Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Don't Wanna Feel Pretty, I Wanna Feel Like Me

The incident itself wasn't particularly hurtful or special.

I was still able to shop in the Thrifty Acres (my dad's name for Meijer[1]) so I would've been in my early teens. My father, his girlfriend, her son, and my sister were waiting on me as I looked for some new clothes. I was in front of a mirror holding up a white shirt with a busy floral print. It was the only shirt in the entire women's department that fit. Believe me, I looked.

I was vacillating, because -- although I didn't know it at the time -- matronly is not my style. My father lost patience and told me it didn't matter if I liked the shirt or not; it was the only one that fit and was therefore the one I was getting.

Message received. Why bother with style when the grossness of my body overwhelms whatever puny statements I might make about who I am through my dress and comportment? It's a message that stuck so hard that to this day I have to remind myself to dress in clean clothes and shower daily. Who the hell cares if I spend any effort to look nice, smell sweet, or even be comfortable? I certainly didn't.

The insidious thing about the whole Fat People Must Dress Soberly In Clothes That Make Us Look Less Fat (And If That's Not Possible, To Make Us Look Like Nothing) concept is it hinders one's development as a person out amongst people. If one constantly wears clothing one can't relax and be themselves in, one is less likely to engage with the world around them. One is forever at a disadvantage; it's like trying to fight a war in spike heels, you're constantly off-balance.[2]

And it isn't just fat people, it's fashion generally. We're all being told constantly what characteristics should be flaunted with abandon and which concealed in shame, and the specifics vary according to someone else's values or whims. I shouldn't wear this because I need to hide this pocket of fat, but I should because it has those gaps in the print that're so . . . something (honestly, I don't get that trend).

Wearing what you want, how you want, for reasons you choose -- that's a revolutionary act. There's a reason the unjust regimes in dystopian fiction have dress codes.[3] Fat people get left out of the revolution because our choices are so limited, and based on the values of people who would rather we weren't visible. For my own mental health, I do what I can to buck that trend.

It shouldn't be this difficult. It's not like I'm challenging anyone's sensibilities.[4] All I want is clothing that fits, is comfortable to wear, and suits my tastes. In a society that takes pride in its abundance of stuff, this should be easy no matter how far off the mold you are. Everyone has the right to take part in their own culture. As themselves.

[2]Samurai Jack, season two, "Jack's Sandals"
[3]examples; the caste-based color coding in Huxley's Brave New World and the Party's overalls in Orwell's 1984

Saturday, September 15, 2012

STATEMENT OF THE OBVIOUS, first in a series

I hear it all the time -- just get up and move. Walk ten minutes a day, park the car two blocks away from work, take the stairs, et cetera et cetera et cetera. It's puzzling to the norms why fat people just don't get up and move.

It's time for a STATEMENT OF THE OBVIOUS! Add fanfare of choice.

Obvious -- if something doesn't feel good, you're not going to do it.

And for me the memories associated with exercise are shameful, hateful, hurtful. It's where I learned, in specific and exacting detail, all the ways I'm . . . oh, what're some words?


Circling the track at a huffing walk while everyone else jogs by over and over and over. A nasty ankle sprain caused by that sidestepping agility test. Getting smacked in the butt with a kickball and fleeing while the laughter ripples. Getting smacked in the face with a kickball and sobbing while the laughter ripples. Layup drills with scores of zero. Recesses spent hiding in the bathroom. Constant grinding knowledge that I'll be the reason my team loses, giving classmates yet another reason to despise me. Maxing out the scale in front of everybody. Avoiding the shower even though my skin is worn raw and stinging with sweat.

The catch-22 fat people face is that, although physical movement should be a source of pleasure, we associate it with shame and loathing. Our bodies fail us and our peers, therefore they are bad and worthless, ipso facto we are bad and worthless. To compound the problem, for some of us movement physically hurts. I've got a bad knee; walking for ten seconds is uncomfortable, never mind ten minutes.

In short, exercise brings me skin-to-skin with sensations and feelings so bottomlessly nasty they're hard to put into words. That's why, given a choice between staying home and playing Doom and ten minutes of limping around the neighborhood, I will probably stay home. One makes me feel good and the other makes me feel bad.

Honest, it's not that difficult a concept.

Brushing out the cobwebs, re-laying the Welcome! mat

Life in Blueface is undergoing some retooling.  This was orginally going to be fandom-centric, but life intervened.  I got assigned to a company through a temp agency and they were nuts enough to hire me on permanently.  I have a steady income and health insurance for the first time since moving to Dallas.  I've even exercised stock options.  Weirdness.  I haven't been able to give fandom the attention it needs to make this blog fly.  Sad face.  :-(

So this blog's being appropriated for more personal use.  Not private; I'm okay with a general audience.  But personal.  Specifcally about life as a fat lady.  As such, I need to make a few things clear at the outset.

I'm the one who decides what feedback adds to the discourse and what doesn't.  If I think you're making valid points that should be aired and discussed, you may make them.  If, on the other hand, I think you're being a judgemental jerkwater, unneccsarily venomous, or just plain bratty your comments will be put in the Hall Of Shame for all to mock.  This little space of the Internet is not a democracy.  This is my house and you'll abide by my rules.  Which, to borrow from Dan Connor, can change at any time -- for reasons of safety, for reasons of education, or for my amusement.[1]

There will be anger, there will be inconsistancy, there will be irrationality.  I'll do my best to mark content that might be triggering or offensive to specific people or groups.  I will do my best to make sure anything I state as fact is something that can be verified as fact, and if I don't know something I'll say so.

So anyway, about me. I'm a clerk in a tax certification company near downtown Dallas, stand five-foot-eight in shoes, weigh just north of 500 pounds, identify as bisexual, lean to the left politically. I wear glasses and my hair is blue. My natural habitat is in front of a computer or at The Church.[2]

I'm undergoing therapy to treat a compulsive eating disorder and am working to reconcile that with a Health At Every Size[3] approach.  In other words, I'm trying to be okay with the probability that even if I work through all the other issues and lead what's accepted as a healthy lifestyle, I'll still be fat.  The object is to get happy, not get skinny.

[1] Roseanne, season 5 episode 19, "It's A Boy"