Fatties vs Mittens: Fatties WIN!!!

Hey! Lookit that! I have a blog! Let’s warm up with something fun, shall we?

Y’all, seriously, I read this a couple days ago, and I was absolutely positive that this was one of those rare, hilarious times when The Onion prints something and somebody mistakes it for legitimate news. Turns out though? I was wrong!

There really is a story circulating about how us fatties are “threatening the mitten industry!” Now, The Rotund already did a nice takedown of it, but I gotta say, Mr. Thornacious and I have been having a right good laugh over this for days, and it still hasn’t gotten old.

Now, just for reference here – I’m the sort of person who gets cold in mid-September and stays that way until mid-April. I started wearing wool socks two weeks ago, and today we did the annual tearing apart of the house in search of last winter’s accessories.

Meanwhile, Mr. Thornacious is one of those weird dudes you occasionally see wandering around in shorts when there’s snow on the ground. He’ll be hanging around the house in shorts and a t-shirt while I’m contemplating what layer to add next.

So Monday morning when we were taking our kids to school, I was wearing wool socks, a fleece jacket, a wool hat and wishing I’d been able to find some of my wool mittens, while he was wearing shorts, two short-sleeved shirts and a fleece vest.

Thus began a whole crazy conversation about how obviously Mr. Thornacious was on the front lines in our Evil Fatty attack on the mitten industry, and was even working on our next objectives, the pant and sleeve industries!!!

Bwah Ha Ha ha HA!!!

October 13, 2009 at 7:19 pm 4 comments

YOU and me on Fat Acceptance

At last, the kids are asleep so I can try to commit to pixels the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head the past few hours!

So, this is what my calendar for the first half of May looks like:

May 1: Second anniversary of my mom’s death

May 4: Australia and New Zealand releases of Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere (which contains the essay I wrote soon after my mother’s death)

May 5: U.S. release of Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere

May 6: International No Diet Day

May 10: Mother’s Day

Y’all, that is a big crazy confluence of fat-related “the personal is political” mojo, y’know? When I write it down like that, I find myself thinking, “Ah! No wonder I can’t seem to keep my ordure in order worth a bean!”

I’m super-proud of Kate and Marianne, and really happy that their book is doing well. I’m most of the way through it myself, and it’s fantastic. Everything I love about their blogs, in a format I can stuff in my bag and read wherever, whenever. And I’m really proud they included my essay in their book, for all that the circumstances involved mean it’s hard to feel completely celebratory about it now.

So I’ve kind of been letting on that the book is out there, and that… hey, words I wrote can be found, for purchase, at a bookstore near you. That’s kind of amazing, really.

But because I’m just not the sort of person to go, “Hey, remember that heart-wrenching essay I wrote about my mom’s death?! It’s gonna be in a book! Sah-WEET!!” (because, y’know, AWKWARD), there are a lot of people (friends and family in particular) who are suddenly learning about my stance on fat acceptance and my participation in the fat acceptance movement just now.

Don’t get me wrong – obviously I haven’t been working undercover for the diet industry this whole time or anything. But I haven’t always made it clear that my lack of interest in diet-related talk is more than just a personal affectation, but is in fact a firm political stance I have embraced and a political movement which I try to stay active in, as my life allows me to.

And I’ve felt the pressure of the questions that a lot of these people – friends and family who may feel kind of blindsided by this – may want to ask, but don’t know how and don’t want to light off some kind of massive horrible debate or anything. And then I remembered I have this handy blog-thing here, so I could try to just answer questions here. So here goes:

First off, I want to make something clear: If you are dieting, or embarking on an exercise program, or otherwise restructuring your life in a way which you hope will facilitate weight loss… I still like you. If you’re family, or a really really good friend, I even still love you. Heck, deep down, I may even hope that you’re part of that miracle margin of people for whom diets do lead to permanent weight loss. (What can I say, I’m a complicated woman…. grin.)

But I don’t really think it will. And that’s okay. You don’t have to live your life in a Barb-approved way for me to care about you and want you to be happy.

So if you are dieting, or otherwise working toward weight loss… well, good luck. But I don’t really want to be a part of it. If you’re someone in my life, then I can guaran-goddamn-tee that I consider your weight to be one of the least interesting things about you. Instead, let’s talk about your job. Or your partner, your kids, your pets, your dust bunnies, whatever. Or something you read recently. Or what craft project you’ve been working on. Or what you thought of the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. Let’s talk about THAT, because I think that’s way more fun.

Which is not to say we can’t talk about food or exercise or health or even fashion and beauty. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Of course you can talk to me about food. Dude, I’m Italian! I know from food, okay? So if something in your life has changed – a health issue, an ethical decision, a religious affiliation, whatever – which has dramatically changed how you go about feeding yourself on a daily basis? Feel free to talk to me about that, if you’d like. I will be more than happy to sympathize with how hard finding gluten-free products must be, or let you vent about how sick of reading package labels you are, or share your surprise at foods you never knew contained animal products.  Go ahead and tell me if the changes in your food choices have had any influence on how you feel physically or mentally. And I especially want to know about any good recipes you’ve found!

Exercise? We can totally talk about that! Have you discovered a new form of exercise you enjoy? Tell me about it! Tell me about the new move you’ve finally managed to get right, or how your recent dance performance went, or who won the tournament last weekend. Did you recently run a marathon? (Seriously?? You did?? Holy crap! I’m super-proud of you, but dayamn. You’re going to have to speak slowly and use small words to help me understand what’s fun about that! Same goes for golf.) And then I can tell you about yoga, and maybe even treat you to some of my waffling about whether to give bicycling a try or not.

And yes, of course tell me about your health. Our health is a major factor in our quality of life, I definitely want to know how you’re feeling! Did you start watching your post-noon caffeine intake and has it helped you sleep at night? Me too! (Do you keep forgetting that iced tea has caffeine in it too, or is that just me?)

So really, very little about our conversation topics are curtailed – we can still talk food and exercise and health all we want.

And clothes? We can still talk clothes. (Well, as much as I ever talk about clothes – if you know me, you already know I’m not very fashion-forward.) But our bodies change all the time, and if your body has changed recently, and it’s made it hard to find clothes? You can talk about that if you want. Or if you tried on some outfit that’s outside your norm and were surprised at how well it worked for you? Awesome, tell me about it!

Really, it just comes down to the scale. The SCALE is the thing I don’t care about. All the rest of it is the stuff of life, of living, and how do you have a relationship with someone if you can’t talk about your LIFE?

So really, tell me ALL about what you’re up to. YOU, I care about. The scale? Not so much.

It might seem that by pointing out that food and exercise and health and fashion are all still topics I’m happy to discuss, this next bit might seem a bit redundant. But just in case it’s not, I want to make some things clear:

I am not anti-exercise.

I am not anti-vegetable.

I am not anti-health.

And I am not anti-beauty.

In fact, I would say that embracing fat acceptance has made me more PRO-exercise, PRO-vegetable, PRO-health and PRO-beauty than I used to be.

Heaven knows I never would have taken a yoga class before I found fat acceptance, because I used to be convinced that yoga is only for you super-slim willowy types and those who can naturally put their right toe behind their left ear (I have since been informed that these mega-flexible people are actually very rare, even among long-time yoga practitioners, which I found surprisingly reassuring).

Before I found fat acceptance, I often felt that taking care of my health wasn’t all that important.  Now… well, I’m still working on that sometimes, but I’m a lot less likely to put off seeing the doctor because I’m worried about getting a lecture on my weight. And now that I have come to believe that health and fatness are not mutually exclusive, I’m more inclined to take steps to preserve my health, rather than just writing myself off as a lost cause because I’m not thin.

I said before I’ve never been particularly fashion-savvy, but as I’ve come to feel more positively about my body, I’ve also learned to both cut myself some slack (like those days when I really do wind up driving the kids to school wearing yoga pants), and also give myself more credit. Sure, I’m never going to look like Jessica Alba (after all, even Jessica Alba doesn’t look like Jessica Alba). But I’ve stopped thinking that looking good is completely beyond my grasp. Which, y’know, means I’m more likely to give a new look a try. And I call that progress.

And vegetables…. Okay, the vegetables are a metaphor. I like all the same vegetables I ever did, though I have given a few new ones a try.

What I really mean with the vegetables is that healthy food is healthy for every body (making room for exceptions due to allergies, food intolerances, etc, of course). So long as it’s made of ingredients your body can tolerate well, a big lush salad is good for everyone, fat or thin. Fresher, less-processed foods are healthier for everyone.

Fat acceptance isn’t out to banish fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lean meats from our dinner tables. What fat acceptance IS about is separating our food choices from how we feel about our worth as human beings.

There is no moral superiority to eating “healthy” versus “unhealthy” foods. Deciding to eat a big plate of locally grown, organic vegetables and organic cous cous (mmm, that does sound good) for dinner doesn’t make me a better person than I am right now. And deciding to have a snack of some Cheetos and a root beer float (wow, a float sounds good too) later on doesn’t make me a worse person.

I’m still me. I’m still just as worthy as I ever am, no matter what my most recent meal consisted of.

And you’re still you. You’re still my friend, or my family member, or my weird long-time internet acquaintance who I’ve never actually met in person, no matter what you choose to eat, or what activities you do or do not enjoy, or how you dress, or whether you are careful or reckless with your health.

That’s what fat acceptance means for me, and what it means for my relationship with you, whoever “you” happen to be.

May 7, 2009 at 9:36 am 10 comments

“Trapped in Brain, Send Help”

That’s the message all my various ideas would send if, y’know, they suddenly had the ability to communicate without my assistance.

Of course, if they could communicate without my assistance, then they wouldn’t be trapped, they would be free to get out into the world without me.

No, I am NOT high. I’m just kind of in some weird headspace right now. Nothing bad, particularly, just weird. I get all these ideas in my head, some of them inspired by things I’ve seen, or read, or done, and I want to get them out there, see what other people think.

But then I don’t have the time or energy to do any of these ideas the justice they deserve, and so I wind up with this accelerating maelstrom of ideas swirling through my mind. Which, in some ways is kind of interesting, because sometimes Idea A and Idea C bump into each other, and I realize they inter-relate in some way and now I’ve got Idea J in there too. And I’m the sort who can’t help but find new ideas exciting, even if I don’t really have the mental space to contain them.

So, at least for now, I’m going to kind of put some summaries out there and maybe some of y’all can tell me what you think.

Among the ideas:

* I recently joined Facebook, and have discovered a whole new challenge to my personal journey of acceptance. Because suddenly I have reconnected with people I knew in high school and college, and many of them I’m very happy to be in touch with again. But I’m looking at people’s photos and realizing that while most of us have gained a bit of weight as we’ve aged, everyone else seems to have gained 10-40 pounds. I’ve gained, like, 100. And suddenly I find myself feeling self-conscious about my body again, when I hadn’t for a very long time.

* My kids received Wall-E on DVD for Christmas. It got lost for a while, but they recently rediscovered it, so it’s been on maximum rotation here at Chez Thornacious. And once again, I am reminded of the post I started about the movie’s treatement of fat people back when the Fatosphere was buzzing about it, but never finished. And the follow-up post to that one about the sexism and rape-culture-y icky aspects of the movie. And then I was visiting a friend who has a couple of grade-school-age kids, who were watching the movie, and suddenly I had a whole new perspective on the movie’s treatment of fat people, and so I want to write about that now, too. sigh. Oh, and also, there’s the sidebar comparing Wall-E to another popular movie from a few years ago, which I would love to write about at length as well.

* As a mother of multiples, and particularly as a mother of multiples who spent some time on food stamps and WIC (i.e. welfare), I’ve been deeply troubled by the coverage of the woman in California who recently gave birth to octuplets. Thankfully, Melissa over at Shakesville summed up my initial thoughts pretty adequately.

However, as the media uproar has continued, I am just more and more appalled by how Nadya Suleman is being treated, and what it says about how all women are treated in this culture. The very idea that anyone can be shocked that this poor woman is now receiving death threats, after our “liberal” media gleefully printed stories like this one from the Associated Press: “Taxpayers may have to cover octuplet mom’s costs,” is absurd to me.

I don’t have to think another woman’s decisions are right, or even smart, to recognize that it’s not my place to dictate or judge her life. I have been sorely disappointed to hear so many other people, including a great many feminists, who apparently disagree.

Further, I find it alarming how many people – in particular people who tend to be anti-abortion – feel no compunctions about suggesting we throw these children under the bus, simply because they don’t like the decisions the children’s mother has made.

* Which has led me to other thoughts, on the order of how our culture (speaking of the U.S., though I know many other cultures are similar) thinks the notion of imprisoning a child for the crimes of his or her father is barbaric. Yet too many don’t even flinch at the idea of children in our own country being denied a decent way of life – fresh, healthy foods, safe places to play, a good education – because of the social “crimes” of their mother (poverty, single parenthood, being the “wrong” race/religion/ethnicity, etc.).

* I recently discovered some old emails, and in re-reading them I was surprised to find proof that I really have made more progress in my self-acceptance journey than I had previously thought. Well, my whole new Facebook-related issues aside, of course.


Brain, I hope this clears a bit of space for you, and you can stop getting all freaky whenever I try to lie down and get some damn sleep.

Readers, I hope you find this interesting, even if only in a “strange glimpse into how Thorn’s brain works” kinda way.

As a final note – it’s Valentine’s Day, which as far as I’m concerned is just an excuse to eat red- and pink-frosted cookies (heart-shape optional). However, if you’ve a mind to go out and do something to celebrate the day, please consider supporting what I like to call the Pink Chaddi Campaign by going to a local pub and raising a glass to women’s freedom everywhere.

February 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm 4 comments

Misadventures in Shopping

So, I had this hilariously stupid moment the other day.

I was out with Mr. Thornacious and the kids, shopping some of the crazy-ass post-Christmas sales with our gifts from the Treasury Santa. And so we were at the Lands’ End Inlet nearby, and there were a ton of just GREAT sweaters on sale. And I found a bunch in my size, and scurried off to the changing room to try them on, and realized… while they all fit, they also all looked like crap on me.


It’s a weird thing, for me – for all that I feel like I’m doing fairly well at the whole accepting my body and coming to peace with it, I’ve never had a real sense of what my body actually LOOKS like, and so every so often, it’s like I get all stupid and forget important little details.

Like, I have no neck.

No, really. I have big tits, broad shoulders, and no freakin’ neck to speak of. I look like a really short, bosomy linebacker.

And I’m cool with that, generally speaking. And over the past few years, I’ve kind of figured out what works on me and what doesn’t. But every so often I get all stupid, and decide to try on three sweaters in a row with turtlenecks or mock-turtlenecks, and then I wonder why these sweaters that fit nicely and are in “my” colors and were totally discounted look like crap on me.

Shockingly, it turns out my neck hasn’t grown a couple inches in the past few years.

So now I’m wondering – does everyone sometimes just get all lost in the excitement of a good sale and cute stuff in their size, and forget that Look ABC or Style XYZ just. Does. Not. Work. on them?

Really, I’m asking here. Because unlike a lot of parents, my mom spent a lot of my teen years trying to convince me TO wear makeup, and trying to convince me to do MORE with my hair. And so, because of course I had to rebel, I went the other way – no makeup, hair that got combed out of the shower and ignored, and a wardrobe made up of four shades of black (and not cool gothy black, either – that was after my time).

So now I’m a 35-year-old woman who is still figuring out how to dress herself, and I just want to know – is it like this for everyone else? Or is it just me?

January 2, 2009 at 2:45 am 12 comments

Success vs Failure

So it’s Christmas, and I just had an odd sort of moment when a lot of little things all came together into something bigger. (I’m sure there’s a word for that, but I’m a little too wacked out on decongestants and scary antibiotics to think of it right now – please forgive me.)

Anyway, so the day has ended with both my 4-year-old boys weeping themselves to sleep, one of them after melting down like something out of a ’70s disaster movie. And as I cuddled young Mr. Chernobyl, letting him sob into my shirt and trying to reassure him that everything would be fine, I had a strange sort of thought. It went like this:

“I bet a lot of parents out there would see Christmas day ending in a flood of tears, and call the day a failure.”

Certainly I can recall Christmases from my childhood, when my sister or I would flip out under the pressure of all that excitement, and my parents would seem… well, not just frustrated, but actually hurt by our outbursts.

And looking back, I sure understand why:  They’d worked their butts off finding all the right presents, keeping them hidden, wrapping them up, getting the tree up, baking the cookies and all those other Christmas traditions. And chances are money had been tight or relationships had been strained or work hadn’t been going well, which can make those “traditions” seem more like obligations sometimes. So they’d worked their butts off,  all in the hopes of achieving this picture-perfect Christmas day – children smiling and well-behaved and nicely dressed, everyone thrilled to pieces with their gifts, all the food delicious and perfectly cooked/baked/served, the tree gorgeous, etc. etc.

And to have a kid melt down in the middle of it, wailing about something dumb like a cookie falling on the floor, and never mind the plate full of perfectly good cookies just like it – it was the last one with green AND red sugar on it, and that made it SPECIAL… well, I’m sure it must have felt like a kick in the teeth to my folks.

So I thought of this, as I held my weeping son and realized that despite the weeping, I was calling the day a success.

Both boys loved the presents Santa had brought them, both boys loved the gifts Grandpa had shipped to us, they played with their new toys all day, Mr. Thorn cooked a delicious, simple dinner, and everything had worked out just fine.

Had the boys fought like weasels in a sack over one of the toys we’d thought they would be able to share well? Yep, they sure had. And had they screamed blue murder when we told them it was time to eat dinner? Yep. They sure did.

But I still call the day a success. And I realized that, just like fat acceptance, it all comes down to realistic expectations.

Would it have been nice if my kids hadn’t fought once today? Would it have been nice if I hadn’t been hang-dog sick for two days before Christmas? Would it have been nice if the day had NOT ended in young boys sobbing over nothing? Sure!

But actually expecting all that? That’s like the parenting equivalent of the Fantasy of Being Thin.

And just like the FOBT, those kinds of unrealistic expectations make us unable to see the successes in our lives when they do occur. Instead of seeing the wonderful things in our lives as wonderful, the FOBT creates this idea that nothing we do can be counted as a success UNTIL we are thin.

How many times have we fatties downplayed our accomplishments, because we didn’t want attention for them until we were thin? The FOBT says it’s not enough just to win an award, or earn a degree, or whatever. You have to do it, AND look like a supermodel at the awards ceremony, otherwise it just doesn’t count.

I remember, back before my kids came along and made me a SAHM for a few years, that the question I used to hate the absolute MOST in job interviews was, “What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?”

Y’all, I never had an answer. Never. Once, I actually told an interviewer that my greatest accomplishment to that point was “surviving.” To the ripe old age of 24. I wish I was kidding.

Now, having discarded my old FOBT, I look back on my life to that point and see lots of great things I’d done. I wrote an article for my local newspaper while in high school. I’d spent several summers as a counselor at a Girl Scout camp, where my duties included “facing off with raccoons gnawing on campers’ luggage.” I’d canoed down rivers (small, slow ones, but rivers just the same), I’d been the chief copy editor of my college newspaper, I’d competed in a slew of outdoorsy things, and won a few of them.

Y’all, I had cooked bacon, in a shovel, over an open fire, and not only were there no catastrophes, but that bacon was goooood.

But I’d never been thin doing any of those things, and so those accomplishments? They just never seemed to count. And so interviewers would ask me what achievement I was most proud of, and I’d just gape at them and feel like the world’s biggest failure.

Because the FOBT told me that until I was thin, I could never succeed. At anything. Even things that should have been unequivocal successes. Until I was thin, they fell onto the Failure side of my tally sheet.

So tonight, as I counted my not-perfect Christmas day as a success? I realized that it comes down to the same thing – having realistic expectations. It’s about deciding that “good enough” is actually, y’know… Good. Enough.

I had a good Christmas, regardless of the imperfections. And I learned some things about my kids and myself, and Mr. Thorn and I talked about what we might like to try to make next year even more enjoyable (note: NOT “better” in some freaky Competitive Christmasing kind of way, but actually more relaxed and y’know, enjoyable). And I found another reason to be glad that I’ve learned to make peace with myself, and another reason to be grateful for FA and the FA community (I lurk, even if I don’t comment much!). Which kind of makes it a pretty great Christmas, all in all.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope everyone had a Good Enough day today.

Cheers, y’all.

December 25, 2008 at 11:09 pm 5 comments

Brief Update

Hey y’all – I know I haven’t updated in forever. Life has been… complicated.

Basically, I’m dealing with my twins starting preschool, and being given “an educational label of autism” which is not the same thing as an autism diagnosis from, say, a medical professional. However, there is a strong correlation between the two. At the very least, we’re dealing with Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD), and I have evaluations for them scheduled to see if they really do fall on the autism spectrum, and if so where, and what do we do with that information, whatever it may be.

The kiddos are going to preschool on alternate days right now, which seems to be working out well for them, and well for the school staff, and pretty much great for everyone but the mom (that’d be me), who was kind of counting on preschool representing little patches of Me-Time on a regular basis, for the first time in four years.

Granted, I’m pleased as punch at the boys’ progress, and am glad as anything that they seem to be (finally) settling in well at their preschool, and I’m getting to know their special ed teacher, and their occupational therapist, and their speech therapist, and they all are seeming to be good people with a lot of creativity and knowledge to bring forth on behalf of my kiddos, so that is an unmitigated GOOD.

But dudes, I am more exhausted than I have been in AGES. It used to be, if I was feeling blah, we could just hang around at home all day and bum around. Now I’ve got to get everybody dressed and into the car so that one kid can be at school on time, and I’ve got to keep straight who’s seeing who and when, and I’ve got to make sure the house isn’t a complete wreck when the OT comes over, and… yeah.

Like I say – life has gotten complicated.

It’s, overall, a good kind of complicated, I admit. I’m seeing progress already with the boys and I’m thrilled about it, and I’m learning a lot about them and me and the brain, which is always interesting. And I’m learning that I’m not as bad a mom as I always thought I was, seeing as how it takes a small fleet of trained professionals to properly do what I’ve been schlockily doing all on my untrained amateur own. So that’s been something of a relief, honestly.

And I’ve been trying to figure out what one mom and one kid do on their own together, because well… that’s kind of a whole new thing for me. I’ve always been so busy using the Zone Defense style of parenting that this whole man-on-man, time for actual conversations (well, as much conversation as my kids are willing to offer) and creating opportunities for “teaching moments” thing is throwing me for a real serious loop.

Seriously, I’ve been finding myself often saying to people, “So um… what do you DO when it’s just you and one kid? Does this mean you can like, go to actual STUFF together, and not break out in a nervous sweat the moment you arrive? Because I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”

So… yeah. That would be why nobody’s seen hide nor hair of me lately (though I am on Twitter, for anyone who is interested). I still lurk around a bit, and try to keep up, but it’s going to be a while before I can even try to get back to posting even as irregularly as I was.

Keep on fighting the good fight, y’all, and I hope to be back soon!

October 23, 2008 at 1:29 am 3 comments

Everything I know… (pt. 1)

I’ve got a whole series of thoughts about how becoming a mother has had a huge effect on how I feel about myself and especially my body. They kind of fall into two basic categories: 1) ways in which the physical aspects of motherhood – pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding – changed me, and 2) things I have learned from my children themselves, by observing how they eat, move and treat their bodies, seeing as they don’t have 30+ years of psycho-emotional baggage to contend with. I don’t know how well I’ll do, getting these all written and out, but I’m gonna try.

Everything I know about loving my body, I learned from my kids

I’ve been trying to catch up on blog-reading the past few days, and came across this post from wellroundedtype2. At first I just started to comment, but, as often happens for me, when I found myself starting a third paragraph, I thought I might as well just make it a whole darn post of my own.

A lot of the feelings wellroundedtype2 describes having about her child, I have about my own children.

I know there will come a day when one of their peers tells them that their mother’s body is “unacceptable.” I try not to think about it much, but the fact is, I’m sure it will happen, and probably more than once.

And so, in the meantime, I am doing all I can to encourage my boys to love their bodies, and to at least make a good show of seeming to love my own. It’s not always easy – I’ve had a lot of years’ practice at feeling inadequate and pretending my body just doesn’t much exist as best I can. But I chant, “Fake it ’til you make it,” to myself, and give it a shot anyway.

So about six months ago, when one of my boys developed a fascination with my belly, I squelched my angst about it and took a deep breath and pretended that it was fine. That when he pushed my shirt up, and nudged the top of my pants down a bit to reveal my belly button, I didn’t mind. I focused on my breathing and managed not to flinch when he rubbed his hands all the way out to the sides of my belly, and then when he decided to look at my belly button from way too close up, I managed to pretend my laughter was due to tickling instead of embarrassment.

That first time, I thought, “Okay. He wants to check out my tummy, that’s fine. Because all bodies are fine. Because he loves me and has no idea that somehow my body isn’t supposed to be lovable, and so he loves my body as much as he loves the rest of me. Okay. Fake it ’til you make it. Christ on a cracker, I hope he doesn’t plan to make a habit of this.”

Well, of course, he did decide to make a habit of it. Murphy’s Laws of Parenthood required it. And from that point on, he didn’t go more than a couple days between requests to check out my belly.

Sometimes he’d just rub his face on it, and stick his fingers in my belly button.

Then his brother got in on the action, and sometimes I’d be subjected to a whole series of amateur-league raspberries being blown on my belly. Which was just damn funny, and so I laughed my butt off at that.

By this point, I was no longer faking it as much. I’d kind of gotten used to it, and a lot of the time I just found it really sweet, actually.

Then they started up this game, where they would trace the shapes of various foods on my belly – mostly various fruits and cookies – and pretend that those were all the things in my tummy, regardless of what I’d actually eaten. And by then, it was just a thing, and so I focused on encouraging more talking from them (because talking is a bit of an issue for us these days) and teaching them words and concepts and the like.

And so now? I’m cool with it. Of course we have discussions about how we don’t lift up our clothes in public, and sometimes I’m not feeling up for it and so we save it for another time. But a good portion of the time, it’s just this thing my kids do, and it’s cute. They love my belly. Some kids love their mom’s hair, some kids love to play with their mom’s hands, my kids love my belly.

The funny thing is, the longer it goes on, the more and more I accept my body myself. When I couldn’t keep up with a yoga class a week or so ago, I was cool with it. I said, “Damn, that class kicked my ass,” and that’s all there was too it. I didn’t view it as some kind of proof of my failure as a person, and once upon a time? Oh, I soooo would have.

Even during classes that don’t kick my ass, if there are moves I can’t do? I don’t do them. Or I modify them. But otherwise? I don’t worry about it.

It’s just my body. It does the best it can for me, and I am learning to appreciate that, and not spend so much time pouting about why it can’t be a completely different body than it is. I’m learning to treat it more nicely, and let it call the shots more often than I used to. And I’m also learning that when I do let my body call the shots – when I eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, sleep when I’m tired, move when I’m energetic – I feel better.

A lot of the time I joke about how once they’re old enough to understand what grounding is, my kids are going to be grounded until they’re 30 for all the crazy things they’ve done and the shocks they’ve caused me thus far in their lives.

The truth is, they’ve also taught me a lot. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for them. I would still be treating my body with suspicion and contempt, trying to deny its very existence as best I could. I suppose that means I owe them a little bit, too.

Well, maybe they’ll only be grounded until they’re 27, then…. 😉

March 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm 6 comments

Mom’s Birthday

This Sunday will mark the 54th anniversary of my mother’s birth. It will also be the first of her birthdays we will spend without her.

I’ve spent most of the past ten months trapped between a desire to organize and revolutionize and galvanize against the fat hatred which told her that her health was not worth tending, that her life was not worth saving, and the terrible knowledge in my heart that if she knew what I had done – that I’d written about her life and experiences as a fat woman, that I’d even said publicly that she’d been a fat woman, she would be mortified, furious, appalled.

We almost never talked about weight or body size at my house. Once my sister and I reached puberty, we were all fat, and we just didn’t talk much about it unless we absolutely had to, like during the annual clothes shopping trip before the new school year and that sort of thing.

My mom, like I think a lot of us fat folks, was always torn between wanting to be noticed, and wanting to disappear. She wanted to be noticed for being interested in fashion, for knowing how to dress (and for all that her tastes and mine were nothing alike, my mom really did know how to put herself together when she wanted to), for being funny and generous and enthusiastic. But she also feared being noticed, because if someone noticed her, they would also notice she was fat, and she’d been in the world plenty long enough to know that you couldn’t trust most people to look at a fat person and see anything but a ‘big, disgusting fatty’.

So for me to be here, talking about my mom being fat, and talking about how she’d been hurt and humiliated by that doctor, and telling the whole freakin’ world about what she went through?

She would hate that.

She would slap my disrespectful mouth, and rightfully so. Who the hell am I to go on the internet, of all places, and talk about things she never even talked about with me? How dare I sit here and say I loved my mom, and I wish like crazy we could have gotten over all our difficulties so we could have been closer than we were, and say that I miss her and can hardly listen to oldies on the radio anymore because half the songs I hear remind me of her, when at the same time, I’m doing the one thing that would have hurt and humiliated her more than anything else?

And then I read things like this comment from fatgirlonadate.

Or this comment, from None Given in the same thread.

Or I read posts at First, Do No Harm, a project inspired by my posts about Mom, but which I’ve done jack to help out on in months, so caught up am I in fears of what my mom would think of all this now.

I read all this stuff, and I see that these things are continuing. That people’s lives are at stake here.

And I think, “Mom wouldn’t have wanted that.” If Mom had known about all this, if she’d known what other people had suffered as a result of the same cruelty from (certain) health care professionals as she had, she would have joined up. She would have bought a To Hell With Tiny Pants T-shirt and worn it loud and proud (while bumming around the house on a Saturday afternoon – that whole ambivalence about being noticed thing, you see), and she would have taken part in the discussions, she would have encouraged None Given to get her necessary checkups and not take “no” for an answer from some lab-coated jerkwad too prissy to touch a fat woman’s vagina.

She would have sent an email to fatgirlonadate expressing her sincere condolences about fatgirl’s aunt, and probably would have included a link to a book that she thought might help fatgirl and her mom cope with their grief.

And it’s only now, that I’m sitting here writing this, and thinking seriously about what Mom would have done if she had been around for all this, that I’m finally feeling like perhaps, just maybe, I’ve done the right thing. That she’s not stomping around the afterlife hating me and cursing the day she gave birth to me. That if she’s out there, somewhere, maybe she’s even a little bit proud of me?

So Sunday, in honor of Mom’s birthday, I’ll be going to my yoga class in MY To Hell With Tiny Pants T-shirt, even if I’m concerned it’s a little short on me and I’ll be showing the whole class my stretch-marky belly. And if anyone asks, I’ll explain what it means and why I’m wearing it.

And I’ll listen to “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver and I’ll cry a whole bunch.

And I’ll probably do something else, too. But mostly, I’m going to try to keep in mind what Mom would have done, if she’d known about all this. I’m going to stay focused on how Mom would have responded to the Fatosphere, and try to ignore the voices that tell me she would never have wanted me to say a word about her.

Because she never thought about herself. So long as it had just been her, she wouldn’t have worried about it. But there’s no way she would have stood for someone else being treated the same way she had been. There’s no way she would have sat back and done nothing, knowing that other people were living in pain, were sick, and some were even dying, because of health care professionals who think they’re too good to treat fat people.

Maybe she wouldn’t have been on the front lines, but she’d have been here. She’d be reading and commenting and supporting other people as much as she could.
Granted, I doubt she’d be thrilled to know I talked about her so publicly, but I think she’d have understood, and I think she’d have forgiven me. Well, eventually.

March 27, 2008 at 3:57 am 10 comments

Sock Day!

It’s snowing like WHOA! outside, I’m cooped up with the kids, and The Rotund just posted up a review of some socks from Sock Dreams, so I figure I’ll hop on the bandwagon and declare it Sock Day!

It’s excellent timing, really, because I ordered three pair from Sock Dreams a few weeks ago, thanks to TR’s favorable reviews, and just wore the third pair the other day, so now I can comment on all of them. Yay me!

First off, my deets: I’m 5’4″ tall, and am slightly long-legged, but not crazily so. I wear a size 8-8.5 shoe, and my calf at the widest part is… I wanna say just under 18 inches around. I think that’s right, but I can’t be arsed to go find a tape measure at the moment. If someone is super-curious, say the magic word and I’ll figure it out again.

Electric Striped Knee Highs – Of the pairs I got, these are my favorites. They’re super-soft (6% cashmere – yum!), warm (31% wool!), and I love the stripes. I got the Lime colorway, and for all that they’re expensive as hell, I’m fighting hard to resist the urge to order myself another pair. They’re a bit long on me – I wound up folding them a couple inches at the top, but I’m totally fine with that. They stretched all right over my calf, but it was a bit of a struggle to pull them up, so I think anyone whose calf is much larger than mine might have a tough time with them. Once up, however, they stayed up all day and were nice and cushiony – the fabric is a nice medium weight, about on pair with regular sport socks, or the socks I might knit myself.

Sock It To Me Skulls and Stripes – I really like these socks. Come on – they’ve got skulls on them! They’d have to totally suck for me to not like them!

Luckily, they don’t suck. They accommodate my calf just fine (though like with the Electric Stripe socks, I get the feeling I’m coming close to the outer limit of their elasticity) and stayed up all day no problem. That said, they’re thinner than I generally prefer – much more a trouser sock-type weight – and because I was stretching them so much width-wise, they were juuuuust long enough to reach my knee. I got the grey and black colorway, and am pretty happy with them.  (75% cotton, 20% nylon, 5% spandex)

Dreamy Knees – Overall, I like these socks and will certainly wear them again. However, I am not sure I will buy any more, despite them coming in some really great colors (I got the Sweet Pea colorway). They’re comfortable, in fact I liked the feel of the fabric on these socks much more than I liked the fabric on the skull socks. However, thanks to the much higher spandex content, by the time I wore these for a few hours, the ankles had gotten pretty baggy. The feet were also really loose on me, and so combined with the bagginess of the ankles, when I took off my shoes the feet of the socks tried to slide off with them. Which is too bad, because these stretched nicely over my calf and, perhaps in part because they were longer than my leg and so I wound up folding over the tops again, stayed up without a problem. (80% cotton, 20% spandex)

So, there you have it. Unintentionally I’ve listed these socks in order of preference, from my favorite to least favorite. But even my “least favorite” pair I like pretty darn well – certainly well enough to keep wearing them.

Also note, these reviews are all after one wearing, so I can’t comment regarding durability or how well these socks perform over time yet. I suppose that will have to be another post. 🙂

Hmm. Maybe it’s time to put in a new Sock Dreams order….

January 17, 2008 at 3:57 pm 2 comments

Lose a bunch of weight, get nominated for President

So, I’m perusing my morning blogs and made my usual stop over at Shakesville. There, I happened across this post from Mustang Bobby talking about a recent NYT column by William Kristol, talking about the prospects of Mike Huckabee being the Republican nominee for President. Now, Mustang Bobby’s got a whole bunch of other excellent points which y’all ought to go read, but the part that jumped off the page (screen) at me was this quote from Kristol’s column:

Huckabee seems to be that. He came up from modest origins. He served as governor of Arkansas for more than a decade. He fought a successful battle against being overweight. These may not be utterly compelling qualifications for the presidency. I’m certainly not ready to sign up.

Look at that, y’all.

Basically, there are three factors which William Kristol lists as reasons why Mike Huckabee would make a good candidate for the presidency, and they are:

1. Came from modest origins

2. Governor of Arkansas for more than a decade



Of the whopping THREE reasons this guy cites for why Mike Huckabee makes a credible Republican candidate for the job of PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, one of them is having lost a bunch of weight.

Are you shitting me?! Seriously, am I have some kind of nachos-before-bedtime-induced nightmare or something? Because if I am, PLEASE someone wake me up!

The other day, Kate pointed our attention toward a link which painstakingly listed evidence which points toward Huckabee having lost all that weight through WLS instead of through “good old-fashioned diet and exercise.” Some folks wondered why on earth it mattered, why on earth it was important.

This is why.

Because in a culture where fat is conflated with a list of moral failings as long as my arm, a man can actually turn a 100-pound weight loss into a bid for the presidency, and is not laughed off the fucking stage!

Does anyone REALLY think that if Huckabee had just come out and said, “Oh yeah, I did lose a bunch of weight. I went and had lap-band surgery and now I live with a surgically induced eating disorder,” he’d really be poised to win the Republican nomination??

If that’s the case, then I take it the only thing keeping Al Roker and Carnie Wilson from taking their own respective spots in the Oval Office is that neither has done their time as governor of a state yet. snort!

This is why fat acceptance matters – because until our culture stops seeing fat bodies as flawed and thin bodies as morally superior, until our culture (by which I mean our media) overcomes its fascination with weight-loss “success stories”, however short-lived they may be, then we’re going to keep seeing bullshit like this. People who get ahead not based on their own merits, but instead based almost entirely on their ability to manipulate people’s prejudices against fat.

[ETA: Whups. I just realized – Carnie’s not going to be able to be President after all. Seeing as she’s Brian Wilson‘s daughter, she didn’t exactly come from “modest origins”, did she? Sorry Carnie!)

January 7, 2008 at 11:58 am 5 comments

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