Kitty Fisher

Size-positivity, feminism, self-esteem crises, ginormous tits.

hunting for bras

Posted by Kitty on April 28, 2009

All’s been quiet here while I’ve worked out some issues, but I wrote this to post on a forum and decided it belonged here instead.

Any bra aficionados out there?
I’m just sort of trying to collate my options, as I shop for bras to fit my perpetually-askew endowments (it’s kind of a curse; if I find something that fits, they change size, though they’ve been stable for over a year now, I haven’t been able to find anything to replace the ones I outcup, grew immediately), and thought I’d ask the Internet if they had seen any options I’d missed.
Most everyone seems much more concerned with the contents of the bras, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.

What I’ve come up with are that my options are pretty grim. I outgrew a J-cup, see. And a lot of the big-bra manufacturers stop at J.
Actually the first boundary is G. Most of the really cute stuff only comes up to G. Including all strapless styles and all plunge-front styles. Which means that I can’t wear either of the two “nice” gowns I own. Score!

The major brands of DDD+ bras are all British, except for Goddess. I’ll come back to Goddess. (Shudder.)
1) Freya
2) Fantasie of England
3) Panache
4) Fayreform
Minor entries by other manufacturers (I flip through Bravissimo’s catalogue to get ideas of manufacturer names, but can’t afford their shipping and returns so I never shop there) generally stop at G. Kalyani, Miss Mandalay, etc. don’t work for me, more’s the pity, as they tend to be the gingham-check or satin or frilly ones I really want. Sigh.

Fayreform stops at J, I just determined.
Freya’s Rio is what I’m wearing now, but it’s too small in the cups and doesn’t support well enough laterally (puts my boobs toward my armpits, how flattering) and from what I can tell, J is their limit as well.
Panache has a few offerings up to K, as does Fantasie. If I can find a site with a good returns policy (figleaves.com’s dearly departed free returns on everything policy, how I pine for thee) I may try those.

But as for shopping domestically…
Oh Goddess. *shudder*
For years I thought you were my only option, and lo! it oppressed my soul. Thou escheweth the underwire, and seemeth to believe that leopard-print stretch satin is verily the height of ye sexe appeale, suitable only for those rare occasions when your standby matte beige with beige lace won’t do. Fie, I say unto thee, fie. Padded straps should not be necessary if the back is properly fitted. And your no-underwire styling, which useth strategic seams to ensure that the nipples point out from the ribcage at forty-five degree angles from center, lo, it is hideous. Crawl ye back under ye rocke, and I shall seek ye out when I am 90, because then I will more closely conform to the women your design department so seemeth to fantasize over.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being a busty old lady. But I’m not.

My only other option currently seems to be Cacique, which is a subdivision of Lane Bryant.
Cacique makes fantastic bras. Some have underwires, some don’t. The selection is narrow, with only a few styles. Lane Bryant stores always have a lingerie section, but they mostly end at DDD. But the larger stores will have a Cacique connected, and Cacique offers a few styles that come up to H. Satin plunge-front in a variety of colors! Seamless lace! Oh heaven!!!
Guess what?
No back sizes smaller than 38.
*sob*
It is NOT TRUE that only fat women have big tits! And wait a minute, I AM a fat woman! It is not true that fat women have fat ribcages! You’ve got jeans in all proportions, but no inkling that bras ought to work that way too?
The saleslady was sympathetic– “I get a lot of customers I really ought to put in a smaller back size, but I have to put them in 38 because they need the larger cups,” she said.
“Have you mentioned this to your corporate overlords?” I asked.
“No,” she said, looking puzzled.
“Perhaps you should,” I said. “I’ll write a polite note too.”
And I did.

Hey, it’s closer than anything else. $15 for a 38H, which I’ve taken in a few inches in the band, is better than the $50-$60, PLUS about $10 shipping, I’d be paying online.

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Roller Derby: Sport or… Not?

Posted by Kitty on November 21, 2008

So the WFTDA National tournament took place in Portland, OR this past week.
The Oregonian, a local newspaper, declined to cover the event, stating to a representative of the local roller derby league that the paper didn’t feel that roller derby was worthy of coverage. “We do not consider it a sport,” said the sports editor. “I don’t think the people want to read about it.”

(They ran a poll after the fact, asking whether their readership considered roller derby a sport worthy of coverage. As of 8 pm Eastern time on 11/21, the voting was 96% in the affirmative.)

Many leagues struggle with being taken seriously. Venues that let men play pick-up games of hockey close their doors to roller derby leagues asking to use the space. Media covers us in the “lifestyles” section of the paper, instead of sports. Radio interviewers flirt with skaters instead of asking about the sport. My own league several times had television news stations send reporters to skate with us and “get the full experience”, only to do little fluff pieces referencing the fakey days of yore.
The vast majority of news articles concerning roller derby follow a very simple formula.
“By day, {insert woman’s name} is a mild-mannered {insert profession, possible mention of any offspring she has}. But by night, she {puts on fishnets / dons a miniskirt / laces on a pair of rollerskates} and…”
You don’t really have to go much beyond that; most people’s eyes glaze over. But often there’s a cute photo, of girls stretching or someone’s thigh tattoo or whatever.

Sure, roller derby is sexy on paper. The names are about the only whimsical part left– the sport’s self-elected governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, has been continually revising the rules to play up the sportsmanship, gradually eliminating the last whimsical vestiges of the original carnival atmosphere of the flat-track revival. The sport still attracts misfits, and still often overlaps heavily with the punk scenes of the various cities where it is, but it is increasingly suburban, increasingly mothers, increasingly serious.

The public perception hasn’t kept up, which isn’t surprising. But it’s just another example of this culture’s ingrained misogyny. What’s so sexy about roller derby?
The skaters wear abbreviated clothing.
Really? How abbreviated?
Well, few actually expose flesh on the legs, due to possible friction burns. And heavy protective gear is usually worn– not just pads on the limbs, but more and more skaters wear tailbone protectors. The thing is, due to demand, several companies have come out with very slim-line tailbone protectors. Four or five of the twenty girls on my team wear tailbone protectors so thin that they’re invisible under running shorts. They’re so short they don’t show under miniskirts.
I’m considering getting one, after a hard tailbone landing during a drill last week. (Three landings like that in three years… Is that enough to justify the $75 pricetag?)

Yes, we dress slightly more sexily than your average hockey player, but we also play in hot gyms, not cold ice rinks. Do we wear more than volleyball players? You bet your sweet ass we do. Do we wear more than basketball players?
Maybe. Unless you count the ridiculously long shorts they wear as two garments, the average roller derby skater wears more than the average NBA player.

So really, what makes a roller derby uniform sexy is that… often, you can see thighs, or at least skin-tight coverings on thighs. And sometimes, depending on the shape of the skater, you can see cleavage. A few teams’ uniforms bare the shoulders (with racerback or thin-strap tank tops, or the occasional halter-neck).
This isn’t substantively less than a soccer uniform displays. It’s significantly less than a wrestling uniform displays.

The Texas squad at 2008 Nationals, photo by Insanity Labs.

But what is sexualized is the body underneath. Nearly-naked men are not sexy, unless they are specifically displayed as such (using cues of lighting, presentation, etc). Women in any clothing, even athletic gear, that is in any way form-fitting are sexy, because they have female bodies.
The female body, by default, is a display object.
And so roller derby is a spectacle, not a sport, because it features female bodies, who are necessarily on display as objects, not as agents.

That’s the easiest way to break it down. Yes, the factors I outlined above, about the fakery in its history and the carnivalesque original revival and all of that, they all contribute. But what remains is that women do it, and women don’t play sports, except as a junior or lite or softened version of men’s sports.
We’re still fighting for Title IX to mean something. Thank you, Oregonian, for making it explicit.

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less is more

Posted by Kitty on October 22, 2008

Here is a story about another teammate, another story told in the bar the other night. She is what some might (erroneously) call “a slip of a thing”; my height, five seven, but she is nearly a hundred pounds lighter than I am. To her sorrow, roller derby made what small endowments she had in her bra shrink to nearly nothing. But in return, instead of toothpick legs, she now has hard smooth muscular thighs, thin but solid.
What she lacks in bulk, she makes up for in volume: loud, outspoken, and opinionated, this girl never shrinks from confrontation, never shies away from self-expression. When she joined us she was a terrible skater, barely able to keep her feet on the ground. She still falls frequently. But out of sheer cussed determination, she has become a fast skater; what she still lacks in agility, she makes up for in both perseverance and speed.
She occasionally expresses a wish for a fuller figure. She can shop in the children’s section for her clothes. And while it’s great to be able to buy a little girl’s sports bra for $10 instead of a woman’s for $30, she admits that sometimes she wishes she “just had some titties”. She also feels like she has to use grippier wheels than some of the heavy girls– on corners, she can’t keep her center of gravity low enough, and her wheels slide out from under her. (In roller derby there’s a ceaseless debate over grippier vs. faster wheels– you don’t want mushy wheels to slow you down and create resistance as you roll, but if you hit a corner too fast on hard wheels your feet will go out from beneath you. The perfect wheels find a place in the middle, between speed and grippiness, so you can go flat out, not feel like you’re dragging through mud, and not lose it on corners.)

Not long ago she had a terrible bout of something unspecified and intestinal, that left her unable to keep food down, and all she could drink was blue Gatorade. She shed what little weight she had to shed, and grew weak, listless, and unable to focus.

People kept telling her how hot she was. People would stop her on the street and tell her, awestruck, how beautiful she was. Now, back at 120, all lean muscle and spiky highlighted hair, people don’t stop her on the street anymore.

“People are sick,” she said last night, beer in hand, as she told her story. “Sick. I was nearly dead! What’s wrong with me now, huh? I wish I had some titties, but I think I’m pretty hot now. I do all right. I don’t pass out. But people don’t treat me like they did then, when I was a skeleton. Why would less of me be better? I’m already a fucking stick figure! I work what I got, yeah, but shit. People are sick.”

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beautiful

Posted by Kitty on October 20, 2008

She is beautiful. Heart-shaped face, flawless clear white skin, wide-set eyes of the clearest deep blue, jewel-like, fringed with black lashes; her mouth is wide, shapely, and always a slightly glossy red, quick to a knowing smile that reveals perfect white teeth.
Her hair is tousled, flawless highlights scattered in sweaty curls. Helmet head. She has just been skating for nearly two hours, and her shirt collar is damp, her hair sticking up unevenly, disarranged.
“You all are bad for me,” she says, sitting on the speaker by the mute jukebox, a little higher up than the rest of us, who are sitting at the table in the bar. “You all tell me these things, tell me how you love it when I booty-block you, tell me how gorgeous my ass is and how jealous you are of it. And it goes straight to my head.”
We are teammates, friends; we’ve known one another for years, and we know one another’s foibles, weaknesses, troubles, snatches of one another’s histories. There is no reason she should be able to hold us spellbound, but we each seem to have independently decided to let her. Yes, she is that pretty, and yes, she is that charming. She is funny, but we well know the edge she carries, always ready to cut. She has wounded me before, but then, I have most likely wounded her. We are after all teammates. We’ve been through a lot.
“So it catches me completely off guard, because of all this flattery,” she goes on, “when I go out to a bar, and the men come, and they say cruel things. Like last weekend. I had told this man that his story was boring. I was doing him a favor. His story was a train wreck; nobody was listening, and he was dragging us all off the rails with him. I was only being direct, as my people are.” She is from a neighboring city, where people are more direct of manner than in our city. “You know, I was doing him a favor. But he got that look on his face, that posture,” she tilted her head back and forth, moving her shoulders as battling roosters do when sizing one another up, “that ‘yo mamma’ kind of posture, and I thought oh shit, it’s on now. And I was ready, you know I can dish it out and I can take it. But then he says, So you think you’re so clever, in your stupid scarf that doesn’t match your shirt! Oh, oh! I said, Oh no! Oh no, it’s the fashion police! And this man, this man with hockey hair and acne like pennies in craters down his face, he stands up and he holds his hands out to either side of his hips,” and she gestures, holding a hand about six inches away from her own hips, “and he says Oh yeah? Oh yeah, and shakes his ass and his hands.” She gestures, mimicking the gesture.
She is a plus-size model. She wears a size S shirt, in our two-piece skating uniform, and a size XL skirt. The same size skirt I wear. But I wear an XXL shirt. I am top-heavy. She… She is bottom-heavy, to put it mildly. To put it explicitly, she has the kind of waist-hip ratio that reduces most human animals to mute salivation. It is primal. It is hypnotizing.
It is mockable.
She tries to be proud of it. She is beautiful. She is funny. She is dangerous. She is steel and velvet and has her face in magazines. She can work eyes, mouth, across a room and reduce men and women to puddles of goo.
“Oh yeah,” she says, bitterly, mocking this man mocking her, shaking as if holding a gigantic pair of hips. “My friend grabbed my arm, my shy girlfriend, and said That is it, we are not staying at this lame party, and all of you can fuck yourselves. And she took me to the car. And she drove me the whole way home, and I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk. My eyes swelled shut.”
She looks around at us, her audience.
“You girls are bad for me. You inflate my head, saying all these nice things about my ass. It makes it such a shock, every time, when this happens to me. But it happens all the time. That was the first in a set. Last night some local asshole was the second time. I’m waiting for the third one.”

Another bar patron comes over. She is middle-aged, partially toothless. She wants to use the jukebox. “Excuse me, ladies,” she says, cheerful, friendly. “Move your fat asses, can ya?”
The looks we all turn on her must have been frightening; she holds up her hands. “Skinny asses!” she says. My teammate hops down off the speaker, shooting me a rueful smile. The woman says to her, “Skinny asses!” but my gorgeous teammate just walks back to the bar, shaking her head.

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name change

Posted by Kitty on October 16, 2008

I got myself a new handle, commensurate with a new angle. I am unable to delve into the yawning pit of terror that is my relationship with my body and looks interestingly anymore. It’s just… not interesting. I’m not going to sit around, either, and wait to feel better. I’m going to go do something to make myself feel better.
I’m starting a garden and focusing my eating more on eating locally available foods, and yet not in a preachy way.
I bought a bike trainer so I could ride the expensive bike I got several years ago (actually, I inherited it, and bought nice new parts for it, and bought my boyfriend an expensive bike to go along with it) and never ever ever ride.
I have decided to let myself read books again. (I don’t get to read books like alcoholics don’t get to drink: because I can’t stop once I start, I can’t have moderate amounts, I can’t pace myself, and once I fall into reading, I am completely unable to do anything else.) But only while riding the bike.
I love and hate exercise. I hate it because it’s boring. I love it because my sadistic roller derby coach got me hooked on exercise endorphins and I just fucking love the sensation when you’re out of breath and your heart is pounding and you have just told your body to suck it, you don’t care if it hurts, because you know you can go faster than that– and you’re right. So fuck you, boredom, and fuck you, pain. I am going to read and love it, I am going to exercise and love it. We’ll see how that goes.

And I have decided to take more nude photos of myself. I’ve always had a mixed relationship with this sort of thing. I love taking the photos. I hate seeing the photos. I am going to do something about this contradiction.

Just as only blogging finally made me write faithfully, so having an audience is more likely to make me actually follow through with this. So I’m looking into venues where I could sell these photos of myself. I don’t know if I’ll follow through with it. I’m going to try it.

Hence the new name. I’m considering being a pretentious asshole and making you Google it, but I won’t. Kitty Fisher was a whore. She was a famous whore. The image of her I’ll undoubtedly use as my avatar is of her dissolving a pearl in a glass of wine; she also is rumored to have eaten a thousand-pound bank note with butter on bread. She was that in-demand, that fucking rich, that rebellious.
This is not a situation I anticipate encountering myself, by any means. (For one thing, I’m so neurotic with money that I’ve lived on $5k a year, and it’s looking like I’m going to do so again. I had more money than I could spend, at one point, and my impulse was to hide it in the mattress. For another thing, I’m not Kitty fucking Fisher, I’m pushing thirty and fat and pasty and pretty damn clumsy really.)
But we’ve got to have role models. And why not aim high? As roller derby has taught me, it’s easier to push yourself beyond your normal limits (I don’t know how to roller skate!!!) if you give yourself a new name first. A new name, a new persona. Be someone else. I can’t skate, but my alter-ego can.

So, a new name. A new attitude. I won’t sit here in frustration and anger in a darkened room. I will not wait for my attitude towards my recalcitrant body to improve via the miracle of positive thinking. I will fucking do something.

(I should make clear, too, that I’m not going to obsessively exercise because I want to be thinner, but because my roller derby team has a shot at the championship this year and I will not be a second-stringer, who gets put in the lineup to let better skaters rest and to fill gaps with a warm body. I want to be strong, I want to be fucking unstoppable. I want to be feared. I will eat whatever the fuck makes me feel good– and I know from experience that food whose origin I can identify makes me feel much better than the anonymous grocery-store kind. If my thighs blossom up to 23 inches, 24 inches, I will not care, not even if they are jiggly, as long as underneath they are rock-solid and immovable.)

I probably ought to hire a photographer to do a proper shoot. But I have a little ways to go first.

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over here

Posted by Kitty on October 9, 2008

I have been having trouble lately mustering up the gumption to write here. To do so, I have to sit down and think about my body. And I’m just not… it doesn’t feel good. For a while there, being defiant and angry kept me going, and made me full of fire to post rants and essays and polemics here. But lately the anger has faded, and I just… feel fat. That’s pretty much how it goes.
I have other blogs, where I talk about things besides being fat and having completely ridiculous proportions. It’s easier to fall back on those, as the seasons turn. But it means I neglect this one, which is isolated and anonymous. I still feel like this is an important issue– obviously it is, if someone so immersed in the Fat Acceptance movement that she started a blog, is still falling prey to all the negative body-image stuff. But I don’t know how to write about it.
Because I gained yet more weight this fall, while nursing a foot injury that kept me off-skates. Then I pulled a nerve in my back. I know I need to exercise more because more exercise makes me less physically fragile. But I also know that I can’t count on exercise to make my body go “back the way it was”. It won’t. My body changes one way only. And I don’t like the way my body is. I don’t like the direction it’s headed. I am still far enough back that anything older, bigger, saggier is instinctively seen as a bad thing. I have stretch marks in new places. I am now hopelessly beyond the range of most bra manufacturers. I console myself that at least I can finally fit into Lane Bryant’s clothes, which is a pretty big step– for the first time in about ten years, I can shop at the mall with a reasonable expectation of finding a selection, as opposed to just one item, that will fit me. And I don’t have to try on the whole store to find it!
But it’s scant consolation in the face of so much negativity.

So I will probably be back. But I don’t know when I’ll feel good about myself again, good enough to get fired up and post an essay.

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sometimes I’m sad

Posted by Kitty on September 8, 2008

The news story ran last week. I’m not linking directly to it, since this is a pseudononymous blog. But if you’d like to read it, drop me a line. It was a good story, presenting both sides of the fat acceptance idea– I rather thought my side came across better, because the two health professionals he interviewed had obviously never really given it very much thought, and kind of contradicted themselves in the normal fashion (Fat is bad! But only when it’s too much fat! And um, I don’t know what too much fat is, but it’s definitely definite! Yeah.)– but the only person I’ve had contact me about it was a local woman who found me on Facebook and keeps updating me on her weight loss journey. So maybe the point didn’t get across. I don’t know. I’m feeling rather tired lately, beaten down by all of it, so I can’t really judge.

I went to a wedding yesterday. I have never been much of a clothes horse; I grew up not liking my body, as many adolescent girls don’t, and it was only compounded by my mother, who had been chubby as a child, ceaselessly nagging me not to get fat. That helped a lot, you know? So I hated clothing, and wore shapeless things until I was about 18 and had my first sexual relationship, with a person who thought I was– ohmigod– sexually attractive.
I know. What a concept.
So I realized that I could wear clothing that– brace yourself– fit me, and it would look better and be more comfortable than the shapeless stuff I’d been wearing.
My mother never got this memo. But I’m digressing.
My point is, I never had much to wear. So formal occasions have always stressed me out. Shopping remains a nightmare. Making things… well, my mother would make me things, but see above about the memo– she makes things that don’t really fit me. (She once went to all the trouble of making me a bathing suit when I complained that the Lands End D-cup suits didn’t fit, since I’m larger than a D-cup. But instead of measuring me, she just got a C-cup pattern and scaled it up a little. So I tried it on, flopped right out, traumatized my innocent-bystander little sister, grimly handed the suit back to her, and never heard any more about it. She has never really been able to grasp the concept of “bigger than a D-cup”. Even though her mother was, and is, a DDD.)

I keep digressing. It’s because I’m tired and sad, and I haven’t even explained why. The “why” is that I had to go to a wedding yesterday. I had very little notice of this wedding. Not enough time to make myself a new dress. Not really enough time to buy one, since I can’t find anything anyway. I had two dresses in my stash that recently fit. But both required specialty bras. For that brief blessed few months last year, I fit perfectly (well, better than I’d ever fit into a bra before) into a 34G and bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of bras from Figleaves.com and Bravissimo. Both dresses fit perfectly then. But then I gained that five pounds all in my boobs, and none of those bras fit anymore.
One dress is a halter. The other is a plunge.
I can’t wear either dress.
Can’t go naked either.

So I wore the plunge dress, with a regular bra underneath. The regular bra showed by about three inches in the front. So I wore a camisole too. I checked this, and re-checked it, and re-checked it, and took a photo and looked at it, and it looked OK, as long as I pinned it all with safety pins underneath. It didn’t quite match, but it wasn’t obscene. (Or so I thought.) Better than last time I tried to wear the plunge bra anyway, and fell out in front of the bride’s father. (That was great. Fortunately I was completely fucking hammered and at the time, not so bothered. I’m mortified now, but at least I could still enjoy the party at the time.)

I spent all yesterday evening being stared at. People were polite (well, except my boyfriend’s cousin, who took pictures down the front of my dress, but he’s amusing so I didn’t object). But people, men and women alike, kept staring at my chest. Most of them weren’t staring in a “Hey, wow, J-cups!” kind of way (which makes me tired sometimes too, but I’m sort of used to it, and at least don’t find it alarming). They were staring in a “What’s going on?” kind of way.
Obviously, it didn’t look as OK as I’d thought.

And these are semi-relatives. So now all these people are wondering what’s wrong with me, why would I wear something like that to a wedding, what was I doing? I know I wonder, when I see a half-naked woman, why she’s dressed so revealingly– well, unless it’s that kind of party, of course.

I don’t do it on purpose. I can’t help it. Outfits that don’t give normal people cleavage are borderline obscene on me. I can’t help it. I can’t take them off. They’re with me everywhere I go. I don’t have any options.
I just don’t have any options. I’m just trying to look nice. I just want to look fucking nice. I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ll be fine tomorrow. I hope. I just don’t feel so good about myself tonight. There’s nothing I can do about these fucking tits. I can’t find a bra that fits. The 32Js I got in London are too small for the left breast so there’s a bulge on that side that looks ugly, and the underwires leave merciless red marks in my armpits and are agony after a couple of hours. There are only like two bras made in that size, and they’re still not right, and I hate every option I have. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of it.

So anyway. If anyone was wondering whether anyone manages not to have awful body-image days, well, add me to the “no” list. I’m having a bad one.

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Pennsic

Posted by Kitty on August 11, 2008

I had a simply marvelous time at Pennsic XXXVII, and just as I had thought, it was generally a very body-positive experience.
I camped down in the Swamp, for anyone who’s ever been; for those who haven’t, I’ll just say that as I now understand it, Pennsic being such a ginormous event (this year, a slim year, had an attendance of only 10,500 or so, so you get the picture), it tends to separate out into several zones of the type of thing that goes on. The Serengeti, or “Topside”, is where the merchants, food court, battlefield, and most of the royal encampments are. Up Top, they take it somewhat seriously, at least enough that they at least strive for authentic costumes, and are more into playing the game. This is by no means universal, of course. And there are varying degrees of these sorts of thing throughout the site, heavily influenced in intensity by different contexts.
But the Swamp is way down the hill, far from the Important Things, in the shade, cooler and damper and muddier. Down there, the camps are known more for silliness and for parties. Hardcore parties. Bonfires with drums and dancers. And the nude swimming hole.
I was camped right down near that nude swimming hole. (To be more accurate, it was a shallow creek as opposed to anywhere you’d actually swim. Wading… thing, maybe.)
So I sat all day long, a few days, and watched people walk by. I was camped with a lot of thirtysomething men on vacation. We were all bound and determined, above all else, to have a good time.
Inevitably, we girl-watched.
Whenever a “hot chick” walked by, the men would grunt at one another, for the benefit of those not paying attention, to let them know that they shouldn’t miss the current scenery.

The men outright admitted that they were grunting at girls with body types they wouldn’t normally find attractive. But in “garb”, or in just a towel, or in that fur bikini or gypsy dancer costume… well, certain features of the body not normally considered desireable in modern “mundane” clothing became a great deal more alluring. Properly done pre-modern clothing does not necessarily use “nude” to mean “sexy”; the girls that got grunted at were not always the least clothed.

I got grunted at a couple of times. It was nicer than you’d think.

The really wonderful thing, you see, was that behavior that in “mundania” would be considered creepy somehow didn’t feel quite so unnerving or threatening there. I was shamelessly and sometimes persistently hit on, sometimes by characters I found rather unsavory, but the atmosphere and circumstances were such that I never found it as unpleasant as I do in the real world. The vast, vast majority of the people there were extremely determined to have a good time; anyone detracting from that (say, for example, by creeping out one of your attractive new friends) was subject to more or less subtle censure. And if worst came to worst, you were never alone.

So on the whole it was a body-positive, mind-positive, and just in general positive experience.
I’ll definitely be back.

I could go on about why it was quite so nice– it being a closed group, of people who had voluntarily chosen to be there based on an ideal of something unusual, and many of them who had come year after year and had created a consistent community, and so on and so forth. But I am rather happier to simply bask in the memory of it.

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miscellanea

Posted by Kitty on July 26, 2008

Tying up assorted loose ends:
1) I will be going out of town for two weeks, away from the Internet and everything, so won’t be updating. I’m going to Pennsic, which is an experiment for me on many levels. First it’s what finally got me to learn to sew, which is looking like it might open up a huge new world of possibility in terms of feeling better about my freakish body and actually looking reasonably well-turned-out when I leave the house, etc. Second, I’ve just always wanted to go. Third, it’s apparently a really really body-positive experience– all the friends I borrowed garb from, who were by necessity about my size, had midriff-baring belly-dancer costumes, and all made the crack (separately) that if all else failed I could just go naked. I said something about how I’d never bared my midriff, and one friend laughed and said, “Well, you look good to me, and Pennsic is the time to bare body parts you haven’t before.”
So I’m sort of worried about it, and sort of excited about it.
I made myself a choli, and I was going to make an additional apron part for it, but didn’t get around to it. Maybe I *will* be baring my midriff. Woo!

2) But the fact that I’m going out of town means I won’t be here to see when I’m in the newspaper. A local reporter stumbled upon one of my other blogs, and wanted to interview me about size-positivity. So I agreed, and I hope I told him some good things. My boyfriend was around during the interview, and spoke up about his experiences as an extremely skinny person, and the reporter was struck by what a vivid illustration the two of us made. So we went in and posed for a news photographer, me wielding beets in a threatening fashion and the boyfriend looking smug with a bag of pork rinds (which he ate during the shoot, and they smelled awful).

There are a few things about this story that might displease some of the more active FA activists. One is the “But skinny people have a hard time too!” angle, brought in by the boyfriend. The thing is, he does it well. He is a smart guy, and articulate, and has given me a lot of great perspective about this whole size positivity thing. I brought him in as an illustration of the sheer impact of genetics and metabolism: he and I eat identical diets, but I exercise a whole lot more. Why does he have a BMI of 16 while I am up over 30?
It sure as hell isn’t Calories In / Calories Out. (That phrase, in my head, is always said in a high-pitched, chipper, frighteningly upbeat manner.)

The other thing, and I am genuinely worried about this one, is that I am not that fat. I’ve covered that here before. In the interview I repeatedly stressed how reasonable and healthy my diet is, how much I exercise. I am very hourglassy, and am often told that I don’t look as heavy as I am. A lot of my weight is muscle– that’s when I gained the weight that finally tipped me over into the Obese category, was when I started working out intensively.
So there’s a big risk that I am being set up as The Acceptable Fatty, and that instead of finding this story empowering, people who are fatter, especially people who are less active and fatter (and, not to be conceited, it would be hard to be more active than me, especially if you have a job and kids and hobbies that aren’t a sport– none of which I have at the moment), will still think that they’re not acceptable fatties. I have seen this before, in the FA movement– the HAES practitioners who are defensive about their amazingly healthy lifestyles (understandably, trying to head off all the standard “but you gorge on junk food and never get off the sofa– you must, because that’s the only way to be fat” arguments), and then the people, fatter, less active, who wonder if they don’t have enough HAES “points” to be “acceptable”.
And I’m quite worried that will happen. I do look quite chunky in the photos, because I’m standing next to a man with a thirty-six inch inseam and a twenty-nine inch waist. (Reverse those and you’ve got my approximate measurements.) But to a person who is my height and a hundred pounds heavier and has fibro so exercise is tough and diet is tricky… will this story only hammer home their already-existing belief (or, worse, society’s already-existing belief) that they’re still not OK?

I feel like anything is a good start, but I’m just worried, and I won’t be around to react to it all at the time.

So let me just state here for the record:
I do believe that since this is the only body you get, to live this only life which is also all that we know for sure that you get, it is a really great idea to take the best care of it that you can manage– which means eat food that makes you feel good, and move your body in ways that feel good, and practice other basic self-care to ensure that your body works the best it can for as long as it can. I think that is all vitally important. In fact, it’s pretty much the whole reason I reject dieting, because I don’t think that’s a very good form of self-care. And I think that it’s also vitally important to feel like you can say “Screw it, I’m not going for my morning jog today, I’m tired and want to sit on the couch”, and not feel like you’re letting yourself down.

But if you don’t, that still doesn’t make you a bad person, and it’s still not in any way acceptable to judge someone. You don’t have to be a “good fatty” to be involved in FA, or to benefit from it. I want to separate society’s sense of the worth of a person from that person’s conformity to standards of conventional attractiveness. The best thing I personally can do, toward this goal, is to go against the stereotypes of fat people as well as I can. But that is not something that everyone needs to do.

What this all comes down to is that I do not want to use my current state of health as a bludgeon. I am young, I am active, I am healthy, I am reasonably close to the standards of conventional attractiveness. These are all nice things I’m glad I have, and I do enjoy them all, but they’re not the things that make me an OK person. The things I just listed are all things that can, and will, change– either I will grow older and probably less fit, or I will die and dead people aren’t terribly attractive for very long. The things that make me an OK person are the things that will not change, and they are all things that you cannot see.

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repost: On Having Fat Titties

Posted by Kitty on July 25, 2008

I originally wrote this some months ago, on a website where I’ve been a member a long time. I just rediscovered it and thought it belonged here.
Warning: Lots of cuss words.
___________________________

Reading a column, via bookslut, on a book about fashion that dispenses “sensible” advice, and is apparently less antifeminist than the norm. Great. I was cautiously behind her on the whole thing, but then stumbled across a paragraph that made me recoil with a nearly-out-loud (that would’ve been bad, as I’m at work) “Fuck you!”

Show me a woman with a good three inches of cleavage on show and I’ll show you a woman who has little faith in her powers of conversation. All fashion is, to a degree, a form of self-expression in that it gives onlookers an impression of your personality before you open your mouth. Some style choices, however, come with such an immutable set of associations, there is no need for words. [...]
Cleavage takes this to a whole new level. Any conversation will be pointless anyway as no one will be listening, either because they’re (a) straight males and therefore rendered temporarily hypnotised, a cliché, yes, but sad and true, or (b) anyone else and are thus left shocked by the pathetic obviousness of your tactics.

Yes, you have breasts – congratulations. Whether squashing them together like two pigs fighting underneath a blanket shows them off to their best advantage is a somewhat debatable point. Whether it adds anything to your outfit is less so because the answer is, no, it doesn’t.

Yeah, fuck you. Another possible? Maybe we’re sick of getting teased about being fat so we’re just heading off the inevitable sly digs by just putting them the fuck out there. Look, I have fucking huge tits and I know that, so here they are: when you make the joke about them or reference to them that I know you are going to, at least you won’t be able to feel smug like I’m not in on this joke. I am the fucking joke, of course I’m in on it whether you meant to include me or not.
Also: turtlenecks make me look like I have some sort of bloating-related disease.
Also: a nicely low-cut shirt disguises the fact that none of your fucking bras fit.

Also?
You’re just jealous, you skinny bitch.
(I have to say these things sometimes, and I apologize to any of you who might happen to be thin. It’s not directed at you unless you started this. In which case it’s on now, baby.)

And I came to the inevitable conclusion that fashion is a highly individual thing, there are no categorical dos and don’ts, and anyone who says so, no matter how funkily and pro-feministy and cattily they say it, is just making herself feel better by keeping her sisters down, man.

(The articles are here and here.)

The last time I Went Out On The Town was for a roller-derby-related function. I wore a v-neck halter top with two slightly-too-small bras because none of mine fit my fat tits anymore, and two ill-fitting bras fail less spectacularly than one. I had probably three or four inches of cleavage showing. (I can get down to about six or seven inches before there’s any risk of nipple slippage, so that’s actually pretty conservative for me.) My teammates, once they realized this was deliberate, happily made boob jokes, grabbed them, poked me, etc. One of my teammates played my boobs like bongos.
It was kind of freeing.
I know I got off easy; at the end of the night, some sweater-wearing preppie asshole asked one of my teammates (who is, incidentally, a small business owner, a plus-size model, and an amazing skater, as well as having the most strikingly beautiful face of anyone I know in person– symmetrical, wide blue eyes, very dark eyelashes, classic bow mouth… and a sixteen-inch difference between her waist and hip measurements) if she had “anything going for her besides a big ass.”
We all volunteered to beat the shit out of him. She opted to give him a sarcastic lecture before leaving.
I still think we should’ve beat the the shit out of him.

My answer, which I have rehearsed should anyone ask me a similar question, is “A mean left hook”, and yes I’ve rehearsed the demonstration part too, and yes I do get my hip into it. Possibly with a follow-up elbow to the back of the head, if he collapses properly. Is assault ever justified? I believe so, in response to a verbal assault like that: a man would only start off a conversation like that if he’s hoping your self-esteem collapses so far that you’ll lower yourself to fuck him. And that’s assault. Fuck you, buddy, I don’t need that.

Do I have a point? I don’t know if I have a point. I started off with a point. Besides the fact that I’m fashion-hopeless and take exception to the entire culture’s obsession with it.
My point is, I agree that you don’t have to be ignorant of fashion to be a feminist. You don’t have to shave your head or wear baggy clothing. You can wear lip gloss if you like. Go for it, if it floats your boat.
But I don’t agree that you should mock anybody else for their sense of fashion. You know? Fuck off. Just because you don’t have big tits doesn’t give you a license to make fun of everyone who does.

And FUCK “dressing to conceal your flaws”. FUCK it RIGHT in its metaphorical ass! My fat tits are not a flaw, they are 40% of my torso. I refuse to consign 40% of my torso to the “flaw” bin. And I refuse to make up something else to be self-conscious about. I’m not about to expose my midriff, but I’m not going to label it as a flaw either– that’s another 20% of my fucking torso and you know, a torso is pretty important to my life. It does its job. It’s not a flaw.

Just because you don’t like animal print doesn’t mean nobody can wear it. Maybe someone wears something unflattering and it’s funny: sure. But all that really means is that the person is wearing something unflattering and possibly comical; it doesn’t mean that he or she (more commonly she) is less of a person. It absolutely doesn’t give you the right to judge her psyche and character. Fuck you. If there’s any justice in the world, she’ll take your verbal assault as you intend it, and will punch you right in your smug superior face. Don’t you tear me down with your fucking snark, sister, or I’ll tear you down literally.

Yeah I’m a fucking pacifist. Nyahh. Am I a little wound up? Perhaps.
But I kind of get this a lot. And I’m really fucking sick of it.

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