Until I began dating my husband Jon, I was certain I was going to I was going to die an old maid. I had piss poor very brief relationships either with idiots or assholes.
I meet Jon in college. We were both members of the English Club. Jon was a computer/sci-fi geek and I wrote poetry about death. (Seriously, I was known as Miss Death and people would yell out death, death when I got on the stage at monthly poetry readings.) In the beginning Jon and I were friends. I was painfully shy and certain that no man would want a relationship with a fat girl. (There were in fact 2 or 3 men in college that liked me but didn't want a relationship), but I was hung up on getting into a relationship like my other friends hopefully with someone good looking.
I think that I set off two vibes, one I was ashamed of my body, and two, I didn't think a fat girl deserved anything. I was absolutely sure from the ages of 14 to 23, if I lost weight I would find a guy.
After college Jon went to Japan for two years and I went to Graduate School. I had no boyfriends in this time, except someone I sort of fooled around with and someone who met me, talked to me, seemed to like me, then for some reason backed off.
During every fling, date, or episode of "just friends making out" I dieted, and was ashamed of my body. It never occurred to me that it wasn't the fat that turned people off but the low self-esteem and belief I could diet my way to a good relationship.
Jon and I really didn't stay in touch during those two years but we shared a best friend. She was having a baby and wanted us to be the godparents. When Jon came back from Japan, I happed to be in a period of not dieting. It was after I realized Weight Watchers was never going to work and I haven't yet been introduced to low carb. I was still convinced thin was in, but that belief was beginning to wane. I started to think maybe I wasn't meant to be thin. In fact I began to learn to love my body and accept it.
It's no surprise that soon after Jon came home, we hooked up. Jon was funny, good looking, had an easy going nature, and could tolerate both my shyness especially around my body and my quirky sense of humor.
We dated causal at first, then it got more serious. We eventually married in 2000. Jon was not only my husband but my first long term relationship. He doesn't like it when I say it, but my relationship with him is the one part of my life that came out as I wanted. I've always been glad that he tolerated my low self-esteem. He is one of the few people I have no problem parading around naked in front of. Jon loves my boobs and he loves to squeeze me. He likes big women and he never hates a person for how they look.
I'm in the process of reading Fat Sex by Rebecca Jane Weinstein. The book isn't about Fat Sex per se, but instead fat people talking about sex. (I'd suggest Big Big Love by Hanne Blank as a good guide to actual fat sex.)
In the book there is a chapter about an FA who is often ribbed about his love for big women. I laughed because none of Jon's friends have ever ribbed him for me and he never ever thinks of me as an embarrassment. I'm sure the beautiful people laugh at us but neither of us care.
The object of this post isn't that fat women can snag a man. Yes, they can. There are plenty of men who like big women or prefer personality over looks. The point here was it was the low self-esteem that turned off men. That in order to be loved, you have to learn to love yourself first.
Almost four years ago I chucked cable TV. I'd long since gotten my news from online papers and picked and chosen my TV and movies from streaming sources.
Fat women and men make up about two-thirds of the US population according to fearmongers yet you wouldn't know that from TV and movies. In most mainstream movies and TV (except for artsy, foreign, or comedy shows), the actors, usually just the women, are conventionally attractive like they cut from the same mold. They are usually slender, tall and made up. For example there is a recent movie called Seven Psychopaths that has seven people appearing on a movie poster. Five are men and two are women. The five men are gruff, not glamourous and distungished . The two women might as well be twins as they look perfectly the same. It's ironic because Gabourey Sidibe also appears (I'm not sure in what capacity, she seems like she's a dog sitter) but her name isn't headlined and she doesn't appear in the poster.
When I was working on my book and researching movies and TV that featured fat actors, I found roles for fat people were limited to background, side characters, or comedy only. If they were the main character they were dieting (Fried Green Tomatoes), hated themselves (Fat actress), it was a foreign or artsy film (Zuckerbaby), poor quality (More to Love) or nuts (Misery).
Flashforward eight years later where the NY Times has an article about female comedians who are fighting back against the pressure to lose weight.
Self-acceptance has become a new form of defiance on
television, especially among younger female comedians. Partly that’s because
it’s refreshingly unusual. There’s little comic shock value left in profanity,
obscenity or intolerance, but it’s still quite rare and surprising to see a
woman not obsess about her waistline.
The majority of these performers are "Hollywood Fat" and the only true discrimination they might face would be lack of roles in mainstream movies and TV. They can still buy clothes at almost any store, probably won't get a lecture from doctor, or be told they are diseased. Rebel Wilson, the only one who might fall into the latter category, is a spokesperson for Jenny Craig.
I'm glad to see actors that don't fit into the typical Hollywood cookie cutter. Mindy Kating is a very talented writer, a very funny lady and I think maybe the only Indian actress on television now that the horrible show Outsourced was cancelled. However things still haven't changed since I first researched my book. Fat actors are still background and side characters, if they are seen at all. The movies are almost always comedies. If the fat character it is the main character it's either a comedy, or the main character is emotional disturbed. For example Precious is a wonderful movie starring two amazing actresses but both are poor and uneducated. Mo'Nique's character Mary had sexually abused her daughter and is a stereotypical welfare queen.
Real change happens when we see a variety of actors on the screen and tube that are different sizes, different colors and from different backgrounds. One of the reasons I gave up cable was there was nothing on but the same cookie cutters.
When I wrote my essay for the Fat Studies Reader one of my source materials spoke about the book Jermina Jby Jane Green. In the book the main character is fat and to impress a man she never met she drops 80 pounds through crash dieting then buys a whole new wardrobe. The essay spoke about the issue of consumption. Fat people are often the examples of consumption gone wild. We obviously steal food from hungry babies while driving our gas guzzling automobiles. However the essay points out the Jermina consumes much more after she becomes thin. When Jerminia is fat, she consumes less clothes, when she is thin, she buys a new wardrobe. She consumes way more materialistic things than she did when she was fat. (And btw, I am not saying thin people consume more or less than fat people. It's Clothing and fashion industry consumption, and they happen to make mostly thin people's clothes.)
Fat people, being shunned by the mainstream fashion industry, consume less clothes. I barely buy new clothes, instead chose to get most of my selection at Big Fat Flea (formerly the Fat Girl's Flea Market) (May 13 btw, you better be there) and keeping my old clothes in good repair.
Oh look it's me and the fabulous Lesley Kinzel of fatshionistas who also wrote a fabulous book based on her blog: Two whole cakes. Leslie is a self described "clothes horse" but she laments in her book what many other fat people can share with her, unable to find clothes in her size. Another book I happened to be reading at the same time Greenwashed talks about the immense amount of clothes waste (clothes only have ten wear lifes span. I have a skirt from high school still in my closet.)
Getting back to Leslie's book. It's a short but intense read of vignettes and most fat people could share stories almost to the same as hers. If you are unfamiliar with where the term Two Whole Cakes comes from. On Fatshionistas, there was a troll who on another board said that all fat people eat Two whole cakes a day (at my worst binging (i.e. not eating normally), I only managed to get most of one and I got really sick afterwards). One particular story I shared with Leslie was about going to Jenny Craig (in my case Nutrisystem) eating the gross food, losing weight in the beginning than tapering off. For me and for Leslie, both the tapering off and the hungry were the reasons we "gave" up (or our bodies did.) In Leslie's case she walked away, in mine Nutrisystem went "out of business". I got a whole refund of $89.
So recommend this Earth day that you buy Leslie's book (available as an ebook) and fat people tell the fashion industry to stick it, you are consuming less of their crappy badly made clothes.
Halloween is my favorite holiday. It tends to start what is referred to as "eating season." Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner (and OMG leftovers), Christmas dinners, Hanukah Latkes, holiday parties and drinking at New Year's. Weight Watchers (WW) meetings are as desolate as Shirley Jackson's Hill House. (And just as creepy.) Weight Watchers loves this time of year, not that they are getting much business but they are guilting new and returning customers to return to WW in January to refill their coffers.
This Halloween, I will have chocolate. This Thanksgiving I will have my Turkey dinner. I will eat anthing I darned well please at holiday parties. I will continue to exercise, I will continue to eat normally (perhaps a little more than usual at social occassions) between festivities, and in January I will not return to Weight Watchers. I will continue to exercise and eat as healthy as possible as I do every day of the year, and I won't beat myself up for it.
What does this have to do with vampires? Bad vampires are none other but fad diets created by the diet industry. They suck not our blood but 60 Billion dollars from Americans' pockets by promising us false hopes of a thinner better life.
Better vampires appear in Lynne Murray's Falstaff Vampire Files. Murray always has fat main characters in her novels no matter what the genre (mystery, supernatural, romance). Although I am not a big fan of the vampire genre as it seems everything is a rip off of Angel, Blade, and the most icky Twilight. I find the drama overly emo. I like Buffy/Angel for the humor included but I am also a fan of the classic vampire, Dracula. Murray's book pays homage to Dracula (including naming her her characters, Mina, Lucy and Van Helsing) and also with humor of the main vampire character: fat and charming John "Jack" Falstaff (yes, based on Shakespeare's Falstaff). She also pokes at the emo vampire genre with three people so desparate to become vampires that they call upon the "Others", mysterious life stealing formless vampires who seek only to kill. Unlike Falstaff and his friends who feed and leave their victims alive. The book is narrated through a series of notes, and recorded messages (similar to the Dracula novel) both giving insight to the characters and moves the story along.
So if you are looking for a good supernatural read with many fat main characters, check out this book.
And if you want to read something even more scary, check out this story of a woman purposely gaining weight to qualify for weight loss surgery. The lady Stephany Sears has the same height as me and originally weighed about 35lbs less than I do. She's at the lower end of "the BMI obese" scale and part of a clinical trial to see if lower weight fatties should qualify for the surgery. I'm less scared for her (I really hope she doesn't have the major side effects, or additonal surgeries, or death) than I am that the surgery will become a normal standard for weight loss for people of every sizes.
Again Happy Halloween. Do not fear the candy bucket!
Just to remind people in the NYC metro area to come to the Fat Girl's Flea Market. I will be there selling my book from about 1pm until I sell out, the event ends or I collapse from exhaustion. But don't come for me. Come for the fabulous clothes and the amazing atmosphere.
So I finished FatLand, a novel by Frannie Zellman, put out by Pearlsong press (not to be confused by the fat hating book by the same name). In FatLand, it is about 30 years in the future and laws regulate food and fat people. These oppressive laws drove a group of fat people to form their own country which is located near Colorado. Life seems idyllic in FatLand where being fat is okay, people are happier and healthier. However there are outside and inside forces who want to cause upheaval in this utopia. Meanwhile the US (called "The other side" in the book) is a dystopian nightmare as people have to pay enormous taxes to eat "sinful" foods, forced on diets and placed in "re-education camps" if they don't follow the rules.
Frannie's novel is beautifully fat positive. It's a boost to self-esteem and encouragement to help pass size discrimination laws (such as what they are pushing now in Nevada). While I am not sure fat people would form their own country, the US Pro-health laws of the novel are rooted in things like forcing fat people to pay more for insurance (regardless of their health) or not allowing fat people eat in restaurants if they are "too fat". The main characters are proud to be their size. My only issue was the character Mira who feels compelled to leave FatLand because she is thin and doesn't feel comfortable. She is even pressured by her mother, a founder of FatLand, to gain weight. I find it odd that a country founded on the principles that biology dictates size would pressure her to gain weight. I can understand maybe her peers might be snide having grown up where fat is beautiful, but Mira's mother should at least understand. Even if she didn't, this is something that needed to be addressed more.
And as a sci-fi reader/writer, I certainly would like to see more of the creation of FatLand. How is it that FatLand was formed without firing a shot? I can't imagine to US annexing land or allowing part of Colorado to secede.
We need to see more novels about FatLand and especially need to see more media including books, movies, and TV showing people of *all sizes* not just ones that look like Jennifer Aniston. In the meantime we need to support media that does have positive fat characters.
I'm sick today so I'm posting some fat positive stories that have been in the news lately.
Hudson News reviews FatLand, Frannie Zellman's first novel takes place in the future where fat people have created their own country to get away from draconian health policies of the US. I've haven't read the book yet (just ordered it on Amazon) but I've heard some good things.
HAES is promoted at Diet.com. The sky is falling! It's worth reading, but be warned, you will be assaulted by diet ads.
And a size positive article from the Lantern, the Ohio State University.