brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

A few weeks ago I felt a little weird in my face area before bed. I checked myself in the mirror and my face was blotchy and swollen. I generally felt unwell and had been battling a cold so assumed it was a sinus infection. I complained about it a lot, took ibuprofin, and drank a lot of water and it passed. In retrospect, though, I think it was hives.

Last Thursday I noticed a rash on my stomach. It was faint pink and vaguely itchy. I assumed it was dry skin or possibly that I’d gotten bleach cleaning spray on my skin through my shirt while cleaning the kitchen, but it got darker and itchier and spread. Also the backs of my knees really itched, but I assumed it was just eczema. Today, one week later, it’s covering my body from the tops of my thighs to my throat/neck, and snaking its way down my arms to the insides of my elbows.

I look kind of like a mottled pink and white cheetah or something, all blotches and roseates. My soft organic cotton t-shirts feel like fine grit sandpaper on my shoulders and back. I suddenly find myself scratching fervently at various places, scratching hard enough and long enough that while I haven’t broken the skin and am not bleeding, its moist and slightly weeping. I sit on my hands to keep from scratching myself raw, and suddenly find myself scratching my butt/hips/thighs. I fold my hands together, fingers twined, and suddenly realize I have welts on my wrists and am scratching them.

I’ve been taking benedryl, which does nothing much to alleviate the itching or hives.

My big fear is that I’ve developed an allergy to one of two things:

1) Some super common food that I eat all the time like eggs or butter or wheat or coffee that will be hard for me to avoid
or
2) zinc, which I take as a supplement to address a skin condition I have (hidradenitis suppurativa) that causes me to randomly and spontaneously break out in abscesses that take f o r e v e r to heal. The zinc doesn’t CURE the skin condition, mind you. It just puts it more or less into remission until you stop taking the zinc and then it gets as bad as ever.

I have an appointment with a doctor for Tuesday. I’d been meaning to make one for a while so I could get a physical and generally get checked out, but I wanted to get new glasses ($200-400) and get my teeth taken care of (god knows how much) first.

I’m pretty nervous about seeing the doctor because I’ve had some really horrific and abusive medical experiences in the past, and the fact that I’m fat does not help at all. We’ve had insurance in place for a while now… about a month?… but I’ve held off going in to get my asthma and PCOS evaluated– as well as starting documenting my skin condition for future disability claims*– because of the incredibly negative experiences I’ve had.

(* this skin condition never gets better. There’s no treatment for it that heals it, the best you can hope for is to keep it from getting worse. It’s very common for treatments that HAD been working to suddenly stop working. It’s intensely painful and can and does affect mobility. It’s one of (the?) only skin conditions one can get SSDI for, a process that’s intensely difficult to do. I fully expect to be in increasing pain from this and potentially require a number of surgeries that remove areas of skin and under lying tissue. The fact that I’m a stay at home parent and spend most of my day in yoga pants or pyjama pants is AMAZING for my skin, as clothing that causes friction also leads to increased instances of abscesses. Yet it’s very difficult to work a job where you’re in soft, unstructured clothing all day.)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

(content note: discussion of body hate, disordered eating, mental health issues, harassment, etc)

What is a microagression?

A microagression is a small, non-physical act that takes a negative, hostile, insulting, etc stance toward people of lower status. The term was originally used to refer to issues of race but is also sometimes used to describe similar actions with regards to gender and gender expression, class, ability status, etc.

On December 11th, Melissa McEwan started the hashtag #fatmicroaggressions on twitter “because I was having a moment of fedupedness with people pretending that fat people’s lived experiences are not spoken about, not known.”

I started college in 1997 when I was 18 and already pretty solidly in the grips of an eating disorder. If you’d asked me about it, I would have talked about diets and willpower and how unbelievably fat I was. At the time, I was still able to shop in “normal” clothing stores and wasn’t unbelievably fat. But adults had treated me, since childhood, as a massive disgusting fatbag one snack away from imploding from my own fatness. Didn’t I know how disgusting I was? Didn’t I know how cute I’d be if I’d only lose some weight? I look back at photos of myself as a kid, and sometimes I was a little chubby and sometimes I was skinny, but I wasn’t a fat kid. But adults around me were super quick to enforce the idea that I was a fat kid and fat kids were fundamentally worth less than non-fat kids. I think a lot of that was in reaction to the fact that my mom is fat… that they were trying to stage some sort of intervention to prevent me from going down the same (constantly dieting, constantly hungry, constantly hating herself) path she was on. And I internalized that. I took it as a given that I didn’t deserve clothing that fit properly or looked good, that I didn’t deserve to sit on the nice furniture for fear of breaking it, that I didn’t deserve people to treat me well, that I shouldn’t expect to ever find a husband or have kids (neither of which I was interested in at the time) unless I was willing to be strong and use my willpower to lose weight and get skinny. Because I was just lazy and indolent, that’s all, and all I needed to do was pay attention and count calories and measure things and work out and walk just a little bit and not so fucking much.

I stopped doing ballet (and tap and jazz) because my instructor told me I’d never be able to go en pointe, I was too fat. Too bad I don’t live in Russia or I could have joined Big Ballet, made up of dancers who weigh 220 lbs and up. I stopped doing tumbling/gymnastics because the instructor refused to help me get into positions she helped the other kids get into, and responded to my complaints of physical bullying (shoves, pokes, punches, and pinches of my little tummy) with an admonition to lose some weight (I was under ten years old). My pediatrician dismissed my mom’s concerns over my recurring ear infections, bronchitis (2-3x a year), and strep throat and advised her to put me on a diet. (When I turned 20 I got a new doctor who immediately had my tonsils removed. In the ensuing 14 years I’ve had bronchitis maybe 3 times total instead of 2-3 times a year. She also, worried about my weight, put me on an anti-depressant because it tended to suppress the appetite. She completely missed the part where I was incapacitated by Depression and Anxiety, but boy did she see my stomach and decide losing weight would do the trick. She missed the obvious signs of PCOS, too.)

By my senior year of high school, I was subsisting primarily on heavily caffeinated diet sodas. They were calorie free and filled me up sloshily and gave me energy which I needed because I was taking in so few calories. They also gave me horrible headaches thanks to the artificial sweeteners, but it was worth it, because no calories! I counted calories to the extreme, measuring out teaspoons of peanut butter for sandwiches and making hot cocoa with half the amount of the mix recommended. And when I was too hungry to keep doing it, when I’d been fasting for three or four days, I’d go on a binge and eat until I hurt while hating myself the entire time. I had excruciating nightmares for years about eating, would wake up racked with guilt from eating in dreams.

At some point in college I encountered the Venus of Willendorf and, possibly somehow through that, Marilyn Wann’s website Fat!So? which was a life changer. They both started me thinking in a very fundamentally different way about my body and my place in the world. I later discovered Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size (HAES) and Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose and other blogs from the fatosphere.

I’m a lot healthier– and a lot fatter– now than I used to be. I rarely have my blood sugar drop so low I get shakey and nearly pass out. I haven’t fasted or binged in a long time. Keeping a food log can trigger incredibly unhealthy mindsets and behavior in me, but I can keep one if I need to (for instance, to be sure I’m taking in enough calories in a day). I still deal with stress by losing any inclination to eat, and sometimes realize that it’s almost bedtime and I’ve literally eaten nothing that day. I still have deep rooted problems, physical and mental, from the way people have treated me and my body for daring to exist as a fat person.

And I encounter similar problems pretty much every single day, people pre-judging me and my worth based on my size.

When I was pregnant, my first OB-GYN did not have a scale that went above 250 lbs. In order to weigh in, I had to leave his office, walk into a different office of a different doctor, and ask to use THEIR scale. I’ve had doctors fret that I was too heavy for their exam tables (I’m not). I’ve had medical staff refuse to use a larger sized blood pressure cuff (which skews my BP reading, making it register as abnormally high) or insist on using a thigh cuff (which is too big, and also gives a false reading… this time of too low). I’ve had many medical staff offer me exam gowns that were ridiculously small, because they simply don’t stock plus size gowns. When I had just delivered my child via C-Section, which is major abdominal surgery, and was still unable to feel anything from my chest down, I was expected to self-transfer from a gurney to a bed because the nurses didn’t want to touch my fat body. When I accidentally soiled myself (again, just had major abdominal surgery, had no sensation below the chest) they refused to clean me up and I lay there caked in feces for over an hour. When they DID clean me, they did an incredibly poor job. The morning nurse assumed I was simply incontinent and had regular bowel leakage because that’s just how fat people are. Medications, including birth control, are not tested on people over a certain size, resulting in fat people routinely being given the wrong dose of medication.

Every day that I leave my house I know I am going to be judged harshly by people. They are going to pull faces if I sit near them on the bus or train. They are going to be extra angry if I’m too slow crossing the street. People who see me with my kid assume I’m his aunt or nanny and not his mom. I know for a fact that I’m statistically likely to receive inferior medical care, that if I need an EMT they might stand around mocking my size instead of assisting me, or might post photos of me and insults to twitter or facebook. If I go into a grocery store, someone would feel it well within their rights to take photos of me and post them online with insults. In fact, there’s websites devoted to mocking people my size. People feel it acceptable and normal to casually insult me simply for existing, to judge me and find me wanting based solely on what they see.

I’m not going to pull that ridiculous “last acceptable prejudice” card or claim that anti-fat bias is somehow unique in the world of hatred and -isms. I’m also aware that as a white woman who usually doesn’t look obviously disabled I don’t get slammed with as much bias as other fat people in the world.

But still.

Every day I wake up and go out into a world that’s full of assholes. Every day I wake up and brace myself for absolute strangers to attack and deride me. Every day that I post something online i wait for the “lol ur fat” responses to roll in– and they frequently do.

So Melissa McEwan started this hashtag and people started posting under it. And some of it’s petty little shit like cashiers side-eying their Halloween Candy purchases and some of it’s bigger stuff like being denied birth control or having eating disorders and other medical issues go undiagnosed/untreated. And some people responded with WELL THAT ISN’T REALLY MICRO NOW IS IT.

I have 2 responses to that.

1) When you deal with toxic bullshit every single day, what should be a huge instance of hate and bias kind of sinks into a background noise. Pretty much every very fat person I know has had their medical concerns dismissed because they’re fat and “they just need to lose weight.” So on the one hand, that is (or should be) a huge fucking issue. On the other hand, it’s incredibly common. Almost every fat person I know dreads having to find a new doctor (or A doctor if they haven’t got one) because it means you’re probably going to have to shop around extensively just to find a person who treats you like a human being and not a gross sack of lipids. So a lot of the things mentioned under the hashtag? Are super huge things and not micro at all. But you know what? Those things are so common, so ubiquitous, and so many people feel they are deserved, that they just… lie there. Accepted. Acceptable.

2) It’s rare for the voices of fat people to be centered, to be heard, to be granted legitimacy. So fat folks see these kind of thing, and on twitter there’s very little barrier to entry, and suddenly… they’re entered into a conversation with other people who have Been There, who have Experienced That, who have Survived That, who Know How It Is. And the dam breaks. And all this fear and resentment and anger comes pouring out. Yes, there’s a difference between that woman on the bus who got up huffily after you sat down because your thigh touched hers and she didn’t want your gross fat cooties and the time you went to the doctor and he dismissed your questions about MS and advised you to eat more kale and lose weight, but at the same time, those exist on a spectrum of hate that affects all fat people and both are equally acceptable ways to react to fat people: with disgust, with anger that they exist, with dismissal. Just go away and don’t come back until you’re skinny.

The trolls, of course, have come out.

It’s easy to lose weight, they say. You’re just making excuses, they say. One asshole, whose entire account seemed to have been created solely to seek out and harass people who’d participated in the hash tag, tried to dismiss some of my claims. MAYBE THEY JUST SECRETLY HATE YOU.

Look.

Darling.

Sweet troll.

Precious little one.

It’s not a fucking secret.

It is socially acceptable and valid to hate people, to treat them as less than human, to consider them both worth less than thinner humans and also to consider them worthless.

That’s not a secret at all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

There’s a Jenny Craig ad featuring a woman sobbing because she realized there were no photos of her and her infant daughter, but now she’s lost a bunch of weight she can take SO MANY PHOTOS and REALLY LIVE HER LIFE.

This commercial makes me so, so angry.

Look.

There is nothing preventing you from taking photos of your fat ass, or living your life, but you. I super hate the societal message that women who are fat should hide away and never be seen, should exist in a state of shame, should do everything they can to reduce their physical bodies to an acceptable size. It leads to ill health both physical and mental, and it leads to people putting their lives on hold, waiting forever for the magic moment when they’re slim enough, when they’re good enough, when they’re deserving enough, to actually live.

Get out there and live.

Bust out the camera and take photos of yourself, have family and friends photograph you.

Then look at the photos.

You may hate the way you look, but seriously, the more you look at them the more used you get to them, and the more you’ll get to like them. Pretty soon you’ll stop focusing on your belly or thighs or double chin or weird hair or the way your shirt bunched up or your crooked teeth or your zits or whatever the problems are. You’ll just see you. And you’ll see you having fun and doing things and being with people you love.

I have very few photos of my mom, because she spends most of her time hiding from the camera “feeling fat.” Looking through family photo albums there’s a weird sense that she doesn’t exist. When she is photographed, she’s usually hiding behind someone or something, or half out of the photo, or something like that. One of my favorite photos of her is her on the stairs with a terrible haircut, a perm that went awry. My dad took it to document her awful hair, and she’s laughing, and you can see her brilliant smile and sense of humor and how gorgeous and full of life she is. Another snapshot is her on the day she graduated from college, holding her diploma triumphantly, in her weird hippy shirt and her hair longer than she usually wore it. She’s so alive, so present. Her favorite photo of herself, one that she carried around in her wallet for years (and might still have), is her standing in the sunlight in cut off jean shorts. She’s at her slimmest, and she keeps it to remind herself of how perfect she was then. She was taking prescription amphetamines and spending time she normally would have been sleeping running on treadmills to use up the excess energy. She was also in her 20s and hadn’t had kids yet. But oh, how she clings to that photo. It’s like something out of the long-running (now ended) syndicated comic “Cathy.” I mean, at one point, Cathy pulls out a photo of herself at her slimmest and compares her current fat self to it.

There’s a quote I ran across once and now I can’t find it again. I don’t know if it’s from a story, a blog post, a song lyric, or what. “We were young and beautiful and didn’t even know it.”

We’re all young and beautiful, and we don’t realize it, don’t recognize it. Especially those of us raised female. We worry about our fat and our breasts and hips being too large or not large enough. We fret over our skin and hair and posture. We’re perfect, but convinced we are imperfect and those imperfections make us unlovable. And we get older and bigger and more wrinkled and our hair thins and we lament our lost pasts. Why didn’t we take more photos? Why didn’t we run around enjoying our bodies? Why did we spend so much time hating ourselves? But we’re still unkind to our bodies, still viewing them with suspicions, still expecting perfection and disappointed in the reality. We had from the camera, too fat, too wrinkled, too female.

And our family looks through photo albums and we’re not present, we’ve made ourselves invisible.

It’s easy to pick up a camera and take on photo taking duties. It’s a service. It’s part of the emotional heavy lifting that’s expected of women. But it’s also an excuse. If you’re handling the photos nobody else has to. If you’re the only photographer, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse to not be in the photographs yourself.

Please stop doing this.

Take photographs of yourself, let others take photos of you. Leave a record of your life, be present in your life. Just live. Stop thinking about your body and live, exist. Give yourself permission to exist and take up space. Stop being afraid of not being perfect, not being good enough. Stand in front of the camera and just be.

When Niko was an infant, my sister-in-law snapped of photo of me sacked out on the couch holding him. I hated the photo when I first saw it, the first tens of times I saw it. I’m so fat. Look at my chins. Look at that huge mole. Ugh, my hair. Ugh, my hairy arms. Ugh, my crooked glasses. But the more I saw it the more used to it I got. Yes, I’m fat. That’s how my body is. I’m fat and I’m hairy and that’s just me, it’s how I am. And look at me, there with my baby, relaxed and happy and both of us safe and comfortable and asleep. It’s an intimate moment, a photo of us just being together and loving each other. I love that photo now, and Niko loves to look at it.

You are who you are. Please, please, stop putting your life on hold until you’re a better version of yourself. Start your life now and actually live it.

And take some photos.

You’ll appreciate it later.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

You’ve probably seen the latest Dove viral ad campaign. It’s a video available on you tube about how totally awesome Dove is because of their decade long “Real Beauty” campaign and how now they’re going after the people who are REALLY evil: “art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers.” Not ad executives and companies, no. Just those evil artists who for reasons TOTALLY UNKNOWN make women feel bad ON PURPOSE about their bodies. But how to “catch them in the act!!!” and “make them reconsider”? They needed a plan! So they created a Photoshop Action and released it into the wild, where it will be used by amateurs who want to make wedding and baby photographs look better. Billed as a “skin glow effect” they posted it on reddit and other places where art directors, graphic designers, and professional photo retouchers TOTALLY hang out and get their totally professional Photoshop Actions, Brushes, etc from.

In reality, all the Action does is revert all changes made to the original image and pop up a scolding message.

Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.

Of course, to undo that reversion, all one has to do is hit… well… undo.

BAM! A totally effective message that will OBVIOUSLY CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER!

Or, more likely, go viral and make Dove look totally awesome and progressive because they just love women so much and are so willing to take on those horrible evil photo retouchers who are just the WORST, right?

Dove, remember, is owned by Unilver which has those atrocious Axe commercials (women! they are fuck beasts for fucking!) and SlimFast (women: you are fat cows, stop eating!). If they really wanted to push for long acting real social change, they could apply pressure to Unilver to at the very least stop marketing Axe the way it’s marketed.

Of course, they could also change their own advertising as well.

I mean, if Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, maybe they shouldn’t find new body parts for women to be ashamed of? I, for one, never knew my armpits were ugly until Dove told me so.

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If Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market Firming Creams, and their criteria for casting calls wouldn’t be quite as shameful (beautiful skin and hair only! No zits or scars, those are GROSSSSSSSS).

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If Dove (and Unilever) really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market skin-lightening creams (which are physically as well as emotionally harmful) around the world.

Like diet companies who co-opt HAES and Size Acceptance verbage, and companies who practice Greenwashing, Dove is taking Body Acceptance language and using it to sell product. They are telling women what they think women want to hear for the sole reason that they want to sell products to those women. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies advertising their wares. What’s wrong is the incredibly hypocritical advertising Dove uses. They aren’t trying to change the world, but they very willing to use social justice and activism language to sell their products and their subtle form of body hate. Dove doesn’t give a shit about your body or how beautiful you feel, they just want your money.

One of the worst things is that Dove is actually in a position to make actual changes in the industry. Instead of telling everyone that we should pat them on the back for promoting size acceptance and bodily diversity (while actually showing a pretty narrow range of sizes and skin colors), they could just use a wide variety of women of different body types and ethnicities. They could show instead of telling. They could push for Unilever to do the same with other ad campaigns as well. And they could pressure Unilever to drop the body shaming, sexist, manipulative language and images that other Unilever products use. But Dove isn’t doing that. Instead, they’re creating viral videos that do the bulk of advertising for them (saving them money) and creating good will among their users. It’s an effective ad campaign, but it’s also an insulting one.

Dove claims that they’re against distorting perceptions of beauty, which is harmful to women, while telling women that their armpits are ugly and their skin is saggy and their scars are gross and their frizzy hair is uggsville and their dark/uneven skin is THE WORST, but hey it’s ok because they can spend money on products to make them prettier YAY GIRL POWER WOOOOO now how about a nice round of SlimFast for all? The hypocrisy is thick on the ground.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for awhile know that in the past, I’ve grappled with disordered eating. It mostly took the form of binging and fasting (where “fasting” is “going 2-3 days without eating until I’m so hungry I consume the entire world, then freak out about it”) and severe calorie restriction (like, trying to live on 500 calories a day, mostly in the form of diet soda). I’m also really, really fat and it took me a while, but I’ve gotten comfortable in my body. It’s a fat body, but it’s MY body, and (at least until recently) it more or less did what I wanted it to do, when I wanted it to do it.

I used to do a lot of manual labor. I used to dig up (small) trees and haul them around; muck out horse stalls and wheel around overloaded wheelbarrows full of sodden straw and manure; toss around 75 pound bags of flour and sugar; unload trucks full of slate, mulch, compost, etc; work all day in the hot sun.

When I started trying to practice Health At Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating, my weight stabilized. (I also stopped eating so much dairy, because it makes me ill. It helped me listen to my body more.) I mean, I had a kid 2 years ago, and I had no problems losing all the (minimal) weight I gained while pregnant. I currently weigh the same amount I did before I conceived.

Only I feel fatter than I used to. Like, I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds or so. My clothes don’t fit well. I feel sluggish and confined. I’m a lot more sedentary than I used to be (this has been a long, cold, wet winter and I don’t have a driver’s license, so going out and doing things and moving is… challenging) and I think I’ve lost muscle and gained fat.

I don’t like my body like this.

So I’ve started working out and holy shit am I out of shape. I used to dance competitively. I used to Irish Step Dance, which means I basically used to jump up and down for an hour or two at a time. I can’t even imagine doing that now. Well, I mean, I can imagine it… and when I put my head down to work out, I’m done far too soon. It’s depressing. I’m still working on it, working out, waiting for the snow to melt and the temperatures to break so I can actually leave the house with the toddler in tow. We can walk a mile to the library, to the park, etc and that’ll help.

But I’ve gotten into some bad food habits as well and I need to correct that. I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, I’m a sucker for bread (especially with butter), and I could stand to stop eating so much pre-packaged processed food. We have an actual fruit bowl in the dining room, on the table, and having the fresh fruit RIGHT THERE AND VISIBLE is helping us remember to eat it (Niko calls apples and oranges myommyom balls) and I’ve upped my fruit intake quite a bit. I found some great recipes for cauliflower and we’ve been doing a good job of eating more cooked veggies AND more salad (we splurged and got fancy dressings, croûtons, flavored almonds, etc for extra fancy restaurant style salads).

So I’m doing what I can to, in general, improve my body’s health. But the urge is there: to stop eating entirely; to count and reduce calories to almost nothing; to go on a faddish crash diet; to try to win that elusive prize of thinness by any means necessary even if it means shaking hands and dizziness and vertigo and poor health. It’s so sick. There are foods that make me ill (upset stomach, mouth rash, migraine… not all at the same time) and I should keep a food diary so I can track what it is that’s making me sick so I can cut it out of my diet. But I fear that if I start logging food I’ll start restricting again. That way lies madness, and by “madness” I mean “obsession and compulsion and terrible anxiety nightmares.” There are times I wish I could just not eat ever again, never put anything in my mouth again, shed my physical body entirely and just drift away.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from brigidkeely.com/wordpress.

Someone on a feminist website recently posted a bit about the BMI and ended it with the admonition that fat people should just put down the donuts, a line that was cliche years ago and thinking that is, frankly, dangerous and hateful. I mean, seriously, if it was that easy to lose weight there wouldn’t be so many fat people and the dieting industry wouldn’t be raking in the money hand over fist the way it is. But it’s easy (lazy) thinking that fat people are just weak and immoral and more in love with shoving food into their gaping maws than being slender, and it paints thin people as morally superior since they can just step away from the food and not indulge. Why yes, there is a reason that it’s bad to be fat, it’s bad to be female, and it’s fucking awful to be fat and female. This ties into the whole puritanical don’t-have-pleasure-ever women shouldn’t lust after or enjoy ANYTHING (sex, alcohol, food in general, “decadent” food in specific, chocolate in specific, shopping in general, shoes, money, power, respect) mindset so very prevalent.

I digress a bit.

One of the arguments against fat people being healthy or active is that every single fat person it’s mentioned who is fat and vegetarian, is fat and exercises, is fat and jogs, is fat and participates in triathlons, is fat and hikes, is fat and mountain climbs, is fat and swims, is fat and rows boats, etc is that that particular fat person is a statistical outlier. Sure, THAT fat person acts in ways that are healthy and active and is still fat, but that’s the exception to the rule! Fat people in general are ticking time bombs of obese ill-health, and it is ALL. THEIR. FAULT. If only they’d just PUT DOWN THE DAMN DONUTS and BACK AWAY FROM THE TABLE. On the flip side of that, however, nobody ever says that thin people who are completely sedentary and/or eat nothing but junk food are statistical outliers. They are given an automatic pass for having an acceptable body shape, just as the fat people are automatically damned for having an unacceptable body shape. And yes, “overly” or “excessively” thin people are damned and told to eat a sandwich.

Meanwhile, the USA is a country with a great deal of poverty and many many people– many of them fat– who go to bed hungry each night. It’s a country where many children cannot count on having enough food to eat, where it can be difficult to find fruits and vegetables or anything that doesn’t come in a box or can and loaded with preservatives and additives. It’s a country where a person can be both overweight and malnourished at the same time. But with all the focus on OH MY GOD FAT PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE there’s very little attention paid to the fact that these fat people are often starving/malnourished or came from a childhood of food scarcity, and that the body’s natural reaction to starvation/malnourishment is to cling to fat– cling to iiiiiiiit!!!– and that it’s not an issue of overindulgence at all.

Because it’s easier to shame people than it is to address a serious social injustice. And it’s easier to point fingers at people who are lesser than it is to examine critical fallacies in the medical system. And it’s really easy to forget that the BMI was rewritten so that literally overnight a bunch of people were suddenly classified as overweight who before hadn’t been, and that likewise the critical numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar have been rewritten so that more people now have medical conditions they wouldn’t have been labeled with a few years ago. Explosive epidemic? Not really. Just a re-writing of criteria.

But that doesn’t write headlines, sell diet products and plans, and make people into disgusting non-humans so, you know, it’s not talked about that much.

brigid: (Default)

Originally published at brigidkeely.com/wordpress. You can comment here or there.

I just want to say this to people who claim that there’s no call for feminism any more because men and women have equality:

Hah!

Also, fuck you!

Because Ketel One? Does not want my filthy, disgusting vagina money! No! Ketel One is for men only!

There was a time when substance was style.
When men were unmoved by the constant current of the crowd.
When they didn’t drink their vodka from delicately painted perfume bottles.
There was a time when men were men.
It was last night.

Ketel One! It is vodka for men! AND ONLY MEN. Manly Men. Not like those other pansy girly vodkas in their delicate (girly!) painted (unmanly!) perfume bottles (probably only bitches and faggots drink that shit, am i rite?)!

As I lack a penis, Ketel One is obviously not for me. It is men only! They have a sign that says “no gurlz alloud.” And it’s really sad, because I loved their print ads, which were classy and interesting and understated.

And then there is Bacardi!

Bacardi wants you to know that I am very, very ugly.







I am fat! I have “lumpy rolls!” I have breasts that don’t look like softballs! I have a hairy mole! I have acne and I wear glasses and I have teeth that don’t look like a picket fence (ie perfectly straight). I have freckles and cellulite! I am a human being with flaws, and apparently Bacardi doesn’t want to be associated with me. If only I were a super hot woman or a man of any appearance, Bacardi would welcome my dollars with open arms. But they do not!

Alas, I will no longer spend my hard earned money on Ketel One and Bacardi. My screwdrivers and cranberry screwdrivers will be made with Grey Goose or Finlandia or some other brand. My strawberry Daiquiris and Rum and Cokes will be made with Captain Morgan’s (and Coke). I am certain they will be glad to receive my appalling vagina-tainted money without casting aspersions upon me, as a non-penis having, apparently non-penis pleasing person.

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Originally published at brigidkeely.com/wordpress. You can comment here or there.

I posted earlier about the We Love Colors giveaway at Elle In Wonderland.

I totally won! Holy crap. Hoooooly craaaaaaap.

I have requested this striped pair in black and scarlet red.

When they arrive I will post a review and possibly pictures of my bad self wearing them.

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Originally published at brigidkeely.com/wordpress. You can comment here or there.

Elle in Wonderland is running a promo to win a pair of tights from “We Love Colors.” I’ve been browsing their website for awhile now thinking about what kind of tights I could encase my fat legs in, so this promo has me very excited.

My top choices are these white striped tights, these black striped tights, or solid color maroon which will match this really wild dress I have that I’m, frankly, a little scared to wear because it’s PATTERN! and COLOR! and OMGCLEAVAGE!

Swing by her blog to leave a comment entry.

They have dude hosiery, too.

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What the fuck.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009 11:14
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Originally published at brigidkeely.com/wordpress. You can comment here or there.

I was trying to think of a cute, catchy headline like “proximity to grocery stores fuels obesity?” or “since when is access to a wide range of foods a bad thing?” or “douche bag writer exposes fat bias.” But seriously, what the fuck is this shit?

One might think that “everyday low prices” for food would mean that people would eat much more–stuff themselves, even. [...] Further, we found that Wal-Mart’s effect on weight is largest for women, the poor, African-Americans and people who live in urban areas.

Fat people aren’t a glutenous mass of binge eating gluttons, cramming sacks of groceries into their gaping maws at the first opportunity. Providing people with a grocery store that sells, you know, groceries doesn’t trigger an epic shift in corpulence simply because food is available. I cannot BELIEVE that article includes that as a concept, that providing people with groceries to feed themselves with will make people fat. Or do skinny people not use grocery stores?

I’ve lived places where it was very difficult to purchase fruits or vegetables, because the only local stores where either convenience stores that either don’t carry said items or mark them up atrociously, or the fruit and veggie selection was horrible (Imagine walking into a store and every single cauliflower is mildewed and all the apples are shriveled). To get actual fruit or veggies took three hours of commute time, spread over 2 buses and a train and about two miles of walking. I’d get off work at 5:00 and not get home until 8:00 or later, which is particularly miserable in the winter in Chicago. Or, I could hit the convenience store across the street, skip the healthy components, and have a weaker dollar because all the food was marked up. I frequently didn’t have the energy for a 3 hour trek carrying 30 pounds of groceries and would just go across the street.

So given a choice between really expensive or very unappealing fruits and veggies and something less healthy (but filling) like chips or crackers, what do you chose? If your only bread option is enriched white bread, you’re not getting much sandwich related fiber. Sliced turkey or chicken is a hell of a lot more expensive than bologna or fatty peanut butter. “Real” cheese is more expensive than pasteurized processed cheese food, and also tends to go moldy if not used up quickly (assuming you don’t purchase it moldy; I’ve had that experience as well). Not everyone has access to a Whole Foods or Trader Joes, and even if you live near one that doesn’t mean you can afford their prices.

The first is the substitution effect: a change in consumption mix due to a change in relative prices. If a bag of salad is $2 and a bag of potato chips is $1, then the price of salad in terms of chips is two bags and the price of a bag of chips is half a bag of salad. If a Wal-Mart opens and reduces the price of salad to $1 a bag and the price of chips to 75 cents a bag, the “salad price” of chips has risen (from 1TK2 bag to 3TK4 bag) and the “chip price” of salad has fallen from 2 bags to 4TK3 bags. In short, salad has become cheaper relative to chips.

The other effect from a change in prices is the income effect, which is a change in consumption due to a change in purchasing power. If Wal-Mart sells food at lower prices–even if our incomes don’t change–every dollar can buy more.

No shit, Sherlock. How is this even news? Seriously? Have these people never had to go shopping? Never had to make a budget? Never had to decide between buying fresh vegetables or buying milk? Never had to skip the lunch meat and keep making peanut butter sandwiches even though you can barely choke down another God damned peanut butter sandwich but that’s all you can afford?

We’ve illustrated how changes in relative prices and purchasing power affect people’s decisions, and this research suggests that people do make the right decisions when the prices of healthy foods fall and purchasing power rises.

Ooooh, right. Because women, poor people, People of Color, and people living in urban areas eat crap food and are unhealthy and fat because they’re just too fucking dumb to know otherwise, despite the near-constant barrage from every media source on the planet dictating what, when, and how much people should eat. It has nothing to do with food availability or price. Imagine that!

Americans live in one of the richest countries in the world, yet lots of folks are physically unable to realistically buy affordable, healthy groceries. It’s very, very difficult to be healthy without a healthy diet, and it’s incredibly depressing that the assumption this dude had, right off the bat, was that providing access to affordable groceries would cause OMG TEH FAT. Seriously, what?

But I guess when you assume that non-white-male folks just shove corn chips into their gaping maws at every opportunity, you’ll assume that given the chance to buy corn chips in bulk at a low cost will lead to madness. Of course, that’s an assumption with no basis in fact what so ever.

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Vespa Ads

Saturday, 2 May 2009 17:39
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I've wanted a Vespa for years. Something that's small, easily maneuverable, and gets good gas mileage and looks super cute. What's not to love about it? Sadly, Chicago has crap winters and I haven't wanted to shell out money for a vehicle I can only use about 4 months a year.

There's another reason I haven't seriously looked into buying a Vespa, and that's because I'm fat. Like a lot of fat people, I'm paranoid about breaking things with my immense, ungodly bulk. Will floors support me? Chairs? Suspension bridges? Ladders? Sidewalk grates? Back porches? There's a few reasons for my fear, ranging from people constantly telling me since a fairly slender childhood that I was fatter than the moon and thus absolutely abnormal and not allowed to use tire swings, roller skates, and stuff like that for fear of breakage to falling through a back porch that was riddled with dry rot. I was five. Few five year olds are heavy enough to bust through a wooden porch by simple virtue of being superfat. But I'd been told so often that I was a fatty fatty fat fat that I figured I was just such a fucking porker that normal structures weren't enough to support me.

Thanks, adults in my life, for making a five year old so self conscious about her weight that she assumed wooden porches couldn't support her immensity. That was totally awesome of you.

Armed with that baggage, I've wondered seriously if a Vespa was the right vehicle for me. Could it support me without the seat springs breaking? I mean, just because countless bicycle seats have withstood my girth doesn't mean that a Vespa seat would! Would the motor be able to ferry both the weight of the scooter AND myself? A slightly more sensible question and one, it seems, with an answer of yes. Existing Vespas are pretty powerful and could totally tote me around. Even if I had groceries or books or cinder blocks as cartage.

So what's up with these ads?

The tagline, if you can't read it (and if you click on the small images they link to larger images) says "The most powerful Vespa ever." Uhm. Ok? So that means... superfat people can now use them? Fatty Boom Batties can now balance precariously upon a Vespa and tootle away to freedom, the Vespa able to transport even their planetary bulk?

Or are these ads aimed at slender people. "Imagine! If someone who weighed THIS much can use our Vespa and have it still be able to go... won't YOU go even faster? Oh, the power!"

I don't know.

The people photographed in these ads are out doing stuff and living life. There's a very well dressed fat man at a bar or something. He looks like a successful businessman. There's trendily dressed fat woman with amazing shoes at what looks to be a trendy specialty grocery store. She's so confident in herself that her big fat arms (OH NOES WOBBLY BITS) are bare. There's a snuggling couple gazing out at a body of water... a lake? the sea? he's well dressed. So is she, although exposing more skin... fat wobbly skin that hasn't been photoshopped and smoothed to high heaven.

These fat folks look like people I know. They look, further, like me... only more stylish, more trendy, more affluent. This is a life I could aspire to. They are alive and social and having fun. And it's rare that you see fat people in advertising doing so. So is this a positive ad? Is this an ad targeting an under served fat demographic? Or is it a form of fat shaming: "You are so fucking fat that you need a special, extra powerful engine to haul you wheezily along, lardy." "It doesn't matter how much money you have or how nicely you dress, you are so deathly fat that normal conveyances cannot handle your gargantuan bulk." "You are an outsider and don't belong."

I'm inclined to think it's the latter. That, like the Brazilian Yogurt Ads that use beautiful, sexy fat women shot in artistic and beautiful ways, the thrust of the ad is that fat don't fly. It's not sexy, it's not appealing, and it's not normal. If you're fat, you're an undesirable freak and nobody wants anything to do with you. Go eat some fucking yogurt and then get on your Rascal and be fat someplace else.

brigid: (Default)
The Unique thrift store on Sheridan (Unique is a chain of thrift stores and they. all. smell. the. same.) has a LOT of plus-size high quality clothing. I was shocked to see this! Previous thrifting has been a very frustrating experience, but everything is half off at Unique on Mondays and I had time to spend pawing through racks.

It went a little like this:

0
5
6
10
0
2
18... what the fuck?
22... holy HELL? *grab*
4
small
xs
2XL
14
18
18
18
18
20
16
0
24
18
18
18
18
22
6
Size 18 seemed to be HIGHLY represented. I grabbed 4 pair of pants, all of which looked brand new. I put one back in the store because HA-HAAA! Spoiled for choice! They weren't ALL THAT, even at only $2.00. (one pair is too small, but I might lose weight and fit them. This is not wishful thinking on my part, entirely. If I don't keep losing weight I'll give away or sell them, not hang on to them forever). I snagged 4 shirts, one of which is slightly snug, but same caveat as the two-small pants. I also grabbed 1 dress from Torrid that I intended to wear over jeans, but hell, it looks good on its own. If you are a size 16-24 and have some time to spend pawing through thrift store racks, check this place out. AMAZING.

I also got Nesko 2 pair of pants, picked up a giant wad of super cute baby clothes, many of which still had the original sales tags on them, 2 kids' books, and some play-dough fun-factory stuff for $1.50. In all, I spent less than $55.00.

My guess is that some local fat woman either suddenly lost or gained a bunch of weight, or else massively cleaned out her (their? maybe it was several women?) closet of PRACTICALLY NEW CLOTHING. Whoever you are, local fat donating woman or women, thank you. Thank you so much. My fat fluctuating-size ass thanks you. My wallet thanks you. My closet thanks you. My sad, shoddy, worn out clothing thanks you. thank you so much.

Meanwhile, dudes who wear size 38 30 pants... What the fuck, why are your thrifted jeans in perfect fucking shape except missing the top button? I rejected some 15 pair of jeans and khakis that were otherwise perfect because the top button was gone. GRR. ARGH.

In other news, I finally (finally!) have a diagnosis of PCOS and have a 'script for Metformin ("Just so you know, the first week? You WILL have diarrhea." "Oh, hooray." "Not, like, OH GOD RUN TO THE BATHROOM NOW, but, you know." "Thanks for the heads up." "Also, this might make you super fertile." "Double hooray.") All other test results (thyroid, testosterone, iron (finally!)) were normal. I am pleased, and double plus pleased to finally have a fucking real diagnosis with accompanying medical treatment.