Kitty Fisher

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

Archive for July, 2008

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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hate speech

Posted by Kitty on July 24, 2008

So I go on about my roller derby league here a lot, and what an empowering sport it is for women of all shapes and sizes. Have I linked, incidentally, to the Campaign for Real Booty? It’s a good ‘un, and I applaud Cindy LopHer for having the bright idea to run with it.

Anyhow. In her intro post, she makes some excellent and true statements about body image and roller derby and all that, so I won’t repeat it all.

But I will share something I’ve noticed. Derogatory words carrying implications of overweightness or gross obesity still do get used. (Normally only under extreme circumstances, to be sure, but it has happened.) But there’s a distinction, and the distinction has nothing to do with actual size. I am curious as to what extent this is true of the population at large, and how much it’s just me and my derby girls, but I suspect it’s rather widespread, given how many other FA bloggers have mentioned this sort of thing.

One of my teammates was angry with another skater, and referred to her as “Shamu”, and made a joke about her eating habits. I was shocked.
“I’m the same size as her,” I said. “Maybe bigger. I’m fat too. I don’t like it when you say things like that about fat people.”
“Honey,” said my offending teammate, “I’m almost that size too. It ain’t her size that makes me call her that, it’s that I don’t like her.”

That, in this friend’s mind, is the difference between being fat and not being fat: whether she likes you or not.

I’ve leaned on her to cut that shit out, and for the most part, we all now stick to simply rolling our eyes about people we don’t like, or explaining the ways in which they’ve proven themselves idiots, instead of insulting their physical characteristics. We are adults, after all. And it’s a lot more constructive to point out that someone’s logic is flawed than to make snide comments about her fashion sense. (Which is just generally true of debates in general, really.)

But to what extent is that true in the world at large? I hear frequently of people saying, “My friends make fun of people my size for being fat but then insist that it doesn’t apply to me. What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Fat” has become such a loaded term, fat and its related descriptives. Fat means bad, and all the mocking names for fat people are reserved only for bad fat people.

It bothers the crap out of me, but I suppose it’s logical, in some twisted way.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that really, it’s not a good idea to do that. It’s kind of like distinguishing between, to pick something inflammatory because I can’t think of anything less objectionable so please don’t flame me (I’m not making a direct comparison here, just a rhetorical one)– say, for example, gay people and faggots. You have a lot of friends who are gay people, and they’re cool and all and you like them, but you hate faggots. The distinction between these people who share a characteristic boils down to the fact that to the ones you like, you don’t mention said characteristic, but to the ones you hate, you use it to apply a hurtful label.
Somehow, I think, your gay friends would not be particularly amused. You could clue them in on the distinction, and if they liked you well enough and understood your sense of humor and all, they might not get angry with you, but they would probably still be uncomfortable on some level.
If you don’t believe me, go back through that paragraph and substitute “black people” and “niggers”. Just try it, I’ll wait.
See what I mean?

It’s not cool.

Because what you’re doing is reinforcing the old belief that that characteristic, whether it’s sexual preference or skin color or body shape, is something that is in itself negative, and implying that you can forgive the ones who are your friends, can overlook that trait, because they themselves are such a positive presence that the negativity is balanced out.
Maybe that’s not what you mean.
But it’s in there.
And to come down to it, that’s a pretty shitty thing to imply.

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Intuitive Eating

Posted by Kitty on July 6, 2008

Everyone goes on about how great intuitive eating is. You’ve just got to eat whatever your body tells you that you need at any given moment, man. Even if it’s weird. Because your body knows best.

I tell you what, I don’t have the time or the money to go to the grocery store thrice daily. And my body? She’s an indecisive bitch. When she wants things, it’s mostly just the mental idea of those things. The amount of crap I’ve eaten that it turns out I didn’t really want…
I’m just really not a food-focused sort of person. I love to eat, sure. I love yummy food. I also love pretty food. And sometimes I just love the idea of someone feeding me. I even just love the idea of eating whatever, sometimes. I’m not a binge eater, or compulsive at all– I have no issues with food really. I have never truly dieted, not for a long enough period to damage myself psychologically. I grew up in a household where food was healthy, homemade, reasonably plentiful, and ridiculously tasty. My mother grew much of the produce we ate, and was a frugal shopper who bought in bulk, prepared things ahead, and generally was wonderfully efficient with everything. She had a large store of recipes in her head that she’d cycle through. Pork chops and baked potatoes with lima beans. Lasagne, homemade, with home-grown tomatoes in the sauce. Fresh peas you’d shell yourself. Corn on the cob picked after the water had been put on to boil. I mean, my mom made the good shit. All the time.

I’m a decent cook. I know many of her recipes. But I don’t have her sources.

And I just don’t have the passion for it. I am not in a mental place where I can concentrate and focus that well on anything, let alone food.

So let me tell you my story of intuitive eating for today.

Three days ago I made chili. I used half of a red pepper in it, and put the other half back into the fridge in a plastic baggie.
Ever since then I have been thinking about how good that pepper would be in an omelet. Maybe with some bacon on the side. Mmm. We have a local sausage shop that smokes their own bacon and cuts it thick, and it’s the best thing in the goddamn world. It’s wonderful.
A nice big omelet with some sharp cheddar cheese and this red pepper.
I’ve thought about it so much that I want it all the time. I was lying in bed last night thinking about this omelet.

Today I decided I wanted to make it. But I got up and checked my email and a huge chunk of the roof of my social life just caved in and revealed a big gaping structural fault in the foundation. And I was sick yesterday, and in my poor state, I accidentally rammed the needle of my sewing machine through one of my fingers. I yanked it out before the shock wore off, and the bleeding stopped pretty soon, but I don’t have health insurance and don’t know when my last tetanus shot was.
Etcetera, etcetera.

I sat there with my sore finger as the dust of my personal life settled, and slowly picked myself up and went to the shower. I got in the shower and as the water poured around me, I thought of that omelet again.

And had a realization. What if I fuck it up? I obviously want this thing really badly. What if I either make it wrong, or even make it right and then get it onto the plate and it turns out I didn’t really want it?
This belief I’ve had for three days that this omelet with a red pepper in it would make me feel better will come crashing down too.
And then what will I have left?

Obviously I’m being melodramatic, but the fear is real.

Which is why it’s important to point out that the first plank in a good Health at Every Size campaign platform is Mental Health.

You have got to get your shit together, or it really won’t matter what the hell you eat.

__________________
For the record, my boyfriend showed up and decided to make brunch. “Hey, we have this red pepper– could I use it in an omelet?” “… By all means,” I answered. “But is it OK if I don’t help make brunch?” “Sure,” he said. “I think I can handle making an omelet.”
This is why I keep him. Six years this week, incidentally.

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