Friday, November 25, 2011

Identifiers..musings and things.

Okay so I'm still percolating on a special question about androgyny so I didn't forget about you baby I am thinking.

So today I want to talk about femme.

Being femme.

First I'm going to need you to go watch this video with hot darlings Jessica and Majestic (LOOK AT MAJESTIC'S POMPADOUR...hotness).

If you can't watch the video just now someone asked Jessica and Majestic some questions about femme. My favorite of which is what is the difference between femme and feminine.

This is a question I've been asked before and have pondered.

Here is how I feel.

Femme is an identifier for me. It is part of my actual identity as a human being. It is feeling, it is style, it is one of those things that is intrinsically as deeply personal as anything else I say about myself.

Feminine on the other hand to me is a simple descriptor that on many levels in my universe just doesn't work for anything. Aside from use as an adjective which can also be problematic. As far as how I self identify and present myself to the world, the whole binary this is what men do and this is what women do way of thinking just does not work for me.

In my life and existence I don't feel the need or even really the pull to seriously attribute character traits, morals and general how to look/act edicts in the framework of feminine and masculine.

Back to Femme.

I've talked about before that I often identify (with a smile on my face) as a Sparkle Femme.

I say it with my tongue in my cheek and a smile on my face not because I don't take my identity seriously but because there is joy in expressing my personal flavor of being femme.

My joy comes from knowing that regardless of how I am presenting myself to the world, if I am wearing something easily identifiable as butch, if I'm trying for a slightly more dude look etc, the heart of my identity will not change.

Here's the thing.

Femme, Butch whatever other permutation of that one decides to make part of their identity is not for other people.

It is not for society. It's not for the other Queers. It's not for your lovers or friends. It's not for anyone but you.

No matter how you choose to identify and present yourself, it is not for the approval of or even the delectation of the rest of the world.

It's for you.

However you choose to ID, is yours. It only belongs to you up and until you decide that you want to share it with another person.

I also want to say that you don't have to give yourself a fancy identifier.

If you want to be a person who sometimes wears dresses and make up and has whatever kind of junk in your pants, without taking a name that's fine. That belongs to you and you alone as well.

If you want to be the above person and call yourself a Sparkling Butch with Femme Swag.

GO on ahead.

Now none of this is easy. A lot of the time we are confronted by other people because they are uncomfortable with us identifying as (insert X identifier here). THey want to argue with us. They want to tell us that we -can't- be X thing if we wear heels or mascara.

We are told we can't be femme and wear a cock.

We can't ID as whatever because our bodies aren't X thing.

Frankly my darlings that is all pure unfiltered bullshit.

What makes other people uncomfortable often is any show of backbone and fortitude.

Yes, people pay a lot of lip service to bravery and individuality but they tend not to back that up.

What they mean to say is that it's brave to be a little different than me but if it's too different it's awful/stupid/bullshit/etc.

What they mean to say is how dare you do what I don't have the fortitude to do.

For most people, yes even people who seem "radical" or open minded, when people go outside of others comfort zone it's scary.

When we approach identity from either the point where we are trying to figure it out or the point where we are flying our flags high we need to remember how much our own individual identities don't need to inform or conform to the identities of others.

To be more brief about it, you do you I will do me and we'll all be just fine.

Also for those of us who have our identities firmly fixed in our hearts, we need to remember that we too once upon a time probably weren't comfortable. We need to remember it's important to show support and solidarity even with the people who identify in ways that make us uncomfortable.

When we step on how other people identify, we're stepping on our selves and that is no good for anybody.

Now my darlings, I will return soon with many awesome things including the launch of my yarn store, an entry answering one of our homies questions about androgyny AND other fat ass adventures.

Homo Out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ugly Girl redux.

I know I know my darlings.

I'm doing nanowrimo again and it has been thieving my attention.

So after my previous entry I got a what I can only describe as extremely butthurt note about how not ugly I am.

Clearly this person missed the point.

Let me break it down to you.

Let's put fat aside for just a moment.

Western beauty is not inclusive of people who look like me on even a basic level. In the world of Western Beauty often the most I can hope for is "exotic" or my least favorite "interesting".

Now when it comes to base physical features yes I am privileged in that I have features that can be construed as "pretty". I have large eyes, round lips. I have large breasts. Those things not withstanding the rest of me does not support the Western Ideal of pretty.

Now that we've settled that I want to talk about the ways I just don't engage with a single beauty standard.

Up until my mid-20's I fully believed that I had to make myself fit the mold of Western Beauty like the Black women held up as beautiful.

I spent years of my life trying to starve, over exercise, diet and battle my body into a shape that is seen as acceptable in America. I remember being 18 and doing literally thousands of crunches of various kinds because everything in the world told me I -could- achieve a "feminine" flat stomach, because according to every magazine everywhere that is how a woman shit a child needed to be.

I say child because even the tween mags and articles all told me how wrong my body was and just how much boys and others wouldn't ever find me attractive. THere was always that shaming language, the subtle and not so subtle hints that I was just being lazy if I couldn't do it.

Let me tells you internets, I did the Janet Jackson Anytime Anyplace ab workout as I'd seen it in some interview with her. I did it religiously from about when that album dropped and she was doing a lot of publicity and looking sexy until I was about 22 years old and hurt my back.

My abs were strong. But my stomach was not flat.

It didn't matter how I dieted, what I didn't eat, how many meals I skipped nor how much exercise I did my stomach has never ever been flat.

Similarly at my thinnest (about 110 pounds) my thighs touched. I had "love handles", I had the fold of flesh where my natural waist is. My stomach jiggled.

I spent a long time feeling like the biggest failure who ever failed because I just could not do it right. I could not force my body to be good or great or even acceptable.

And then, I started really thinking hard about it.

When it comes to women I have always had a preference for fat girls. Around 19-20 I found some books that questioned this fantasy "ideal" body idea. I found books that questioned the inherent ableism, racism and sizism in this view of beauty.

I started teaching myself to view myself through the same lens I looked at other people.

Even when I have been the most self critical and full of the most self loathing, the things I hated in my own body were always things I loved on other bodies. Jiggly bellies, stretch marks and other things considered "ugly" or unacceptable within the framework of Western Beauty.

I remember looking at myself and starting to understand as I've said before that I did not have to aspire to the Western Beauty Ideal.

I realized that I didn't have to try and contour my nose with make up to make it look less recognizably Black, that I didn't have to try and lighten my skin or that I didn't have to straighten my hair or wear extensions to make my hair more European looking.

Once I really started to understand all of things I did not have to give a fuck about, I started to understand that I could still wear my hair straight or wear make up because I liked it.

When I finally started to disconnect my own self image from Western Beauty ideals, I'm talking I had to pull the plug. Granted I went through a phase where I viewed any beautification of the self as stupid and a betrayal to my blossoming ideals-I got through that clearly-, I really started to learn to love myself.

I learned to love my ugly.

I learned that I am in control of my engagement with ideas about femininity, gender presentation, beauty and the Western Beauty Ideals.

If you take nothing else away from this take this. The way to self love is paved with huge steaming piles of shit, potholes, booby traps and bullshit. There is no yellow brick road. There is no skipping your way to loving yourself.

Sometimes you have to fall into the hole of badness, the self loathing and self recriminations before you can get to the self loving.

Sometimes you have to just get fed up. You have to give up. You have to fight for your own survival and for your own sanity.

Sometimes you just have to look at something and say fuck you, fuck that and fuck everything else.

Sometimes you have to go through days when you hate every fashion magazine with a burning passion.

The road to owning your own ugliness is not easy. It hurts. It will make you cry. It might make you think that no one will ever love you ever (yes, I am speaking from deep experience) and you may want to just give up and say well fuck it I'm ugly.

I don't think you have to do that.

I am giving you permission if you need it. Some folks do need to hear someone tell them hey it's okay.

Don't want to wear make up? That's okay. Don't want to whiten your teeth, shave your legs, aspire to White Lady beauty? That's fine.

Accept that you don't.

In acceptance I have found the freedom to present myself any way I please. I found the courage to wear things that people think I shouldn't. To make myself feel good and pretty and fine when every thing in society tells me that I don't deserve it for one reason or another.

And I'm happier for it.

I'm not saying that I always feel like the finest piece of ass on Earth. Sometimes I feel like the grossest gross person who ever grossed out an entire nation. That happens. It's okay. That's normal.

The key here is learning to ride out the rough times and rock the shit out of the good ones.

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Being the ugly girl.

For a lot of my life I have not experienced being beautiful as beauty is defined in America.

As a Black child I did not experience being beautiful or precious in my community. I was all those things that (especially back then) were not seen as beautiful sweet or innocent.

I was dark. My skin was quite a bit darker as a child. I have clearly Afrocentric looking features. Especially at that age. I had long hair for many years yes but it was black and kinky.

I grew up in a very White community. Outside of the context of my immediate family no one ever told me I was pretty or beautiful or cute (outside of being a very very small child).

As I got older my concept of being beautiful had nothing to do with anything I was shaping up to be.

I was still dark, I was short, I was chubby. I did not have a flat stomach, there was no space between my thighs, I did not have a small cute nose, I had a gap between my front teeth, there was no one who looked even remotely like me who was thought of as beautiful.

Even the Black women (few and far between) on television who were portrayed as being beautiful were everything I still wasn't.

As I got older, high school age my lack of beauty became something that consumed me. I knew I was ugly. I just knew it. My skin was oily, my body was shaped differently than the girls I knew. I was the ugly girl.

I remember reading one of the teen beauty mags and trying out their advice to beautify myself. I did sit ups at home in bed trying for that flat stomach, I spent hours burning the fuck out of my hair trying to get it to be shiny and sleek. I snuck and bought bleaching creams to try and lighten my face up and burned my skin.

At that age I fully believed that beauty was not at all subjective. I believed that the images in the media, that the opinions of my peers were what decided who and what was beautiful and at some point I realized I would never ever fit that.

When I was around 17-18 I said fuck it. I stopped trying to be the pretty girl. I stopped trying to feel pretty. I realized that when I went to the mall with my friend I would be ignored or some dude would at some point walk up to me and start grilling me about her.

I fully accepted that I would be a really good friend to people I was romantically or sexually interested in. I would be tolerated so someone could hang out with my beautiful (white) lady friends. I would sit in a room making awkward small talk while my friend was off making out with the hot guy and I was the weight his wingman was stuck with.

I made the decision, and I remember it very clearly, to embrace the role I perceived myself to have. I talked to the wing men, I held hands with my lady friends when they didn't want boys bothering us, I tagged along, I observed the lusty looks my friends got.

I took charge of being the ugly girl.

When I let go of trying so hard what happened was I started to develop my own aesthetics. I stopped giving a fuck. If I was going to be the fat ugly girl, I was going to work that shit out.

At that age it was just dawning on me that I did not have to be the kind of beautiful I saw everywhere in my life. I started to understand that it's not necessary and no one gets to make the rules as to my feelings about beauty.

Chew on that for a second.

It applies to you too.

I finally understood that I did not -have- to ascribe to the White beauty ideals I had grown up with. I understood that I didn't -have- to do fuck all. I did not have to engage with that.

After that a lot of things stopped bothering me on a superficial level.

Every time I heard that I was pretty for a Black girl, or when someone told me they usually weren't into dark girls or fat girls, I gave myself permission to tell those people to take their bullshit somewhere else.

In the world of Western Beauty standards I am still the ugly girl.

I have fucked up teeth. My skin is discolored in many places and bumpy. My hair is often kind of disheveled. I am fat. I am Black. I don't make an effort to make myself look like what our culture says is beautiful.

A lot of people think I am ugly and weird looking. People in meat space, people on the internet and probably people in other dimensions.

At the end of the day I really give no fucks about that.

Other peoples opinions of my beauty and how I engage with my beauty and my ugliness is none of my concern.

I am ugly.

I am ugly and it's just fine.

Homo Out.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

But the food science...

Okay to continue from yesterday today I'm going to talk about the trap of relying solely on food science as a supposed basis to form opinions about fat people or any people at all.

So for our purposes today let's agree that yes there is a lot of good food science. Science tells us many many things, yes I am pretty sure a large percentage of us know basic nutrition facts.

That said, food science and especially conversations about food science are not intersectional.

When I have had these conversations it boils down to well food science says eating satyr poop is better for you so why aren't you eating satyr poop and be healthy like I am.

The biggest problem is that the people who harp on food science rarely if ever come from a place that demonstrates the basics of intersectionality, privilege and the bugaboo of of bossy ass people everywhere, personal choice.

The idea that since food science says X it is absolutely positively right and everyone who doesn't follow, doesn't agree, doesn't eat in X way is somehow ignorant and must be educated or condescended to.

These people rarely ever talk about the realities of access to the fancy food that is supposedly so damn good for everyone. They say why would you EVER eat fast food when for the same price you can get all this organic lettuce?

Fuck that.

The fact is that eating lettuce all day will do fuck all for me.

Fuck. All.

My body the way it works and functions in a good way I need some sugar, protein and fats.

I don't give a tin red hot shit what food science says. I know how my body works.

If I need energy and I have two dollars in my pocket I would rather get a little bullshit burger than buy say ONE piece of organic anything.

In the neighborhood I work in if I go to the grocery store before work I often am on the receiving end of shitty comments or serious side eye when I buy basically any food.

For instance a few weeks ago I had a major craving for some shitty safeway fake Chinese food. I got my rice bowl, a fruit cup and a sparkly water. A satisfying amount of food to snack on all day.

Seattle being Seattle instead of speaking directly to me the woman behind me looked at the side of my face and addressed her lady friend extolling the evils of processed foods, the calories, the salt and how some people will just destroy their bodies.

I looked at her and noticed that she wasn't addressing her comments to her thin friend who was holding a soda and a candy bar.

I stared at her until she got uncomfortable and got in another line.

There is the problem with the people who rely on food movements, food science, nutritional science or the evil food of the year to base their judgements of people on.

First of all no it's really none of your goddamn business what I eat when you are not paying for my food, when you are not living in my body or any time whatever.

Secondly, again someone having a visibly different body yes even if they are super super super really fat doesn't tell you everything about what they do or don't eat.

Thirdly, it is not your place to voice your judgements to people.

The thing is you can think whatever you want to. Do you think my fat ass is gross? Great. Hate how my big fat thighs look in skinny jeans? Awesome.

What is neither great nor awesome is the idea that you have the right to take up my time with your opinions about my body.

You don't.

And if you do, don't expect me to break down in tears like we're on Oprah and declare you Captain Save a Fatty and tell you how much your shitty comments designed to make me feel bad have changed my life.

No fuck you.

Don't think my body is attractive? Fine. Do I need to know that from every random person? No I don't.

Our brains don't have loud speakers for a reason. And I'm not talking about being PC, I'm not talking about even being polite I'm saying I don't give a fuck if you think I'm gross or attractive. I give less of a fuck if I don't know you.

Furthermore, when you engage in this kind of behavior with me here's what I immediately think.

You are really insecure and must make sure to voice that via telling me how gross you think I am. You have no sense of autonomy. You have control issues because let's be honest here, if you really believe that you are the one true knower of all things body related deep down you just want to boss people around.

If you spout obesity epidemic talking points at me, I will think that in some things you are easily led and have no understanding of bias. If you come at me with ZOMFG FATASS YOUS GONNA DIE..I may want to remind you that ZOMFG SKINNY ASS YOUS GONNA DIE TOO.

IF you want to lecture me about all of the awful fat things, I may want to lecture you right back about the long term dangers of yo yo dieting, about how for me and my body it is far more damaging to eat in radically restrictive ways. I may want to lecture you that foisting disordered behavior on me even if you know me is not an appropriate thing to do.

If you do actually care about food and the well being of your fellow humans how about you read up on things like accessibility to food?

Read up beyond OH SHIT POOR PEOPLE ARE FAT and investigate the prevalence of the foods you think are evil versus the availability of fresh and foods you deem good in poor and urban areas.

Use your noodle and instead of bitching at random people on the street bitch at the FDA and the mega corporations who put a whole lot of bad shit into our food.

If you think fast food is evil don't eat it.

If you think soda is evil don't drink it.

Don't proselytize your diet (as in what and how you eat not weightloss) to other people. If they ask go at it but offering your "advice" when it's neither asked for nor wanted is fucking rude.

Learn to accept that a.) we're all going to die and b.) there is no one true way to live. Learn to accept that you are not going to find everyone in the world attractive and that is okay. Understand that no one has an obligation moral or otherwise to conform to your personal beliefs about your body, food, health etc.

Learn to accept that some people fat or thin eat food you find disgusting. It is going to keep happening because you are not the boss of every palate and person.

Learn the real ramifications of the American health care system beyond damn you fat asses type rhetoric.

If you look at fat people and start having many feelings that may or may not include disgust deal with that shit. If you are troubled when you see a jiggly ass chances are it's not because you "care" so much, it's probably more deeply rooted in your feelings about your own ass, so handle that shit.

If you can't do any of these things do this.

Don't contribute to making life for fat people suck. Being fat in this world is fucking hard. Whether it's trying to buy a pair of pants, trying to get a health problem dealt with, trying to not lose your shit on people when they say rude things to you all of those things.

If you are so evolved and care so much stop participating in worsening the quality of life for people who's ass isn't exactly like yours or your idea of what an ass should be.

It is really not that hard.

Okay I'm done with this for the day.

Tomorrow (inspired by a convo with someone on tumblr I want to talk about reconciling internets FA with your actual life and how hard it is sometimes.

Homo Out.

Where are my fatties doing Nanowrimo? How about a post about that next week?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

You want to what?

Recently I was listening to a podcast that I normally really enjoy.

And then the host dropped one of those statements about fat people that sends me into instant fat rage.

He essentially expressed his discomfort when he sees fat people and followed it up at some point by saying that when he saw "really fat" people eating "bad" food he wants to slap the food out of their hands. Of course he followed it up by claiming that it's only because he cares and it pains him to see people destroy themselves.

I had to turn it off.

I was going to write the host but it turned into an I take that shit personally type rant and I'm not in the mood.

Instead let me say this.

Because I am a Black person who is also fat I have heard this kind of pseudo-caring thing a lot.

Strangers have told me not to eat X thing, not to buy that pack of sliced turkey, not to drink that soda, not to eat those fries or whatever. Of course they know that I am fat and clearly Black and because I may choose to eat some fries or chips, I must be ignorant of food science and nutrition so they must educate me.

Here is the fact.

If you look at me without ever having spoken to me, you are not my parent, you are not a loved one, you are not my doctor and you are not walking around in my skin and you decide that it's suddenly your job to tell me how to live my life in my body, fuck you.

The idea that anyone has the obligation to anyone else to eat a certain way is so rooted in a paternalistic privileged viewpoint it makes me want to spit.

People who talk about wanting to take the Mcdonald's away from the awful ignorant fatties never -ever- talk about taking that same shitty food out of the hands of thin people.


Because if you see a visibly thin person, it is assumed that person works out regularly eats like an angel and poops unicorns. They are "good" in this persons(this person being the person making this judgement) eyes because they appear to be what the supposed image of health is.

This person does not question the thin persons eating habits. This person does not decide that the thin person is a "bad" person.

this person sees a body that is not like their own nor does it fit their mental image of "health" and suddenly this aberrant person becomes less than. This aberrant person becomes an object to be pitied not out of concern for their well being, nor out of the worry about insurance costs, but out of bias and often at the root of it hate.

This is not okay.

Let's talk about insurance costs for a moment.

The rallying cry of health moralists in the last few years has revolved around "YOU FAT PEOPLE STOP FATTING YOU COST ME MONEY".

Fatness and obesity alone are not responsible for soaring medical costs.

I rarely hear people who trot out this view talk about how the medical industry is just that, an industry. How a perfectly healthy person with no insurance could go to the ER get treated with an aspirin and a compress and the price of insurance is dinged.

IN the long run if you were really ever so concerned about the health of anyone, you would encourage them to get regular medical treatment. What often winds up killing obese people or causing them to become a cost issue is that they are often shamed out of seeking medical attention for anything by medical professionals, news fright stories about all the ways obese people are ever so awful, by family, by friends. By strangers who can't keep their opinions about other peoples bodies to themselves.

Ask yourself this. If you believe that by dint of being obese, I will destroy your personal medical costs why is that? How do you really know if I have any medical problems at all? How do you know that I don't work or pay for insurance too?

Also ask yourself, what happens when someone doesn't go to the doctor for decades? Or gets mistreated by doctors for decades?

What happens when a woman is so shamed by her doctor about her weight she is not given a mammogram? What happens when ten or fifteen years go by and she finds a lump but it's too late because she could not get quality treatment early enough? Does her having waited or not been diagnosed make her a bad person or is a large part of the blame for the cost and situation on the doctors who wouldn't treat her for what she needed or said she was too fat to get a mammogram or made her feel so awful about herself that she couldn't bear going back?

The thing about healthcare is that in America we get distracted by news bits and scare tactics.

We are distracted from the fact that healthcare in America is shameful. We let the message that if you are not "good" you are undeserving of getting quality care. We let the industry tell us forty seven different things and are expected to obey without question.

If I as a fat person am in good health for me (we'll get to the awful binarism of "health" morality in a minute) why should I absolutely have to lose weight?

Because some people don't find it attractive?

Or is it so that I will buy diet pills and get dangerous weight loss surgery?

Or is it so I can fit some arbitrary image of health?

Now health binarism. In America we have the misguided belief that is supported at every turn that either one is absolutely healthy or absolutely not.

We drink the Koolaid that makes us believe and support the idea that there are peaks and paragons of fitness and health that we must all aspire to be like.

What we are not taught to see is that it's an impossibility.

It would only be possible for me to be healthy in the same way someone else is healthy if we were the same person.

Human biology at the very bottom of it is all the same. We all have organs, we all have joints we all have blood.

What gets in the way of the binary view of health is that no two bodies are healthy or ill in the same way.

If you don't believe me tell me how is it possible that two people of the same approximate height weight age and habits, one may be prone to colds or kidney infections and the other isn't?

The thing is if you genuinely care for someone's health you wouldn't focus on the one thing you can see which is their weight. If you genuinely have concern for the health for other people, be concerned about their overall health which includes their mental health. And it is bad for the mental health of people to be the focus of judgement when it's absolutely not warranted or frankly any of your business.

If you want to bemoan your rising insurance costs make sure you talk about the millions of uninsured people who get sick sometimes, the exorbitant cost of ongoing medical care, people who get cancer and lose their insurance, babies born to parents who are under or not insured, the hospitals who will charge you 400$ for a Tyelenol, the people who have chronic illnesses and are uninsured who have to go to the ER for treatment they should be able to get from a regular doctor.

Or keep your blame with your genitals in your pants.

Okay I'll continue this later. Tomorrow or Friday I'm going to talk about the vast problems with reliance on food science for all your opinions about fat people.

Homo Out.

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