Friday, May 28, 2010

Language and FA.

Being that my big want in life is to make a living with words I have a love and vested interest in language.

The first word (obviously) I want to talk about today is yes you guessed it fat.

Fat.

FAT.

Fat is a word that generally speaking is used with the caution one might use when trying not to say cunt in front of Grandma.

Fat is used as a pejorative, as the insult of insults.

If you read or listen to insults aimed at women they are likely a combo of two things:

Fat

And/or slut.

Fat slut.

Women are not supposed to (by mainstream society standards) be fat. Women must want to be fuckable to whomever sees them but, of course you aren't supposed to fuck whoever you want.

Look good and keep your legs closed.

Even if you do keep your legs closed don't look too good, or be too proud of your body because then well of course you're just being a slut.

Thus, if a woman says look I'm fat and there is no pejorative, there is no shame it's a threatening thing.

I have seen a lot of the same reactions that people have about FA that I've seen when it comes to woman led/central sex positive culture.

I remember talking to a friend probably more than a decade ago when I first discovered sex positive culture and her saying "that's just an excuse for women to be nasty sluts."

Similarly when introducing another female friend to FA and body politics she said something almost identical. Her argument was that FA as a movement was just a reason for fat pigs to be fat pigs.

I came to sex positive culture the same way I came to FA and body politics via woman oriented books and spaces and I've seen the very same things.

It saddens me honestly.

This is why I believe that FA is for everyone not just fat people. At some point no matter what your body actually looks like, someone is going to believe it is their right and place to judge it. At the base of my particular flavor of FA, this is fundamentally absolutely a no go.

I think that is a message that can benefit everyone in the world.

So for my homies who are not fat, I encourage you to fly your Fat Acceptance badge proudly.

It can all start with just one small thing. Don't call yourself or other people fat as an insult.

That's all.

If your repertoire of insults is limited to body snarking here are some suggestions from yours truly.

You can hardly go wrong with a good old fashioned, "you're an asshole"

Or my personal favorite, "you mother fucker."

Try it. You might like it.

Next week I'll get back to some other stuff.

Currently I'm trying to not want to stab myself in the knees. The weather has not been working for me and I'm incredibly achy and generally kind of upset with my health issues.

OH wait so tomorrow probably while I'm under the dryer I want to post about a theory I have about art and making art and self esteem. Don't let me forget.

Now my homies and haters, I love you. Go forth and frolic.

Homo Out.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Valuable lessons from the mouths of hookers.

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned in my adult life came from a prostitute.

I believe I met her when I was around 20 or so and spent a lot of time sitting in various places drinking coffee and pretending to be deep when the fact was I was just kinda shy.

I remember I met this woman who after some conversation we got around to the fact of her being a prostitute and I was entirely (probably way too over eager and a little inappropriatly) curious about her line of work.

Of all of the silly questions I asked her the one over arching message was this:

(I'm quoting the Rapper Pitbull here but it's the same sentiment)

i cant care less if you love me or hate me
life's a bitch
now fuck you pay me

Fuck you, pay me.

She told me that no matter what get my money.

Beyond my stints in sex work the main idea I have carried from this is that I and whatever resource I am providing are worth something and if you who want to be or are a consumer of that resource don't want to respect me, fuck you.

In my life, sometimes I have forgotten or pushed away my own worth.

I have been too quiet when I should have been yelling, I have done things not in my best interest, I have hate myself.

Yes let's pause there shall we?

I have loathed and hated myself at my core because I've had times when I thought that I was not worth it.

That I was not worth getting paid.

That I was not worth being treated respectfully.

That my worth was wrapped up in things that if I just tried hard enough I could change and make those things good enough.

Sometimes the focus of that hate fueled change has been my body, my hair, my face, how I dress, etc etc.

I was reminded of this earlier by some dude thinking that pictures of his (supposedly) magnificent cock would somehow convince me to provide him free sexual entertainment.

My response was quick and to the point.

Fuck you pay me.

There is also a whole other rant about the perceived sexual availability of a woman who appears to be open to that sort of thing but that's a whole other entry which I'll get to Friday maybe.

The fact is, my time and effort are not things I am obligated to offer anyone for free. Much less offering something sexual.

And let me say here if you are interested in paying for such photos let it be known that I am not cheap. You want cheap do a fucking google search.

So my big message here my friends passed from that hooker from long ago to me now to you is this.

You are worth it.

You are worth all those things you think are only reserved for people better than you.

Fuck that.

And fuck the world that not only teaches you to feel that way but encourages it.

Sometimes you have to put your foot down and let the world know that you are not the fucking one and that no you will not.

We are worth being treated with respect.

Now onto more mundane things.

I'm still having stomach trouble and-

No wait side bar here.

I have health insurance and yet finding a doctor in whom I trust my health and well being is proving difficult.

There is one doctor I would really like to see but her office is in Federal Way. If I had a car I could be there in about twenty minutes. If I took a taxi I'd have to spend about 60$. Via bus it's almost a two and a half hour multi bus plus three mile walk to get there.

There is another doctor who's closer with decent-ish reviews but the fact that almost every review mentions being put on this that and the other drug makes me uncomfortable. I've had prescription happy doctors in the past and I am not a fan. My last go round with one caused me to lose a bunch of my hair, fuck up my menstrual cycle for almost six months and a lot of grief.

I'm torn.

But, I've been feeling unwell enough with what I suspect is full blown IBS rather than a potential for it (my last good doctor..oh how I miss her..told me that she was certain I was exhibiting symptoms but they were very manageable with diet up until recently_ or some kind of food allergy that I can't figure out that I might bite the bullet and go to the latter doc and gird my loins to ward off eleventy billion prescriptions.

So yeah.

And now I'm going to lay down and crochet because I like it.

There is also hot cocoa in my future.

Goodnight my darlings, be good to yourselves and each other.

Homo Out.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's never really about your health.

I was thinking about the often repeated battle cry against fat of YOUR HEALTH IT'S ABOUT HEALTH etc and it got me to thinking.

Now we already know that I am dubious as to the motives of of the diet and weightloss industry, of the medical industry and pretty much most of those who holler the loudest about fat people.

Now let's talk about diet and weightloss gurus, programs etc.

Most weightloss and diet gurus make you feel like shit at first. They are like that boyfriend or girlfriend everyone has had at least once who calls you a bitch then tells you they love you.

"You have such a beautiful smile."

You get a happy feeling then,

"BUT YOU'RE A LAZY COW AND YOU'RE GONNA DIE"

They tell you that you have beautiful hair, then say it's a doggone shame how BAD YOUR FAT ASS makes your hair look.

Sound familiar?

Or they take the ever popular tough love approach. They yell and scream at you while you work out, they show you "amazing" before and after pictures. They tell you what a weakling you are if you don't do things their way.

If these people were potential mates wouldn't we be telling each other to run the fuck the other way?

So you have this person who has the answer, maybe they caught you at a vulnerable moment and you're feeling bad about yourself and lonely and afraid. So there they are, shining and greased up, rocking their fake tans and booty shorts saying YOU CAN DO IT.

Now after they get you to believe that they have your health in their interests then you find out it's how much a month? 19.95? 80? Does that include food?

The diet and weightloss industry from what I've found pulls in about 40 billion dollars a year.

That is not small potatoes. That is a lot of money.

Looking back over say the past decade, how many things can you think of that have been recalled because of health risks? How many "miracle" cures, pills, etc have been found to cause more harm than good?

How much money do you think it would take for your favorite guru to offer you the latest and greatest cure?

If these people were in fact so all consumed by the health of everyone, wouldn't they make these things accessible?

If weightloss were in fact quick easy and simple enough for everyone to do it, why would we as a culture be giving these people billions of dollars for their recipes, pills, exercise programs, sauna belts and what have you?

What you hear is that the only way you will ever be great, be thin, be happy and healthy is not to be as healthy as you personally can be, no you must buy this persons merchandise.

Thus dieting becomes not about weightloss but about making money hand over mother fucking fist and fuck the poor assholes who buy into it.

The fact is that this person who might become a hero to you doesn't give a good goddamn if you lose one pound or 150 pounds. They would probably prefer it if you lost the weight, regained it and came back.

Why?

Because they want you to pay.

I no longer believe that the diet industry gives a shit because it's become too lucrative. In my small scale experience, the more money involved the less likely real concern is likely to rear it's wee shy head.

Additionally there are so many lies.

Every single diet or weightloss related ad, look down at the bottom and there's always this:

*Results not typical.

Now if you are trying to sell me the idea that everyone can do this one thing, show me pictures of all these people who supposedly did it, how are you going to say that their results are not typical?

I don't buy it.

I don't believe that the majority of people in this industry give a damn about the health and well being of their customers. They want money and they want it now.

So the diet and weightloss industry is not about your health.

It's not about my health.

Tune in tomorrow when I talk about doctors.

I'm in a rantastic mood this week so there may be some of that as well.

Homo out.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Sometimes it's hard to keep talking.

Instead of the rant I was preparing to rant, I want to do something else instead as inspired by Marianne's from The Rotund entry located here.

Like Marianne most of my day to day has fuck all to do with being fat.

I work, I commute, I do stuff.

And then shit happens.

To quote Marianne:

The most damage and harm ever done to me because of fat has nothing to do with my fat and everything to do with how I am treated because of it.


For me this usually manifests itself (mainly because of how my body is shaped and sized) when I'm trying to shop. I don't own a TV thus I don't get a lot of popular culture that way and I've learned to filter out 99% of other cultural bullshit surrounding fatness.

For me Fat Acceptance on a personal level is the hardest on me (emotionally speaking) when shit happens that I can do fuck all about.

When I really need X thing and not one place that I can afford offers it in my size but every place I can't afford (yes plus size stores normally) does.

The moments that hit me the hardest though are when I hear or read women going to town on their bodies or other peoples bodies in a bad way and I know there is fuck all I can personally do about it.

Honestly, there are times when I think that I have run out of things to say about fatness and FA. I figure that there are better people to talk about these things and that I should shut it.

And then I think about the fact that there are a bajillion people in the world who really need to hear these things and there are some folks who can do wit hearing them from me.

So I keep talking.

And I say you keep talking too.

I know it's hard sometimes. I know sometimes it would be way more satisfying to just say fuck it but don't.

I think that's all from me today. I'm tired and I have some other writing to get done tonight.

Homo Out.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Anon CrabbyPants gets a response.

I am having some epic stomach problems lately.

Ugh.

I can deal with a lot of various ills and pains but when something is wrong in the state of my digestion I get freaked out. I'm finally feeling better but ugh.

So right oh.

I got a random ass note about this entry from quite awhile back.

Now either this person hadn't read my blog before or something but I have been informed that the pictures there (and on my flickr) are absolute proof positive that I am "not fat at all" and should summarily be removed from all fat feeds etc.

Ahem.

First of all I take you way less seriously being that you did not give a name, a real email address nor did you make a comment publicly.

I do hope if you have been reading for awhile (and let me note here that I do see that you spent an awful lot of time reading here recently) let's clear up a couple of things.

You whomever you are not the arbiter of who is or isn't fat.

I don't fucking know you.

And I don't have to be fucking nice to you.

Quite frankly if you feel so strongly go complain to those who build the feeds. No go ahead I'll wait.

While you're off doing that let's get a few other things straight.

If you are going to make a visual judgment let's take a few things into account.

I am overall a kinda small person. I am 5'3" or so, short legged, I have small hands, wrists and feet, small ankles. Parts of me are built rather daintily and always have been. I have chubby little toes, chubby knees and round chubby arms.

On the other hand parts of me are built more robustly.

I have broad shoulders, large collarbones (which I will return to in a minute) and big thighs.

Now the collarbones thing.

That was one of the things you Anonymous Crabbypants pointed to as proof of just how not fat I am.

My collarbones are big. Even with probably another twenty pounds on my frame you can still make them out fairly well and when I am thinner, holy whoa collar bones.

That's just how my particular body is made.

Now as I'm looking at some pictures of myself and yeah, I'm a fatty.

Am I upset that you don't think I'm really fat?

Not really.

The fact is no matter how anti smaller fatty you are, fat bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

I would suggest that you get over yourself.

Now if y'all will excuse me I need to eat.

I'm also ruminating on some of the stuff Marianne and Lesley talked about on Fatcast. Go listen we'll talk about it later.

Homo Out.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No you can't.

My formative experiences with feminism and later actual feminists was not good for me.

My first exposure to feminism as a named concept came from the music teacher's loud angry wife.

Most of what I recall was that I was in the seventh grade and she ranted a lot about men and society. She had all these pages pulled out of magazines and talked a lot about Brook Shields.

Needless to say I did not understand.

It is a bit of a good image to set the tone for a lot of my interaction with feminists over the years.

I have spent time with, talked to and studies feminists of all sorts of stripes but the running theme for the past let's say decade has tended to leave me with a foul taste in my mouth.

Whether it's been the painful to deal with casual racism, transphobia, sex worker hate, women telling me what was and was not appropriate for me to wear, etc etc.

I recall once in particular someone saying that I was "a weapon of the patriarchy" because of the way I happened to present myself to the world at that time.

She systemically put me down from head to toe and summarily dismissed me instead of talking to me.

These days it seems like when I attempt to read feminist oriented material the same things keep happening.

Sex workers are shamed.

Fat women are shamed.

Trans and other gender variant women are shamed.

The casual racism just goes on and on.

Frankly, I just can't deal.

It's not just that I can't deal it's that I won't deal.

In my mind a big piece of the feminism puzzle is that I as a woman have autonomy and that at the very least other women respect that autonomy even if they don't agree with how I'm going about my life.

How is it at all right that you can decide what is and isn't appropriate for my life but some dude can't?

There are large swaths of my life that don't need feminism to run smoothly and there have been many times in the last couple of years where I've felt invaded by modern feminism in a way that I plain don't like.

There are ways that modern feminists have spoken both to me personally and about women like me that I find brutal and offensive.

I have heard no you can't from more feminists than I have from anyone else and it's a fucking shame.

At 33 years old I'm over it.

I realized not so long ago that you know what I don't care anymore.

I don't care if my enjoyment of porn, pole dancing (as a spectator and/or participant), love of kink, disinterest in being a Mommy, my disinterest in shaming Mommies, my love of cosmtics and beauty items, how I wear my hair, whether or not I shave my crotch, the dynamic in my relationship with Uniballer, that I am unmoved by White Ladies Tears when they have been put out, that I am entirely disinterested in your comment of how I might dress, that I am disinterested in what you think about my body, about how I view HAES, etc etc upsets your view of how things are supposed to be.

I'm done.

I have tried and tried to keep up reading whatever feminist blogs but yeah no.

If it's not the people writing it's the community of commentors and I do not have the energy for that bullshit.

I have been too disappointed.

I have watched too many conversations turn into hurrhurr I agree with X and you're a stupidface type arguments.

I am really done.

I cleaned out my RSS feed.

I am not going to be condescended to, I am not going to be told how to live or present myself to the world.

I'm going to live my life.

I'm going to in whatever way I see fit promote the ideals I have without being an asshole. And I'm going to admit it if I'm being an asshole.

I'm not going to allow any measure of e/blog fame to cloud my vision to the point where I think every word that falls out of my ass is golden because it probably won't be. And I fully expect that even if you love me to bits and pieces, that you care enough about me as a person to say, "hey, wow that was a shit thing to say".

All this said I still believe in the idea of feminism without all the bullshit.

I believe that women (talking about both biological women and those who identify as women) are worth every bit as men (and yes both biological men and those who identify as men). I believe that women and men need to earn equal money. I believe that all human beings deserve these things.

After saying all this it comes to this.

I'm not going to agonize over my outright rejection of the label feminist.

I'm done.

I have come to a good place in my head and have made the decision without as much angst.

At this point I feel like you could call me any number of things.

I'd prefer if you'd just call me Shannon and ask me what I think about whatever is on your mind.

I don't need the label.

That's it.

Homo Out.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

A lil fatshion and whatnot.

Oh holy shit you guys this week has been full of pure insanity of the type that turns my brains into little more than mush.

So you get fluff with some other comment.

I want to talk about summer dresses.

I really seriously love and covet dresses.

If I could work it out in some sort of sane fashion I would populate my entire wardrobe with dresses. However, almost no matter how I cut it I can't do it captain.

These are the sorts of dresses I am in the love with for summer.




You'll notice there is a dearth of Plus size retailers here and there's a reason for that.

Now if you've read me for awhile you'll probably notice I don't always say that I am "plus sized". Frankly the majority of plus size clothing does not fit me properly.

My big issues tend to be length. LENGTH.

I am not that tall. I am 5'3" or so and if something is right above the knee or right under the knee on a 5'9" model, it's going to hit me at mid calf and that does not work with all looks.

Let's take this dress from Lane Bryant as an example. Now that model is probably at least 6-8 inches taller than I am. (We'll leave the price for later)

Proportionally that is just not going to work for me. I am a fatass who is not a tall fat ass.

Also, the way my particular body is built there are a lot of garments that do not agree with how my body is shaped. They just don't no matter what size I am.

And I've mentioned it before but I just can't afford the vast majority of plus size clothing. I saw somewhere on one of the fat feeds about saving up for an awesome item.

Personally I do think that's a great idea.

I've tried that and right now I'm kind of paying the consequences.

For me, the consequence is that I've not been able to replenish basics now I'm down to a few shirts that aren't so old and faded I'm embarassed to wear them.

So in theory a good idea to save up for something awesome like this (I DAYDREAM about that) dress from Kiyonna. I love that dress. I am positive I would wear the SHIT out of it. However even on final sale it costs, $89.00.

89 dollars.

In my little universe 89$ could get me a handful of things I have to wear daily like shirts rather than one great thing that it's not really practical for me to wear every day.

This is why I was so dissappointed about the sales posts at Fats on LJ going to a whole other community. I will be honest I felt this moment of OH SHIT what am i going to do. This happens when an avenue of keeping my ass covered in a way I find aesthetically pleasing is no longer an option.

Granted of course I understand the mods were tired of doing it and lots of other people hated them.

This is why I so often will say don't lecture me about shopping at Walmart or where ever.

If you have a wide range of choices awesome, don't piss on my parade because I don't or because I'm not going to make a big enough sacrifice to shop somewhere else.

Ahem.

While I'm on the subject of awesome clothes I really want to make this outfit or a good facsimile of it happen.




That is pretty much the portrait of how I would dress in the summer if my funds were not quite so limited.

However, I think I can figure out something. I have a good circly kind of knee length skirt, I need some more tanks and whatnot but if I make it happen I'll post pics.

I'm exhausted y'all.

Time to go.

If Uniballer and I go out venturing I will pack the camera.

Homo Out.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Furthermore.

After my last two entries I got a lengthy anonymous note from someone who's greatly upset with me.

After I untangled some of the outrage I figured out that this person is angry with me because I a.) pointedly discussed developing and figuring out my identity as a Black Person and b.) that I am apparently "bashing people over the head with my race".

Ahem.

Being that this person did not leave a name or email address I'm going to assume a few things.

1.) I'm going to assume that you are not a regular reader. Those posts were not the first time I have discussed Blackness specifically.

2.) You did not really read what I said.

Or contrarily I can assume that you are:

1.) A Black person who did not have the same experience of Blackness as I did.

2.) You did not really read what I said.

The fact is that I am not nor have I ever claimed to be some sort of Black Folks spokesperson. There is no United Negro Memo list wherein all us Black folks are informed of what we collectively are supposed to experience or portray as our experiences.

Sorry to disappoint but I am not Queen of all Black Folks.

Now I was going to write you off as a troll but that took awhile to type up so I won't say troll.

I will say that I pushed your buttons.

I'm not going to apologize for upsetting you because I don't take responsibility for my life upsetting other people that way. That's not really my issue if you have a problem with how I explore/talk about/experience my Blackness this is not your litterbox so you don't get to say what I do or don't talk about.

If you feel that strongly about it start your own blog and have at it.

Now being that I'm of the opinionated sort I've got a few more Black Lady posts planned.

These topics are going to include my hair (redux yo), being black fat and queer, etc.

The fact is that now that I am 33 I finally realized a few things that I wish I had realized when I was 23. So I would like to consider these posts a love letter to the past me and a love letter to other girls and women and people who might be feeling some of the same things.

At some point over the weekend I was really thinking about my previous two posts and realized that part of my work in this lifetime is (and I've realized this before but never in quite this way) to be a window.

What I mean is that I am in a unique position to be of service and help to other people without breaking my bank or over taxing myself in ways that are not healthy or me.

Looking back at my life, especially between the ages of let's say 12 and 22 I wish I had access back then to people who have been through some of these things. To people who thought weird things and could talk about them. I think that would have been invaluable.

So now I want to be that resource for someone to google up at some point and maybe feel like it's okay.

So yeah more of that coming up.

Tomorrow though, more health medical talk after a conversation with some lady claiming to be a weightloss expert approached me while I was waiting for the bus today.

Oh yes, there will be snark and head shaking.

Stay tuned my homies.

OH PS...

HUGE thing. If you've been playing along at home you know that I have had some allergy issues this year like whoa. I have been miserably itchy and angry.

Turns out it was the fancypants bodywash I was using. I switched to some Johnson and Johnson babywash (in vanilla oatmeal specifically) and holy fucking SHIT I WIN.

FUCK YOU ALLERGIES.

I WIN I WIN.

So my homies if you are having sensitive and/or dry skin issues try baby wash. Seriously.

Okay must to be going now I have tea to drink and pills to take because my knees are being douchebags.

Homo Out.
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Fat Black Girl Part Two.

I have to admit my homies, I had no idea that writing about these things was going to be quite so emotionally wrought for me.

Not that I haven't thought about these things but sharing them is something else.

Now I'm going to go back to that same age range. 18-22ish or so because that was the age I started to want to form more of a concrete idea about my Blackness and what it meant to my identity at the time.

For reference I'm going to go back further actually so you understand where I'm coming from.

My formative years were spent in very White community. I had no Black teachers, I was 90% of the time the only Black child in my class. The only adults of color I knew well were my family and a few family friends.

I remember once my favorite librarian looked at me and said, "You are very eccentric." I think I was eight years old and I looked up the word immediately and was very very pleased.

Even up through high school there were not that many Black kids and I honestly didn't know most of the other Black kids well.

Okay now as I was reading more about things like the history of the Civil Rights movement, Black nationalism etc this is when it started to really dawn on me that according to the view of not only a good number of my friends but the world at large I was not beautiful and could not be.

When I was 18-19 I wasn't really fat in the grand scheme of things. I was bigger than most of my friends but in all reality I was probably a size 8-10 or so. A chubby girl with a shit fuck ton of muscle underneath.

I did not get asked out on dates by people I went to school with and grew up with. Some of my most important social interaction (and yes sex) was with people outside of that particular realm. Even though I did yes get some action here and there, it hurt a lot that I was not considered (at least not to my face) an attractive person.

At that age, it was important to hear that yes, you're pretty from someone other than my family.

Further more because I was not yet at the point of knowing how to confront some of the things I heard I suffered them in silence.

The thing that I think hurt me most back then was the casual racism.

I remember standing with my friends and someone said they all of a sudden could smell bubblegum or something I remember one girl saying:

"I bet it was some Black persons hairgrease."

I remember I wanted to cry but I didn't. I didn't say anything to that girl but I honestly never respected her whatever after that.

There were also the (unfortunately unavoidable) fat hate moments where I just never knew what to say back then.

One friend saying that a girl in an activity with us was a "fat cow". Now the girl in question was visibly quite a bit smaller than me and I remember thinking, "if you think she's a fat cow what do you say about me?"

I was forever hearing who was a fat bitch and whatnot and I shriveled up a lot. I started to see my body as something so ugly and shameful. I felt ugly and shameful.

So once I got out of high school (which sucks for everyone at some point) and I started really paying attention I began to understand several things that were only reinforced by magazines targeted to Black people.

Despite what you might think I did not hear love yourself blablabla.

All of the images of women held up as Beautiful Black women were nothing like me and nothing like how I was growing up.

The models mostly all had long straight hair, long legs etc. On the whole most of the Black "role" model type women were not all that different from the models in every other magazine save for their skin color.

Matter of fact most of the beauty advice I got was about how to make myself look less Black. How to contour my nose with make up so it looked smaller, how to use a fade cream properly to lighten my skin, that I should go on diets so I could lose weight.

As I got a little older I started to process what I felt were extreme gaps in my education and upbringing.

Being that I live (then and now) in Seattle, I ran into a lot of people who seemed to think nothing of telling me (in a dating kind of context) that they don't find me attractive because I am Black. Or there were the tons of men mostly who found it perfectly all right to tell me that all they wanted was to fuck me because they had some kind of Black girl fantasy.

People have felt no sense of shame or fuck manners, in asking me why Black women (insert thing here)? Whether it was the stereotype that Black women "are supposed" to have "thick" bodies. And why wasn't I shaped more like that?

Okay I think I need to stop here for the day I'm getting pissed off all over again.

The bottom line I suppose is this.

Yes, there is the idea that Black women are lauded for being "thick" but, the fact is not a lot of us have that recognizable stereotypical fat ass, tiny waist, nice tits type build. And you know what, you're not helping when you say oh you're not fat you're thick. Or any variant of such a statement.

I will follow up to this entry with what I think is going on with a lot of Black women from my personal observances.

And let me remind you again that no I am not the Dowager Empress of All Black People. Nor is there a monthly Black folks memo that goes out so yes we have differing opinions and experiences of Blackness and that's fine.

Now, I'm going to listen to some metal, do some writing and drink some tea.

Homo Out.

PS...go check out my short fiction in Sex and Murder magazine this month. I'm super proud of this story 1.) because I was experimenting and they got what I was doing there and 2.) I was reminded yet again what magic having an excellent editor can be. This story was edited by my friend Anthony who is a fantastic author as well. Read that here.
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Fat and Black part one.

Over at Red Vinyl Shoes Tasha Fierce wrote about Black plus size models and this bit caught me and is what inspired this particular post.


Those fat women who are fortunate enough to be considered “thick” are subject to an even more extreme hypersexualization of their bodies than average sized or thin black women are.


Looking back at my life I have seen this to be a truism more often than I really care to think about starting at a very young age.

As a wee Shannon I was undersized. I was born premature and grew a lot slower than my peers. For years I was among the smallest kids in class. I wasn't necessarily frail, I was a sturdy little thing. Strong big thighs, fairly wide shoulders. Essentially a boobless and hipless version of me now.

I remember hearing adults talk about girls being or looking "fast". I remember arguing with my Mom about me wanting black leggings and her saying I was too young and they looked too fast.

I'm going to fast forward to my late teens and early adulthood for several reasons. First reason, my formative years I did not have the Black community much at all so these weren't things I was thinking about and second of all it took me that long to start learning these messages.

So skipping ahead to me at 19 years old. At that time most of the Black folks I knew were puzzled by my body and had no issue telling me so. I remember I was in JCPenny or something and an older Black lady stopped me and turned me around to look at my butt and asked me pointedly:

"Where is your ass?"

I felt so humiliated and upset. The fact is, I have not do not and will never have what a lot of American's would recognize as the ass of a Black woman.

I have been fatter and thinner and my ass is not round in any kind of pronounced way, I do not have a hint of a sway back (do people even use that term anymore? Which also makes me wonder if there is a prevalence of the medical condition in the Black community?) my booty is kinda well- it is a little shy and often not clearly seen in any defined way unless I am either naked or wearing really tight pants.

It is probably one of those things about my body that I am most self conscious of.

I am also not extremely curvaceous or voluptuous. Again it's a situation where unless I am naked or in very tight clothes because my natural waist is way up high by my boobs you don't always see that.

Between the ages of let's say 18-21 or so I became incredibly conscious of what an "ideal" Black body was supposed to look like and I quite honestly suffered a lot of upset that my body did not look like that. I spent a lot of time aside from my already punishing workouts trying to "sculpt" that shape.

I had heard from so many other Black folks about how I was "trying to be White", been called Oreo etc etc that I needed that so I could in fact be a Real Black Woman.

At that time I also was under the impression that part of me reinforcing my Black identity to the world would involve trying to date other Black folks and thus I needed to have that body in order to make that happen.

Around this age I also started intensely studying Black history and I began to see what Tasha was talking about.

I began to see and understand the stereotype of the "fast slutty" Black girl based only around the fact of the shape of her butt. I started seeing these things reinforced in Black culture but then seeded and flourishing in the rest of the world.

I listened to people talk about Black women and all too often even if they didn't realize it (yes racism via sheer ignorance), people believed it.

It was too easy for any one of my friends to express their envy that because I'm Black I MUST never worry about my weight or body because culturally there's no pressure to be any certain way.

At that age I lacked the know how of really expressing myself when people said things like that to me. Instead of voicing my disagreement or shock I felt shamed because I did worry about those things all the time.

I saw how a fat (in this context as opposed to "thick") Black woman is (notice I use the present tense here because things haven't changed that much) shunted into the position of the sassy (oh how I fucking loath that word..more on that another day) best friend, the funny lady, the wise old auntie who says silly things but makes you think (yeah fuck you Eddie Murphy and every other fatsuit wearing mother fucker), I saw those things and I did not want to be that person.

As it was at that age I was 90% of the time the biggest girl and the fatter girl within my social circle which was fucking hard for me. It's hard for everyone at that age to be the different person. That being what it was, I felt this immense pressure to choose between being young Mammie or young Jezebel.

My selfhood was still very soft and I was trying like hell to become my own woman, and yes I struggled a lot.

I'm not even going to go into queerness as of yet.

I remember all too often when I was alone I would often cry about these things. I didn't have anyone at the time to talk about these things with. I didn't know how to start the conversation or even what I might say.

I felt weird and isolated.

I never knew if anyone else thought about these things. I wondered if other Black girls looked at themselves and didn't know where they fit into the going idea of what Black girls were supposed to look like. I wondered if it upset anyone else.

Now this is why I decided to do these entries in this fashion. I wish I could go back and give 19 year old me the internet and say LOOK GO GO GO.

It is a huge and integral part of who I am to when I am able, help other people.

I spent so many years feeling so isolated and strange and ashamed of the things I was thinking it really fucked me up in a lot of ways. I don't want anyone else to feel that way.

So to that end I want to let y'all know that it's open season.

I want you to go ahead and ask me questions about this stuff that you might have never had the nerve to ask someone. Ask me stuff you think might come off as dumb. Feel free to be anonymous, leave a comment or use the form.

I promise I may get a little giggle but if you are respectful I will be respectful.

Now this wraps up part one. I have a LOT to say clearly so it's going to take a few entries to get it all out.

Now my homies, ask away. Share experiences and be nice to each other do not make me turn this car around.

Homo Out.
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Esteem of the self..you can get it back.

Okay darlings I have a post I'm working on about Fatness and Blackness and the intersection of the two as it has happened in my life but, I just got this question in and I HAVE to answer it.

Our homie needs help. She has had a rough year like many of us and needs some help getting herself back together now that things are getting better.

First of all AwesomePants (yes you are AwesomePants for the duration) I am so glad things are getting better for you.

Now I can relate, I can relate so much.

Second thing, take a breath.

This is something I struggle with fairly often in my life. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by what seems like fairly simple shit and then BAM I have started running around that special circle of hell which is self loathing.

The big thing when you find yourself heading towards negative self talk and the bad shit that follows is to recognize when you're heading for it. Learn to take a second and slow your roll.

That is a difficult thing, stopping yourself mid tirade can be a daunting thing but believe me, practice makes it easier. Start with small things, learn to not berate yourself when you make little mistakes.

Next thing. Once you start doing that it's a small leap to stopping and saying shit happen.

This one is super hard for me.

It's really hard sometimes when even small bad things happen not to get down on yourself. The important thing to remember is shit happens and it happens a lot.

You fall down, you tear your favorite pants, you break a cup you lost a five dollar bill etc etc.

While you may be tempted to blame yourself and yell at yourself when stupid things happen, you have got to learn to be nice to yourself.

Even when you royally fuck up be nice to yourself.

I've learned the hard way that you can be worse for yourself than anyone else. There is no one who can fuck me up like I can fuck me up and it's a hard thing to learn to stop doing that so much.

Now let's (for teh sake of argument) say you're doing those things, this is fantastic AwesomePants.

For me when I am down I make an extra effort with self care.

I'm talking about things that I do for myself not because I have to do them but, because they make me feel good or better.

For me this can be anything from doing a treatment on my hair, painting my nails, taking an extra minute in the shower to put conditioner on my front facing pubes, I have an extra special tasty cup of tea or coffee.

Sometimes I will do something so silly and simple as buying a 99 cent lipgloss.

For me those tiny things are what keep me sane.

I am learning more and more that sometimes I just need to indulge myself and be a good Mom to myself. For me that means telling myself to stop doing something for a minute, or to go to bed, etc etc.

For me figuring out when to just be nice to myself in a way that does not feel bad is really fucking hard.

To support yourself in keeping your sanity and your self esteem I really suggest making sure you make at least a few minutes for sanity saving activities.

That might be some time to exercise, to have a snorgle with a loved one, to bathe, to wash your face, to do whatever feels good and that you can squeeze into your life regularly.

For me, I enjoy some quiet to myself time.

Often this is during my commute home when I put my headphones on, pull my crocheting or whatever I'm reading out and create a little bubble/zone of me space. I find that very calming and some time for me to get away from my Crazy!brain and other peoples bullshit and work and everything else.

I also sometimes will spend my walks deliberately thinking about none of the things I may or may not have fucked up that day.

Because of my varied joint issues I tend to start my walks off going pretty damn slow and my pace tends to dictate my thoughts in a way. Once I'm warmed up I can haul fatass pretty fast and I tend to be focused on getting where I'm going. When I walk all slow I have time for my brain to move in other directions and I have learned to be mindful of that.

It is awfully simple and easy for me to let one thought of "oh what a pretty dress in that window" that somehow spirals into some kind of "you can't have nice things" rant inside my head in a matter of a few seconds, I have to stop myself.

And so I say that you have to stop yourself too.

That is going to be a lengthy and hurty road I assure you but be comforted knowing that there are a lot of us walking on it right there with you.

Now you've learned to do that stuff and you're starting to feel pretty good. How do you let out all that goodness?

I think it's affirming and wonderful to keep your head up. This is where I spew a little drivel.

Sometimes you gotta fake it til you feel it.

Personally some days I just feel so blegh I figure the way to muscle through it is to fancy myself up and walk like I own some shit.

Do whatever makes you feel fancy and then, walk around like you ARE the fanciest thing ever and at some point you will start to feel it.

Is this method 100%? No not really but sometimes you gotta do what's necessary to save yourself from Mean!brain.

Now this next bit is another part that's really awful for me personally but in the long run has helped me out immensely.

Have someone (in my case you readers) in whom you trust enough to say, "hey look I feel like shit all the way around."

I had no idea how freeing and empowering it could be just to say that and not feel shamed or (overly) embarrassed. Yes, it does pain me to admit that I am human sometimes but, every time I have one of my moments you folks have commiserated, shown me boobies, shown me puppies and you have helped more than I can accurately describe.

It's true.

While yes, in the moment when I'm posting here or twitter or where ever I may feel mortified that I am so upset over X or that I am so human I am feeling like poo, every time I think about it I feel a little better inside.

So let it out.

If you have to start out by start an anonymous blog somewhere just to get out what's bothering you go ahead and do it.

Don't bottle it up, that makes things ten times worse.

Let out how you feel.

Then know that you're not alone, feeling bad doesn't make you bad and it will pass.

I hate that phrase but honestly, as dark and bad as things get it will pass.

That phrase kept me alive through some really bad years and I can attest that I did survive and it did pass.

And don't fall into that trap so many women do of thinking that things have to be all sunshine rainbows and puppies all the time.

The idea that humans are supposed to be happy constantly is a fallacy in my mind. If you don't have the highs and lows how're you gonna know the difference?

So now I turn it over to you my homies.

What helps you keep on keepin on?

(And yes I know I did not talk about drug type intervention I will save that part for another day mmkay?)

So yes, let's help each other feel like the Awesome-fucking-ness we are.

Now if y'all will excuse me this rooiboos tea will not drink it self.
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