Fatshion

I promised you all a post this weekend and by god I’m going to give it to you! So, following my last post, I had few requests to do a blog about fashion for us fabulous and fat ladies who want to look fierce. Now, those who know my, know that in the last few years, I have become obsessed with fashion and cycle through way more clothes than any reasonable person ever should. I feel like there is a time and place for every outfit on earth. However, I have been avoiding a conversation about fatshion and here is why. Inevitably, every time, someone asks me “can you tell me how to dress for my shape?” and this question is the bane of my existence. SO, I will talk about fatshion in a minute, but the social justicy/body positive person in me can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about the aforementioned question first.

What is wrong with “dressing for your shape”

  • It implies that there is an ideal shape that you are trying to achieve. It’s drenched in tones of, how to do I erase my shape and make it look like something more pleasing to the eye?
  • Dressing for your shape is filled with outdated and offensive tips like, ” you should wear black, it’s slimming” or “have you tried vertical stripes to make you look long and lean”
  • It’s filled with shame and cover up. You don’t need to cover up your body or hide your natural shape.
  • It buys into the idea that you owe it to someone to “carry your weight” a certain way ( another bane of my existence phrase. UGH)

Buying into dressing for your shape reinforces unrealistic expectations of what your body should look like. I have a friend who refuses to invest in the body positive movement, and she has explained to me that if she “had a figure like mine” that she wouldn’t mind being fat. To her, my body type is ideal. Which is silly. There is no wrong or right way to inhabit your body. End of story!

Okay so now! My top fatshion tips for looking fierce and living on a budget.

  • Shop the sales: I know that this one may seem obvious, but here is the deal. I NEVER buy anything retail. I don’t care how bad I want it! I refuse. I will wait for a sale or I won’t get it. So, you need to learn sale cycles. For example. several times a year Cacique has their bra’s buy 2 get 2 free. That’s $80 off. Also, Lane Bryant, Deb, and Torrid all have special sales where they have an additional 50% or 60% off on their clearance. Today, I got all of this for 80 bucks.aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
  • Buy versatile: Buy things that have more than one use. My favorite versatile piece is a black maxi skirt, where it as a tube dress with a waste belt, where it high wasted, where it on your hips, where it long with one side tied up. This one piece can be worn so many different ways that you can wear it everyday of the week and no one would know.
  • Invest in your accessories: Accessories really are just as important as the clothes you buy. Accessories can completely change your entire outfit or just add that little splash of color that you need. My top 3 favorite accessories:
  1. Belts. Omg, I can not express to you how much I love belts. I have somewhere in the vicinity of 25. These can be worn with dresses, jeans, sweaters, over a tunic, over a cardigan with the cardi open. They can really make a difference in bringing your outfit together AND make you look put together,
  2. Scarves: Buy them, buy them all. Use them in your hair, around your neck, around your waste, tied in the belt loop of your jeans, or even tied on to the strap of your purse. This is one little accessory that can set you apart.
  3. Red Shoes: If you don’t have a pair of red shoes, run to the store immediately. Not only are they fierce as hell fire, but they are a great conversation starter. Every conference I go to , I wear my red shoes and I can’t tell you how many professionals from around the country I have met because my red shoes caught there eye.
  • Be comfortable: Now, I don’t mean run around in your sweats. I mean that you have to feel comfortable with your body in what you are wearing. It’s not so much about physical comfort as mental comfort. If you feel uncomfortable or exposed in your wardrobe, it will show, and people will notice. If you want to be more daring, I suggest wear some more adventurous stuff around your house alone first, then around your friends, and then take it out in public. These baby steps really helped me strut in my first bikini.

and finally!!!!!!

  • WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT! Seriously, fashion/fatshion is supposed to be fun. Stop worrying about what others think, and how you look, and whether or not people can see your fat rolls, and just put on the clothes you want to wear. Find your own style. Seriously! and if it isn’t out there, create it! I used to tell everyone my style was urban boho chic. Wait, that might actually be a thing now….Anyway. find what works for you and just do it, don’t be afraid to wear what makes you happy. If someone doesn’t like it, there is this really cool thing that was granted to humans, it’s called the ability to look away and mind your own damn business. BAM!

The sexiest and most beautiful thing you can wear is a smile and confidence. If you have those on, you’re good to go!

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Food!!!!!!

Okay, we are going to be bold and brazen! We are going to use the F word a lot today! And for once I don’t mean fat! I am talking about food! Love it or hate it, enjoy it, or run screaming from it, we NEED it to live. So it’s about time we actually talked about it.

In a society so “health obsessed” and fascinated with calorie counting and high fructose corn syrup, it’s become oddly taboo to actually talk about food. Sure, we might occasionally pass on a recipe here an there, and of course everyone feels like they are in the clear to talk about the food that fat people eat, but when was the last time we really had a conversation about food that wasn’t filled with fear? So let’s do it, we are just gonna’ put it all out there!

Stage one of this discussion is setting the ground work. There is no such thing as “good food” and “bad food”.  Celery is not flouncing around in a cape like a superhero and I assure you that chocolate cake is not diabolically planning to take over your thighs! We need to stop associating food with moral characteristics. I have never eaten an evil piece of cheesecake. When we make foods “good” or “bad” we associate those same characteristics with the people who eat those foods. You become good or bad based on what you have eaten. Which then contributes to guilt, self loathing, and fat shaming. So food is food, not  a sentient being, it just is, it is not good or bad, wrong or right.

Stage two! Food is personal! Some foods regardless of your size may hold sentimental value for you, and that’s okay and normal. For example, my dad used to make banana pudding for me on my birthday. It was a big deal and a sacrifice for him since he had diabetes and couldn’t eat, but he knew I loved it. My dad has been gone for ten years now, and I get a little teary eyed every time I eat banana pudding.  For many people, cultural foods, family recipes, or even just a good pizza you had one time in Chicago provides us with comfort or provides us with a strong sensory memory of a wonderful time in our lives.

Stage 3, YOU NEED FOOD TO LIVE! And even more interesting, we each need different amounts of food to live, and different kinds of foods to live. Based on your height, genetics, and weight, the amount of food that you need to maintain your healthy weight varies extremely from person to person. At different times in your life you might need different kinds of foods which provide your body with different nutrients, and your body knows what those things are. A perfect example: I’m a vegetarian and I don’t crave meat very often, I am also a woman, once a month like clock work I crave red meat like nothing else. I could knock over a butcher for a good burger. This is because my body is sending me a message that as my iron levels drop during menstruation  that I need to replenish, and red meat is a great source of iron. Although, I prefer spinach or broccoli.

Stage 4…Summary Time!! Food is the fuel that get’s us through this life. When your car requires fuel, you don’t yell at it “Oh you stupid car, if only you had more will power!!!! ARGH RAAAAAAAAAGE!”, you give it the fuel it needs. Doesn’t your body deserve as much respect as your car? So make an effort to reprogram the way that you think about food and the way your listen to your body. Your body is a pretty groovy cat and it knows what it needs and what it wants. Start thinking of food as a regular part of your life through highs and lows and not an opposing  enemy in battle. We can co exist…I assure!

“But you’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle!”

Okay, so this blog entry is dedicated to the haters. Okay, maybe not haters, but ill informed, ill motivated “do gooders”. This post is for the people who are out to save us from our fatness, save us from ourselves.

There are few things in this life that are considered both a medical condition and everybody else’s business. Rarely do you see people run up to a smoker, who is a complete stranger, yelling about cancer and about how disgusting they are as a human being for smoking. Or how about running up to thin people eating McDonald’s and other processed foods yelling at them about their diet/lifestyle. People would be livid if we displayed this kind of behavior. Yet, somehow, it is perfectly acceptable to do these exact same things to a fat person that you have never met before? So, before I delve into any science or medical reasoning behind HAES, I just want to tell everyone one thing. If it’s not your body….SHUT UP! That might sound really harsh, but here is the deal. I don’t come to your house and slap the high fructose corn syrup snacks that are killing your kids out of their sweet little hands. I don’t come over and cry and yell because your eating meat even though I am a vegetarian. I make choices about my life and you make choice about yours. It is beyond rude to assert your assumptions about health, beauty, and quality of life on someone else. So, don’t do it!

Now, let me hop down off of my soup box and let’s talk science and dollar signs. Here is what we do know about “obesity” (I hate that word, but whatevs, we are talking science here). We know that despite the “war on obesity”, a 58+ BILLION dollar diet industry, and every fad diet that you can possibly imagine, fat people are not disappearing. There has yet to be creation of a pill or diet that magically makes all people the alleged “perfect” thin ideal.  To make things more complicated, we know that the few people who do find weight loss success, only experience it for a limited time. In other words 90+ % of people who lose 20 pounds or more will gain it all back within 5 years. If you jump to the 10year mark, that percentage gets pretty close to 100. So what is the driving force behind our diet culture? The most common response that you will hear is health. So let’s take a look at how weight loss/diet culture is affecting our health.

Let me start with asking, what medical treatment do you know of, besides weight loss, that would be recommended as a cure with a less than 5% long term success rate? Just throwing that out there. But what if I told you that diet culture is not only not the cure, but it’s also a major part of the problem? What if I told you that your weight isn’t actually whats dictating your health? Well recent studies show that this is true. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center conducted a study that showed that losing and regaining weight lowers the functioning of your immune system. Dr. Tracy L. Bale of Univ. of Pa. conducted a study that showed that dieting changes your brain chemistry and causes your body to crave high fat foods leading to additional weight gain rather than weight loss.  And here is a real kicker, recent studies, one conducted by the Presidents Council on Fitness and Sports and one conducted by the American Dietetic Association, showed that there is strong evidence that “overweight” or “obese” individuals can get healthier by becoming more active, regardless of how much weight they lose or if they lose weight at all.

So, I know I just crammed a lot of information into a short blog space, but what does it all mean? Here is a summary of what recent studies show. There are actually no significant health risks associated with being “overweight” or “obese”. The health risks commonly attributed to size are actually a result of behaviors and eating habits that lead SOME people to be “obese” or “overweight”. So! If you are concerned about your OWN health, then become more active and eat the right things. STOP putting the focus on weight loss. This, my friendly readers, is Health at Every Size (HAES). When you eat healthy and exercise, your body will balance out. Don’t believe me? Seven years ago, I jumped off of the weight lost band wagon and started thinking HAES. In the first year I lost 60 pounds, I have maintained every pound of weight loss for seven years. I now weigh in the ten pound range of 280-290, have an average blood pressure of 117/60, no blood sugar problems, and I never get winded going up stairs. My fat is a part of my health and mental well being.

The point I am trying to make is every body can be beautiful and healthy, any size, any shape, period, end of story. The science backs it up. So don’t assume you know someone’s health on the basis of their body. AND don’t assume it’s any of your business.

Empowering Fat

So I have received quite a few comments and messages of concern around my usage of the word fat over terms like plus size, voluptuous, fluffy, etc.  I wanted to take the time to talk about the reclamation of the word fat and how we can use it to feel empowered instead of victimized.

Let me start by saying that I certainly understand why people might be off put by the word fat. For many of us, that word has been hurled at us violently from family members, strangers, doctors, and from moving cars. It has been used to attack in expected situations like family dinners and doctor visits, and it has surprised as we walked down the street minding our own business. It has been followed by snorting pig noises, moos, and commonly derogatory terms as in fat bitch, slut, fuck, asshole, and so on. I get why fat can be a pretty damn hurtful word for people of size. So, why do I use it?

I feel like when we continue to allow it to be a four letter word, we continue to give it the power to hurt not just ourselves but other fat people. When we use terms like voluptuous or fluffy over fat, it perpetuates the idea that there is something shameful or wrong about being fat. It’s something we have to cover up, hide, and stuff into a pair of Spanx pronto. I have no shame about fat, I want to stick that word on a pedestal in a bikini with a neon sign that says “Hey there sexy pants!” Too far? But you get the idea.

I use the word fat to rob it of its negative power. I’m a fat woman, but I am also quite tall. I am 5’9”.  I have never described myself as tall and had someone rush quickly to me and be like “Oh no! You’re not tall, you’re just vertically advanced.”

I don’t need someone to make excuses for my size, or qualify my size. I don’t want to be told “Oh you’re not fat, you’re pleasantly plump, rotund, fluffy, or a meat and potatoes kind of gal”. And I especially don’t want to be called hefty. Kind people, I am not a trash bag. I am fat, tall, pale, red haired, and freckled, and each of those descriptive words should merit the exact same reaction.  And it’s for this reason that I loudly and proudly use the word fat, because nobody should be afraid of that word or of that idea. 

I’m Alive!

Greetings after a long hiatus…

So, you may be looking at this blog and notice a tiny gap in the timeline. Hey! It’s only been two years since I posted.  I suppose I may owe readers an explanation. Here is the deal: after being accepted into graduate school my life got crazy. I worked more than full time hours, traveled at conferences, began working as a professional speaker, conducted research with human subjects, and wrote a thesis. As you can imagine, my days were a tad bit full. Oh and I forgot to mention that I moved 6 times! SIX! But, it’s alright. I now sit before you a Master of Arts, with a full time amazing job, and ready to start blogging yet again.

This blog post is going to give you a little bit of an update about my life and then we will get back on track talking about all of the glorious fat things that we love to talk about and challenging social norms and idea about body image, sexuality, and health. I have received numerous comments that have inspired me to respond and respond I shall. In the coming posts I will be talking about why I use the word FAT over more acceptable terms like plus size, fluffy, hefty, or plump. I will write a response to some of the posts from “concerned citizens” trying to “save me” from my fatness, and I will also be writing a ‘how to’ about starting your own body/size acceptance group or Body Beautiful Project Chapter at your school!

Now! On to the life update. I am now working full time at a large state institution in Ohio in the Multicultural Center. As a program coordinator I am developing educational programming, outreach, services, and essentially running an LGBTQ Center and could not be happier with my job. I get to work with amazing students who challenge me and inspire me on a daily basis. On the side, I have two other miniature careers, one being my photography (which was just featured in a show SQUEEEEEEEE), and the other being a professional speaker.

For the last two years, I have been making the rounds at different universities talking about body image and the media, eating disorders, and sexuality. I love this part of my life. I love going out and talking to college students and we always have a great time. I think in an ideal world I would be able to do this full time someday.  In a side note, if you would be interested in bringing me to your campus you can email me at roxiepatton@ymail.com. I can give you some pricing information and other info about the programs I offer.

So that has been the bulk of my life for the last few years.

And as a final response to all of you True Life fans. Patrick and I are still friends and he is currently becoming a ninja. Okay, maybe not a ninja, but he is studying Kung Fu in an intensive program. So we are both doing awesome sauce and going where we want in life. And I am grateful to have someone like him around.

DEEPLY SORRY

I just want to apologize to my readers and to anyone who has been trying to contact me. I moved and also went through a sort of very personal crisis that I don’t feel at liberty to discuss, but I am back now after a very long time and I hope to resume writing my blog on a regular basis and discussing all that is fat in the media ASAP!

So here is an update on me really quick! I was recently accepted into graduate school which I am very very very excited about! I am working on getting a graduate assistantship to pay for my tuition. I have also just recently started seeing someone and he is probably reading this right now so I should only say flattering things =) . I am also thinking of adding a page just for personal pictures and things so that you guys can keep up with my life just because I seem to be getting a lot of requests for that. So hopefully that will be up soon!

NOW fat in the media!

I wanted to address this article because I LOVE Gabourney Sidibe. I thought that she did a fantastic job in the film “Precious” and I have noticed that a lot of people in Hollywood have felt very comfortable discussing her weight from Jaime (sp?) Foxx to Howard Stern. The whole article can be found at the link below, but as always I am just going to hit on the key points.

http://www.usmagazine.com/healthylifestyle/news/gabourey-sidibes-mom-slams-howard-stern-for-fat-jab-get-a-life-2010163

Let me start with my instantaneous childish reaction

Howard Stern “called the Oscar nominee, 26, the “most enormous fat black chick I’ve ever seen… She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?””

First of all, if someone could give Howard Stern, with from what I can tell not one redeeming quality a job, then I am pretty sure that Gabourney will be okay out there. Secondly, why does Howard Stern always feel like he has the right to degrade women and talk about their bodies. UGH the man drives me insane!

But HERE is the kicker to add insult to injury

“weight loss company AcaiSupply.com publicly offered her a one-year supply of their product to “reach your goal of someday winning an Oscar… by being active, fit, and most of all, healthy!”

When I read this I was so appalled I could hardly even think straight! Can you imagine. As if being thin would make her a better actress! This is just as insulting as if a plastic surgeon publicly offered Pelelope Cruz a nose job to improve her chances of winning an Oscar. It is an insult not just to Gabourney but to women in general. As if their worth and skill lies souly in the width of their thighs.

This all brings me to my final point. Amidst all of this garbage Gabourney still carries herself with poise and grace! She says:

“It’s something I’ve had to work at. My first diet started when I was six years old,” she said. “I’ve never been a small girl. One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body.”

I say bravo to loving yourself in the face of an industry that openly mocks you and treats you as less than! SHE ROCKS MY SOCKS!!!!

Big Bodies In Motion

Okay, so you might have noticed that the official name of my blog is BigBodiesinMotion. I cam eup with this idea based on the stereotype that many people have of the fat community. Many people think that fat people sit on their butts eating bon bons and watching soaps all day. I know this stereotype is false, and I would like the opportunity to prove it. SO, I am going to be dedicating a page on this blog to Big Bodies in Motion. Here is the catch. I want all of you to email your pictures of examples of being fat and active to bigbodiesinmotion@yahoo.com! I will upload the pics as long as they are not vulgar or offensive! So let me see how you all love to be active!

Fat Fashion Woes

Throughout time curvy luscious bodies have been worshiped and adored for their beautiful lines. For many years the fashion industry took notice and designed beautiful outfits for women with a more abundant body type. But in the height of the  skinny revolution many plus size women find themselves in a fashion draught searching through piles and piles of tweety bird shirts and lycra pants for one cute piece to add to their wardrobe. So what’s a plus size girl to do?

There are stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid that are catering to women of size. They offer  many fashionable options, but for women living on a budget (which in this economy is everyone) these stores may be a little bit too pricey. Although TIP check out the clearance racks. Many ‘a’ time I have scored an adorable outfit for under ten bucks.

There are also many stores and botiques only that cater the fat and fabulous crowd, such as http://www.alight.com,  http://www.kiyonna.com/, http://www.igigi.com/, http://www.sizeappeal.com/, and many more.  Personally, I have trouble buying clothing that I don’t get to try on, but these are always options for the gal who can’t locate a plus-size botique near her.

So, what can we do to change this problem. I did something personally drastic for myself as an accessory lover. About a year ago, I started refusing to shop for anything in a store that doesn’t carry my size. Goodbye Chartlotte Ruse! I loved thee well. While sometimes its hard to pass things in the window, I feel better knowing that I dont’ support their sizist chain, and I suggest everyone start doing the same. We fatties spend money the same as skinny folk and if we pull out our funding of chains that won’t cater to us, especially in this economy they will feel the hurt. So, if you are looking for an easy way to get involved in the Fat Acceptance Movement, this is a great opportunity!