space to for People of Colour (POCs) who identify as fat, and also queer, to submit videos and written stuff talking about their experiences with fatness and body loving (or not). Its a brand brand new project that has been going on for barely a week and so far a few really powerful videos have been posted about fatness vs. health and how they are not always connected, self-acceptance and learning to love your body no matter what others tell you.

Here’s a video example that really touched me:

A lot of the videos have touched me, and have made me want to delve a little into my own feelings about my body and how I get through tough situations with my family and in life. I’ve had a blog post sitting in my drafts folder for months now called ‘On Being Thick’ but never really had the courage to work it out in words and moreover to post it publicly until now. So thanks It Gets Fatter folks for opening up that dialogue and pushing me to have the guts to put it out there.

The reason the above video struck a nerve with me is because Jackie talked about her experiences within her family and their feelings around her size. It is obviously very intense when the people who raise you talk negatively about your body, and I was lucky not to have that experience growing up. I was a very tiny child; short, skinny, and rocking nicknames like ‘squirt’ and ‘spaghetti legs’ (the last one was bestowed by my great-grandmother because I had long, very thin legs). It wasn’t until I hit puberty, and honestly not until my late teens that I started to gain weight for real. Its been a slow progress and has depended a lot on how active my year has been but I’ve been steadily gaining every since.

Comments about my weight started a few years ago, when I began to push the okay height to weight ratio in some of my family’s eyes. Its rarely been direct, mostly comments on how good I looked the last time I was home because I was thinner, or how I look good now as opposed to the last time because last time I was overweight and this time I was thinner. A lot of it has been indirect, and probably not aimed at me at all but comments about personal weight gain or loss definitely affect me, as well as comments from family members about how concerned they are about my dad’s weight followed by comments about how much I look like my dad. Most of the time it was meant to compliment me, or at least not to hurt me but its really hard not to take it personally when people look at me and then decide that a conversation about weight loss would be something I’d be into hearing.

I’m having difficulty saying this because I love my mom to bits and she has been my champion in so many ways, ways that I could never thank her enough for, but when it comes to my weight I’ve recently had a few experiences with her that have really stuck with me, they both involved shopping for clothes for me together, both in the past year. Last December I was looking for something to wear to my brother’s wedding in Vegas, it was last minute and we didn’t have a lot of time, plus my mom hates shopping even more than me. I remember going to store after store trying to find something that fit, and taking longer than she had patience for to find something because I just couldn’t get that comfortable combination of style and fit that I needed to feel good. I distinctly remember feeling like I had to apologize to her for my weight, not that she was asking me to but because I felt bad about being too big to fit most of the cute things she liked. I felt a lot of shame in that moment and that I had to explain myself. I stumbled through a few tries but in the end I didn’t really have an explanation, the truth is that by a lot of standards I’m not  plus sized, mall clothing just runs small in a totally mean way. It wasn’t my fault, but in that moment I felt like it was. The second time was when we were emergency shopping for a replacement wedding dress for me and my mom suggested I try on a girdle, something that she would NEVER consider wearing and, prior to me getting to the size that I am now, would probably have railed against. Its taken me a while to deconstruct that moment, and in the end I feel like my mom thought that I needed it in order to look ‘better’ in my dress. I tried it on, hated the feeling of it and the feeling behind it and decided against it. To her credit she didn’t push it but the idea that my mom thinks I’m too chubby to look good has stuck with me.  After many conversations with M about shapewear I’ve come to the conclusion as to why I’m not into it. Its not that I’m against other people wearing it for whatever reason they want to wear it, but for me I feel like I’m lying to myself about how my body looks and hiding the parts of my body that I’m struggling to love won’t make me love it any more.

Phew, still feeling iffy about that last paragraph so I’m going to move on to this really powerful video submitted to It Gets Fatter by msqueenly (who has many blogs) about being poor, black, queer and fat.

This video is important for so many reasons, and I would love to have, heard, or read further discussions of the intersections of all the points they brought up, especially around invisibility and how movements co-opt the voices of people struggling under multiple oppressions, but for this moment I want to highlight this particular point”

“it isn’t a journey of how i decorate my body with nice clothes, nice shoes, lingerie, accessories, you know. it’s not that type of journey. that’s not how i validate my fatness or my queerness or my blackness or how i talk about my poor experiences because, of course, being poor means you don’t have the money to do those things for a lot of people.”

which makes me want to stand up and clap. I’ve been trying to articulate my uncomfortableness with some blogging I see and also with some body positive blogging I see. I love it when people get excited about decorating their bodies, however they see that to be, and I definitely appreciate a visually pleasing outfit. I also get that when it comes to fatness and body positivity a lot of it is about challenging how my, your, their body is SEEN, so blogs of people dressing hot and refusing to hide their fat bodies is great and challenging and so wonderful. I guess I’m just a little disappointed that that’s as far as a lot of people take discussions about personal fashion and adornment. While clothes, accessories, tattoos, piercings, whatever are personal expressions of self and are rad in their own ways, I don’t feel like its the be all, end all of this discussion. ESPECIALLY when we’re trying to talk about body acceptance and inclusion. Dressing well is great and all but we can’t stop there. There are so many other ways this manifests in my life, to speak for myself. It manifests in how I eat in public, how I take up space, how and when I exercise, how I sit, how I dance, how I hold my body, how people see my body. It’s an awesome feeling to be wearing something hot and tight, but that feeling can very quickly be flipped to feeling shitty as soon as I catch the eye of someone who does not feel that I look awesome in my hot, tight outfit. And that feeling is not something that can always be addressed by more great outfits. Nor is it always possible to have the clothes that make me feel pumped about my body. Lately its been about making clothes work and/or fit because my current life doesn’t support new outfits, or really anything beyond the basics.

Anyway, I haven’t really done justice to msqueenly’s video or even that one quote because it means so much more than what I feel I can say on the topic right now but I just want to put it out there that this is a really great project, one that has made me want to talk out loud about my feelings ‘on being thick’. I have a lot more growing into my feelings and thoughts about this, and especially more growing into the wider topic but I love that this conversation is happening and that so many rad people are blasting open the body positivity conversation and making people think about how the intersections of identity change, influence, support and contradict how we talk about bodies, fatness, and self-love. So cheers to that.

And to this:

from the ‘fat acceptance! Yay!’ pinterest board


Small Things Project: Day 43 to 49

[warning: this post is a little disjointed because it happens over a 5 month span. There are no pictures and frankly I’m just posting it so I can start anew]

Day 43: (april 8)

Today I’m happy for my easter gift to myself, fancy new nail polish in spring colours, and M’s gift of lunch. And Sil’s gift of a few hours doing laundry by myself in her quiet apartment with her lovely and loving cat.

I’m happy that I came home to a tidied up apartment and dinner on the stove. My fiance is so great.

I’m happy for the grey, spring Sunday light that made everything feel in slow motion. I love slow motion sundays.

I’m happy that I got to sleep in, and that I took the weekend off from the gym but that I’m excited to get back to it tomorrow. Operation get healthy is still in effect. I was too hungover yesterday from Friday night to start my cleanse but I’m getting to it tomorrow. And I’m excited for that too.

Day 44: (april 9)

Today I’m happy that M & I got our health nut lifestyle on and went to the gym for a spinning class. I’m happy that we are really on the same page about this. We even worked out for another 45mins after spinning for an hour. The best part was when I was slowing down in class and sweating my life away and M looked over at me and told me that I could do it. Having a gym buddy is really great.

I’m happy that we got a bunch of good foods at the market and now, as I drink my cleanse tea (which is so far going great), M is preparing us a really good smelling lunch. I’m telling ya, spring is the time for resolutions. M is even quitting smoking!

Today I’m also very excited about my writing more for my brother’s magazine. Check out my Field of View post or the website to see more.

Day 45: (may 10)

Phew, a whole month went by, I don’t know what happened…But I’m back at it! So today I’m happy for not beating myself up about small things and for not giving up. I’m happy for allowing myself to enjoy my routines in their own time and to allow myself to prioritize as needed.

I’m still glowing from my long walk with Josie yesterday and for knocking a bunch of chores off my list of things to do. Today I’m happy for my coffee, the fact that I’m still working towards feeling healthier, and a full day of work ahead of me. I’m also really really grateful for all the great friends and family who have offered so many ways of helping with this wedding planning. I’m so lucky to have these amazing people in my life.

Day 45: (may 15)

Today I’m happy for all the love and support we enjoyed at last night’s fundraiser. I’m grateful to Mars for cooking up a storm and for everyone that came and ate soul food, enjoyed the beautiful evening with us and donated towards our marriage.

I’m happy for the quiet train ride to snooze and reflect. I’m excited to be in the states again an am looking forward to eating a cheesesteak!

I’m looking forward to being done traveling for the day and for getting shit done tomorrow.

Day 46: (aug 9)

Today I am happy to get back to my blog. Too long, WAY too long since my last post.

As much as I was annoyed have having to stay home and wait for the Internet guy today (it’s been out for 2days) I was happy to spend some time in the kitchen. It’s been such a hot summer and I’ve been so distracted that I haven’t really cooked in ages. I made bread (from this recipe), banana bread (from here), an extremely spicy fried rice and some extremely spicy spiced tea. M said I was a spicy lady today, which was probably my inadvertent desire to burn the exhaustion out of me (I suspect it’s due to germs). On a side note: I experienced my first chili on skin burn today and yow did it hurt. After trying a few Internet suggestions I finally succumbed to M’s suggestion and sat for almost an hour with my hand in a bowl of iced milk. It still stings under my thumb nail but its so much better than it was I’m not complaining. The burn set in just as the Internet guy arrived, I think he probably thought I was insane as I kept disappearing to the bathroom to wash my hands, and at one point cut a lime in half and took it to the bathroom (where I squeezed it on my hand).

I’m happy for the cooler day today. It’s been a really hot summer, consistently hovering at 30 so that only my heartiest plants (the chilies and the Mediterranean rosemary and lavender) are still doing okay. I’m sad for my lost strawberries just as they were strawb’ing. The cool-ish weather and rain today was most appreciated.

I’m happy that my grant proposal is written and ready to be sent, and that my summer internship is drawing to a close. I am once again redoubling my thesis efforts. I really want to be done before I’m 30 but would settle for before the end of 2012 if I must, either way that requires writing though so I’m going to be off to the library and other quiet places lots in the next weeks.

Day 47: (aug 10)

Today I am glad for rainy, cool, grey, quiet afternoons. I’m happy for some solid perspective in the form of a presentation by a fierce lady named Kim Pate about Prisoner Justice for women. I’m happy for a new blog to read (hey there the stork and the beanstalk, you’re very cute). I’m happy for some quiet dinner and reading and for the fact that M is throwing a really great party tonight for 2-qtpoc.

Day 48: (aug 11)

Today I’m happy for a successful and SO full Transformative Justice workshop. Everyone was so inspiring and awesome. We worked through some really heavy things and although we didn’t come to any definitive conclusions I certainly came away with a sense of community interest and support.

I’m happy for tea with a sweet friend post workshop where we talked about life stuff. I feel like I should have taken a different path and become a counselor….

I’m happy for a job interview at an interesting organization. I’ve been to SO many job interviews in the past while that I don’t have my hopes up but I was happy to have gotten a call back, I wasn’t expecting one.

I’m thankful for a quiet night at home. This week has been epic. To say the least.

Day 49: (aug 13)

Today I’m happy for it being the last day of work so I can focus on writing for the rest of the month.

I’m happy that my best buddy is home and available for hang outs again. It’s been a minute too long that he was away.

Mostly I’m proud of myself for mcguyvering the bathtub with a ton of baking soda, vinegar and a plunger and finally getting it to drain properly. It look me a while and spot a small amount of frustration but I didn’t break and go get drano, which makes me super happy! No harsh chemicals for me or M!!