Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting to know me....

I have some new readers and things in my litterbox here have been very serious lately. So some getting to know your hostess/open post.

So hi there folks. I'm Shannon as you may have guessed. This is my little sandbox.

As you may have surmised I am a Black, queer, fat, weird, fairly outspoken and long winded.

Hence part of my blog name there Daily Nattering.

For as serious as I may come off here on the Internets I am a really goofy person. I'm very easily amused. Stupid things can make me laugh until I drool. Which happens a lot.

I'm also a physically nervous person. I'm twitchy. I flail a lot. I'm clumsy because I had a lot of severe ear problems as a wee kid and my equilibrium kind of sucks. I'm often seen listing slightly to port.

If the world was fair and was indeed my oyster, I would dress like some insane Goth band exploded on me. Or like I was birthed by a giant Goth Drag queen. And I say giant in the most loving way. With unlimited sewing mojo I would wear almost all costumey clothing.

Trufax.

The above is because I am a fairly ridiculous person when it comes to my personal aesthetic. I love all things wigs, glittery, sparkly, feathers, tulle, head dresses, tiaras, showgirls, drag queens, showgirl you get what I'm saying.

This started when I was a really small child. I remember wanting perfect manicures at age 4. It's not my Mom's influence she's not a super girly girl Femmebot like I am. I dunno where it comes from.

The two arts that mean the most to me and bracket my most important memories are music and literature.

I am a music fanatic. I have really eclectic tastes and there are piece of music that hold very specific memories for me. There are some that two bars in can bring me to tears. If I wasn't a writer I would probably have been more serious about music from an early age.

What else?

Uh.

I'm not a really religious person. I have some spiritual/religiousy beliefs that are not at all usual and as I am forming them I am very protective of them. My spiritual beliefs feel so personal that I am not really ready to let other people hear them at all. The idea actually makes me want to pee myself a little.

Back to books.

Books gave me and continue to give me the world. Books showed me the door to what I am most passionate about (writing, obviously). Books showed me other people and other experiences. I recall being maybe 8-9 years old and wanting desperately to be outside of my realm. I wanted to experience so much that I couldn't even name and I turned to books. The books I read in those years went a long way to shaping the woman I am growing up to be.

Speaking of growing up, if you've read me for awhile you have probably noticed I say things like that a lot. For the record I am 33 years old. However I believe that in the grand scheme of things I feel very much like a child in a wonderful way a lot of the time. As I get older I find that doing a lot of the things that made me happy as a child make me happy now.

I believe it's valuable not to try so hard to be a grown up all the time. I do not fully believe in putting away the toys of childhood.

I also believe that for me the way to leading a better life is by re-learning to listen to myself when I know I'm telling myself the truth. I believe that we all have a core of Serious Personal Truths and for me my life is better when I listen to those.

I also highly value beauty. Not beauty as in what's in advertising and whatnot but things that move me. I think a lot of people are beautiful. Some of them are yes the airbrushed perfection others are not. It's not a big deal to me. Me finding someone beautiful rarely has to do with any one thing.

Some people have had issue when I've said to them that I think they are beautiful. For the record I don't say that to mean HEY I WANNA DO YOU. I mean it in love and just a hey, you have something about/on you that gives me a visual happy. That's all.

Um.

Oh yes, I mention being poor a lot. My partner and I are not as poor as we once were. We're not in month to month danger of maybe not being able to pay the rent. We have enough for the basics most of the time but not a lot for other things.

A lot of the time I don't spend money for pleasure. I grew up feeling like that was a highly irresponsible thing to do and frankly it's a bitch to unlearn a lot of that.

Which leads to the crafting thing. I really love making things and am having to learn that it's okay to buy supplies, to make things that are maybe not suitable to turn a profit. I'm learning that I can do these things and it doesn't make me irresponsible. I can have a hobby.

Now I'm babbling but y'all know me a little better.

Now some self promotion.

Wanna read more of my not blog writing. Check my big girl grown up author website. It's not all the way done yet but you'll find my little back catalogue and stuff.

I think that's it.

As always feel free to ask stuff in the comments, via my form or via formspring.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

But you're Black.

Another post on intersectionality.

First a photo to illustrate how I feel about this particular issue.

thefinger

Ahem today my darlings I am your educating Negress and we're going to discuss Black folks who are "different".

For our purposes today "different" can include Black folks who might: dress funny, speak differently, etc etc.

Often when people talk about "different" Black folks what they really mean are Black folks who don't fit into a neat stereotype of what they thing a Black Person should be.

Now it's not just non-Black Folks. Black folks do it too and I'd like to offer some free advice about the effect this train of thought can have on one of us weirdos.

Now in case you're new for context I'm loudly and frequently queer, perverted, dress funny, occasionally Butch, fat, I am a strange strange bird.

For the majority of my life on this planet, someone has felt the need to inquire about why I like or wear certain things and their response is frequently-

"but you're Black."

When I was a child, before I had the language to distinctly make people aware of why I didn't like that I was just hurt.

As a child because I was a little shy and I read books by the arm full and had very long hair and liked to occasionally wear funny clothes, because I listened to music that wasn't popular at the time I spent time brooding about whether or not I was (as I thought at the time) a real Black person.

Now stop for a second and realize that this thought began when I was maybe 8 years old. Adults and other children questioned me about my Blackness, I was hectored by both adults and children.

There was often the implication either subtly or outright that there was something wrong with me and that I was somehow in denial about the color of my skin because I did things that other people did not then (or now sometimes sadly) ascribe to Black people.

To say it really fucked me up for awhile is a vast understatement.

I was not taught as a child how to protect myself against these things. So I stewed about it. I fretted because I knew that I was a Black Person and being the kind of child I was, I wanted to be good at it.

This pressure came from people of color and white people.

It was incredibly fucked up.

And it was also important because this kind of treatment at an early age is what set me on the path to figuring out and enjoying my own Black Identity and learning that no, the Black experience is not a monolithic one and that is one of the beautiful things about Black People.

This is what spurred me to really study the civil rights movement beyond the bullshit I learned during Black history month or the Civil Rights chapter.

That said, I think it's fucking bullshit.

I've known a lot of other Black folks who instead of this kind of treatment spurring them to create a Black Identity have estranged themselves from Black folks.

The problem is amplified by American culture, by how we discuss race, by how we deal with race.

For me, when I finally identified my problem with this kind of treatment and had language to use, a lot of people didn't take it well.

A lot of people don't deal with diversity well at all.

A lot of people are frightened by different and it's unfortunate.

Rather than teaching or preaching "tolerance" (fuck being tolerated) I'd rather preach listening. I'd rather preach respecting the individuality of any person.

The Black Experience is not monolithic. Yes there are lots of things lots of Black folks have in common, but at the end of the day my life is not their lives and theirs is not mine.

To bring it back to an intersectional place the Fat Experience is also not a monolith.

Because a lot of the world makes being fat a monolithic experience, fat people are often shunted into that shit position of Good Fattie vs Bad Fattie.

A lot of fat people are stuck in a place where they want to be the person that demonstrates that not all fat people exhibit whatever behavior.

Yeah I've been there.

Others feel edged out of discussions about fat because maybe they do exhibit whatever behavior.

Frankly it does nothing for nobody.

I know it's hard for a lot of people to swallow but no shared cultural experience whether it's Blackness, Queerness, Fatness, Whiteness, etc is so overwhelmingly monolithic that you can paint those people with a wide stripe.

We have to learn to approach each other in a less macrocosm and more in a microcosm.

What I mean is that especially these days when it is so fucking easy to peer into the life of another person via pictures, blogs etc to move past these things we need to look at each other and understand that our experiences are diverse.

And that diverse is not bad or wrong.

It just is.

So before you think that you need to question what someone does/wears/who they date/etc because you don't think X people do that, slow down. Think about what you're about to say and hopefully not say it.

A better way to approach that is maybe to say, "oh hey homie, you like X thing? Holy shit I like X thing too"

Or

"Oh wow that's pretty awesome how did you do that/where did you buy that/etc"

If you are going to speak to individuals treat them as individuals.

I swear it works.

Now if y'all will excuse me.

OH wait one note. You'll see if you clicked through to read that some of my blogroll is back. It's going to take awhile so if you don't see your link where it was previous I'm not mad I'm just working out an issue with Blogrolling and their jacked up code.

Now I love you all.

Go forth and frolic my homies.

Homo Out.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Weird moments also sexy things.

Business first.

So my official author site is here. Note that it is not entirely finished still. But you can find my wee back catalog and various social networking links and a bit of a bio.

Also you'll notice if you've clicked through that my blogroll is missing. Fear not my homies. I will be replacing it but BlogRolling a.) has gone malevolent and b.) is going away so I need some other way to manage that.

Last thing. My best friend and I are snarky, when we're together we can be vicious and we're talking about (read taking the piss out of) Fat Fashion over on Tumblr we are SnarkandPie. Check us out, she's my bestie and I can say with authority she is fucking awesome. http://snarkandpie.tumblr.com/ Follow us, submit links. Giggle. We do have a rule, no indie designers please. Also we're not snarking the people who wear the fashion or the models it's just the clothes.



Now on to the post of the day.

I am in dire need of a pair of new black tall boots.

Like a lot of other fat folks I have some big calves.

What is weird to me (as in I had a moment of cognitive dissonance) is that when I was fatter I bought boots with impunity and never had any problems.

These days however my calves are hard. Hard and muscly and holy shit they do not squish so I can't really just buy any boots.

Now this is something that bothers me a lot.

If you're a new reader, I'll tell you right now I have a serious (as in makes my ladyparts tingle) boot fetish. Other people in boots, me wearing boots, having my boots shined boots make me go all melty in the knees and hot in the crotch.

Have I talked about this?

SO right boot fetish. I have one.

There was a time when I probably owned upwards of 20 pairs of boots not counting any vintage pairs. I love all sorts of boots. Big stompy platform boots, lace ups, Doc Martens, shiny fetish boots, boots that were meant to be thigh high but I'm short so they were right up to my butt cheeks.

Now the muscle boundedness (shit I know bad word choice, work with me here) of my calves has made indulging in my fetish extremely tedious.

Compounding my cranky is the fact that I can't wear a serious stiletto heel anymore. I don't mind that so much but the calf thing is frequently a deal breaker.

Add in my gothy/stompy aesthetic and well, times are rough my homies.

I really think that the company that decides to consistently make awesome plus size goth clothing is going to make a killing.

A. Killing.

Also let me give you all some love. Thank you for your comments and notes on my DIY post a bit back. You give me courage. Spending for pleasure is still difficult for me but I'm working it out.

I had intended to talk about beauty today but frankly I'm kind of spent. I'm tired.

More about beauty and some stuff I've been thinking about lately regarding art, fatness, blackness and beauty.

Stay tuned my homies.

Homo Out.

PS Hi Dennis and friends welcome.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Your vegetables will not save me.

Consider this a continuation of yesterday.

After my entry yesterday I got the ubiquitous anon note all about how becoming a vegetarian would "cure" my obesity, make me live longer, feel better and make me a better person.

Ahem.

If you can't handle discussion about poop, bodily functions, periods, and other things the human body can do in protest skip this one.

So Anon this is for you and for every other jackass that proselytizes vegetarianism or any other dietary choice.

For reference I am speaking entirely from my own experiences. From my body. I am speaking from my body and it would like you to know a few things.

Okay so let's talk specifically about vegetarianism.

I don't think being a vegetarian has a moral value. In the Shannonverse food choices do not equal moral decisions.

They just don't.

If you want to be a vegan or vegetarian fantastic. That is awesome. I would be happy to share some recipes with you.

Me personally? I don't do an all veg diet.

Now I was a vegetarian then later a vegan for quite awhile. I thought as people who enjoy proselytizing these things that being a vegetarian would in fact end all my bodily woes. I would not be fat, I would be super healthy, I would be fucking awesome.

This was not so.

The first issue I had with being a vegetarian was that my already not great immune system started to be even less great. I was born premature and have always been prone to bad airs or if you like I spent a lot of years getting every bug known to fucking man if someone so much as looked at me cross eyed. During the first couple of years as a vegetarian despite making loads of changes to my diet, taking vitamins and doing everything right I got sick way more than I could afford.

My skin started to suffer as well. For me when my body is unhappy it is almost first noticeable in my complexion. My skin all over was far more easily irritated, I broke out constantly and just felt like I was starting to look icky despite my best efforts.

Then after yet another round of months of tweaking my diet, I started getting constantly constipated. I could not poop and when I could poop it was not good.

I value my ability to poop without upset. For years prior to that I'd had easily upset bowels and having a fiber heavy diet did me no favors. Contrary to the popular belief more fiber is not always good.

So along with the constipation came the inevitable cranky because if I can't poop, I get angry.

To recap, two and half or so years into vegetarianism I was yes thinner than I had been in awhile (and thus was encouraged to keep doing what I was doing), my immune system was not holding up, I looked terrible and had a hard time pooping regularly.

If I'd had any sense and hadn't been cowed by the M.D part of my doctors name I would have stopped. I didn't.

I had bought whole heartedly into the idea that if I just tried hard enough and made better choices I could make it work.

So because I was listening to those who preach the word of the vegetable I tried harder. I spent an ungodly amount of money on food because I had to travel to a different area, I had to pay a lot and I still didn't feel good.

Things went along this way. On paper it was all good. I was eating right working out, being by the BMI still heavy for my height but fairly thinnish for how I'm built, but the important thing is my health was declining.

I was developing an iron deficiency. I did what my doctor and fellow vegetarians suggested. I ate more kale, swiss chard etc than anyone should. It didn't help.

Now around the time that when I was on my period and I barely had the energy to work or do anything else I started to come to my senses.

I started allowing myself to be bad. I decided that I could have meat during my period.

I felt better during that time but the rest of the month sucked.

Finally after a particularly bad bout of painful gas, constipation and just feeling wrecked for no good goddamn reason I started to let go of what people (including my fucking doctor) kept saying to me and I thought about it.

Two things happened around this time.

First thing, I started losing my hair because the doctor who had to be fired put me on birth control pills supposedly to help me with my menstrual symptoms.

Second thing, someone explained Occam's Razor to me.

The one big factor during this time was that I was not eating meat regularly. I sat down with a calender and figured out that in the time I had been doing so good with the vegetarian/vegan way of eating I had felt the worst I had ever felt in my life.

I felt better when I ate meat with any regularity.

So I left the fold. Gradually but I left.

I lost a good amount of friends because I "betrayed" them, their ideals and apparently the rules of the universe.

I got called really mean names. People I thought cared about me as an entire being were cruel to me.

Not because I did something awful but because I decided to take charge of my health and well being.

Yes that is what it comes down to.

I'm not an omnivore because anyone approves I eat in a manner that helps keep my body functioning in a manner I like.

And if you cannot accept that fuck you.

No really fuck you because I'm not going to sacrifice my well being emotionally or physically to suit a set of morals I don't even ascribe to.

This is why I cannot believe that anyone who preaches vegetarianism to me without hearing or dismissing my reasons for not being a vegetarian, is in it for my health.

I don't believe you care about my health if you don't you know demonstrate caring for my health.

So you know what Anon, I don't believe you. If you have as you said been reading my blog for "a pretty long time" you would know that I've mentioned this many times. And if you've been reading for a pretty long time and you did in fact care about me and my health, you would not have been such a dick.

I. Don't. Believe. You.

Homo Out.

PS in case you didn't catch it, I put some italics in there for things I say are bullshit.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Concern? Really..this is not it.

After reading some blog comments lately (I KNOW they depleted my sanity points too) I think some folks need some guidelines as to how to effectively express Actual Concern without being jerky about it because apparently people don't know how.

Now I'm referring here to posts by:
Tasha at Bitch.

A post by Monica at Feminste.

This post by Atheling aka wickedday at Feministe.
And this one by Zuzu.

Having read comments on almost all of them, I have seen a lot of people who if it were another issue would not be giving the but HEALTH! DEATH! OHSHITOBESITY! type commentary.

Now as Zuzu and others have pointed out another persons health, their choices about their health and their body is none of your fucking business unless they make it so.

Now that said there seems to be some gap in a lot of feminist thought when it comes to granting fat women the same agency they might give to a woman who wants to do something else with her body.

So being that people seem to have the wrong idea about what is decent behavior and what isn't I thought I'd make a handy little guide.
Firstly, unless you are pointing at everyone eating a cheeseburger, pointing at the fat person with a cheeseburger is not a good indicator that you are concerned about their actual health.

As has been discussed ad nauseum you cannot in fact gauge what someone's health status is by looking at them.

You just can't.

People say but if you're fat than clearly you must have health problems.

Some fat people do some don't. That does not change the fact that if you are singling out the fat person your motives are suspect.

Second thing.

Concern does not mean you get to tell anyone what to do.

That is the impression I got from a lot of the comments. The fact is you cannot tell me or anyone else what to eat. You cannot tell me or anyone else how to use and care for our bodies.

I believe that the crux of the ire I saw in a lot of the comments is this.

I would like for more people to just be honest about it.

If it comes to abolishing desserts as I saw one poster suggest that is just being plain bossy.

That falls under jerky territory.

It is a dick move to decide that you know best for everyone. No one likes that.

No one likes being told, hey you might enjoy bread but you can't have any because I think it would be best for you.

Now, I don't know about you folks but my first reaction to that kind of condescension is to say, oh really, okay fuck you.

Maybe people with this mind set are trying to come from a loving place. If you are trying to come from a loving place think about it this way; if it was your life your body how would you feel about some stranger telling you what's good for you in this manner? If it would upset you, don't fucking say it.

The fact is, most people don't need a baby sitter when it comes to food. Barring debilitating mental illness (oh we'll get to that in a minute), developmental disabilities, food allergies etc most people don't need you to watch what they eat.

It is ultimately a control issue rather than a health issue.

Fat people are presumed to be out of control binge eating machines and thus, other people feel that we must be controlled for our own good.

This is not so true.

If you want to discuss the supposed obesity crisis there are things to remember.

A lot of fat people go on about their lives without the world ending. Some exercise some don't. Some people are fat because they are sedentary, some because they are depressed, some because genetically speaking they have drawn the fat lotto card, some because they have metabolic illnesses, some because they just are.

The reason someone is fat is not important in the grand scheme of health and health care if one is going to be serious about it.

If you're going to be serious about health tone must separate physical size and health. The two are not the same thing.

There is far too much biodiversity in sizes and shapes of human bodies to try and put any single view of health onto them.

There are too many factors that intersect with how healthy one person is that trying to enforce this moralistic view of some penultimate state of health is a.)a losing battle and b.) ineffective.

If you want to be concerned about fat people and our health this is a situation where it would be helpful to shut up and listen.

Don't be against fat people.

Be against an industrial medical complex that allows fat people to be treated badly.

Be against an industrial medical complex where I am more likely to be told if I tell my doctor I am depressed (this comes from experience) that I should just lose twenty pounds.

Had I (thank Gods I didn't) been at a point where my depression became fatal, what then? Clearly the answer for me was not just losing 20 pounds and calling it a day. What I needed and was asking for was medication and I got, well I can write you a prescription for Phen/phen.

I am glad I didn't take that.

Moving along.

Being fat does not equal having a mental illness in and of itself. Fatness is not something you'll find in the DSM I am fairly certain. Thus, comparing fatness to eating disorders as being the same and needing the same 'treatment' from feminists, bloggers etc is just ill conceived.

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that often have devastating long lasting physical fall out.

Some fat people do in fact have eating disorders or show signs of disordered eating. This does not mean that all fat people are therefor mentally ill. Some fat people have mental illnesses that have nothing to do with food. And the inverse is true. Not every thin or really thin person has an eating disorder.

Mental illness is not something you can diagnose on the basis that you think what someone is doing with/to their body is weird. That is not how mental illness works.

Further, I find it appallingly cavalier (and honestly disrespectful) to try and jam fat into the same category as things that have nothing to do with being fat. It is disrespectful to fat people, disrespectful to people who have say whatever mental illness. It's disrespectful period. So don't indulge.

If you want to be concerned don't tell people what is or isn't wrong with their bodies. I see a lot of that and frankly it disgusts me.

It disgusts me that in some of these spaces I could probably say, I went to this clinic and was asked if I had been smoking crack but my White friends who go there have never been asked that.

Most people in these spaces would probably be apalled (yes that has happened to me too) and see that it was a racist thing going on.

Those same people seem to be unable to see when something similar, say me going to the doctor with a raging ear infection and instead of having that looked after, spending a lot of time being lectured about my weight and "lifestyle" which my doctor never bothered to ask about.

I wound up puking on the doctors shoes when my fever spiked and I finally got some antibiotics but it came right back around to my weight which had nothing to do with my issue, was at that point low for me and pretty stable, she did not ask how I was maintaining that weight but pressed me to lose more.

how is that okay?

I want every single one of these people who seem to think that concern means getting to tell fat people what's so easy and if you only tried hard enough etc to stop it.

Stop because I don't believe you.

If you are interested in deciding that the state of my body is indicative of mental illness, of being unable to make what you deem as good choices, as an absolute sign of other illnesses I don't want to hear it.

Many feminists seem to pride themselves on understanding various needs for social justice. Many will clamor and rally to defend so many other things but when it comes to weight and body size, hey guess what you're doing the work of the patriarchy you tend to fight against.

Not listening, dismissal, the condescending I know better than you etc are all parts of the patriarchy that put most feminists I know into an absolute rage and there I watched a lot of feminists indulge in that very same thing.

Yes that is what I saw and felt.

And that is not cool and yet another reason to add to my ever growing list of why I don't identify as a feminist.

So if you want to express concern have some empathy. Don't assume that your not fat life is the same as another person's fat life experience. Don't presume that because you don't have a hard time at the doctor that it's that way for everybody. Don't fall into the habit of trying to parent fat people by telling them what to eat and how to take care of their bodies.

The bottom line is this, like every other thing in the world that you haven't experienced, if you want to learn about that experiences shut the hell up.

Basically don't be a Dick be a Richard.

For more about what I feel is concern trolling and how not to do it read here, for some words about privilege and dealing with your own read here.

And if you're still here my best friend and I have launched a new tumblr together. SnarkandPie Beasty and Cookie snarking Fatshion. I am Beasty she is Cookie.

I have special announcements tomorrow and what will probably wind up being a tirade about the advice of an acquaintance to "just exercise".

Homo Out.
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Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Body politics coming of age. Part One.

I was thinking the other day and thought I'd like to talk about how I came to FA and how it correlates and interescts with things like my sexuality etc.

Consider this part One.

Long before I ever heard of Fat acceptance, long before I was a person on the internets I was a girl in my late teens forming a system of beliefs and morals.

I don't know how other people operate but these things were formed in my head as an extension of me figuring out my own sexuality.

When I was around 15-16 years old it very suddenly occurred to me that the morals and ideals I was forming in my own head did not really line up with the world around me. The world at that point meaning the immediate world.

Me being me I started to study. I found books about gender and queer history, I found books written by queer people. I found books about bodily autonomy and I remember reading (also please note all book links here are almost always Amazon Affiliate links, feel free not to use them) The Last Sex: Feminism and Outlaw Bodies (Culturetexts) and it quite literally changed my life.

I don't remember which piece it was but after reading this book three or four times in a row something clicked in my head.

I had arrived at the point where I realized that my body and what I did with my body was nobody's fucking business. Not my parents, not the high school I went to, not my friends no ones.

It was a huge huge thing to me.

I remember wanting to shout from the rooftops, I wanted to tell everyone I knew that their bodies did not belong to their parents but to themselves.

Learning this opened up doors for me. I did not talk about my sex life or sexual life in any detail with anyone except with who I was or wasn't sleeping with. I learned that I could in fact be unimpressed with the whole virginity thing.

I consumed more books and alternative lit. As my personal history goes, those books those people whom I never met (mostly) freed me.

I stopped exercising obsessively. There was a period when I was around 16 when I had a problem with exercise. I worked out to a degree that I would say constitutes purging. Thousands of sit ups, I did squats in my bedroom, I ran in place, I woke up 2-3 hours before school to do one of my Mom's exercise tapes.

It was awful and I was still chubby.

Granted, even though I gave that up at that point I did have further problems with over-exercising but this period was the time when I started to really become my own woman.

The seeds of my stances on fat, bodies etc were sown in those years.

Now when I really got started accepting my body it encompassed so many things. How I dressed, how I walked, how I allowed people to speak to me. It wasn't just self esteem it was absolute ownership of the woman I was growing up to be.

I feel really lucky that this process started for me at such a young age. Granted, it has been Fucked. Up. at times.

There have been times in the intervening years that I have hated my body so much I wanted to die. That I was ashamed to wear clothes I liked. That I allowed people to speak disrespectfully to me.

That happens to all of us.

I like to believe that the early exposure and foundation I built for myself is what saved me.

Unfortunately at that age I was really shy about talking about these things. Everyone I saw talking about sex and bodies this way were very academic and I had barely graduated high school after a few near misses with dropping out. I was afraid of looking stupid.

I was afraid about being maybe the only young Black Woman talking about these things.

These days as we all know I will go on and on.

Yes I did (and do) spend a lot of time educating myself as to the more academic areas of talking about these things but, I am finally comfortable with the fact that I don't have to sound like someone who has a degree in sexuality or women's studies.

I have learned to have faith in myself. To trust myself.

Now I want to do these posts because I think too many people in FA tend to forget that nobody gets there all at once and body politics is fucking daunting.

Because this is the internet and people who are coming to body politics don't have to come into it alone and don't have to rely on books like I did, I think it's really important to remember where we all started.

It's important to me not to coddle necessarily but to bear in mind that some people are going to not want to hear it yet. Who are going to say YAY fat, but I still need to do X in order to like myself. People go through that. And yes I do hope that people can go through that and get to a point where they don't feel that they have to do more before they can like themselves but I'm not going to be pissed if they don't.

I'm not certain what my point here is exactly but I felt the need to make this post so here it is.

That's all my darlings. I'm leaving work early tonight and am going to spend some quality time writing and eating something delicious.

Homo Out.
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A few thoughts about trolling.

To start I want to quote AAG from yesterday regarding a troll comment she recieved:

Today’s koan: How does one slut-shame a slut who feels no shame?

As an aside if you don't read her already you should. AAG is delicious.

The koan there completely wraps up how I feel about trying to shame people. As I've said in any of these entries.

This is the challenge of dealing with someone like me.

Yes, you can tell me all the evil things about fatness. You can wail on and on about OH SHIT FATTIE UR GUNNA DIE! You can bitch about how I look in everything, you can complain that my fatness is fucking up your hard on, you can tell me that nobody wants to fuck a fat person EVER etc etc blablabla and yet, it's not causing me to see the light and decide I must be thin.

Why?

Because I am a fat ass who is not ashamed of being a fat ass and therefor cannot be shamed about it.

It occurred to me yesterday as I thought on the koan there, how frustrating it must be to have such a burning desire to change another person that you wind up resorting to insults and it just doesn't work.

You must feel like a bug flying into a window over and over again.

I'm going to use AAG as an example here since it was her blog that put me on this thought train.

Let's say for arguments sake (and can I be clear this is not my actual belief got that) that I am horrified by AAG's love of fucking and exuberant writing about it. That I am appalled that she doesn't only write about sex but talks about a good bit of her life.

Now in my brain it makes far more sense even yes on the fucking internets where I can be whomever I feel like, to speak to people with some degree of kindness.

Clearly if you say something like (from her blog yes) the troll comment:

Speaking of new discoveries, just wait till your kids find your blog. Then they will discover what a slut their mom really is /snip

Like most people who troll, this comment had nothing to do with the context of what AAG had said in her original entry.

Speaking out of context is one of the clearest indicators that someone is not to be taken all that seriously. Even if you took the time to use correct spelling and try to make whatever point you have, speaking out of context in a very personal manner frankly makes you look stupid.

I've had this happen in my little corner of the sandbox here and it really baffles me.

I truly just don't understand what makes someone think that shitty comments (and I will trust that even trolls are smart enough to know when they are being shitty even if they are being earnest) will do something?

I wonder do these people stand in the super market and yell YOU WHORE at women in the frozen food section if they can see a hint of erect nipple?

If that is how you behave in general your life must be difficult and that makes me sad.

Whether it's in the Fatosphere, the Sex Blogger community or other places most of the time, trolls don't win.

Most serious trolling ends up in some fail.

Maybe instead of getting so worked up and thus trolling, try reading comprehension and perhaps a more compassionate approach.

Or shut the fuck up and go find your own corner of the Internet litterbox to pee in.

As far as this little corner of the Internet litterbox it's mine to pee in.

And if you're going to try and fat shame, sex shame or generally shame me about anything, to quote AAG again: Try Harder.

If what you read here or in other blogs upsets you that much, start your own blog. Or if you're going to comment use a name and be topical.

If you are trying to be cute or funny people are most likely (especially if it is a blog with happy readers) going to think you're an asshole and tell you you're an asshole. At that point, it does you no good to come back crying about how how mean all those people are because you intruded in a space and acted badly.

Yes, there is the glorious idea of Free Speech and as Dr. Laura learned recently yes you can say whatever the fuck you want to. But you can't be protected from the community deciding that they don't want to hear your shit.

Another pro-tip if you're going to show off your trolling skills don't do the shit privately. Most of the trollish things I get come via my form.

If you feel that strongly use a name, use a fake google account whatever and leave that shit public.

Tomorrow my homies, we need to talk about fitness and some of the assumptions about how easy it is to start a new fitness routine, stupid things health professionals have said to me and I have to share yet another rather embarrassing few exercise related tales. Well they would be embarrassing but I think they are just funny.

Now, do you have words for trolls? Advice on how to do it more effectively?

Any funny stories about trolls? Do tell.

Now if y'all will excuse me I have some stuff to do.

Homo Out.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A meditation on gender, fat and Boy.

I want to talk about some of the performative aspects of gender in my existence.

To further this cause let me tell you my homies a story that ends in me being super embarrassed.

Imagine if you will my darlings that yours truly is about 20 years old, and in the company of a fine little pack of baby drag queens and kings. We were all babies and I myself was just starting to solidify my ideas about gender not being so much about what's in the crotchal area but being far more involved than that.

As I've mentioned before as a wee tot I was certain that puberty would happen and I'd turn into a boy. So there is boy energy in my being.

I'd read (yes this is an amazon affiliate link) Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
by Kate Bornstein to death at that point and I had entered a time where I wanted to play with my gender presentation which would later intersect meaningfully and heavily in my sexuality later on. That's a whole other post though.

So there I was 20 years old and I met some kids my age who did drag. Boys and girls and I hung out with them and we staged a few little drag shows at one of the kids houses because he had the most fabulous Mom. Then it was my turn.

I fluffed up my courage and asked to be made into a boy.

I spent hours picking out my outfit. It was to be my favorite (and only) pair of well worn baggy black jeans, black boots, a black with dark blue metallic skull print bowling shirt and to top my corn rowed hair a black bowler. I had my wallet chain, I had my swagger I had the boy I wanted to be down.

Things started off well enough, my outfit was approved and then the transformation sort of started.

It was such a failure. I had imagined myself to be a slightly swishy husky little dude. Maybe with a dusting of five o clock shadow and a rakish smile.

Ladies Man Extraordinaire.

I looked like a big titty having, slightly butch girl with bad make up.

It wasn't the fault of my drag playmates. I really just do not look like a boy at all.

It was a disaster and I was broken hearted.

I had to take a step back and figure things out. I had a burning desire to play with my gender, to explore the spots on the spectrum I identified with and clearly drag was not going to cut it.

We all know by now that I identify as Femme Cisfemale.

That said, I do still have Boy in here somewhere.

Boy and Butch.

The two aren't the same in my head Boy is Boy and Butch is Butch and only occasionally shall the twain meet.

As I've gotten older and my body has changed, I've found it increasingly easy to incorporate both Boy and Butch into how I present myself to the world.

Today for instance I am feeling a little Butch. I am wearing my favorite Torrid Shortpants, my burgundy 20 ye dogs, a grandpa cardigan. I've got a little Butch swagger today and yes I'm wearing some seriously awesome make up.

This is for those who know (probably not so much for random people on the street) an aspect of me performing my ideas about gender in a fairly subtle fashion.

This works for me.

Sometimes I enjoy performing female not as subtly.

Which sometimes means molding my body with shape wear or coresetry because it's something about my fat body that I find infinitely wonderful. My Fat Body is mutable.

Far more mutable than when I was far thinner. It's a part of being in my particular fat body that I find entirely pleasing.

I can with a wardrobe change become an outlandish figure of Femme. All hips, huge tits and an exaggerated hourglass figure that is frankly cartoonish and I love it.

I LOVE IT.

By the same token I can wear things that change the shape of my body in other ways. I can wear differently shaped garments and my Fat Body follows right along with me and we're in a good spot.

This is really the first time in my life I've felt this level of mutability in my appearance and by association how I present my gender.

My theory about this (only as it applies to the Shannonverse people, your universes may differ) is that by now I've fought my body in so many ways and tried so hard to make my body conform to ideals that did not originate in my own head that I finally have room to wriggle.

I have space in this body to explore, I have flesh that moves in ways that my soul is moving and that my friends if pretty fucking awesome. It's finally not so fucking complicated and that too is awesome.

Really fucking awesome actually.

So I will leave you with this to chew on.

If gender is not a thing that is a must, or a has to, what can it be?

Exciting ain't it?

Also at the end here let me give a public shout out and proclamation of love to Auntie Kate. I love you Sweetkittentoes. I really do. And fair warning, if we ever meet I will probably just burst into tears and have no idea what to do with myself.

Just sayin.

Homo Out.
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Monday, September 06, 2010

A post of great import.

What is so important?

My friends, the issue is my ass.

But wait, before I get to talking about my ass there is new short n smutty fiction up by me over at amphibi.us go check it out.

There are certain things about my ass that have been historically unchanged. No matter what size I've been.

First thing is I do not have a badonkadonk. A fatass I may be but a fat booty I do not posses.

It is one of the parts of my body I have had to make a reluctant peace with. I have long envied the round butts of your average video girl. For a long time I felt as if I had denied some essential part of my experience in this body.

I recall as part of an insane work out plan I undertook in my early twenties I was going to reshape and rebuild my ass. I did a fuck load of squats, weighted squats and other exercises that were as the hype promised (and the very expensive personal trainer I hired) guaranteed to give me a hard round booty.

Like many other promises one hears in the gym, when you buy exercise equipment, when you buy a new pair of goddamn jeans- your ass will be "better".

The results of my serious diet and exercise routine was that my ass did indeed become a ball of hard muscle that was the same shape it was to begin with.

My ass was not co operating with the plan.

Was it muscly? Yes.

Was it fine? Yes it was.

But it was not what I had been promised nor what I was expecting.

See at that time I fully embraced the idea pushed by the diet and exercise industry that if I just tried hard enough I could have a whole new body that if I tried hard enough I could maintain and it would change my life.

My whole "new" body included a shitload of muscle that at some point when I was weighed I got a lengthy lecture about my weight gain and dieting tips. The doctor did not take care to take into account the large amount of muscle mass I was gaining.

Because of the way my particular body functions, no matter what I did I did not get ripped. I did not achieve the apotheosis of ass that I was promised would be the reward of hard and ultimately damaging work outs.

My ass remained the same shape. Brown, kinda jiggly, a modest curve to the butt cheek. There was still the one bit of a dimple in my right buttcheek, I still rarely filled out a pair of panties or jeans in a way that satisfied me.

My ass became my sworn enemy.

I decided in a fit of upset that if I couldn't have a big ole round booty of the type that I favor in other women, I would have a tiny tight booty.

I changed my workouts, I changed my diet and well nothing happened.

My ass stayed almost exactly the same except for a slight sag because I lost about fifteen pounds very quickly.

At some point during all this madness I had made friends with a lady body builder at my gym and I seriously envied her body. She was tall and fucking mighty with this round ass of steel that yes, on occasion I fondled.

She and I had lunch once and she told me something that no one to that date, especially not anyone super into fitness had ever told me.

She said and I remember this verbatim:

"Maybe you're just not made that way."

Wait..what?

Seriously?

As many of us have heard, any body is possible if gosh darn it you just work at it hard enough.

And yet, time and again in my life and probably your lives too the opposite has been proven.

After that I started trying to figure this out.

I had followed all of the expensive advice. I paid for the extra time with a trainer, I did what I was supposed to do religiously and yet...my results were not what I wanted, what I had trained for nor what I was told I could do.

Later when I'd scaled down my work outs and was gaining some weight, a trainer at that gym questioned my "commitment to fitness".

That was it for me.

That is when I broke up with pressure based gymes. That is when I broke up with the idea that if I just tried hard enough, I could reform my body.

I broke up with the idea that I had to reform my body.

My ass is not a fucking delinquent. My ass is not made to be big and round, nor is it made to be BAM ASS. It is what it is.

At 33 my ass is wider than it used to be by a bit. Oddly not much though I weigh a lot more now than I did then. In the last three years or so my booty has developed a little pleasant jiggle that I enjoy a lot.

Under the jiggle there is some strong muscle. All these years of my short legged, mid length stride walking have done a lil something something for my butt.

The curve of my buttcheeks fits smashingly into a good pair of panties.

My ass sometimes is in need of a good sound slap. Sometimes my ass is in need of a bite or a smooch.

And you know what?

I do still sometimes long for an epic booty.

But at the end of the day my ass is fine the way it is.

So I say to everyone who has had that moment of looking at or touching their own ass and decided that it is wrong.

Your ass is fine.

Tiny ass, fat ass, muscly ass, nondescript ass, ass of booty shake doom, no matter what state your ass is in, it's okay.

Be nice to it.

Okay I'm done talking about butts. Although if you haven't guessed by now I do actually really love butts. I do. Small, big, whatever. I think butts are awesome. I like smacking them. I like looking at them. I like appreciating them in all their varied ways of being.

So that's all.

I was going to post a picture of my clothed ass but I can't find one.

So now I say goodnight my darlings. Tomorrow my mostly done writing (as in not my personal blog writing) will be up and I'll post links.

Until then.

Homo Out.

And while I'm talking about fitness tomorrow I think I need to talk about exercise, trying to outfit myself in order to exercise and things. I also recommend that at some point tonight. in whatever way you're able take a booty shake break.
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Free advice part II...the feelings edition.

So here is part two darlings.


Today as Amber brought up in comments yesterday I want to talk about individual feelings, expressions of bad days etc.


Now my issue with FYCG was not that there were a lot of posters using twisted acceptance language that happens. On an individual level no matter how good your self esteem is or how long you've been on the acceptance road everyone has bad days.


Everyone has days that they think (yes me included) they are the grossest gross that has ever grossed.


Everyone has to start their path (fuck I hate using words like that in this context)somewhere. Sometimes the starting point for that is when you still feel like you're okay except for whatever flaw. My frustration came from there not seeming to be any stance on questioning the necessity of adding the conditional statements.


For me reading the constant I'm cool and awesome but, type conditional statements was just tiring. Also tiring was what I perceived as some epic train wrecks of communication. It's really difficult when one person is coming from an activist stance or an empowered stance and the other person is coming from a not there yet, or not aware of any activism place to have a conversation about things like saying, hey you don't have to add the conditional part.


Does that make sense?


I think a lot of people who were watching FYCG from an FA standpoint, were reacting not to people having self esteem issues or not being really at a solid point of self acceptance rather, they seemed to me to be reacting to FYCG not seeming to have any consistency in the overall message. I could be talking out of my ass but as I read a lot of the criticisms (a lot good lord) of FYCG that is the impression I got.


I think a lot of people came to FYCG not just expcting cute pictures of chubby girls but expecting something like what you might find in the Fatosphere.


I stopped following FYCG myself because that is not what it was and at some point it just wasn't to my taste.


All that said when it comes to the people who were contributing, in this context, I fully support people expressing those feelings because if you don't express these things, the only view of them you have is your own and those things when kept under wraps can fester and become monstrous.It can be awful.


From my view, it's extremely important to let people have those moments and not give them shit when they have them. My intention yesterday was not a call out to the people contributing. Rather my issue was the um, confusion of having what I thought was a space about acceptance and not having that expectation fulfilled in a manner I recognized.


I think that it's a valuable thing to be able to say, hey you don't have to say that about yourself or think that way in the context of listening to someone talk about themselves in a negative light. I do believe that for a lot of people that could start them on a patch to empowerment and learning to accept their own bodies and other peoples bodies.


I personally don't see someone saying, "hey you're fine with no 'but' or 'even though'" as being necessarily a call out.


On the other hand I can completely understand how someone saying that feels like a call out.


When your self esteem is fragile it can be really difficult to be challenged on any level. That's neither good nor bad it just is.


I'm not necessarily talking about BadDays. I'm more talking about a shift in self perception that can be facilitated by those hard questions or moments when you feel like maybe someone is picking on you or calling you out for having those feelings.


I believe that once you have a basic foundation of acceptance, BadDays become easier to deal with. And it's a long way to get to that point.


Once you have that basic foundation on days when you look at your ass and feel like it is the worst thing ever it can be easier to reel that in and say, okay my ass is way bigger than it used to be. That's how it is right now and I'm maybe not comfortable but it's ok.


I'm not suggesting here that anyone has to feel this way. Nor am I suggesting that anyone is somehow less than if they have more BadDays than good days.


This is how I started to learn to accept myself.


Not just the size of my ass.


I'm really talking about acceptance on a deeper more profound level. I'm talking about accepting things like I am a slow learner when it comes to math. I have trouble with math and I don't do it very quickly. I'm talking about learning to accept things that people may have taught you to be ashamed of.


I have learned (am learning) to accept things that if I were to take more of what society says to heart, would make me feel miserable and like a flawed failed person.


For me it's been far more difficult to accept that I have some issues that while yes, I'm sure if I spent a lot of tmie and money I could "fix" but I don't really need to. I'm fine the way I am.


When it comes to my body, I have bad days.


Sometimes when I'm trying to say buy pants or am looking for an outfit for an event or special occasion I do think about how it would be so much better/easier/cheaper if only I was a few sizes smaller again.


Yes I have those thoughts.

Prior to encountering any kind of body politics at all, it never ever occured to me that I could just be okay in my body. It really didn't. It never occured to me that I didn't have to work out for hours every day trying to mold my body into a "better" shape. It never occured to me that even though I have BadDays, those don't have to be every day. It never occurred to me that I didn't have to only accept myself on conditions or in spite of my "flaws".

It wasn't until someone said to me that they did not want to hear me talking that way, that it might not be necessary to talk that way or feel that way. That's where I got started. I was 18 years old.

I remember very clearly that my feelings were really hurt. Those first few times anyone contradicted every thing I had been taught (or had learned by osmosis of American culture)about self esteem, my sense of self, how I viewed and talked about myself. It was a painful start. My feelings got hurt, I cried, I flounced in meat space but I started thinking.

I started learning about the idea that yes, someday I could in fact have more good days than BadDays.

Acceptance is never easy. Acceptance is not quick and it damn sure isn't something that I would say everyone has to do.

I will say that I care about people. I care about their mental health, about the hard times, I want people to have a better road. I want people to have fewer BadDays and more ways to deal with those BadDays.

I want people like Amber to know that fuck we all have those days (I'm sure she knows but I'm using her as an example) and that it's okay. Shit happens. Shit happens then you wipe your shoe and keep truckin'. And some days it's really fucking hard to do that.

I want the girls who submitted to FYCG to know that those conditions arne't necessary and that like Amber and Me and every body else in the world, we can take steps so that we don't even think about those conditions much less feel a need to speak them.

I want, people to know that this shit is fucking hard. Whether you're already into an activist frame of mind and places like FYCG frustrate you or if you run a place like FYCG and people are criticisng it and it frustrates you. It's all fucking hard.

I also want people like Stef (check comments from yesterday I'm too tired to link) to understand that while yes some criticism is harsh and it hurts to hear, most people give impassioned criticism not to tear something down but because they want it to be better. That it can't be puppies and pom poms, that a negative reaction to something is not in and of itself good or bad it just is. I would say that a negative criticism of something doesn't have to become an issue. I think if people can learn to talk to each other about things and listen not just to the fact that someone doesn't like something but listen to why, we'd all be a lot happier.

Okay this is hugely long. I'm rambling now but I think y'all get my point here.

Now tomorrow, I am pretty sure I need to talk more about how I got on the Acceptance band wagon and how all these wants of mine have been formed over the years.

Homo Out.
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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Free advice for beginners in Body Acceptance.

Today my darlings I bring you and anyone who happens by a few bits of advice for those just starting out in Fat Acceptance or just accepting themselves.

I will be using Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls from Tumblr as part of an object lesson. Just so we're on the same page here this is not at all a personal level indictment of the person who was running that tumblr nor of any of the posters. This is as Webster defines it:

Definition of OBJECT LESSON
: something that serves as a practical example of a principle or abstract idea

Got it?

For our purposes today I want to broaden this from being about fat. It's not really about fat it's about bodies. If you are a 5'10" size 00, fat, thin, inbetween, able bodied, disabled, somewhere between and no matter where you fall on the gender spectrum I'm talking about everyone here.

The first thing I want to say is this. Acceptance is not about any of the following:

  • Who will or won't fuck you.
  • Who you will or won't fuck.
  • Promoting or advocating any particular lifestyle, diet (as in way of eating), level of ability, health status etc.
  • Rejecting all other ways of being in a body. As in "Real women have curves" type shit.
  • Acceptance "in spite of" insert phrases like-"no boobs" "fat ass" "flappy arms" "big feet" etc here
  • You approving of anyone.
  • Anyone approving of you.

This is acceptance. A statement of acceptance is in my mind negated if you add but.

For instance if you say, fuck yeah I'm awesome even though I'm fat and kind of limp and wear ugly shoes.

(Yes, I'm using some hyperbole because it can't be all srs business up in here.)

So the first part of that is fantastic. Adding conditions indicates that the speaker is not in fact accepting at all.

This is one of the things I saw the Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls tumblr called on a lot and rightfully so if that was being presented as a body positive/accepting place.

Personally when it comes to a body acceptance space, conditional acceptance does not fly with me. Let me give you an unrelated analogy.

Let's say you and I meet on the street and we talk and I am suddenly smitten and say to you,

"Holy SHIT I fucking love you even though your left toe is ugly and I don't like your bag."

Now if I said that to you I imagine you might feel like my love of you was not really what I said it was no?

I believe that part of learning to accept your body and the bodies of other people is to learn to knock off the conditions. It's hard work. It's hard especially when you are just starting out to look at yourself and say, yeah this is okay.

It's a serious feat to learn to reject this kind of teaching especially for women.

As I have pointed out time and again women are taught that while we can be confident we can't be too confident, we can't just say fuck yeah my ass is awesome without adding something that sounds more self deprecating.

We're taught that women who do say fuck yeah my ass is awesome are either lying, deluding themselves somehow, trying to get attention or are for some reason no one can ever fully realize an enemy and someone we must compete with.

It's important to teach ourselves (men women etc) that it's not unhealthy or weird to be content. It is not unhealthy or weird to look at our bodies in the state they are in and say, yeah okay.

There is a huge and lucrative business in teaching people to not accept themselves. Go into any bookstore and find hundreds of thousands of self help books. There is always some guru or some other person to tell you, okay you might like yourself but-

If you are going to begin to accept your body I believe you must begin with rejecting the notion that you must still have issues with your body.

The dichotomy of the culture of being obsessed with that one other (or fifteen other) thing that makes you not as awesome as you could be is that after you've paid your money, read the book and gone to the seminars there's someone else right there to tell you that it's time to do it all over again.

Fuck that.

Now when talking about Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls in particular I stopped reading because I personally am really fucking annoyed with conditional statements of acceptance. I don't blame anyone it's just not to my taste. I don't like empowerment language being twisted into "I'm awesome but.."

I believe that if you are going to run something like FYCG and you present it as a space about body acceptance it is important to ask your contributors to abide by that. And if you are going to present this thing you're doing as one thing, please remember that people pointing out the flaws in your presentation is not generally an attack on you individually.

I've said this time and again but if you care about something like body acceptance or Fat Acceptance, you are likely to make your voice heard when you think this thing you hold dear is being screwed with or misrepresented.

If you want to contribute to something like that, before you take it to heart when someone says statements like, "I'm awesome even though I have back fat" are problematic in an Fat acceptance or Body Positive environment it is not an indictment of you as a person.

It is the voice of someone who probably cares about that environment and wants to make it better.

To wrap up this teel deer, acceptance is not something made out out of exceptions, exclusions and reasons why you or someone else isn't actually awesome. It's just not. The quicker you teach yourself that the quicker you will figure out that is a huge leap beyond the average person and you're on your way.

I'm taking off my Mama hat. This (see this entry for this whole Mama thing) is important to me because not everyone is past 101 yet and because I want more people to come to acceptance. Again, this is not a diss on FYCG, not a diss on the people who contributed but an object lesson.

Homo Out.
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