Fat Activism and Me?

Recently I have started to think more and more about Fat Activism, what it means and how I relate to it. Obviously with a nickname like The Fat Girl and a blog about my life as a plus size woman, it may seem a bit stupid that I hadn’t really thought about this properly a lot sooner. I think that’s because I never really associated my feelings and attempt to build my own self confidence with those who put themselves out there to loudly defend bodies of all shape and size. Maybe that makes me part of the problem, maybe it doesn’t – I honestly don’t know.

Fat Activism and Me?

Becoming more active on twitter and following some fantastic men and women who are amazing people and also Fat Activists. Seeing their daily fights and arguments against those who judge people based on their size or shape. Reading their posts, that were articulately written, make brilliant and important points it became impossible to ignore my role in all of this, where did I stand? What is all of this? What do I have to say?

To be honest when I was prompted on this and I started to think about this I had to google it! I read articles in the media, on Wikipedia, blog posts, parenting sites – you name it! I read from lots of different points of view, being the good student that I am, I had to make sure that I had been properly exposed. All of this did lead to a specific conversation which helped me to really asses and voice my feelings, thoughts and opinions.

So, here it is!

I think fat activism is a big concept, it means a lot of things to a lot of different people and cannot necessarily be explained in a single sentence. But if you were to try it would be something along the lines of –

Everyone should be accepted for who they are, regardless of their size and essentially it is none of your business.

I’m sure people will be along to pick that line apart and tell me how I am wrong – I am more than happy for someone who means well to inform and educate me. But if you want to shame me, tell me off or have a go at me keep moving!

To me, in my little world, this is not necessarily something that I get involved in as much as I should. I realised that my little corner of fat activism is mainly centred around myself and how I cope in my little bubble. That’s not to say I sit back and ignore things, more that I’m quietly building my own confidence and ability to love myself. For example, I’ve started wearing clothes that make me happy but aren’t focussed on slimming me down. I’ve also started to love myself in random ways – like nice pretty bras, learning more about makeup that I enjoy, doing things I enjoy and not things I think should be doing because I’m plus size.

My main difficulty comes in my work environment, working in education there are the inevitable comments from teenagers. These hurt sometimes, no matter how thick-skinned you are. There also comes the inevitable office obsession with dieting, exercise, new years resolutions and self-hatred. Sitting in the office listening to them slagging off certain numbers on a scale or a label without thinking about what they are saying really gets me down. But if I am being honest I do tend to sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut, as the only plus size person in the office I’m scared that they will judge my size and not my words.

That is wrong, so wrong. To be afraid to voice an opinion because it may be ignored and judged on something totally irrelevant – oh wait that happens the world over. Gender. Sexuality. Race. Age. Size. Why are these things more important than what the person of whatever combination is saying?

If I am honest I do need to start being more active, stop being scared and start voicing the rants and arguments in my head. Not to be combative, more that if I don’t how can I expect any change to happen in my little world? The people I spend my daily life with aren’t spontaneously going to change their minds and opinions without any input or information.

I’m not going to go into the individual points of looking at fat acceptance as I think The Militant Baker, Jes Baker, has said it so much better here.

Instead what I am going to do is say that one thing that disappointed me when reading up on all of this, was the level of angry back biting and fighting “within” the fat activism/fat acceptance movement. This made me quite sad, not because I thought their arguments were invalid, or that its wrong to have disagreements. But because this type of childish finger-pointing and judging, belittling each other and hitting each other personally takes the attention away from the overall idea. This allows the bullies and trolls to grab hold of this and belittle the movement.

I’m going to keep working on this personally, what I think and feel and what my opinions are. Encouraging myself and others to stand up for what they believe in, but also to think about those around them and if they really have any right to comment on some things.

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Fed Up February

As you may or may not have noticed – being that my only loyal fan is my husband – I haven’t written much recently. I seem to go through this every year at the end of January and February, I get fed up and give up for a few months. I get fed up of my job, of my company, of my colleagues, of my house, my car, my town, my hair, my dogs, my husband (shhh) and this year I can add trying to conceive to that – just everything. I’ve taken to calling it Fedupruary, I know snappy isn’t it!

Fed Up February

The thing is I have no real reason to be fed up of my life, I have a decent-ish job in a nice-ish company, a house that we own and not rent, my hair is just fabulous so shut your mouth, my dogs are gloriously cute little troublemakers and my husband actually isn’t that bad I suppose. However trying to conceive, that I just can’t seem to square off in my head and I think that is what is what is dragging me down so much this year. Because of this dragging me down I can’t seem to make any of the previous statements cheer me up, I just brush them off and come up with some crappy excuse.

Anyone who has tried to conceive will know that there are good times and bad, no matter the length or difficulty of your journey. We are coming up to our ninth cycle, although I’m praying it will be our last it more than likely will – with one early miscarriage, which was just frankly pretty darned shite. The last month or so I have really struggled to want to carry on with it all, of course I still want baby but to actually want to carry on with this shitty journey is something all together.

Fed Up February

So what do I do?

I can’t carry on feeling like this, I will only feel more and more crappy and eventually start to seriously damage my mental health. So I follow the lyrics of a Kelly Clarkson song that I clung to as a teenager –

“I’m forced to fake

A smile, a laugh every day of my life”

Depressing isn’t it? But I learnt a long time ago that the only way to I could get past things was to barrel through them, get up and put a smile on your face and go do the thing you really can’t face. It takes time but eventually forcing the routine helped me to start to feel like me again. So that’s what I’ve done.

MumsnetI’ve gone back to Mumsnet and to my lovely group of ladies that I chat to on a regular basis – all complete strangers that I feel I share this journey with so intimately I kinda missed them whilst I’ve been shut down and avoiding it all.

I’ve planned a trip away with my husband, I am so excited that I’ve spent a fortune on new clothes and shoes obviously. Lion King is going to be awesome! Although I haven’t picked an outfit for that yet… Hmm, more shopping?

Finally I’ve forced myself to write this sort of self-pitying and self-indulgent post and get back to writing!

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Well meant trying to conceive “help” and “advice”

As most people can attest, when trying to conceive, when you are pregnant and when you have kids is a joyous time. Your closest friends and family, work colleagues and even strangers on the bus will share their experience and know how with you – whether you want them to or not.

Have you tried? yep

We have not told many people that we are trying, however there are a few people in each of my social circles who have either figured it out or who I have confided in that we are hoping for our own little bundle of joy. In doing this I have learnt a lot about my friends and their hidden, secret selves, the secret selves who have a doctorate in fertility specialisms, who know everything about everything and you must listen to what they say and follow it to the letter! Or god help you as you will never be blessed with a child.

I’m sure you all know just what I mean… and have experienced just this!

Most people are happy and excited for you and as such eager to help see you on your way, others lean more toward the smug-I-know-better-look-at-me-and-my-perfect-kids end of the spectrum. (Can you tell I’m losing patience?) Angry OvarySome of the gems I’ve received have been hilarious! From advice on positions, technique, products to *ahem* enhance, diet, weight , personality types, drugs, even the fact that owning dogs makes your eggs shrink!

Some of the advice has been genuinely helpful, reassurance and relatable experience, however to my dismay most of it has been prescriptive and judgemental. The assessment of myself and my husbands every move, weights, dispositions, diets and general attitude to life. And this is help and advice which is not welcome, not helpful and just downright rude. 

But perhaps the most painful has been the criticism of how I am coping personally. As a type A organised personality I like to know what is happening when, organise it, plan it, prepare for it and god no surprises. But I know, trust me I know, that this is not possible when trying to conceive as it just doesn’t work like that. However, I am coping by understanding, reading, researching and tracking things, this is what helps me sleep at night and not stress all day. It’s great if relaxing and just enjoying a whole load of Russel Brand style sex helped you, honestly it is and way to go girl.  But please, don’t tell me off or make me do it your way and I won’t make you do it my way.

RELAX!

So, I say this with respect and gratitude, and probably for couples everywhere, I appreciate that you are excited for us and hopeful and want to help. But unless I ask? Please don’t give me advice or tell me the way that I am coping is wrong, I’m coping and getting on with my life and that takes strength every day of this journey.

(Also I solemnly swear that when I’m a smug-I-know-better-look-at-me-and-my-perfect-kids you have permission to shove a sock in my gob!)

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Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher - Leia at the beach

I can’t let this one go by without posting something. Today 2016 took the great Carrie Fisher.

I’m not going to go into any detail about her life because others will do that so much better, but I have to say something about the woman who was a big influence on my early life.

As the daughter, sister and wife of nerds and a fully blown geek in my own right Carrie provided a character I couldn’t help but love. She was strong, intelligent, sassy, brave and by god she could kick ass – what more can a girl want to look up to?

Whilst I always loved Disney and have vivid memories of dancing around with a tea towel on my head, Leia Organa was the princess my childhood needed. She inspired me to believe that a woman could do more than just be beautiful, wear a pretty dress and wait to be saved by a man. I mean seriously, Han and Luke couldn’t even rescue her without her help!

Carrie Fisher - Star Wars V

So with that, I am going to retreat to the twitter-sphere and send protective thoughts to all the other greats still going.

2016 you are an utter twat.

RIP Carrie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher - Star Wars 7

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Americans and Fat Me…

So after 12 days in Vegas my experience of Americans and fat me have varied greatly.

In preparation for my trip to the Capitol of fairy lights I got myself some sparkly fake nails, a wardrobe of 50s style dresses and some comfy ass sketchers pumps and flip flops.

I have to say my experience has been mostly positive. I have been complimented on my outfits at least once a day. And my sparkly nails? A complete hit!

However, what has stuck with me most is the rudeness of some of the other visitors to sin city.

I was called a pig by a French woman as she proceeded to commence a diatribe in French used me as an example to her two young daughters as to what a woman shouldn’t be. Luckily, or not so I have rudimentary French so I could understand and react so that she knew I understood. So many things wrong in that encounter I don’t even know where to begin.

Secondly I was called a whore by a slightly tipsy Texan. His assumption was that as a busty (and large, as he pointed out) woman in a low cut rockabilly dress dress I would be lucky to get a partner that would pay. Never mind one who would actually want me.

But finally the one that hurt the most? The final night I dressed up in the lovely blue and white number below, my trusty black sketcher pumps and my best string of pearls.

Saphy

Not to forget my grandmas vintage blue net purse and best lippy. In the lift on the way down to the casino I was feeling good, standing tall. However, a woman in a silk short and blouse set took a long appraising look. From my shoes to my legs to my dress to my cover up and bag to my hair and makeup. She smirked at me and then turned to face her husband and suppressed a laugh whilst nodding in my direction. This was so obvious and callous even my oblivious husband went into caveman mode and almost challenged them to a fight.

Whilst the last of these was the least confrontational as such it hurt the most and stuck with me the most. The calm calculated manner and the way in which she looked me in the eye as she smirked was just plain mean. Nothing else. I wish I could say I shrugged this off and didn’t let it affect my night, but it did. I found myself sitting that bit straighter and sucking my tummy in, using my cover up to disguise my width as I sat down.

So as I sit in my hotel the night before flying home to reality I have to ask myself, why did these people think it was okay to make these comments? Is it nationality? Difference in manners? Too many drinks? Either way I cannot deny that they affected me far more than I would have liked. Let’s just hope what happens in Vegas truly does stay in Vegas.

Now excuse me whilst I go enjoy my last cocktail… On the house of course!

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Assumptions. Make an…

This weekend I bit the bullet and joined my local gym, I got a discount due to being a Slimming World member for the gym, swim and classes. But, as I explained to the very nice man – I have no intention of using the gym. I have nothing against them I just personally would rather put nails in my eyes.

What I planned on doing was swimming two mornings a week and doing Pilates at least once a week, I enjoy this. I love swimming and Pilates is exercise which is strangely fun and relaxing. Weird I know?!

But when I went for my induction there were a lot of assumptions being made. Lots of phrases starting with;

“as a slimming world member you will need to be doing…”

“to lose that weight you need to do…”

“as a woman your size you will obviously want to be doing…”

Now fair enough, here I am joining a gym – in January – on the slimming world membership – they are bound to assume it’s because I want to lose weight and “drop the pounds quick”. And yet, when I explained that actually I’m not here for high intensity, sweaty and painful workouts I am here to do some exercise which I will enjoy and will help me increase my fitness levels. I own two beagles and work in a college with a lot of stairs, I am not unfit although apparently my size 18/20 body told them otherwise – and they said so. (To be honest someone guessing my dress size just added to my frustration!)

The point of all of this is for me to be a happier me! Cheesy cliches are encouraged today! Yea I may be bigger than what is expected of me, but I am finally okay with that. What I want to do is a bit of swimming, giggling in Pilates, improve my current fitness levels and have healthier eating habits. And that’s all- OKAY!?

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