Celebreight Yourself now has a Youtube channel!
You can also find more of my writing at three great websites: Large in Charge magazine, Fierce, Freethinking Fatties, and More of Me to Love. Links are below.
Monday, July 22, 2013
I have been an art lover forever and I decided to put together a tribute to all the artists who have painted, sculpted and illustrated fat women in loving, adoring, alluring, striking, and memorable ways. I hope you enjoy this celebration of the round female figure from pre-history to the modern era.
Monday, May 13, 2013
It's been a long time since I posted here, but I thought you would all enjoy this.
As you have probably heard, Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, does not like fat chicks. He doesn't want them in his store and he doesn't want them as customers. He also thinks that being good-looking automatically equals "cool".
In this video, I straighten him out and discuss the perplexing lack of fat rights and laws protecting us from such hate and discrimination. Hope you enjoy!
Yes, Abercrombie & Fitch .... you DO suck ass!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Plus-sized shopping in Canada continues to deteriorate. The latest developments:
The other day, I stopped by a Winners store to see if some really pretty tops I'd spotted there awhile ago were still there. It turns out a few of them were, so I gathered a selection together and headed for the dressing rooms.
They looked so bland and unassuming from the outside, I had no idea. I guess I must have been pretty intent on trying my choices on because I didn't notice this
until I finished. (Unfortunately, the tops were all duds, either due to not fitting properly or my simply not liking them.)
When I saw this ad, I paused for a moment and let the implication sink in. To me, it seemed incredibly outrageous, audacious, manipulative, and quite dastardly. On my way out, I checked through open doors to see if the same ad was posted in other dressing rooms. It was.
The dressing room is a sensitive place for a lot of women ... especially larger women. Most of us, at one time or another, have experienced disappointment, shame, anger, and self hatred within the confines of a dressing room. It can be a place where we experience great joy ("It's so cute! And it fits!") or extreme self loathing ("I can't even get my arms through this thing!") A lot of us tend to blame ourselves for not fitting into the clothes, not the manufacturers who seem so unwilling to make fashionable clothes that fit us.
For that reason, in order for us to purchase their products, the dressing room should be a sacred place ... an oasis. It should cater to our every need. There should be flattering lighting, relaxing music, flowers, and serene, tranquil colours on the walls. There should be incense and body positive incantations piped in through the speakers. It's not that I'm against advertising in dressing rooms. For example, in another plus-sized store, I've seen ads for store-brand bras and store sales. No problem there ... Those ads are store oriented, not body oriented.
Isn't a woman body conscious enough when she steps into a dressing room? She has selected one or more items that she hopes will fit her body and look great. If they don't, she usually feels bad about herself. She doesn't need the extra suggestion that if she'd just start eating Special K Cracker Chips and reduce the size of her ass, she might have fit into the clothes she brought into the dressing room with her in the first place!
It also seems like a rather misguided marketing tactic. When a woman steps into a dressing room, the goal is to encourage her to purchase items, correct? (I'm assuming all business owners want to make money and encourage their customers to buy their product.) So what is the rationale behind planting a diet-related ad in a sensitive area like a dressing room, where most women are already judging their bodies negatively to begin with? Do the proprietors of the store think that an ad for a diet cracker geared towards women -- when she is in the midst of looking at herself in the mirror, getting in and out of her clothes, and assessing her body -- is an incentive to buy clothes? Or will it make her judge herself more harshly and perhaps feel disinclined to buy anything?
I had to give this tactic a thumbs down.
I don't know about you, but I think the latter is more likely.
I haven't even mentioned yet that Winners recently did away with their already-meagre plus-sized section, so now plus size shoppers will have to root even harder through the L and XL sections for clothing options.
I never noticed these ads in Winners dressing rooms before, so this must be a fairly recent development. It's not a store I shop at frequently ... if one's around and I have the time, I usually stop in and browse, because I have found some good deals there in the past. But I haven't often gone out of my way to specifically shop at a Winners store, and I can tell you I don't feel particularly inclined to shop there again after this. After all, if a store wants my business and therefore -- my money -- I'd rather shop somewhere that body hatred isn't shoved in my face.
I'd really like to meet the genius or panel of marketing geniuses who thought this ad placement was a good idea. Was it someone at Special K or someone at Winners? "Hey, you know most women hate their bodies, right? Why don't we up the ante and put diet cracker ads in the dressing rooms?"
Aren't women bombarded enough on a daily basis by what they see on TV, in magazines, conversations they hear on the street and partake in with their friends and family members? Isn't there enough body hatred to go around without defiling what should be the sanctity of the dressing room? Can't they even let us have that hassle-free little cubicle of peace?
My ultimate nightmare is that if Special K ads now become the norm in clothing store dressing rooms, Jenny Craig's manipulative, greedy ass won't be far behind.
Friday, July 13, 2012
By now I guess a lot of you have noticed that I'm not posting anywhere near as much as I used to.
Partly it's due to the new job I started recently, which is taking up a great deal of my time and has hugely affected my schedule, to the point where it's very difficult to set aside any writing time at all.
However, I've decided that the precious writing time that I am able to carve into my day is best used right now to write the book I've been telling myself I'm going to write all my life. Maintaining a blog and contributing to a couple of other websites (which I still do for now, God knows how) has made that challenging. Writing a book -- at least one, if not more -- has always been one of my life's dreams. That dream is now a very real priority.
The other reason is that I feel I have said pretty much all I have to say about fat acceptance and fat issues with the previous 87 posts in this blog. Obviously, I haven't ... there will always be more to say. But the basic tenets of fat acceptance -- the importance of loving yourself at any size, the futility of dieting and the harm that it does to your body, and the outrages of fat discrimination -- have been covered more than once here.
I may not post here as regularly as I used to, but I want to assure you that you will still be hearing from me from time to time. And I might switch it up a bit .. instead of this being a blog devoted to fat acceptance and fat issues only, I may write about non-fat-related topics that strike me.
Celebreight Yourself is not dead ... but it is sitting on the porch with its feet up, taking a breather and enjoying the sunset. I want to thank all of my regular readers for continuing to visit and I hope that you will still check in from time to time, because I will still be here.
I am just going to get a little bit quieter as I tend to a few very important necessities in my life.
For those of you who may be stumbling upon this blog for the first time ... thank you for visiting. There are plenty of posts listed on the right hand side for you to pick and choose from, two years' worth of them ... and I will always respond to comments in a timely fashion.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being such a faithful audience. And thank you for wanting to check on me from time to time and click on my latest Facebook link to see what I have to say next.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The other evening, I attended an incredible event.
It was incredible not so much for what was said (from my perspective), but for the sheer joy, excitement, feistiness, balls, and buxomness in the room.
The event was called "The Queerness of Fat Activism" and it took place at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. As far as I know, it was the first of its kind in this straightlaced, politically correct city. It was a mini revolution ... a happy revolution. I have never seen so many people so joyous and proud to call themselves fat. The pride and the self love was raucous, rowdy, and an absolute delight for me to witness.
We definitely need more of this.
The event was sponsored by Ryerson University, Critical Dietetics, Rainbow Health Ontario, and Come As You Are. It consisted of a lecture by the wonderfully audacious and unapologetic Charlotte Cooper, a fat scholar at the University of Limerick in Ireland. She talked about being fat ... about being queer ... and about being and fat and queer, and a queer fat activist. Some of it felt a little irrelevant to me as I am not queer and that aspect of fatness does not apply to me ... but that wasn't the point. I didn't really care what she said. It was just wonderful to see her THERE, standing up at that podium, and representing fat people, period. She was funny, she was smart ... she obviously loves to create a stir, and had absolutely no problem inciting rebellion in all the other queer and non-queer fat activists present that night.
There was a hell of a lot of laughter and love, and one thing Charlotte said really summed it up for me (not verbatim, but as close as I remember): "Everyone says it's so bad to be fat. Poor us. Well, looking around this room, it doesn't look so bad to me. It's not that bad at all!"
Everyone unanimously agreed.
|Me and my friend Melanie. Look at the smiles on our faces. I guarantee we weren't the only ones smiling like this!|
I have been waiting for a moment like this in the city where I live for years. Toronto has always prided itself on appearances. What do tourists always say when they visit here? "IT'S SO CLEAN." Toronto has long been an ultra conservative, proper city where materialism rules. It is a city largely populated by the rich and the beautiful.
Well, last night the doors opened to include a whole bunch of people who have been told they're not beautiful ... and obviously didn't get the memo ... because I guarantee these women will not allow anyone to tell them they are not beautiful. They KNOW they are beautiful, and anyone who'd be foolish enough to try and tell them any different ... well, let's just say they'd be looking for the quickest exit.
It was inspiring. It was an awesome sight. The room was packed to the rafters and probably spilled out into the lobby area. This was a message that a lot of people have obviously been waiting for.
I know Toronto has a long way to go before it catches up with other cities like San Francisco that are famous for fat activism and fat politics. But the scene before me yesterday gives me hope ... the doors are open ... opening wide ... and just waiting for all of us to walk in and add our voices to the solid choir that is already there.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Another blogger on a website I write for posted an excellent blog about the story I’m about to address today, and I felt extremely compelled to put in my two cents as well.
It’s about David Smith, aka “The 650 Pound Virgin” of TLC fame. I remember watching the show when it aired. (I know … shame on me, tuning in like all the other freak-show fans to watch a human being’s private life splayed open and dissected like one of those rubbery frogs we all practiced our rudimentary scientific skills on.)
Anyway, I remember watching the show and watching his facial expressions as he began losing the weight and thinking, Hmmm … there’s a lot going on in there. He was doing his best to hide it – smiling, acting happy and proud, working out like a real go-getter, and blushing modestly at all the praise that came his way.
I could relate, because I rapidly lost a lot of weight at one time in my life too – not as much as David, but enough to qualify as a lot of weight. I remember my dismay when I looked at my much smaller body and admired how it looked (and was quite in awe of myself, I have to admit -- I was not without narcissism) … but still feeling exactly the same underneath. I remember my dismay when I realized I wasn’t a different person at all. I may have looked quite different, but the woman inside was completely intact.
Not that I didn’t love or value that woman … but I also knew that she had a lot of issues. A lifetime of them. And a lot of them came from being fat.
This is what angers me so much when I hear people religiously touting diet after diet, and proclaiming that theirs is the miracle diet that will finally get the weight off for good. We all know those diets don’t exist … but let’s just play devil’s advocate for a moment and pretend that there is a miracle diet that gets the weight off for good. Okay, so the weight is off. Now your life is supposed to be perfect, right?
I cannot think of a better example to prove this fallacy than David Smith. If you didn’t see the show when it aired, go to Youtube and check out some clips. Look at how hard he worked, how he struggled, how he fought to lose the weight. (And he is just one of many, many people who have done the same.) He underwent painful surgeries to get rid of the loose skin that was aesthetically displeasing to his newly trim body. Do you think he willingly would have put most of the weight back on after all that suffering? Do you think he didn’t realize it was creeping back on?
But he couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t prevent what was happening. He was returning to his old body, his old self, his old habits … because nothing except his body had changed.
Why do people believe that thinness equals happiness? Here was this 650 pound man who had no friends, had never had a girlfriend, was housebound, had basically no life, and who at one point had actively planned his own suicide. Then, relatively suddenly, he was “normal”. He was proclaimed “okay”. People called him cute and studly. Women were suddenly interested. How do you think someone who has been isolated and depressed for most of his life would react to this sudden acceptance into society?
I could see it in his facial expressions during the show -- especially one excruciating segment when he went to a bar to try and meet women. He was obviously terrified and didn’t know what the hell to do. Of course he didn’t. How would he? BUT HE WAS THIN. So what’s the problem, some people will undoubtedly ask.
The issues were obviously still there. Unless the issues that underlie being fat are dealt with (and a great deal of us have them, to some degree), losing weight will never be a victory.
All fat people feel, at some point in their lives, that they have been excluded from a select group of preferential people. If they lose a lot of weight and suddenly become “worthy” of inclusion into this select group, do you think they’ll be happy about it? Why the hell would they?
Why would anyone want to hang out with and share any part of themselves with people who told them they were ugly and lazy all their lives? I think all people who have lost a lot of weight struggle with this issue, and I think a lot of us have pretended and faked friendliness with people like this for awhile. But sooner or later, the resentment and general distaste kicks in. We realize that hanging with people like this is really a betrayal of our own values, and I think that’s a big part of the reason the weight comes back on. These people don’t really love us, and we know that. So we hurry up and get fat again so they can kick us out of their group. That way, we don’t have to take responsibility for leaving that cabal of thinness ourselves.
David’s so-called saviour, motivator, personal trainer and BFF, Chris Powell, who was all buddy-buddy with him during the show when he lost the weight? It's been reported that he's no longer his friend. You’re not surprised, are you?
Apparently, David’s girlfriend (who met him when he was thin) has stuck with him so far, which frankly surprises me. I just hope that in his despair and humiliation at regaining the weight that he doesn’t undertake another drastic weight-loss regimen. (I just discovered this video on Youtube, where David appears set on doing exactly this.)
This sad story reteaches us all an extremely important lesson. If you’re unhappy with your life and you’re fat, simply losing weight is not the answer. You need to ask yourself some very deep, hard questions, and be honest when you answer them.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
For the past few days, I’ve been posting pictures and videos of my favourite rock bands on my Facebook page. It got me thinking of my youth and what it was like to be a fat teen. It wasn’t easy. I can only imagine how much harder it is for young girls now.
While most of my friends were either dating or being pursued by horny young wanna-bes, I was either watching it from the sidelines or cynically shunning the hormonal goings-on whenever I got pissed off enough at being left out of all the shenanigans. The truth is, of course, that I was horribly jealous and extremely lonely. I always knew that deep within me beat the heart of an extremely sexy, sensual, erotic, freewheeling romantic, but unfortunately, I seemed to be the only one who did know it. Imagine having a bomb inside you that keeps sparking and trying to explode but never getting quite enough energy to set off. That’s the kind of emotion I was keeping inside me. Music was a great outlet – rock music, specifically, because of its energy, volume, and balls. Music was my boyfriend.
I could really feel for Janis Joplin. Here was this very plain woman with this amazing, cosmic voice. All you had to do was hear her sing to know her heart and soul. She practically threw it in your lap. And what did she sing about constantly? Thwarted love … being broken hearted … being desperately lonely and searching for the one man who would love her till the end of time. I could so relate. I remember once, after the dissolution of a tryst that I had foolishly hoped was going to turn into a relationship, a friend of mine telling me, “You should tell him to listen to Piece of My Heart, Gaby.” Come on, come on … take another piece of my heart, baby. I’m gonna show you that a woman can be tough.
You have to be especially tough if you’re fat, because you’re constantly defending yourself, or preparing yourself in case you need to defend yourself. Insults, ridicule, humiliation can come from anywhere at any time … I preferred to be prepared for it and not be taken by surprise (or at least having other people know they took me by surprise). If they did, I would do my best to make sure they didn’t know it. My exterior was rock hard and unfazed … but underneath, I was squirming and curling up like a fetus.
Your femininity gets shoved into the back seat because of your toughness too. How can you allow your natural femininity to show when you’re constantly having to defend yourself? How can you feel safe enough to show the softness, prettiness, and vulnerability that all men love and respond to when you’re not sure you can trust him? I know I kept mine under lock and key until I was absolutely 100% sure that a guy was worthy of its presence … and that usually took a very long time (at least it seemed like forever to me … in reality, it probably wasn’t that long, in retrospect. But when you’re young, days seems like weeks and weeks seem like years).
Love became much easier when I stopped dreaming about having a rock star (or a reasonable facsimile of) for a boyfriend. I knew I wasn’t the type of girl most rock stars sang about or courted. I began to see a lot of rock music for what it was – testosterone-driven drivel that had one main purpose – getting the rock star laid. So I put that where it belonged – in the trivia pile – and concentrated on music that really moved me. I guess that’s when I began to really search my soul, too, and not care so much about what other people thought of me. I began to think more about what I wanted, and how and where I could get it, instead of trying to BE what someone else wanted.
Where am I going with this post? I’m not quite sure. All I know is, a lot of me is still in mourning for the girl who never got to be young and enjoy her girly deliciousness. True, I’ve done my best to make up for it -- and have even succeeded, somewhat -- but you can never recapture and make up for that kind of a loss completely.
I hope that fat young girls today realize how beautiful they are and how much more broadminded the world is, in general. It’s definitely not perfect and there is a long way to go, but things are better, on the whole. Bullies and bullying are pretty much universally despised and everyone knows that people who hate fat people are assholes. I hope young fat girls today get more love than I did back then.