Tuesday, November 6, 2007

fatties on Miami Ink

On Miami Ink tonight they are featuring two people I am acquainted with from bouncing around the size acceptance community. One is a woman named Deidra who gets a tattoo by the ever-fabulous Les Toil, whose work I love and adore; the other is a guy, an FA (fat admirer for all your civilians), who gets a groovy chubby girl pin-up girl tatt on his arm. Nobody's seen how the episode got cut, but size acceptance is supposed to be woven within it in some fashion, thematically. I really hope it's good! I will be squalling loudly if it is to let the show know I liked it.

Looks like the one-hour episode is on at 9 CST on the Learning Channel. There's also another older episode after, but I'm fairly sure the stuff I mentioned is only in the 9 o'clock ep.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

who knew

Well, who woulda thought it and all that, but I am becoming an Old Navy person. Wrong generation, wrong size, but still--it turns out I can buy their crap too!

I never even knew they carried plus-sized clothing until about eight months ago, when a fellow fattie clued me in. I made it to the flagship State Street store just in time for them to stop carrying plus-sized clothing in the store, however, which made me very skeptical. VERY. Between the fact that I didn't have much luck finding stuff at first (except their ribbed tank tops, which I am in love with), the way serious ghetto-ization of the Plus Dept and the fact that they were yet another company --

pardon a regular rant here at Cahiers du Fatgirl --

which has gone online rather than actually god forbid let you try on clothes in the store, a very suspect business practice, which allows them to make more money from the non-returns and not-quite-fits and impulse buys, and keep the fat girls out of the store and hidden away in their homes. Very unAmerican.

But it turns out they have some great stuff. And it's very cheap, and actually fits my ass, which is amazing, cause LB hasn't for a while. Even the pants, I mean. The real test will be when I finally break down and buy some JEANS. Then we really may have something. As it is, I have placed at least a few orders with them, and they are very cheap (always sale items, always coupon codes), although not quite deadly cheap, more like chronically very dang cheap, and okay, I haven't experienced that total short Old Navy lifespan yet, but so far so good. I wore my new chemise last night, and I felt like a star of the Nouvelle Vague! Or maybe Brigitte Bardot! All I needed was an iron bedstead and a cuckholded husband and some Gitanes. And a view of the quay. All for $18.

Monday, August 6, 2007

what a dick

I've never read such a steaming pile of horseshit in my life as this recent op-ed piece by Dick Cavett (here is the text of the article--need Times Select to get it from NYTimes site). Yes, I for one really enjoy the "approval" given obesity by showing fat people on TV being compared to the approval given the existence of the KKK or the Nazis (in his words, both "domestic and third Reich") by showing them on TV.

He has no right to decide if he APPROVES of showing fat people, fat people just ARE. People. Not a condition. Not to mention, the numbers of fat people on TV? Don't remotely represent how many fat people there are actually are in the US. We're coming to get you, Dick.

I can't even believe somebody who's wrestled with mental illness all his life would only get this far, which is to say, nowhere at all, in his sympathy for the human condition/recognition of everyone's humanity. Unfucking believable.

Showing a fat person is not a "tacit endorsement" of the fact that "it's OK to be fat." It's an overt endorsement of the fact that IT'S A MOTHERFUCKING PERSON. Would he prefer they are swept out of his sight?

Since the KKK and the Nazis and the Mafioso aren't enough, Cavett also drags up freak shows as a point of comparison. With just slightly more slobbering criticism on his part, I might start to think this dude's a closeted fattie-lover.

As is, I just think he's a fucking asshole and I managed to lose whatever respect I had for him in one fell swoop. And I'm unimpressed with the Times, which usually manages much more even-handed coverage of size issues than this, for printing it. Try, just try, replacing "fat" in his piece with another human adjective. Say....oh, I don't know, completely at random I want to say SHORT. Then how would it sound?

Mr. Cavett would counter by saying short is a state one can't change, fat is. It's often not (short argument: otherwise it would), but even if you don't believe that, what are you going to DO about it? Extinguish the fatties? Keep them off your screen? Hope they don't exist? Do like the Nazis and get rid of them? Do I really need to point out the internal irony in his non-argument here? (It's tired and bad to use the Nazi thing to make a point, but he's the one that brought it up.)

What a fucking idiot.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bulletin From Fat Girl Clothing Trenches

Mail order sucks. To wit:

I WISH I COULD TRY ON THE CLOTHES I ORDER BEFORE I BUY THEM!! I'm startin to get really zasperated about this. I am--everybody is--a tricky size to fit, but in my case in order to get things to fit I have to buy clothes (honestly) within five different sizes!!! All bets are off, when it comes to doing this at a distance. It really drives me crazy. Every manufacturer is different, every manufacturer has a size structure that's different, I can't remember from one to the other and when you throw eBay in there...forget it.

I'm tryin to buy a bathing suit right now, and it's like drafting the Paris peace accord. You try one size, they may have the next up or down, they might not, they might not have that color, you may not be able to return it, they may not even have one that really fits, who knows, either way who has the money to keep sending things back-- it's a very drawn-out version of an already annoying activity. I wish I wish I wish I could just TRY THE CLOTHES ON. As it is....I always end up wasting money. I am quite convinced clothing companies count on the long-distance buying process to make money. "Oh I can't send this back one more time"/" I'll just give it to a friend"/"eh, maybe it'll fit someday"...$$$$.

I really am startin to get all het up about this. It feels very ghetto-izing and as if a basic consumer rights issue that is being breached. Internet shopping: not a cure-all.

Monday, May 14, 2007


From the nothing's-real-until-the-NYTimes-writes-about-it files, the paper covered Leonard Nimoy's photography of fat nudes yesterday (login required). The NYTimes actually is traditionally pretty decent about covering issues of size, although this article had a slightly too astonished tone, not to mention lazily leaned on the word 'fetish', in the loaded, connotative way most people do.

If Nimoy had photographed skinny women...would that be a 'fetish'? If there are more technically 'overweight' women in the US than not...how would that term be correct from even a statistical POV? A guy who likes fat women once put it this way: I date women from 200-500 lbs; others are only interested in women from 105-120...who has the fetish?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Double-chins. DOUBLE-CHINS.

Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secrecy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

William Blake, "A Divine Image,"
from Songs of Innocence and Experience
Self-acceptance, when you're presented with or present yourself with the challenge of it, definitely happens in stages. Some aspects demand harder work. Some bits are much tougher to reach. Nothing ever magically floats away, dislodged by a phrase or sudden realization, however intense. Usually things are worn away, bit by bit, the occasional inspiration flaking off slightly bigger bits than normal. Things you do, things you say, things you see. Ideas that percolate for years, gestures that energize. Stuff goes away, comes back, goes away for good. Mostly.

As a fat girl accepting her fat body, I have been through a million cycles of self-acceptance, different over-lapping layered stages, and have found toward the "end" of it all (there is no real end: you figure out Fat--more or less--you get to Aging! There's always something) that the stubbornest set of challenges, for me, has been related to the human face. This makes sense. Faces are our body's currency, we carry everything there.

That is, although it's on the one hand by definition impossible, did you know it's also actually possible to pass, as a fat girl? At its root it has to do with not letting your body be seen in any way that challenges body standards, with a kind of deep-down Hiding (this is a whole other essay), but the key tool for passing is a thin face.

I am one of those folks who, fat or thin, has a basically fat face. Jowly, double-chinned. Fleshy. And my fat face means I can't pass--in person. Nobody ever looks me in the eye and thinks I'm small. Which is fine. I don't want to pass anymore.

But I used to. Then I didn't, but I still didn't want to do it at the "expense" of having a fat-looking face. Now...it's just my face. There is something ruthless as well as sweet about true self-acceptance: what are you going to do, in the end, except accept? Love? There aren't a lot of ways to do this except to do this.

When we talk about faces and fat, on some level we are talking about photos. It's where you can hide, or try to. In my case, not only do I have a fat face, I happen to have the kind of face that photographs big, especially in candid: the fleshy parts move forward, the facial features retreat. I have fat friends with similar faces whose faces do the exact opposite. Being photogenic in that sense, I've come to realize, is as much a throw of the genetic dice as eye color or height. To a certain degree it's nothing you can control. I look at photos all day for my job and am well aware of how photos work/what they show/what they don't/how people's faces present differently. It's fluky. I once had to calligraph ex Illinois governor Jim Edgar's name on hundreds of photos and learned anew, looking at all those (bizarrely similar) images with his sharp jawline and prominent features, how much being photogenic plays into...popularity. Being dominant in politics or anywhere. Being seen, period. Being seen a certain way.

I've ranted here about this before, I think, but the point is that photos can lie, do lie, that's kind of what they're for, in their own very odd set of ways. They tell the truth, but by reaching for one version of it, they commit to the opposite, to the mystery of things they don't include. Being photogenic is one particular kind of lie. And I, beyond everyone's normal desire to be seen in a good light, certainly have flirted hard with the Big Lie that is not showing the Chins. Somehow this was the area where I couldn't completely make my peace with my fat body, allow things to look the way they do, let the chips fall. I didn't want to look "fatter than I was"--which is the kind of fat face I have, how it photographs. It was amazing how far I had come, to still have the fears I did in this one area.

The very particular world of fat girls and those who self-identify as fat girl-likers played an interesting role. In general, it's been a helpful tool for self-acceptance for me. I have found the community of horndog folks who (bless their heart) like big girls very validating. It’s not just about fat--everybody likes something, right? Everybody does, trust me. It works both ways. For every Thing, somebody is into it. Fat body parts, skinny ones, long hair, short hair, too much hair, not enough. Whatever. It’s very equalizing. And the fact that it lives in the realm of the physical is part of its strength. I don't want anyone assuming I am lazy and stupid because of my size...why do I want them to assume I'm wonderful because of it? I'd rather they were just warm for my form and take it from there--like anybody.

But it turns out the fat girl-liking world has its own set of evolutionary problems too. Because while many men who like fat women accept, even like, even really like, a nice double-chin or fat face, there are many men, still, who think the perfect girl is one with a body much bigger than others might like, but with the same kind of thin face others worship miraculously screwed on top. (There are other issues that play into this phenomenon; generic unresolvable problems of objectification, for instance, and, in one small corner, the fact that there are men who not only want women to be larger, they want them to be Getting Larger, so a body that contains both states within—small and big—is exciting to them.)

It really pisses me off. There is something deadly annoying about men who want a big goil--not only that, men who might deeply understand some of the pressures and prejudices a fat girl might deal with--but still build this ideal fat woman without a fat face. Nobody has pop-on parts. You want a real big woman to hold and squish? Well...chances are good she'll have a face that's fat. There's a bizarre hint of liking-it-in-the-sheets in that kind of denial.

That was an unexpected lil barrier; I had to notice the phenomenon for what it was. Get mad. Cast it aside. (Please note: this is not all men, just some.) But then it was still back to my own issues. And it wasn't just me--I see lots of otherwise self-actualized fat hotties doing it, over and over. You can spot those photos in half-a-sec: taken from above, with the arm well-extended, faces carefully whittled down to that first Skrebneski plane. I’m getting to the point where I can immediately guess what somebody really looks like from seeing a thinface photo. I have the formula--within constraints--for figuring it out, because I did it too! Oh did I do it. Click click click. Wrapped scarves around my neck. Took every shot from above. Looked up from under my eyelids at the camera.

Eventually I more or less stopped. I got to the point where it felt more dishonest than flattering to show myself as a magically shadowed person who had no chins. Don't get me wrong; I have a ruthless eye for a good photo vs. bad, but there was a disguising area in which I was no longer comfortable treading. Even when those super-"flattering" photos occurred unintentionally--the way they do--when lighting and angles align and suddenly you're a big click away from yourself toward being somebody else--I would feel tempted, but think: no. I had to believe that my face was pretty when it was fat, had to remember that people saw it all day as it was, not some idealized version of it I carried inside. I did believe that, it turns out. Who knew. I had to remember that I was never passing anyhow, that the same rules that apply to learning to love your fat ankles or fat belly or fat upper arms apply here, even when the stakes feel higher. You live through your face, experience the world through it, but it's amazing how much you don't see it. Or think it's seen. Maybe there's something very Final about accepting one's fat face. Nowhere to hide.

I can't lie, I do sometimes wish I had one of those sharp jawlines and less fat necks. Just do. For vain reasons sometimes. Because I would have an easier time breathing at night and dealing with anaesthetics. And because Southwest Airlines reps wouldn't think I need two seats, right? People constantly judge body size by face fatness. (Patrika Darbo--many actresses of "size"--are good examples of this. Round-faced=fat.) It is breathtaking--and heartbreaking--how often, in how many ways that happens, and how FAR people take it. Eating disorders have great play in this area. The media and how it Decides Fatness. A bizillion things. Insert a bizillion essays here. Having a fat face--not passing--means I'm always fighting whatever fight there is to take on from the beginning.

In general, though--maybe in part because of that last idea--these days I'm comfortable with photos that show me much more as I really am, thank god. The big jowly candids still show up all the time, but that often happens because I'm laughing, a seriously double chinny activity, and that's better than not laughing. That sounds a little trembling and climb-every-mountain, but it's true.

I'm supposed to have an epiphanal tale here about how I learned to love my fat face, but I don't. All I can remember are mile-makers along the way, not lights that suddenly illuminated whole stretches of the journey. Photos were a tool in the end, despite all their pitfalls and mercuialness. It's good to see lots and lots of photos of yourself, get to know what you might be looking like when the bulb goes off. It's good to demystify photos, know you can't control them as much as you want, realize that people see things their own way anyhow, realize that some people look good in photos, some look bad, whatever their size. Also a tool was an endless supply of SAYS WHO?s to distribute to myself and others. So was acknowledging a poignant truism: like many body parts we all rail against--such as bellies--how, in the end, can you hate something that provides so much pleasure? So was time. So was getting older. So was touching my face nicely. So was remembering what I knew, leaning on how I already felt about other parts of myself and the lessons I had already learned. So was a sense of getting out of my own way. So was noticing other people's lovely fat faces. So was noticing others noticing others' lovely fat faces. So was an eventual willingness to let the chips fall, let the pixels do what they're going to do.

Friday, February 2, 2007

the navy that is old

I had two very different shoppin experiences today. First one: the newly-committed-to-extracting $-from-fat-girls Lame, I mean Lane Bryant. (I often call the LB Lame Giant but frankly other people doing it makes me nervous.) Nice new store on Wabash across from Macy's I mean MARSHALL FIELD's, wood doors, the biggest bra dept ever, prettiness everywhere. Same ol place, but nice.

Then: Old Navy. I wheeled my shopping cart through a sea of people wearing parkas and low-rise? half-pants? and jackmcfarlands buzzing in their headsets to the super unfantastic "womens plus" section. It was crammed in the corner, no mirrors, no traffic flow, all the way at the back with the most depressing parts of the concrete floor showing through the chipped-off paint. I'm such a bitch; I smiled fakily at the headset girl and said, "AH! the GHETTO!" as I wheeled my cart into the small space. But seriously, what the hell. Shades of the Lazarus Department Store in Columbus, Ohio, circa 1985. Doubleknit polyester and shame. Funk that.

Not to mention all their clothes are held together with spit and floss, so whether or not they fit is a total crap shoot. Most things looked like I had pulled them out of the lost and found. But the two tank tops I got (they seem okay) cost less than one bra at LB, so there you go.

I hate, with a vicious passion, stores that like it between the sheets (will take your money) but not in the streets (keep you in the fat girl ghetto). This is one reason I will never and for the last few years have been actively boycotting stupid J. Jill. They make more than half their money from plus sizes, but won't carry it in the stores or show large women in the catalog because it 'sends the wrong image.' Amoral avaricious skankitude. Completely unconscionable and wicked, really wicked. I won't even look at their catalog.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I don't know the whole layout of the film, obviously, but I finally decided to face the preview for Norbit and it just made me heartsick. Horrible. Every tired, mean, fathatin, womanhatin, blackwomanhatin, ain't-it-hilarious, fat women are big balls of sloppy nasty clueless sexual need whose desires are gross and unreturnable, dumb, stupid, cheap, humiliating, mean-spirited, soul-killing, narrah, pinched, heart-hearting cliche and then some.

What the FUCK is up with people and fucking fat suits? (Or in this case, "fat suits"--I think there's CGI at work with a fat woman in a bikini and Eddie Murphy's head. Iould know more if I could get the movie feature loaded.) What is up with the fact that they are so often used for people to "be" fat black women these days? What the fuck is wrong with Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy? Part of why this sucks is that Murphy is a good actor and is funny and you want to like this. Another horrible part is that on the red carpet they give these lame props, like heyyyy we're down with y'all, but it's just bullshit. There is this (dunno how else to think of it) bad racist component to all the fatsuit hilarity...taking a certain stereotype and making it even more deep-grooved and less human.

One of the worst things about all this in general? There are very few fat people on the silver screen. And when there are? They are this, fake fat people, they are fucking fat suits. The Bust or Bitch article I fergit that called them the new minstrel show was dead-on. Not only are you not gonna be heard, we're gonna play you for you and make it clear just what you are. Bully mentality.

If I had to guess (I haven't wanted to find out) there could be some redemption in this movie. I bet it's got squidges of humanity in it, like those stupid fucking Nutty Professor movies where whathisface is the good guy but his fat self is a constant joke. You can see it, even, in the preview. But that just makes the way they're selling it worse, and in the end it's only a matter of degree anyhow. The trailer is one of the worst things I've seen in years.

Hollywood is terrified to look at the fat form, or even a form slightly outside of its chosen Zone. Terrified to bestow its benediction on it, let the camera linger without judgement, let a fat body show up again and again, let others get to know it, let it have and be and need. They refuse to diffuse how they feel about it.

The character's name is Rasputina, by the way. Her body--"body"--body looks quite beautiful to me in many of the preview snips.