Because I can.
This essay deals explicitly with eating disorders and body dysmorphia, so please consider your own triggers before reading.
I wasn’t going to write about this.
Maura Kelly’s fat-phobic Marie Claire article “Should ‘Fatties’ Get A Room?” (in which she asks, in earnest, whether or not it’s appropriate for fat people to be shown kissing on television) has been covered extensively. The mainstream media, entertainment and feminist blogs and the fatosphere have dissected every phase of this trainwreck, from Kelly’s half-hearted apology to Marie Claire’s pageview-boosting attempt to “do right” by having fat positive bloggers “counterpoint” Kelly’s claim that fat people don’t deserve to be seen on television (as though this is actually a topic that merits serious debate). The issue has been picked apart by people who are more knowledgeable than I am, who are angrier than I am, who are stronger than I am.
I wasn’t going to write about this, but here I go. Why?
Because I’ve just spent a bitchy, restless Halloween weekend hiding out and pinching my fat until it bruised (an old habit… something I haven’t done for ten years, or maybe longer.) It’s subtle self-abuse, a deeply-rooted and hard-broken habit I didn’t even realize I’d returned to until tiny black spots began appearing like rot in the same spots I pinched when I was eating disordered… my knees, my thighs, my upper arms, below my chin.
“When I was eating disordered”. I still speak past-tense, as though this disease isn’t something I wrestle with every day. Some of us speak this way, people who’ve fought hard to overcome scary, destructive habits or horrible experiences. “Back when”.
Even though I’ve ostensibly been “better” for more than a decade, Kelly’s rant is weighing heavily on heavy me, and I have to own up to the fact that my initial resistance to addressing this had less to do with my feeling that it had already “been done” adequately, and more to do with the fact that I took the blog post prettty fucking personally.
Because I know Maura Kelly, and because I’m one of the “fatties” she’s talking about.
*** Read more…
This essay deals explicitly with eating disorders and body dysmorphia, so please consider your own experiences and triggers before reading.
I don’t mean to be in the way. I really don’t.
When you take your seat on the subway, or in an airplane, I don’t want to crowd you. I don’t want to press my body against yours, to force contact, to ooze into your space.
I don’t want to feel the hot insistent pressure of your thigh against mine, or the jostle of your shoulder as you fumble with your newspaper, your iPod, your purse. I don’t want to feel your elbow dig into my belly as you jockey for space.
I don’t want to be in your way. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I don’t want to TAKE UP SPACE.
Do you know how terrified fat people are of taking up space? Of moving, slow and huge, like glaciers, through a crowd of nimble forest animals? Of bumping someone with our “monstrous” asses? Of being wedged, uncomfortably, into too-small movie theatre seats and after that, having to clamp our thighs together and cross our arms over our chests for two hours to avoid encroaching upon our neighbor’s space?
I guess I can’t really can’t speak for all fat people. But I can speak for me. I am terrified of taking up space.
That’s why I don’t sit on the subway when there’s one seat (three quarters of a seat!) wedged between two normal or even small-sized people. That’s why I stop and let you pass, the two of you chatting arm in arm, hogging the sidewalk at twice my width and then glancing pityingly sideways when you see I’ve waited for you to go by. That’s why I request a window seat on the airplane… so that I can lean away from you, so that I won’t offend you with my bulk (or be noticed by a cranky flight attendant who’s just dying to power-trip and happens to hate fat people.)
And I’m sorry. I am sorry that I take up extra space.
But. Read more…
8pm. Raging headache. I am glaring at the clock with one hand pressed over my eye, dreading my 10, 11 and 12 shows.
“Do you have to go?” asks J., glancing up from his computer. I nod. It’s way too late to cancel, and I know that once I get there, I won’t have time to worry about my head anyway.
I fret over what acts to pack. The Slipper Room crowd is notoriously distracted, but I still want to give them a good show. My headachey displeasure oozes over my perception of everything, and tonight, none of my acts seem any good at all. After I’ve worked myself halfway to tears rejecting everything in my repertoire, J. calls helpfully from the living room “Take the bug! Everyone loves the bug!”.
He’s right. The lightning bug act is consistently a crowd favorite. I’ve been waffling on because the costume is heavy and awkward to carry. But It’s one of my favorite acts to perform, and I decide to bring it, hoping it’ll lift my mood. Factoring in the blazing head pain and the fact that I only have one set of arms, my Caravan number is the obvious choice for my second act. One big, sparkly number with a pain-in-the-ass costume and one pretty, classic number with a sheer, sexy costume I could carry in a lunch box. Read more…
So. These blog entries are a lot of fun to post when I get to be the sassy, indignant, righteous fat lady spreading the gospel of body love.
But sometimes… I’m not that lady.
Sometimes I’m just me, and sometimes me is too tired to engage people on body issues. Sometimes I’m having a bad body day and feeling sheepish and weak. Sometimes, I buy other people’s body lies. I let their doubts and criticisms permeate my hard, glittering, jerk-repellant “I’m Glamorous” shell, and in those moments, I see me the way they see me. It’s almost never good.
But you know what? I’m not perfect. No one is. And if there’s one reason I write these entries, it’s that I believe that women HAVE to take back our relationships with our bodies. We have to create space to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly… the ambivalent body days and the stone-sure confident ones. The creepy-crawly under the rock moments and the triumphant victories.
This isn’t a victory story, but I’m going to tell it anyway, because the low moments are every bit as important and valid and real as the high.
So we begin… Read more…
In the wake of the unveiling of Whole Foods’ new employee health incentivization program, I’d like to extend a hearty “thank you and fuck you” to John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods.
Thank you for taking an active interest in your employees’ health. You don’t have to do that, and the fact that you do rocks.
Fuck you for doing it in an unnecessarily complicated, invasive, judgmental way.
Thank you for encouraging your overweight or health-endangered workers to make conscious decisions about their habits.
Fuck you for attempting to shame them into making those changes by separating them from the “ideal” workers and punishing them for not already being healthy. Read more…
You move to New York, for any one of a million reasons.
You move because of that feeling in your gut that you just have to. You move to New York because you saw Fame when you were five.
Or you move to New York so you don’t end up married to your high school boyfriend, who is the kindest person you have ever known, and who bores you to tears.
You move to New York so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life watching him be a great husband, a great father, a great everything you never wanted and couldn’t tell anyone, anyone, or anyone.
You move to New York because your father or your brother or your childhood best friend has sneered faggot curled-lipped at you for the last time.
Or you move to New York because it worked out okay for a friend. Because you got a job there. Because it’s the only place you can do the thing you most love to do.
You move to New York because your spine can’t shake the drag of that class ring across your cheek, because you can get a good job and wear the right clothes and buy a cool car, but to them, you’ll still be weird or ugly or fat or loose.
You move to New York because it feels like the fucking apocalypse is coming, and, even in this nerfed-out post-Giuliani playground for tit-sucking rich kids, you know you’re better off here than anywhere else, because beneath the organic food stores and RayBans there is still a coat of dirt slicking everything and i mean everything. Because beneath the air-controlled condominium surface, at its crust, this city still has a heartbeat, and it isn’t afraid of the apocalypse because, hell, it’s BEEN the apocalypse. We’re even on good terms with the roaches. Read more…
My performance in last week’s Revealed was reviewed in Cultural Capitol this week. When I saw the review, I thought “Awesome, I’d love to see what they thought of my bitter Macy’s employee act.” But then I read it and realized that the review didn’t have anything to do with my performance.
I don’t consider this a negative review. It’s obviously meant to be complimentary. But I see this pattern over and over… people use my performance as a springboard for talking about size issues, and never get back around to talking or thinking about what I actually DO.
On the one hand, I’m glad that the reviewer points out that our cultural attitudes toward fat are really damaged. On the other hand, I’m disappointed that the review, ostensibly of my performance and the show, devolves into a discussion about whether people will secretly admit to wanting to fuck me. Read more…
Today, I love the curve of my hip.
The way his wrist felt heavy on my hipbone while we watched noir movies last night felt good, too. My big, soft body on the big soft bed – I felt solid, present, here.
I do not feel bad about my body today.
Last week, I stood up in front of twelve women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Women who’d shown up at a beginning burlesque class, who blinked nervously and asked “Do I wear high heels or sneakers?”. Women who smiled tentatively when I introduced myself as the instructor, and then more openly when I took off my coat to reveal my form-fitting dance clothes… maybe because I have hips, or because I remind them of their best friend, or because the fact that I’m standing there looking pretty damn sexy gives them permission to imagine that, even though they’re not stick-thin glamour girls, they might be sexy as well.
I stood in front of twelve women, and I taught them something about the art form that I love. (Someone in class is always surprised to learn that bump and grind isn’t just an R. Kelly song.) I gave them feather boas and demanded that they jiggle their butts. We laughed a lot.
And I told them some things I wish someone had told me.
|theme: tomorrow by pacquola.org|