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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.