- Give yourself permission to wear what you like (AKA turn off your GAF).
- You can paint a barn black, and it’ll still be a barn (it’s better to look big and fabulous than slim and boring)
- Your size is whatever size fits your body.
- Don’t be afraid of the skinny girl store
- Put your money where your fat is
- Support those who support your rolls
- Bleep the haters and the trolls
- Take lots of selfies
- Give yourself a theme (but don’t force your theme on anyone else)
- Hot glue gun and a dream!
It’s my pleasure to be a presenter at the 2nd Annual Fat Activism Conference. Here are a few notes, links, and pics to go along with my presentation.
This pic is what I’m wearing today. I’m doing double-duty, so while I’m presenting and chatting with you all, I’m also working my day job in reservations and marketing at AsiaSF (San Francisco’s world famous transgender dinnershow). This is me in the nightclub at AsiaSF. In keeping with one of my fatshion tips below, today’s theme was “Recyle the Dress You Wore for Last Year’s FatActCon.” So, this year, I pulled it down and wore is as a pencil skirt, topped it with a t from one of my favorite local designers (Yogi of Big Ol Pretty Girls), and broke out my bumbleebee platform heels (which were last worn the first time I performed at Big Moves annual size positive dance show a few years ago). Because the nightclub is a much more interesting backdrop, I took the pic there instead of at my desk, where I’m listening along with y’all.
This is me in the “tutu situation” and Oscar the Grouch t-shirt that I mentioned. The green heels are detailed with pink-and-black-zebra duct tape, and I am so mad I didn’t do a close up of the shoes!
Here are a few things I mentioned in my talk that might be of interest to you:
- Full Figure Entertainment (my nightclub promotion organization)
- FFE Models (the ladies who’ve represented FFE over the years)
- Virgie Tovar’s Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (my piece is “BBW Party”)
- Eliza Parker (where I was a fit model)
- Desmond Rogers Photography (the official photographer of Full Figure Entertainment)
- My appearance on The Doctors
- The O Magazine crop top controversy (article by Jes Baker)
Designers and boutiques that deserve shoutouts (and the list goes on…)
The 2nd Annual Body Love Conference is open for registration.
I really wanted to go the conference last year, but I couldn’t afford the trip myself and I couldn’t convince my then-employer to pay my way. This year, my plan is to go even if it means collecting aluminum cans for recycling. (Universe, please guide me toward a better plan, but if it comes to that…)
I also plan to present at the conference this year. I say “plan to” in the spirit of “name it and claim it,” because I have applied to present but I haven’t been selected yet. I won’t know until January 1 if I have been chosen. Applicants submitted proposals in October. Some of us were invited to submit follow-up videos this month. I finished mine yesterday. Boy, is it hard to get everything you want to say about what your passionate about into a 2 minute video! Whew!
I want to thank everyone who encouraged me to apply for this opportunity. There are a bunch of amazing presenters who are already slated, so I know it’s going to be a fantastic conference no matter which other finalists are ultimately chosen to present. Best wishes to all who applied!
If you’re hoping to attend the conference but it seems like it’s out of your budget, please do check out their payment plan and scholarship options to see if you can make it work. I hope to see you in Tucson!
Earlier this week, Walmart made headlines when shoppers discovered that the mega-retailer had a unique Halloween section on their website. Folks looking for plus sized women’s costumes could find them under the Fat Girl Costumes tab on the Walmart page. Twitter cried fowl, the media ran with the story, and Walmart took the page down.
Meanwhile, I’m over here kicking myself for not using #Fatgirlcostumes last week when I was promoting Costumes And Curves, a plus-sized fashion show featuring fall looks and Halloween items.
I actually use fat hashtags pretty often. Not all of us knee-jerk to horror and shame when we see or hear the word fat. I love the word fat. I’ve called myself fat for many years. I’m one of those people who believe fat is an adjective that only delivers hatred (and self-hatred) when the deliverer intends it to. Otherwise, it’s a descriptor. It’s a noun that describes what I have on my body, or it’s an adjective that describes what my body looks like because I have that noun on my body. That’s all it has to be. Unfortunately, that’s not all it is. As Nina Bahadur said in the Huffington Post’s coverage of the Walmart story, “‘Fat girl’ still remains a derogatory label, though it shouldn’t be.”
I believe in saying the word fat regularly. Using it neutrally and positively takes power away from those who use it otherwise. But I also understand why not everyone can hear it the way I do. In the Western world, we are socially conditioned to believe that being fat is the worst possible thing a human being can be. If that’s true, calling someone fat is the most horrifying thing you can do to them, whether they actually are fat or not.
I got really into Halloween about a decade ago. I’d always loved the idea of Halloween, but I mostly thought costumes for fat girls were either unavailable or ugly. The first time I saw a plus-sized costume in a mainstream Halloween store, I was so excited I bought it even though I’d never in my life considered dressing as Medusa for Halloween. I probably would’ve been appalled if the store had labeled them fat girl costumes. But I am pretty sure that I said, “Yes! They have fat girl costumes!”
And there’s the thing–like so many other words and terms that have been historically problematic, calling oneself something and being called that same thing by someone else are two very different things. I know my intentions. I do not intend to be self-deprecating when I call myself fat; I intend to be accurate. When someone else does it–looking at you, Walmart employee who has still not been named–it’s hard not to default to assuming the intention is insensitive. It has been so often.
It is highly unlikely that the Fat Girl Costumes page was created by a subversive riots-not-diets fat chick who hacked the Walmart page in order to reclaim the term fat by putting it on some actually-kinda-cute-for-store-bought-costumes as a way of normalizing the word. If that had been the case, I could consider Walmart’s Fat Girl Costumes page to be the best 40th bday present anyone ever could’ve given me. My sis-in-law was the first person I got to talk to about this after seeing it on Instagram (and checking other sources to make sure it wasn’t a hoax). I told her how much I wished it would turn out to be some radical fatty pushing the limits of language by challenging the assumption that fat is always an insult. “Yeah,” she said, “but you know it’s probably not that.” Yeah. It’s probably not that.
So, the best I can do is make it that for me and the projects I am associated with. My fat girl costumes will be labeled as such with pride. I think my Cruella Deville costume is so awesome people will note the costume itself and not my body size. But I don’t care if people see Fat Cruella Deville. (Postscript: Jesus liked my costume just fine). Halloween is supposed to be about fun and imagination. If I only imagine myself dressing as characters or categories that are normally shown as fat, I’m pretty much limited to maid (but not French maid), chef, fairy godmother, Princess Fiona and maybe inspirational speaker Matt Foley. To that, I say, “Bah!” I’ve been everything from Fat Bag of Money (who doesn’t want a fat bag of money???) to Fat Twister.
With each passing year, I get more creative. My professional life began to include Spirit Weeks which encouraged dressing up for theme days with my students. My social life included more and more theme parties and dress-up events, too. My costume love grew and grew. At the same time, mainstream costumers–like other mainstream retailers–realized that there is a lucrative market beyond size L. Still, the standard for mainstream retailers is exactly what you can see on Walmart’s site, whether you were looking at it when it was called Fat Girl Costumes or you are looking now. Halloween has grown more and more cookie-cutter “sexy” for women who wear what the fashion industry refers to as “straight sizes” (anything smaller than whatever is designated as plus at a given moment).
For me, the real tragedy of Walmart’s Fat Girl Costumes is not that some jackass decided to be “cute” by taking a cheap shot at plus-sized shoppers (just the women, though. No Fat Guy Costumes). It’s that fat girls feel limited to only the mostly uninspired b.s. premade costumes (now referred to as Women’s Plus) that are not even shown on fat girls. It also majorly sucks that those costumes almost always cost more than the smaller girl versions, even when they are produced by the same company. (Blah blah blah more expensive to produce blah blah blah nonsense. Even if a plus sized witches costume is marginally more expensive due to pattern making, fabric, whatevs, it’s not $10-20 more expensive to make, especially not if it’s the cheap piece of crap one being sold my Walmart. Those jerks just think they have a captive audience who’ll be so grateful that anymore made plus sizes that they’ll pay anything. Often true in the past, jerks, but the times they are a’changin…but I digress).
IDK about the rest of you, but I think one of the best things I can do this season is label my pics #fatgirlcostumes so when people look up the story of this stupid Walmart prank, they also get awesome BIY costumes from a fat girl who doesn’t care if anyone called her a fat girl. Please join me! And Happy Halloween to all of you! May your days, may your days, may your days be scary and fright, and may all your trick or treat bags be the fattest thing on the block (after my Cruella costume, of course).
It’s October. If you live in a place where autumn brings changing leaves, the world is lovely hodge-podge of browns and yellows and oranges. If you’re a Halloween lover, you may be leaning into a palate of orange and black, with bruisy purples and bloody reds to round out the shades of the season. And if you set foot in an ever-increasing number of stores and restaurants in the United States, you will be welcomed with pink, pink, and more pink.
The pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness stands beside the yellow ribbon for veterans and the red ribbon for AIDS/HIV awareness as an icon of awareness-raising. October as the month dedicated to all things boob-protection-related predates the ribbon, but the first pink ribbons appeared in 1991 when the Susan G. Komen Foundation gave them to participants in their Race for the Cure fundraiser. They were adopted as the symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month the next year. The pink ribbon’s corporate tie-ins also began then, when Self Magazine and Estee Lauder partnered to give away thousands of ribbons, attached to laminated self-exam instruction cards, at their makeup counters.
Estee Lauder had a personal connection (the head of the company was a breast cancer survivor herself), and the company has given away millions of pink ribbons and donated millions of dollars to breast cancer causes. Since their successful 1992 campaign, breast cancer has become the cause du jour for companies that want to show their consciousness. You can find pink everything in October. NFL players don pink. The White House has been pink-lit. Newspapers run comic pages in pink tones. This year, P.F. Chang has painted the horse statues in front of their restaurants. There’s more pink paraphernalia available in October than there are pumpkin-spice snacks. It’s all done in the name of raising money for breast cancer prevention, treatment, and cure research.
And, of course, it’s all about awareness.
Or is it?
Cause-related marketing is often seen as a win-win in which a company increases their positive reputation (and, directly or indirectly, their profits) and a charity gets donations they wouldn’t have otherwise received. Even if a corporation doesn’t really care about the cause, the ends justify the means, right? More money for breast cancer prevention and treatment is always a good thing, right?
Before you buy that pink ribbon scarf-mug-journal-sneaker-vibrator (yes, really), pause. The pink ribbon is not a licensed image. That means it can be used at any time, by anyone, for any reason. Not every company that ties on a pink ribbon is actually supporting a tie-in with the cause. Of those that actually are, “a portion” of proceeds might be a lot less than you think it is, especially if the pink-mark-up is more than the amount they are giving. Breast Cancer Action is an organization that supports breast cancer patients and critiques the systems and organizations that profit from breast cancer treatment. They call this process of turning everything pink in the name of breast cancer pinkwashing. (#Pinkwashing on social networking will help you see how other organizations and individuals are critiquing Pink October and other breast cancer campaigns).
If you want Breast Cancer Awareness Month to be more than a cute campaign, here are a few things you can do to make it more meaningful.
- Stop saying you support breast cancer. You don’t. You support breast cancer awareness, prevention, and research about causes and cures. You support breast cancer patients, breast cancer survivors, women (and men!) who didn’t survive breast cancer, and the loved ones affected by the disease. You do not support breast cancer. Unless, perhaps, you are part of one of the companies that makes so much money off breast cancer. In that case, perhaps you do support breast cancer. It certainly supports you.
- Beware of awareness. When companies go pink but don’t give money to the cause, they generally fall back on the explanation that they are “creating awareness” with their tidal wave of pink goodies. If they’re connecting their products to actual information and specific resources, that’s one thing (still might be shady). If they’re just slapping a pink ribbon on something and saying, “So, now you’re thinking about breast cancer,” do you still consider them part of the fight? When was the last time you did a self exam just because you saw someone with pink shoe laces?
- Remember that all this pink gives some people the blues. Use sensitivity when dealing with those who’ve been affected by breast cancer. Not every person with breast cancer wants 900 pink ribbon gifts. Some people find them inspirational; others find them triggering, especially if they are still dealing with the disease or its aftermath. How someone affected by breast cancer experiences pink ribbons and pink everything else may change at different stages of their journey. My Friend-Since-5th, Susan, gives me permission here to tell you that she loved pink stuff when she was a survivor who’d lost both breasts but who’d “beaten” breast cancer…until she found out years later that it was back. Now, what was inspiration before sometimes feels like an endless reminder that metastatic breast cancer is killing her.
- Think about men, too. Breast cancer strikes way more women than men, so it makes sense to talk about it as a women’s health issue. But it doesn’t make sense to talk about it as exclusively a women’s issue. Men do have breast tissue, and they do get breast cancer. They also know and love women who are impacted by the disease. Men are almost always completely left out of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When they are included, the spin on their participation is often that it’s their one time of year to wear pink and still be considered manly. Companies whose target demographic is male and who have huge breast cancer campaigns are sometimes motivated by care for the women in their lives, but unfortunately, they are also sometimes only motivated by the trendiness of pink ribbon campaigns. Those companies know that they can show how much they “care about women” by wearing pink shirts without making any institutional changes that will piss off their male stockholders and stakeholders.
- Give directly to companies that are direct. You don’t have to buy pink-packaged toilet paper in order to give some unspecified amount of money to some unnamed breast cancer charity. You can just buy what you normally buy and give some money directly to a charity that really serves your community. Huge corporate campaigns most often partner with huge (and highly critiqued) national charities. Find something in your own hood and give them a few bucks or a few hours of your time.
October is winding down. If you care about breast cancer causes and you haven’t done anything to support them this month, never fear. Know what happens after October? Breast cancer. It’s never too late to do something that actually makes an impact.
And it’s totally up to you whether you wear pink ribbon undies while you do it or not.
Additional resources on #pinkwashing:
- Pink Ribbon, Inc. (documentary on pinkwashing)
I love my Windows Phone. I’ve loved it for years, and I’ve been faithful despite the many limitations of phones that are not iPhones or Androids.
But, next upgrade season (in two months…seven weeks…six weeks…and counting), I might be forced to finally make the ever-urged separation. No, it’s not that my brother or my friend Saucye finally convinced me iPhones are superior to everything. (I tried iPhone. I hated it. Sorry, iPhanatics). It’s not because that droid robot logo is cuter than the Windows windows, either.
It’s because I am a fat girl on Instagram.
You see, fat girls on Instagram regularly get shamed, harassed, and even threatened by total strangers. (Yes, I know this is not only true on Instagram. But it is especially true on Instragram. And, yes, I know this also happens to fat men on Instagram. But it is especially true for fat women on Instagram).
To some of you, this is not news. It’s happened to you. The more outspoken you are, the more it happens.
There are individual bullies who just happen to find you because you used a hashtag related to something they like (#Friendlyneighborhoodspiderman apparently led some of those jerks to me). They don’t wanna see your fat face liking the same thing they like, so they click your pic and post insults in the comment section. They sometimes @ their friends so the whole crew can join in on the harassment. It’s the internet equivalent of walking your fat ass past a bunch of bros and having them moo at you.
Then, there are also entire campaigns directed specifically at shutting up uppity fatties. Some are motivated by an alleged commitment to health. Others are just run by people who hate the way fat bitches look. They have followers. Subscribers. Soldiers standing at the ready to take their orders and take down the hippos wherever they may be.
And they have found me.
I cannot delete their ugly and hateful comments from what is intended to be a positive page. I cannot delete the weight loss spam, either. Android and iPhone users can delete comments on Instagram. Windows phone users cannot.
So, until IG improves their Windows app or until I can upgrade, I have three options–1) log into my IG account every time I am with someone who has a delete-capable phone, 2) make my page private (thereby undermining the entire intent of the page), or 3) leave every bit of anti-fat bully nonsense right there in the comments on my photos.
Understand. My skin is usually thick enough (or the fat under my skin is thick enough!) for me to ignore such jackassery. Usually. I am no longer the new kid on the size acceptance block. I’m one of the original participants in the Fat Flash Mob, and my videos of that event were part of an organized campaign by “whale watchers” who specialize in fat-hatred trolling on Youtube. I chose not to remove the comments because I wanted people to be able to see very clearly just how horrible people can be. I refused to engage with nonsense, but I didn’t prevent anyone else from engaging in it if they so chose. It’s all still there for anyone who wants to see it.
In that case, I had a choice. I didn’t leave meanness on the page because the technology prevented me from removing it. I felt strong; I felt feisty. I chose to let the hate stand as evidence of the way fatness brings out the 5th grade meanie in a lot of internet users. But sometimes in a size-positive space, the poison of the anti-fat movement simply should not be allowed to pollute the air. I created this blog, and the accompanying Instagram page, as a space for body positivity. I should get to control the trolls.
(BTW, this is also why comments are not allowed on this page. I know how these people work. They’re committed. They’ll e-mail me. But at least visitors to my page will not have to be subjected to that vitriol).
In the end, I suppose I do have one other option– just don’t use Instagram. But part of exposing more people to size acceptance and body love is meeting people where they are. And millions of people are on Instagram. So…so am I. No matter who calls me a fat bitch.
@iofthetigress on Instagram
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), which bills itself as the largest study of weight loss maintenance ever, has about 10,000 people in their research database. Participants must be 18 years old, have lost at least 30 pounds, and have kept it off for at least a year. Recruitment to the registry is ongoing, so you can sign up any time if you meet those basic requirements.
Of those in the registry, 55% say they “received help from some type of program” in order to lose weight (the rest did it “on their own”). The weight loss industry rakes in over $60,000,000 per year in the United States. Over sixty billion dollars per year on an industry that, in the so-called most extensive independent research ever on what they do, can only find fewer than six thousand people who’ve maintained their “success stories” for more than a year.
Still, somehow, through some miracle of believe-the-hype-madness, “success stories” are still one of the diet industry’s most effective marketing tools.
As Arsenio used to say, “Things that make you go hmmm…”
F.A.Q. usually stands for Frequently Asked Question(s).
But not up in here (NOT up in here)!
IoftheTigress F.A.Q.’s are Fat Acceptance Quickies. These posts are quick food for thought entries or heads up about some cool size acceptance stuff posts perfectly suited for those days when I don’t have time to write a full article or you don’t have time to read one (or both). Some will be developed later into longer pieces with more research. Others will simply highlight a particular idea of the moment,and let you take it from there.
I’ll post a couple per week. Stay tuned!
Got an FAQ of your own? Message me on Facebook (iofthetigress) and your guest FAQ may be included here in the future!