YouTube Channel

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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Worthwhile Resolutions for 2012

Hello, my darling readers. I hope all of you have been enjoying the holidays, eating some great food, spending time with family and friends, and laughing, smiling, and partying. Although I don’t believe we should wait for special occasions to celebrate, this is a time of year to really live it up and have fun. It’s also a great time sit back and reflect, and think about what you want to achieve. Is your life going the way you want it to? Are there some improvements you can make that will make your life better?

So many of us have made that typical resolution: I am going to lose weight this year. I am going to get into that goddam bikini/pair of jeans/little black dress. What we are really saying when we make resolutions like this is: I don’t like myself the way I am. Therefore, I will make people like me through the way I look, and maybe that will make me feel better about myself.

Can you see how a resolution like that is fraught with failure? If you don’t like yourself the way you are, the most important thing you need to do is be kind to yourself. None of us is perfect. Even the most beautiful women in the world say they feel ugly and unsexy at times. Physical perfection is not the key to happiness. The key to happiness is being okay with who you are and how you look. It is also incredibly sexy when a woman truly loves herself and is confident about who she is.

Granted, that is not an easy task in this society, where women like us are constantly being told that we don’t look good enough, that we need to improve the way we look, that we need to conform or else. We are told not to complain about being treated badly, because in order to be treated well, we need to be thin.

Please tell me you know what bullshit that is. Please tell me you get angry at even the thought of an edict like this. Please tell me that you love and respect yourself exactly the way you are.

I believe there are several resolutions that serve us all much better than the traditional I-need-to-lose-weight resolution. Read through them and see if you can benefit by applying any of them in your life this year.

I resolve to love myself exactly the way I am, inside and out.

I resolve to treat my body and myself with love, respect, and kindness.

I resolve to allow only positive or like-minded people to get close to me.

I resolve to put up an impenetrable barrier between me and negativity. Only positivity is allowed to enter my world to any significant degree.

I resolve to object in whatever way I see fit whenever someone shames me, abuses me, or crosses a boundary without my permission.

I also resolve to object in whatever way I see fit whenever I see another large person get treated in a negative or abusive way.

I resolve to protect myself and to always trust my intuition to guide me in every situation.

I resolve to respect, nurture, and take care of my body by feeding it healthy foods and moving regularly.

I resolve to let myself eat whatever my body craves and not beat myself up for doing so.

I resolve to be aware of the reasons I am eating. If I feel that I am eating when I am not hungry, I resolve to take a step back and ask myself why.

I resolve to get my needs met – whatever they are. If I need love, I will find love. If I need a friend, I will talk to a friend. If I need emotional support, I will look for it or ask for it.

I resolve to say all the things I need to say, even if they are not popular or if I feel they will not be well received. I may tailor what I say in certain situations (like at work, for example), but I will find the most effective way to express my thoughts.

I resolve not to take life so seriously and just relax and laugh if things don’t go the way I expect them to. Life is an adventure to be lived, which means failure at times. I resolve not to let failure kill my spirit.

I resolve to find the romantic partner I have always dreamed of (if I am looking for one). I resolve to pay very careful attention to my instincts, which will allow me to judge whether a person deserves to be my romantic partner and if he or she is capable of fulfilling my romantic needs. If my inner signals are giving me the green light, I will go for it with gusto! If they are flashing red, I will run like hell!

I resolve to look at myself in the mirror every day and be happy with who I see. If I want to make changes to my appearance, like wear makeup or certain clothes, I will do it! I will not wait “until I am thin” to allow myself to be pretty. I will embrace my beauty and show it off to the world.

I hope that you find these resolutions helpful, my dear readers. I hope you use any or all of them to navigate your way through 2012 and all the years to come.

I want to say a very deep, sincere thank you to all of my readers for continuing to read this blog. I love every single one of you. I wish all of you a wonderful, happy, beautiful New Year, and I will see you in 2012! J

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sorry, Gut ... I Should Have Listened!

Recently, I went through a situation that made me very sad. It also re-emphasized to me just how important it is to listen to our gut feelings. It’s kind of a long story … but you have time, right?

A few months ago, I met a woman who emailed me about my blog. She invited me out to a rural property where she and her family lived alongside her beloved horses. She is sort of a life coach, and she wants to teach people about the law of attraction using her horses as examples of this principle. She sent me a link to her blog, which I checked out, and the first thing I noticed was that she is a very thin woman. My immediate reaction was: Uh oh. I must be honest … as a large woman, I am always wary of thin people. (Not you, thin friends I know and love, but thin strangers.) Like all large people, I have been subjected to a lot of criticism and judgement from thin people, so I can’t help but be suspicious of them. It’s wired into me. However, I’m always willing to give people a chance to prove my wariness unnecessary—to give them the benefit of the doubt—because I realize this is a habitual reaction of mine.

This woman seemed different. Her blog was very positive and uplifting, and we had a lot of the same opinions: a belief in the necessity of positive thinking; a belief that what you think about determines what will (or will not) happen in your life. It intrigued me that she wanted to meet me and talk to me about body image. So I decided to go meet her and we had an amazing time. We really connected. She was warm, friendly, and extremely down-to-earth. We had a great talk about body image and self-esteem and how we both wanted to help women feel empowered and good about themselves. We got along so well that we began discussing doing a workshop together. She explained how she wanted to use her horses to teach women about the energy they are emitting and the reactions they get from the outside world (vis a vis the horses). This made perfect sense to me. She was speaking my language. I left that day feeling ecstatic, uplifted, hopeful, and energized. I was so impressed with her that I wrote a glowing recommendation about her on this blog (which has since been removed).

We became Facebook friends … and then I noticed the first thing that really disturbed me. It was my first clue. You probably know that if you’re someone’s Facebook friend, you can see all the comments they make to other people. One day, not too long after that initial euphoric meeting, I saw an interaction she had with a friend. They were joking about some guy, and she said, He’s probably a fat, ugly, old pervert! I saw that and thought … WTF? Why is she using the word fat in such a negative way? I realized this was the total opposite of how she had represented herself to me, and she certainly hadn’t seemed like a fat hater when I met her … so I pushed it away. I just sloughed it off as, Well, she was just joking. Everybody jokes around at times. It probably didn’t mean anything.

A month or so later, she moved and invited me to her housewarming party. That’s where things really started to get screwy. I actually wrote about it in my post here. Basically, I felt like an outcast there. A few of her long-time friends showed up, and most of them were clustered together socializing and simply ignoring me. I did my best to make conversation with them and be friendly, but they took zero interest in me. A couple of them came over and said hi, hello, how are you ... but that was it. I even had a couple of fucked up interactions, which didn’t help matters. The woman herself was busy with her other guests and didn’t speak to me much. It bothered me, but I tried not to make too much of it. These were her longtime friends and I couldn’t expect her to spend all of her time with me. So I brushed it off and just filed it away in my memory bank.

The interactions I had at the party stuck with me and were bugging me, so—as I said above—I blogged about it. She read it and wrote me a kind of surprised email, asking: Was this at my place? I said yes, and she just made a dismissive comment about her friends having a tendency to put their foot in their mouths—which seemed kind of weird to me, because it wasn’t an apology. I thought to myself: If I had a party and one of my friends told me they’d had a couple of weird experiences, I probably would have said something like: Shit, sorry about that. And then I would have asked the friend involved what happened and chided them for being rude. But she didn’t seem the least bit concerned. It was just kind of a funny thing to her. Again … it felt weird, but I brushed it off. I still really wanted to do this workshop.

A couple of months passed and the workshop was going nowhere. She kept saying we had to work on it, yet she wasn’t making much of an effort to discuss the content (aside from her law of attraction philosophy). We managed to set up another meeting at her place … and this is where things imploded.

I had a premonition before I went. The morning of the meeting, I really didn’t want to go. My stomach felt all jittery and nervous, and I just had a bad feeling. I had started to have really serious doubts about this woman’s sincerity, but again … I wanted to do this workshop so badly—not only to help women like me, but in order to do something for a living that I truly love and that has meaning to me. I didn’t want to let go of that dream. So I went.

From the moment I walked in, I could feel it wasn’t going to go well. We talked, but there was an edge to her voice and her demeanor. She was frenetic, hyper, aggressive … talking loudly and talking only about her own philosophies and the horses. This had been my major concern with her. All she wanted to talk about was her horses. She never asked me even ONCE what I was going to contribute to the workshop … I always had to keep prodding her in that direction. I realized, after sitting and listening to her for awhile, that this thing was definitely going to be HER show and I had been relegated to a much lesser, minor role.

Not bloody likely. That was not what I had signed up for, and I had no intention of letting that happen.

Thankfully, we went outside to work with the horses. I have to say I do love her horses and the beautiful property she lives on. She has definitely set up her own little nirvana out there, and I really enjoyed getting a taste of rural, country life. But as we were working with her horse, something REALLY bizarre happened. She was demonstrating a concept to me about the law of attraction—about getting from Point A to Point B, but continuing to be stuck at Point A. She was walking back and forth really fast, frantically almost, and told me to signal her when I understood her point. I signalled her shortly after she started—but she continued to keep walking and talking, going on and on with this theatrical demonstration—and when she finally did stop, she looked at me and laughed in my face. “I wasn’t even paying attention to you, I was totally ignoring you!” she said happily. Then she continued laughing for about a minute or so. I was so shocked I almost felt like I was going to puke. For a moment I felt like I was back in school being pointed at and laughed at by a bunch of bullies. She mumbled a quick “I’m sorry”, but I could tell she didn’t mean it—and even if she had, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. That was what did it for me. I wanted nothing more to do with this woman. All I wanted to do was get the hell away from there. I said nothing, though. I acted like everything was cool. Confronting it felt impossible right then. I’ve never been the kind of person who reacts to something right away. I have to retreat, think about it, and THEN I react.

I left shortly afterward, and on the drive home, I thought about what happened, and all the subtle, weird little things that had been going on since I’d met her. I knew it wasn’t good … I knew I wasn’t crazy about her anymore … but I still kind of thought: Maybe this can work. Maybe I can just ignore her and do my thing, let her do hers, and we can make it work. You don’t necessarily have to like someone you’re in business with, right? It certainly helps, but … it’s not necessary. I kept telling myself this shit.

The next day, after thinking about it some more, I knew I couldn’t let it go a moment longer. I had to talk to her about these things if we were going to work together. I kept thinking back to that first meeting and hoped that she would react as the person I’d met that day—warm, reasonable, rational, willing and even eager to hear my point of view. So I emailed her and told her I wanted to talk to her … that I had some concerns that needed to be addressed if we were going to work together. Surprisingly, she said that she “could feel something was up” and that she looked forward to talking with me! (Her exclamation point, not mine.) I told her we could probably do it in January as the holidays are upon us.

The next day, she deleted my blog from her website. That’s what really unleashed my anger. I was fucking furious. I emailed her to ask why and she didn’t answer me for a day. Then she got back to me with a very sanctimonious, prissy, moral-high-ground email about how she objected to my Mariah Carey post (which you can see here) and that she didn’t feel it was in “vibrational alignment” with her. Oh my God … I love new age philosophy and thinking … and it’s one thing to see terms like this in a book …. but when you actually talk to someone using jargon like this it is so goddam pretentious. Vibrational fucking alignment. Just say what you fucking MEAN! I didn’t buy that as the reason anyway. To top it all off, she attached a hypocritical, condescending bible quote: As you sow, so shall you reap.

It always amazes me how the people who fling bible quotes at others are usually the ones who can benefit from them the most … like some reverend who’s lecturing about morality and fucking underage parishioners at the same time. The only explanation I can think of for their tunnel vision is a huge ego. These people literally think they are “above” everyone else and are incapable of doing wrong. Anyway, I hope she meditates on that very quote and thinks about how she can apply it for her own benefit.

That was the last straw, as they say. I sent her an email back sparing her nothing, telling her exactly what I thought, that I didn’t believe she gave a shit about helping fat women, and that a workshop is not going to happen between us.

So it’s over.

Now I’m looking back on the whole experience, thinking … WTF happened? Why did this woman get in touch with me in the first place? What was really going on? And most importantly … why didn’t I pay more attention to my gut, which was telling me exactly where things were going?

I don’t know … but I do know that I’m sad. At first I was just furious at feeling like I had been duped, but now … I am sad, because it had started out so positively and it could have been something really amazing.

This blog post is not about animosity or getting even (which is why I made sure not to mention her by name and remove any identifying comments from other posts). It's about me looking back at the situation and learning from it.

I don't have any hard feelings toward this woman. Our partnership didn't work out ... it happens. I don't wish her ill or feel that she is a bad or evil person ... but I do believe that she misled me about her opinions on fat ... or maybe she misled herself. Maybe she wasn't even aware that she might have prejudices. Maybe she never thought about them much ... she wouldn't have had much reason to, since she is a very thin woman and has never had to deal with size prejudice. Maybe she had never met a fat woman who was proud of herself before, and maybe it stirred up all kinds of conflict in her that she didn't even realize was there. And maybe she was a totally conscious phony who sought me out for a reason known only to herself. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Who knows ... and who cares, really? It is what it is.

This story illustrates how important is to pay attention to our instincts. When I look back on it, the writing was on the wall all the way back when I saw her Facebook comment: fat, ugly, old pervert. I knew then that it would never work, because she was displaying typical, stereotypical, negative attitudes toward fat ... and how can anyone who has typical, stereotypical, negative attitudes toward fat possibly help someone who IS fat? Makes perfect sense, right? But I didn't want to believe it. I was in denial big time.

I guess this blog has been my therapist’s couch today … but I had to get the whole story out of me so that it doesn’t poison my mind or heart for the next person who comes along with a legitimate partnership proposition. I would LOVE to meet a like-minded, sincere person who wants to join me in what I believe is an extremely important contribution to humanity: Helping large women feel great about themselves, and telling them that they don’t need to be thin to be happy.

If you’re out there, please get in touch. J

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mariah Scary

Oh nuts ... those fat hating diet profiteers at Jenny Craig are at it again ... In case you haven't seen it, take a look at this:

Not that asinine, offensive diet commercials are anything new, but ... This takes wrong to a whole new level.

In case you haven't heard, Jenny Craig's latest celebrity spokesperson is Mariah Carey. Apparently, Mariah just had a baby. During her pregnancy, she gained weight (imagine that!) She has lost an astronomical 30 or 30-something pounds on the Jenny Craig diet plan. Mariah described her body during pregnancy as "rancid" and stated that she refused to let her husband see her naked at that time. She also stated that her motivation for jumping on the Jenny Craig bandwagon was not for the paycheck or for vanity's sake, but her genuine concern for the health of the general public, due to the recent death of her friend Heavy D, who had battled his weight for years.

Watch the commercial above, if you haven't already. Then ask yourself: Is health the primary message you're getting from this?

When I think of all the feminists who demonstrated and fought so hard for women's rights and about how we deserve equality and respect and then see a commercial like this ... an ad that so brazenly reduces us to nothing more than sexual beings ... when it offers up a woman who looks like the Whore of Babylon as a viable role model all women should aspire to emulate ... it makes me want to take my hat off for feminism and mourn at its graveside ... because it truly is dead.

I have seen some rancid diet commercials before, but this one really takes the cake (pardon the pun). The first time I saw it, I was quite puzzled for the first few seconds. All I could see was black gauze and sparkle. Then the object inside the gauze and sparkle starts hacking at it like Jason Voorhees, struggling to get out of a cocoon that resembles a rejected skating costume. Lo and behold, we see a stiletto heel, a tanned leg, and then I realized ... ah yes, another celebrity diet hawker is about to emerge.

When she fully emerges in all her scantily clad glory, the first thing we think is: Health. Right?

And what's with the quasi-skirt? It's a floor-length strip that is somehow supposed to convey modesty ... but the hip is provocatively out-thrust, her legs are bared on either side of it, the stilettos look like they could skewer a shishkebob, and the newly-flat tummy is prominently on display. Why didn't she just hack her way out of the giant pantyhose cocoon in a bikini? Oh, I know ... that would be too sexist and vulgar.

I guess maybe if you hack your way out of a fishnet cocoon, it burns calories. Or it's good for your heart. Or something.

An interesting aside: Ms. Carey got her debut on the big screen in the film Precious, which was about a large, poverty-stricken black girl trying to fight her way out of a life of abuse and low self-esteem:

So much for Mariah's role as pumper-upper of a fat girl's self-esteem. Shame on you, Mariah. You could have gone back to just spewing out shitty but harmless pop songs, but you chose to do this instead. Great career move.

When it comes to manipulative, sexist, airheaded, brain-dead commercials and diet shillers, Jenny and crew never lets me down. They get my award for most loathsome diet company of all time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When Did You First Feel Fat?

When did you first “feel” fat? When did you first get the feeling that there was something about you that wasn’t quite right, as far as other people were concerned? Do you remember the exact moment?

I remember my moment vividly. I was in grade six, so I guess I was about 11 or 12. It was close to the end of the school year. Me and my friends were getting ready to start grade seven, and that meant junior high and leaving the safe nest of grade school. I was known as a “browner” or a brain … the kind of kid all the teachers loved. All the kids liked me too, as far as I knew. I got everything with everyone, had lots of friends, and was generally happy.

There was this boy in our class who was famous for his big imagination and for writing stories. It was always a treat for us when we heard him read one of his stories aloud, and it was always a big production. What made them even more enjoyable was that he would use us as characters in his stories, using our particular names. His friends were usually his regular characters, but every once in awhile, he would slip in one of us he had never used as a character before, and it would be a big surprise for the lucky class member. I had never been cast in one of his stories before … until that day.

I forget the actual subject matter of the story. I know it was a horror story, because he was famous for his horror stories, and he liked to subject his characters to gruesome deaths, which delighted everyone. When he got to me, however, he didn’t use my name – he just said the name “Cannonball” -- and somehow, everyone knew that meant me. I remember everyone looking at me and laughing. I felt my face go beet red. I smiled and pretended to laugh along with them, but I remember how horrified and obtrusive I felt. Up until then, I had been accepted and admired. Suddenly, something had changed. I had been singled out for something, and it wasn’t anything good. I realized it was solely because of my body.

Little did I know that was just the start, and it was actually an ominous clue about what was to come. The following year, when I started grade seven, I was subjected to a horrendous amount of bullying about my size. No one came to my defense; most of the kids just laughed along with the bullies or joined in, or they were too preoccupied with their own social lives to care about what was happening to me. It was quite the learning experience, and one I never forgot. I got the message: to be different was to be a target. To be different was almost like death.

When did you first get the message that your body was not acceptable? Who did you get it from? How do you feel about it now that you are an adult and can look back at it with adult eyes?

Cruelty and ridicule are not the proprietary domain of children. Plenty of adults can be just as prejudicial and discriminatory. At least kids have ignorance for an excuse … adults don’t. Adults are fully capable of assessing their actions and choosing whether or not to perform them.

The next time someone makes you “feel” fat, consider who the message is coming from and why they might want to make you feel that way. What’s in it for them? What are they getting out of making you feel that way?

Whenever someone makes your size an issue, it’s not about you. It’s about them. A normal, happy person does not feel the need to single anyone out for criticism or ridicule. They are doing it to deflect attention from themselves -- because THEY feel deficient in some way.

I may not have realized this when I was a kid, but I sure as hell know it now. I vowed a long time ago that I would never let anyone make me feel deficient because of my size again. And I never have, and never will. That's not a self-congratulatory boast or brag and I don't need or want any pats on the back for it. It's simply a fact.

Monday, November 28, 2011

WTF Moments

The other day, I was at a social gathering making small talk with various people I had never met before. I started chatting with a very nice woman who was friendly, unassuming, and charming. We had been making very nice small talk and she eventually got around to that inevitable question:

Her:  So what do you do for a living?
Me:  I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’m a blogger, actually.
Her:  Oh, what kind of subject matter do you write about?
Me:  Non-fiction, mostly … lots of opinion pieces, movie reviews, stuff like that. Actually my blog is about size acceptance. I want to try to help full figured women with self-esteem and help them feel good about themselves.
Her:  (looking like she’d just seen a rotting corpse on the table)  Oh …

Then she made a beeline for the other side of the room and avoided me for the rest of the day. I was totally perplexed. I should add that this woman was extremely thin, so I don’t know whether her reaction could have possibly been due to her own body issues … but it was so sudden and the change in her demeanor was so obvious that I just thought to myself: WTF?

At the very same gathering, I had another WTF moment. There’s nothing like a social event to spark WTF moments, right? This next exchange was with an outgoing lady who was the type you could tell had no shyness about talking to anyone. Eventually, I ended up beside her at the kitchen table. Our conversation went something like this:

Her:  So you have a daughter?
Me:  Yes.
Her:  Just the one?
Me:  Yes, just one.
Her:  Where do you live?
Me:   In Toronto.
Her:  Oh, you live in Toronto?
Me:  Yes.
Her:  It’s just the two of you, right?
Me:  (pausing, befuddled)  Uh … no, I have a husband.
Her:  (looking surprised) Oh, you have a husband!
Me:  Yes. (thinking yes, I have one of those … WTF.)

I sat there, wondering why she would have assumed it was just me and my daughter. In her defense, I should add that I came to this get-together without my husband, so I suppose she could have assumed I was single because of that. But the surprise in her voice when she said, Oh, you have a husband! was pointed enough to put my ears on edge. Did she think a big girl like me couldn’t possibly be married? Why else would she have asked that specific question? I wasn’t offended … actually, I was quite amused. But I couldn’t help thinking … WTF!

In the grand scheme of my life, these were really harmless, benign little interactions I am so used to by now that they barely register anymore. And these were definitely not rude, ill-mannered people whose intention was to hurt me or treat me badly. I could tell that they were totally unaware of how they had unwittingly revealed something about themselves. It was really just a microscopic example of the kind of assumptions and attitudes that large people face on a daily basis.

I try not to assume that my size is the primary characteristic that everyone notices about me, but when I have exchanges like this, it really makes me wonder … does my personality ever transcend my size? Do people ever just see me as a person and not as a big, threatening blob?

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that not everyone is a superficial twit, but … lemme tell ya … really rewarding conversation is extremely hard to come by these days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who Would You Thank?

So many of us, fat and thin, spend way too much time moaning and complaining about what’s wrong in our lives. Let’s spend some time recognizing what’s right. Why don’t we all stand up and officially thank the people who have blessed our lives with their kindness, compassion, understanding, support, and encouragement?

One of the most incredible moments in an actor’s life is standing at the podium on Oscar night, making his or her acceptance speech. Unfortunately, they have a time limit, and have to come up with something eloquent in about two minutes, with a camera on them and about fifty million people watching, and their brains are understandably scrambled with excitement and nervousness. Remember Sally Field’s infamous “You like me! You really like me!” speech? It may have seemed a little bubble-brained, but who could fault her for being so effusive at a moment like that? Her truly grateful self came out for all to see.

If you were getting an award for being a fabulous fat person, who would you thank for helping you become the fabulous fat person you are? Who has made a difference in your life? Who has truly been there for you, given you strength, and encouraged you to ignore the haters? Who assured you that they would always be there for you if you needed them?

I didn’t have a lot of emotional support growing up. My parents were old-school, and they focused on work, money, and financial survival. They considered emotions incidental and usually bothersome. I don’t blame them – I know they did the best they could. But I never felt like I could rely on them emotionally. When I was being bullied at school, I always felt pressure from them to just “suck it up” and move on. They had no idea how torturous it was for me. The one person in my family who made me feel safe and understood was (and is) my older brother Glenn. He always took care of me and made sure I had what I needed. When I complained endlessly about how much I hated working a 9-5 job in the corporate world and desperately wanted to further my education (but couldn’t afford to pay for school), he footed the bill. Not to mention just making me feel unmistakably loved all my life. I don’t know what I would have done without him. He is an incredible person and I love him dearly.

The years I spent looking for my lifemate were very lonely and painful. I thought it would never happen. I allowed men to use and disappoint me because at that time I didn’t think I could get any better. Then I met the man who would become my husband and everything changed. I wasn’t used to a man taking me seriously and treating me with respect, and fucked up as it was, I tested his sincerity by putting him through all kinds of shit. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see that’s exactly what I was doing. No matter what I did, though, he stuck around. We had our periods of separation – once for as long as a year – but I think we both knew as soon as we set eyes on each other that it was for good. Now when I look at him and think of the 20-plus years we have been together, I just shake my head and smile. Some things are just meant to be, I guess. I love you, sweetie.

And what would life be without a great friend? I mean a truly great friend who you can bare your soul to and are not afraid to look foolish with. One truly influential person in my life is my friend Christine. Strange as it is, her father is my mother’s “long-time companion” and we have known each other for many years. But we didn’t get to know each other really well until our mutual parents got together after my father passed away. We have shared many, many hours talking about life, the necessity of staying focused on the positive, and encouraging each other to reach our full potential. She has inspired me many times and made me feel rejuvenated when I felt nothing but completely depressed. Thank you, Christine. I love you and I am so grateful for your friendship.

What about your list? Who would you put on it, and why?

P.S. For those of you who have come into my life relatively recently (you know who you are), please don't be hurt or miffed that you're not mentioned on this list. It's not a reflection on a lack of value of you as well. I love you too. :) 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Damn, I Wish I'd Said That!

We’ve all had those moments … someone either said or did something really ignorant to us, and we were so shocked that it rendered us temporarily mute. We say nothing, or we mumble something unsatisfactory. Later on, when we think about it, we kick ourselves, thinking: Damn, I wish I’d said that!

I have so many examples of this phenomenon in my life. I’m one of those people who’s pretty articulate on paper (or computer screen), but verbally … not so much. As much ignorant behaviour as I have seen in my life, it still startles me when I witness it. I just can’t fathom man’s inhumanity to man at times, and it leaves me temporarily speechless. There have been a few odd times when I was blessedly sharp-witted and sharp-tongued and managed to deliver an appropriate response, but for the most part, I get tongue-tied.

Here are just a couple of examples of incidents where I wish I would have been more verbally effective:

I was at my doctor’s office for a physical about a year ago. He’s been my doctor for ages, and I’ve never really liked him (you’ll see why). One of the first things he asked me (as usual) was: “What about your weight?” I always feel like I’m on the defensive with him. I said, “I walk every day, and I eat as healthy as possible.” Then he looks at me and says, “You can’t go on like this.” For a moment, I felt like I was an actor in a bad Spanish soap opera. I just sat there mute, feeling chastised. What was even funnier was that after the physical, when he checked my blood pressure, breathing, heart, blood and urine, etc. … everything was fine. I was in perfect health. He’s one of those doctors who thinks that losing weight is the answer to everything.

What I wish I’d said: You know, I’ve been coming to this office for decades, and it’s always the same. You constantly bring up my weight. If I’m so unhealthy, then why did my tests come out normal? Get educated and go to some seminars on treating patients of size. You obviously need some direction.

Another incident that comes to mind occurred a couple of years ago, when me and my family went on a trip to New York City. My husband wanted to go see Yankee Stadium (he’s a die-hard Yankee fan), and my daughter and I were not interested. We decided that me and my daughter would go to the Metropolitan Museum and meet him in a couple of hours. We took the subway and got off, needing to find our way to Fifth avenue. I wasn’t sure which way to go when we were on the street, and I spotted a couple of ladies sitting on a bench a few feet away from us. One was old, the other young. They looked like a mother and daughter. I went over to them and very politely said, “Hello ladies, how are you? Could you please tell me how to get to Fifth avenue?" They looked at me, and the older one in particular looked at me like I was an alien. They pointed in a certain direction and then the older one said, “It’s pretty far,” in this warning tone of voice. “No problem, we don’t mind walking,” I said. Then she said, with this disapproving look on her face, “It’ll do you good.” I was fucking furious, and it was on the tip of my tongue to really let her have it with a few cuss words, but my daughter was with me, so I just turned around and left. My daughter knew something about the encounter was not right and looked up at me, saying, “What did she say, mommy?” I just brushed it off, saying nothing, but then she said, “That was rude!” I just said, “C’mon, let’s go,” and tried to act like it didn’t bother me … but inside I was fuming, and it bothered me for quite awhile afterward.

What I wish I’d said: Did you hear me ask for your opinion on my health? No … I asked for directions. You are one rude bitch.

Since starting this blog, I’ve become more comfortable with defending myself and others against ignorant and rude people, and I’ve become much more articulate and outspoken than I used to be. Still, I do have those moments when I wish my brain wouldn’t hit pause and be able to instantly deliver all the great responses I have in my mental arsenal. It’s still a work in progress, though.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Letter to My Younger Self

Last week, I watched a great video by fabulous fat girl Virgie Tovar. In her video, she talked about what she’d say to her young fat self from her current fat self, with all the knowledge and experience she’d acquired along the way. She urged us fellow fat girls to write our own letters as well, and I think it’s a great idea.

Here’s mine. (I've used photos to illustrate certain periods, and I'm sure you'll notice in at least a couple of them that I certainly didn't look fat ... but I can guarantee you that I always FELT fat, and that my weight was always an issue.)

Dear Gaby (everyone used to call me Gaby when I was younger, and my best friends still do),                
I know you think that life is nothing but shit and that you will never find love, success, or happiness, but girl … wait until you see what happens. When you grow up, you will find love, success, and happiness. They may not come from the places you expect, and they will not come at the whisk of a fairy godmother’s wand, but they will happen, and you will find that your suffering and strife makes them even sweeter.

You will find the love you crave. Some of it will be paired with pain and disappointment, but the true love you find will be unquestionable. You will do stupid things but you will learn from them. You will go through a period where partying, drinking, and drugs seem like part of your identity, but actually it's just a natural rite of passage and a coping mechanism. The only way you were able to feel comfortable around other people most of the time was to be drunk and wasted out of your mind, but it was also a hell of a lot of fun (unless you were painfully hungover) and you won't regret a moment of it. You will have great and not-so-great sex with not-great men. You will meet men who use you for their own purposes, but even though they think they're getting off easy, you're always fully aware that you're allowing them to use you, and that you regard this simply as a romantic crap shoot. 

Through much trial and error, you will finally meet a man who surprises and amazes you with his goodness and uniqueness. You will make a baby together. You will marry him. You will give birth (in a mere 5 hours!) to the most beautiful little girl in the world. She will delight you with her spirit, sense of humour, and uncanny similarity of character.

You will amaze yourself with your bravery, guts, and tenacity. You will amaze others with your achievements and accolades, and be extremely amused and gratified at the astounded looks on their faces. You will become a writer whose readers tell you how much your words inspire them. You will represent others like you and you will do it with style, grace, and rock and roll.

You carry yourself with pride, dignity, and class. Even the most loud-mouthed fools will have to bend the knee to your undeniable intelligence and self-respect. Despite your disappointment and disgust with much of the world, you  will always have a sense of awe for it. The desire to express this awe sparks much creativity and makes you feel part of a global artistic family, and you experiment with and express yourself through photography. You will look back on your life and smile, and think of the perfect sense it all makes, for you would not be the woman I am now if I had not been the girl you were then. I love you, baby. Rock on.

From the 46-year-old you

What's even cooler than writing this letter to my younger self is realizing that 20, 30, or even 40 years from now, my older self can write the same type of letter to my middle-aged self, telling me what I've learned and the great things that have happened to me since!

I urge you all to write your own letters to your younger selves. Not only is it enlightening and fun, it really makes you look at the big picture and put all the puzzle pieces together. Life is not that big a mystery. We don't become who we are for some inexplicable reason. Every single thing that has happened to you has brought you where you are now. It's pretty awesome, when you really think about it. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun With Stats

One of the really cool things about blogging is that you get to check your stats. These aren’t the dreary stats of scientists or economists. These are actually interesting, and can be pretty funny.

For instance, you can see what keywords people have used in their internet searches. We’ve all done internet searches. You go into Google or Yahoo or whatever, type in a few words, and a list of links comes up. Here’s a sampling of just a few keywords that have referred people to my blog:

Women boobs, my heavy boobs, fat cheerleader, fat and skinny people kissing, thanks my big boobs, my job is bullshit, very pale person

Very pale person? How the hell did my blog come up in a Google search for very pale person? These are the kind of things that amuse me.

Another thing that’s really interesting is seeing how many people from different countries are viewing your blog. The vast majority of my readers are from the U.S. and Canada, but I do get a few from abroad, including:

United Kingdom, India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Germany, Russia, France, Ireland, South Africa, Finland, The Philippines, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia.

It’s pretty cool knowing that people from so many different countries are interested in size issues and are reading my blog. I’ve noticed a regular visitor from Russia with the abbreviation Drop me a line,! Thanks for being such a faithful visitor!

Another interesting thing is seeing how people are viewing your blog, meaning whether it’s through Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc. I’ve seen that some people have viewed my blog through a Nintendo Wii, and even a Nintendo DS! That blows my mind. I keep picturing someone playing Super Mario, then checking out my blog.

Your blog stats will also display your most popular posts (the ones with the most pageviews). My most popular posts are (in order of popularity):

The Woman in the Mirror - May 2011
In Praise of Big Boobs - April 2011
The Built-In Bullshit Detector - July 2011
They Just Have No Clue - June 2011
Fat on Film: Shallow Hal - April 2011

I was kind of surprised that In Praise of Big Boobs wasn’t number one, but The Woman in the Mirror was the clear winner, beating it by almost 100 views. I guess that just goes to show what a major issue body image is, that people are searching for articles or columns on it. It even beats boobs!

Blogging is hard work. It requires dedication, creativity, and the ability to cut through writer’s block with a hacksaw. But it’s also really rewarding. I love getting comments from you readers. They give me warm, fuzzy feelings inside. Please don’t ever hesitate to let me know what you think. 

And thanks for always making my stats so enlightening and entertaining!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thin Bashing

It’s an undeniable fact: a lot of fat people hate skinny people. Are we just as guilty of discrimination and prejudice as they are? Do we pre-judge people on appearance alone, just as we are judged? You bet your ass we do.

Being at the other end of the spectrum, I have to admit I haven’t given “thin prejudice” much thought at all. The more I do think about it, the more I realize how pervasive it really is.

Do I care? I’m not going to lie. I can’t say my heart bleeds for thin people who get hassled for how they look. Do I care when some anorexic model gets criticized and joked about for how her bones stick out of her body? Honestly, no. I know it’s wrong … but when I think about it, I’m tempted to say (like a lot of large people out there): “So what? It’s about time they take some flak for how they look and get to be on the receiving end of that kind of abuse.” Maybe that is doubly true for chronic fat haters and fat abusers. I certainly don’t give a shit if someone calls a skinny fat basher a twerpy pipsqueaked asshole or a toothpick-brained bitch. But that’s doing genuinely nice people (who also happen to be thin) a disservice.

I’m old enough to remember those Charles Atlas ads in the back of the comic books. Do you remember them? The ad was designed as a comic strip of some really skinny guy sitting on the beach with his bikini-clad girlfriend. Some musclehead bully comes along and decides to humiliate and shame him, and perhaps try to steal the skinny guy’s girlfriend:

At the end, of course, the skinny guy goes to the gym, beefs up, punches the guy out, impresses the girlfriend, and no doubt gets laid regularly for the rest of his life. He has gotten his revenge. But of course he had to beef up and change the way he looked before he became successful. No, the message hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, although we females get this shit shoved down our throats a lot more than men do.

What about the whole “bimbo” perception? A lot of people assume that if a woman is incredibly beautiful and has a dynamite body, then she’s a total idiot. It’s a stereotype. Yes, there are a lot of very attractive women with very little brains who have become extremely successful strictly because of their looks. (I didn’t say Kim Kardashian, did I?) But not every stereotypically gorgeous woman is a bimbo.

Think about names like pipsqueak, toothpick, skeleton, skinny-ass, no-ass, skinny bitch … are they any less offensive than the names we get called? Of course not. But a lot of us feel justified in using them against thin people, even if they have never done a thing to us.

Sure, there are a lot of thin people out there who think they’re better than us simply because they’re thin. There are also a lot of thin people who are genuinely nice, sweet, friendly, and who are just as appalled by ignorance and prejudice as we are.

Meanness, bitterness, and ignorance is not restricted to size. Large people can be just as mean, bitter, and ignorant as the thin people who call them names.

Don’t assume that just because someone is thin that they are your enemy. You may find, once you drop your guard and your assumptions, that they are just as cool as you are, and a pretty wicked ally.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You're Fat! You're Fired!

As if the social pressure of being overweight wasn’t bad enough, it now appears that fat hatred has manifested economically in a very alarming way.

Check out the link above that one of my Facebook friends posted this week. Japan’s government has declared a war on fat. EVERYONE over the age of 40 will have their waistline monitored. Men are allowed waists of 33 ½ ”, women 35 ½ ”. Anything over that measurement is considered overweight, and corporations face huge fines if their employees do not weigh or measure into those guidelines.

Think about that for a moment. Imagine what it would be like if this kind of edict drifted overseas to North America … and I honestly believe it won’t be long before it does. Can you imagine being at work one day, and called into your boss’s office for a discussion about your weight? Can you imagine being told that if you don’t lose weight, you’re gone? That’s what would happen if your company was fined because of your weight. You would be given a few warnings, a few chances to comply, then given your walking papers.

Imagine being under that kind of pressure. Not only are most people under the gun these days as far as being able to pay their bills and pay off debts. Imagine having the added pressure of needing to lose weight SIMPLY TO KEEP YOUR JOB.

Imagine the added humiliation of having your thin co-workers who conveniently fit into the guidelines sit back and watch you struggle to meet this added pressure. Maybe they’d place bets on whether you’d be able to pull it off, or how long you’d last before you got turfed. Maybe they’d all laugh about you in the lunchroom, watching you go through this hell.

Medical talking heads and just plain idiots in general will undoubtedly defend this fascist practice by saying that it is in the interest of public health, and that it’s for everyone’s own good. God knows the average working stiff doesn’t have the ability or sense to take care of themselves, so the government has to step in and do it for them. I wonder if the same idiots applauding this measure would be as enthusiastic if it became mandatory company policy for them to quit smoking, drinking and doing drugs, and having illicit sex (all in the interests of their better health, of course). Nah, don't think so.

The only part of this dogma that I actually think is beneficial is the exercise breaks twice a day. Not only is it good for your health, but it would break up the monotony of any desk job. Nothing wrong with that. It’s getting your waistline measured and being pressured to get down to government-regulation size that I think is unconscionable.

Thank God I’m self-employed. When I ditched the corporate world and resolved to work for myself, I thought it was only my sanity and integrity that benefited. In Japan, quite a bit more is at stake now. This is a horror story. We can only pray that this fascism doesn’t invade our shores.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fat on Film at TIFF

Emma Levie as "Lena",
directed by Christophe van Rompaey.

I’ve been busy attending TIFF for the past couple of weeks, and for those of us film lovers, it’s a cinematic feast. For fat film lovers like me, however, it’s a rare treat to find a film that deals with the subject of fat girls. So I was understandably excited when I read the description for “Lena”, and made sure it was one of my choices.

Lena” is a Dutch film starring Emma Levie in the title role. Lena is a 17-year-old girl with the pitifully low self-esteem characteristic of many fat girls. In the opening scene, the camera is fixed on her face in closeup as she is having sex with some anonymous young guy in a dark back room. When he finishes with her, she asks him if it was okay. He says yes, and she tries to kiss him, but he quickly pulls away. “Hey. Don’t go falling in love or anything,” he tells her. Then he zips up and leaves.

So far, a pretty accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a sexually active fat girl. Many of us know what it’s like to be treated like a sexual receptacle, and not the girlfriend. We see Lena go from day to day watching her skinny friends chase guys and be chased by them, doing most of the work at a daycare centre, and getting criticized by her mother for her weight. She feels like an outcast and she is one. But one night, after a particularly lonely party, she’s heading home on her motorcycle and sees a young guy running down the street with cop cars pursuing him. She drives up alongside him and he smiles and says hi, in mid-stride. Then he hops on her motorcycle and they speed away.

This is how she meets Daan, exactly the kind of goodlooking young guy her friends go through like different shades of nail polish. He turns out to be really nice, and not only that -- he genuinely likes her. He asks for her number and actually calls. They become a couple, and he asks her to move in. She jumps at the chance, not only as a way to develop the relationship, but to escape her critical, suffocating mother.

Daan’s father is an odd loner, spending most of his time in an upstairs room, listening to jazz music and repairing musical instruments. Daan treats him like shit, but Lena feels drawn to him and begins spending time with him, bringing him tea and keeping him company. Meanwhile, Lena discovers that Daan is lying to her, committing petty crimes. Although Lena is a downtrodden fat girl, she still has something of a backbone, and confronts Daan with his lies. They get into a big fight and she leaves, going back to her mother’s apartment. Unfortunately, mom won’t let her move back in, so she’s on the street. Daan’s father comes to her rescue and allows her to sleep in his room. For awhile, the three of them co-exist in the house, but she and Daan’s father become closer, and one night he tries to kiss her. He tells her he thinks she’s beautiful. At first, she pushes him away angrily. But then, inexplicably, the next day she goes up to his room and they fuck like gangbusters.

Unfortunately, this is where the film began to degenerate for me. Many women jump into relationships prematurely, either because they’re desperate to have someone, or because they’re trying to escape a bad situation (and usually end up getting into another). When I was Lena’s age, I made similarly bad decisions, and maybe that’s why I reacted so strongly to this film.

One of the things that irritated me was that Lena wasn’t even particularly large. She was merely pudgy, at most. I want to see a film about a genuinely large girl or woman – 200 pounds and up – coping with life and the way her weight affects her, and triumphing over her challenges. I want to see a film about a fat girl who loves herself and refuses to be treated like shit. This film wasn’t it. Lena just kind of coasts through life, not thinking about her actions or the consequences of her actions. Perhaps it was realistic in the sense that her character was only 17, and how many of us make the wisest decisions when we’re 17? But Lena wasn’t stupid. She was a keen observer of the people around her (as all fat girls are), and she’d already had enough hard knocks in life to know better … and that’s what irritated me.

This film did a very good job, however, of showing how even a few pounds can make a huge difference in both the way the world sees a fat girl, and in the way she sees herself. When you’re constantly ignored, devalued, and criticized, unless you have an extremely strong sense of self and supportive people around you, you’re not going to make good decisions.

At the end of the film, all hell breaks loose when Lena confesses to Daan that his father has been “touching her”, and chaos ensues, with Lena fleeing back to her mother’s house. When the police show up on her doorstep, we can see that her character hasn’t evolved at all. She’s merely traded one bad situation for another, yet again.

Lena” could have been so much better. I wish this film had more of an uplifting message for us fat girls, and not merely relegate us to hopelessness, yet again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kinda-Big Kinda-Sexy

Last week, the show “Big Sexy” premiered on TLC. It’s about five plus-sized women living and working in the fashion world of New York City. They are a working model, an aspiring model, a fashion designer, a makeup artist, and manager of a plus-sized clothing store.

It is definitely refreshing to see a show about plus-sized women that is not dedicated to their struggle to lose weight. All five women are very attractive. They believe in themselves and are determined to succeed in love and life no matter how challenging it is for us plus-sized girls. That is a great message that definitely that needs to be out there.

However, I couldn’t help but notice quite a few contradictions with the show. I titled this blog entry “Kinda-Big Kinda-Sexy”, because out of the five women on the show, only one of them struck me as being notably big. The other four could be described as pudgy, chubby, or plump, but definitely not obese. Not that I considered the largest one obese, either … but she was the only one who had a body type remotely close to mine.

The opening scene of the show was immediately contradictory, because it showed aspiring model, Tiffany, squeezing and struggling to get into not one, but TWO body shapers! She was on her way to a fashion show with her friends, and she was hoping to get some modeling gigs by meeting with the designer after the show. I can understand her wanting to look her best and minimize all the lumps and bumps that are anthrax to the fashion industry, but I couldn’t help but think about what a hypocritical message it sent. The show is supposedly about five confident plus-sized women who love themselves and their bodies, yet here was this beautiful young woman huffing and puffing to squeeze her body into this elastic sausage casing. (We all know that’s what they really are.)

Tiffany is also the needy one on the show, constantly needing to be reassured and reminded that she is beautiful and sexy, to the point of grilling her ex during a game of pool about why they broke up and what he didn’t like about her.

Another scene that annoyed and bemused me was when the working model, a beautiful girl named Nikki, refused to get into a bikini for a fashion show – and this was a fashion show featuring other plus-sized women! She isn’t even fat – she is a little on the big side, with no lumps and bumps that I saw. But she adamantly refused to wear her bikini without putting on a cover-up. So much for body confidence and self-love … and this woman is a frickin’ model. Why would anyone go into a modeling career if they weren’t 100% confident about their looks?

The makeup artist, Audrey, had conflicts about appearing in the fashion show because she was afraid her mother wouldn’t approve. Her mother was a stick-thin former fashion model who had always lectured her about her weight.

The only one of the five who genuinely seemed not to give a shit what anyone else thought of her was Leslie, the manager of the plus-sized clothing store. She was also the only one who got any action at a BBW party they attended, which just goes to show you … confidence is attractive.

Granted, the show does reveal the reality of life for plus-sized women. One scene showed them being denied entry to a nightclub (unless they paid $30, when all the skinny chicks were getting in for free). Another scene showed a fashion designer being unconvincingly polite to aspiring model Tiffany when she asked her if she’d ever hire her to do a show. (She said yes, but we all know she was full of shit.) One disturbing scene at a BBW party showed a contestant at a thunder thighs contest shake her body in a frantic quest for attention and acceptance that I thought was incredibly demeaning.

The show did do a good job of demonstrating how difficult it is to actually love yourself in this society, and the contradictions we sometimes feel. A lot of us waver back and forth in our self-esteem. How many of us can actually say that we feel great about ourselves 100% of the time? It’s just not possible, with all the criticism we hear about large bodies on a daily basis.

That’s why I can only say they were “kinda sexy” as opposed to Sexy. A lack of self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-love is not sexy at all, no matter how good you look. Any faked confidence you exude is easily detectable. Fake-it-till-you-make-it may work well in theory, but in actual practice, it’s as solid as a house of cards.

That’s the challenge for all of us. To love ourselves ALL THE TIME … not just every now and then.

Big Sexy airs Tuesdays at 10:00 pm EST on TLC.