Kitty Fisher

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

Archive for the ‘body image’ Category

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.


Posted in body image, sports | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

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 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.

Posted in body image, clothes | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in body image, fat, sports, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

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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Average Size

Posted by Kitty on May 23, 2008

I have been trying to nail down where the statistics come from in all those magazine articles that say things about the average American woman’s size. Most of the sources simply state the statistic, which is usually “Fifty percent of American women wear a size 12 or larger”, but occasionally it says “size 14” instead, with no citation given.
This SFgate article has more detailed claims than normal, and a citation of its source, so I’m going to take that and run with it: “Sixty-eight percent wear a size 12 or larger, and 52 percent wear size 14 or larger, according to Grace magazine”.

That’s my nod toward statistical accuracy. Now I’m going to dive right off into anecdotes.

I think of myself as being bigger than average. Gradually I’ve begun to realize that really, I’m not. I’m a 14/16, hourglassy, Rack of Doom balanced out by Super Ass (it only grew in recently, I’m rather proud of it after having been top-heavy for a long time), fairly heavy for my height because of speed skating muscles, pretty happy (finally!) with my appearance. And only as I’ve achieved that last thing have I been able to look rationally at my chronic fashion woes: I am not a terribly huge person. In fact, I may be… Average.

I know that every time the topic of clothes shopping comes up at roller derby practice, about half to a third of us complain that we can’t find anything that fits us in stores. Another girl and I spent all of last season looking for frilly panties to wear over our tights. (Shorts are too constricting, but skirts fly up, and if one’s ass is going to show, one should clothe it in something that makes it obvious that one expected one’s ass to show. In addition, more layers is better, and padding is double plus bonus.) She’s probably got 50 to 55-inch hips, so we’re in a similar size situation. We couldn’t find anything, and wound up trading tips on making our own. (Find men’s athletic underwear– the black spandex kind– and sew lace on using a zig-zag stitch. Then you get some thigh coverage too, which is good if you’re trying to avoid rink rash. The other girl actually sewed on rick-rack with pom-poms and made continuous cracks about her “Mexican Taxi Ass”. She rocks really hard, in case you didn’t figure that out.)

Applying statistics, that means that between 50 and 33% of the members of a group of women between 18 and 50 who spend 10 or more hours a week, for eight to ten months at a stretch (we have a brief off-season), in extremely intense physical activity, cannot find clothing to fit themselves.
A few of us are big enough to shop at the plus size stores.
But most of us aren’t, and yet… can’t shop at the regular stores either.


I am AVERAGE SIZED. Statistics and anecdotes both seem to bear this out. AVERAGE.

So what’s my point?
“Plus size” is a bit of a misnomer, as it just means “larger than smaller than average”.
There is a gigantic collection of women for whom plus size is too big, but misses’ is too small. Because they are AVERAGE.

What is WRONG with this picture?
I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.

I’ve started making my own clothes. I’ll let you know how that works out. At the moment I’m stumped with the ‘threading the sewing machine’ part of it, but at least I’ve got the sewing machine.

Posted in body image, clothes, fat, inbetween, sports | Leave a Comment »

size doesn’t matter

Posted by Kitty on May 14, 2008

My boyfriend is a little sarcastic about my dinner-table discussion of size positivity and fat acceptance and all that.
He’s a sarcastic bastard in general, but he’s right about this.
I make fun of him for his size all the damn time.

Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about his waist size.
He weighs 135 pounds. He can’t buy pants that fit, so he goes to specialty shops for the next best thing: 29 inch waist, 36-inch inseam. (He can also wear 30x34s in some brands, which you can occasionally get in straight shops, but it means he needs a belt and they ride lower than his underwear, which he dislikes.) The one pair of tailored pants he owns are tailored to a 28 and a half inch waist, with a thirty-seven inch inseam. He has very long legs and a high waist, and his lack of spare flesh means that, unusually for a man, his hipbones protrude beyond the width of his waist. His arms are likewise too long for his little body. His collarbones protrude. His knees are larger in circumference than his thighs.
People who are not used to him think he is starving. He had stomach problems in high school, and was referred to a gastroenterologist. I should explain, he had no problems with digestion, he just had mysterious tummyaches. He was eating normally, like a teenage boy– unable to sleep through the night during growth spurts, he would wake up and clean out the fridge– his mother would deliberately make too much at dinner so he’d have leftovers to eat at midnight. He ate probably three or four thousand calories a day– just like a normal teenager. But he was having stomach pains.
He walked into the gastroenterologist and the doctor actually gasped, “You shouldn’t have waited so long!” Assuming that this emaciated young man was having digestive issues and had starved for lack of medical attention. It took a few minutes to sort it out.

He isn’t starving. He isn’t anorexic. There’s nothing wrong with his intestines. But he’s six feet three, and 135 pounds. He eats more than me, most days, though I like sweet snacks more than he does, and am more cranky if I skip a meal. (He, on the other hand, likes to sit and munch through most of a bag of Chee-Tos while staring at the computer in the evening after dinner.) According to his BMI, he is one pound away from being hospitalized for anorexia. (He meets none of the other criteria, of course, but by the criteria that make me Obese with a capital O, he is Underweight, and Scarily So. He would not be allowed on a catwalk in Spain.)

I make fun of him for this all the time. I joke about his hollow leg where he puts all the food. I pinch his protruding hip-bones. I make noises like a xylophone and pretend to play songs on his protruding ribs.
I am wrong to do this. But I feel defensive, so I do it.
He is perfectly healthy. He beat me at arm wrestling last time we tried, and at regular wrestling too when that didn’t ‘take’, though I outweighed him by 70 pounds and got hours more exercise a week than him. When we move house (we’ve done this several times together) I do all the heavy lifting and he gets the door. He is stronger, for his size, than I am, but I am simply bigger than him, and 200 pounds of woman is going to be much more effective at leg-pressing a giant sofa up three flights of stairs than 135 pounds of man.

I grew up in a family with a big mother and a small father. My mother was always an impressive figure of a woman, five feet eleven inches with size eleven feet and broad shoulders and hips. My father was a small man, just six feet, narrow shoulders, narrow hips, small waist; he has never weighed more than 147 pounds. (Normally he’s 145. You can use him to calibrate your scale, most days, and his weight has been unchanged since 1965.) Several years ago my mother, through strict calorie restriction and a heightened exercise regimen, lost over 100 pounds. But even now, she still outweighs my father by at least thirty pounds. (She looks like a little old woman now, much older and frailer, but is overjoyed to finally not be “that fat woman” anymore, so I am glad for her at least. But she now has osteopenia, and I wonder how related it is to a crash diet at menopause.)

It shouldn’t bother me that my boyfriend is so much thinner than I am. That has always been normal, in my personal experience. I admit I’ve always found it a little odd when very large men take up with very small women; not that I don’t think it should happen, but that I’ve found it strange that the woman’s smallness is seen as normal or even desireable as a characteristic in itself.

But there– yesterday, it was a lovely sunny day. I did the laundry, and then went to hang it up outdoors. I have a little yard, finally, and a little clothesline, and these are things that make me happy. I grew up with clothes smelling of sunshine and grass, and in my young adult years city life has made that impossible. Now I can have it again, because I have a good living situation and a good life in general. I do count these blessings and am grateful for them. (I also have a dozen new strawberry plants. Life is joy, especially in the springtime.)

So I hung out the clothes yesterday. And there were the boxer shorts I sleep in sometimes, size XXL, white, with little penguins on them, my sister bought them for me when she worked at Old Navy. I hung them up: they’re probably twenty-two inches wide. Then I bent down and picked up the next item of clothing from the basket. A pair of the boyfriend’s boxer shorts. I hung them beside mine. Approximately half the width, but the same length, they made my shorts look comically gigantic, like cartoon bloomers. I could sail a boat with them.

I stood a moment, poleaxed by my unexpected reaction to the juxtaposition. I am a huge person. I am gigantic. How can I have been feeling so good about myself? (I was, in fact, wearing only a sports bra and a pair of jeans because I’d thrown my t-shirt into the washing machine because it was muddy from gardening, and had been inwardly smug at how nice it felt not to be worried that the neighbors might see the vast expanse of my snow-white belly which is, incidentally, more solid than normal what with all the workouts of late.) Whammo, self-esteem gone.

It took me a moment to bring myself back from it. I know I’m twice his size. I know that. I know it would kill me to weigh what he does. I also know he would look awful at my size, and the things he would have to do to reach, let alone maintain, my weight would make him miserable. We both eat a healthy diet– together. Now that I don’t care anymore, I may eat more than him, but not by much, and not most of the time (I seem to have a smaller stomach, and get full faster, despite the relative sizes of our midsections). He doesn’t make fun of me for being fat. I’m learning not to let my defensiveness make me make fun of him for being thin.

Of course his god-damned underpants are going to be smaller than mine. That is perhaps not how most people’s worlds look, but that’s how my world looks. And I like my world, I’m happier in my world. The only way this little fact of life is going to change, given that both of us are at healthy stable weights, is if I go and find myself a bigger man. And to do that, I’d have to get rid of the one I have.

Hah. Unlikely.

Posted in body image, clothes, fat | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Kitty on May 4, 2008

A post is brewing on what happened while I was in London (which is why there was no post last week), but in the meantime I wanted to address something that comes up almost ridiculously often.
Breast reductions.

Last night my team hosted a roller derby match between two other themes. Since we weren’t skating, we didn’t wear our uniforms– ‘hosting’ means that we worked the door, manned the merch table, sold raffle tickets, laid out the track, set up the chairs, and all that. Roller derby leagues are volunteer organizations, and rely heavily on the unpaid labor of their members and their members’ most devoted fans (skaters’ husbands and boyfriends, and sometimes girlfriends/partners [though girlfriends/partners tend more often to get sucked in as skaters…] are known as Derby Widows, and are the backbone of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to run an organization like this.
I know I’ve digressed. But I have a point here. Since we weren’t skating, we wore costumes instead of uniforms. We decided to dress up as ‘biker chicks’, but that means different things to different people.
I showed up in a corset I bought at a Renn Faire, and a pleather miniskirt. This corset used to fit me properly, but now when I lace it all the way closed, my boobs pretty much pop out the top.
So I wore a halter top underneath– a halter top with an integral bra. No more flesh than normal was showing, it was just in a different place.

I did get a lot of stares. I’m used to that. Our team captain wore leather chaps and underneath, spandex booty shorts with her name screenprinted; I wasn’t alone in drawing stares. (Her name also wiggled when she walked, I don’t know if she realized that. It’s unimaginably hot. I felt rather tame beside her, though I couldn’t bend over because my skirt was so short. Another tangent: one of the many phrases that used to fill me with fear which roller derby has completely stripped of terror is “Your undies might show.” Might! I bought these cute ones on purpose because I figured they WOULD!)

One of my teammates, standing next to me, surveyed the acreage of my cleavage. “So what’s your bra size now?” she asked. I had complained earlier how it had gone up, and now this corset, and all my favorite bras, now fit.
“Thirty-two J,” I said a bit glumly. “The specialty lingerie shops don’t even carry that one.”
“And you haven’t had a reduction why?” she asked.
I was shocked. I get that question sometimes, but this particular teammate is a fellow in size-positivity, a die-hard feminist of both the new and old schools, etc.
She went on in my shocked silence to mention two skaters on the league who’d had breast reductions and were happy with them.
“Because,” I said finally, working very hard not to be snippy, “while it’s inconvenient that I can’t find bras my size off the rack, I see no need to have cosmetic surgery just so I can shop in the mall. I’m not changing my body for fashion. I’ll just have to learn to sew.”
“Oh, oh,” she said, “oh no, I’d never– I’d never suggest– screw fashion! I just…. doesn’t that hurt your back?”
I’ve been skating with this woman for nearly a year now. “No more than anybody else’s,” I said. “My back is the first part to get really fatigued when I skate, but I’ve noticed a lot of smaller girls with the same problem.” The speed-skating crossover relies heavily on the muscles of your lower back to move the legs, and since you’re bent over, you have to sort of cantilever your upper body’s weight through these muscles. “It never hurts otherwise. I have great posture.”
“Huh,” she said.

It’s just assumed that if you have boobs like this, you’re going to have problems with them. Mine have grown more or less steadily since I was 12, but gradually. Being reasonably active ensures that I have no problem with the weight of them. But this blows people’s minds, and I get asked all the damn time by other women why I don’t have a reduction. I know I’ve just got to be less sensitive to the question, but it hurts every time: people see them as a problem, instead of as part of my body.

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pain, metaphorical and not-so

Posted by Kitty on April 2, 2008

I was working on a post about body image and perfection and body parts and things, but I’ll have to finish that up later, as something’s come up.

As a large-busted woman since my early teenage years, I’ve had a troubled and conflicted relationship with that particular area of my body. I used to deal with it by wearing ill-fitting bras and trying to ignore the whole thing. Then I got a bra fitting at the age of 18, in a department store in Glasgow, Scotland, and realized that there was nothing to be ashamed of. But then I came back to the US, where my size doesn’t exist, and spent about ten miserable years combing through the sales racks at Penney’s trying to find something, anything over DDD, and failing, and sliding back into thinking there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t until my late twenties, close to a decade after that first bra fitting, that I finally put two and two together and started looking online for British bras.
Duhhhhhh! (Imagine that sung as if by a choir of angels.) (which, shortly before my first order, opened up a US shipping warehouse and a US page with prices in dollars). Trial and error, several emails to Bravissimo’s helpful customer service, and lots and lots of money in shipping for returns later, I finally had my size. (Me: “Well, I have a 38DDD right now, and it’s about, eh, maybe three cup sizes too small and two or three back sizes too big?” Customer service: “Er, wow.”) My size was 34G.
Then I gained a little weight. But not in my ribs. Only in my tits.

Anyway. It’s been a long and troubled relationship. I currently don’t own any bras that properly fit (I have a few 34GGs but they’re not… quite… it), after a brief span of about 8 months during which I had a beautiful and varied perfectly-fitting bra wardrobe. But at least I’m not ashamed anymore. (But oy, $70-100 bucks a pop to last me under a year? Painful.)

(Before I get to the point of this post there’s another tangent to explain back story.)
Part of the revolution in my self-confidence that spawned this finding-my-real-size and stop-being-ashamed kick was joining a women’s amateur flat-track roller derby league. I’ll certainly get into this in more depth, but we’ll just say finding a sport I loved really helped me appreciate my body, which is chubby and clumsy and I’ve never really had a good relationship with, especially not since the Oh Now I Have Huge Tits betrayal.

So I participate in this rather insane sport. (But it is a real sport, and it does have real rules, and there really is a point to all of it. For a visual explanation of in bad Uncanny Valley CGI, you can’t beat Gem City’s Intro to Roller Derby.)

I was at practice last night and the opposing jammer went sprawling right in front of me. Even if I could jump (mama don’t jump) I couldn’t jump that far– she was laid flat out, right at the track boundary, and I had nowhere to go, with no time to take a knee or something. This girl was about half my size, so as I was going down, Hindenburg-like, I was terrified of hurting her. (Opponent or no, nobody really wants to hurt anybody. I’ve hurt someone and it really sucked and I felt bad about it for oh, I still feel bad about it, but I’ll let you know when I stop.) My pelvis landed on her head, pretty well-cushioned and not too forcefully, but the full force of my landing?
WHAMMO! On the floor. Right on my boobs.
I rolled off her, and she got up and sprinted off like some kind of mutant wheeled gazelle (curse those tiny girls and their easy relationship with gravity! But their very tininess makes them easier for us women of greater size to launch, so I shouldn’t complain so much). I staggered to my feet, both arms wrapped over my chest, and skated after her. Onlookers thought I’d hurt an arm or shoulder. No, man. The impact had squashed my rack, compressed my ribcage and forced all the air out of my lungs, and I was in so much pain I couldn’t see straight. But I finished the jam! I didn’t lay out any more big hits, but at least I kept up.

My boobs are so sore. It stabs in my right one whenever I breathe. I’ve tried wearing a really supportive bra, to take the weight off, and sometimes that hurts and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve tried wearing a less-supportive bra, and ditto. I’ve tried briefly wearing no bra, but that hurts a lot. I’m considering putting on a corset. I do own one really nice steel-boned one…

This isn’t my first breast injury, but it’s my worst. (The last time, well over a year ago, I bruised them on a front-first landing, but I wasn’t as good a skater so somehow my boobs hit, then my head whanged off the floor chin first, so I was a lot more concerned afterward about the concussion than I was about the boob bruises. Thank my mouthguard I still have all my perfect teeth. The time before that, I just got brushburns on my cleavage from using the wall to stop– I was a very new skater when that happened.)

Has anyone else ever hurt their boobs??? We talk metaphorically about them giving us pain all the time, but I’m seriously sitting here with an ice pack. I don’t even know how to tell if it’s serious.

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