by, for and about Women of Size and their allies

In Our Own Damn Words

Dances With Fat

Heather is a plus size model – that picture to the left, that’s her.  Earlier this week a Facebook page called “Fit for Fertility” posted this picture with the text “Everyone has to start somewhere.”

To be clear, Heather is not a beginning exerciser – the person who runs the page had no permission to use the picture, and no knowledge of the fitness level of the model, she just assumed fat=beginner and put it up on her page (her page that she uses to sell her multilevel marketing diet products.)

People started sharing the picture, either because they were comfortable with blatantly stereotyping someone based on their body size, or because they assumed that the person who posted the picture actually knew something about the person in the picture and hadn’t simply stolen it and applied a cheap stereotype for her own purposes.

The picture started to get lots…

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Fierce, Freethinking Fatties

If “eat what you’re hungry for” is the most controversial leg of Health at Every Size® eating, then eat until you’re full is the most difficult. If you’re fat, there is a great chance that you have years, even decades, of experience questioning your body’s hunger signals. Even if you have never once actively dieted, which is often defined by ignoring hunger signals, you’ve been exposed to thousands of bits of social pressure through the media, doctors, well-meaning (maybe?) friends and relatives, all telling you that you eat too much.

If you’re anything like me, decades of trying to lose weight has left you needing to weigh and measure your food to get some kind of idea of how much you “should” eat. Not enough to be full, but not so much that you’re uncomfortable, such as a piece of chicken the size of a deck of playing cards…

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More Cabaret

Tiffany Kell headshotMy father died three weeks ago. He was in hospice, with all the pharmacological and technological assistance available to keep him comfortable and pain-free, but it was still, as deaths go, not a good one.

I had flown in hours after I’d heard about his fall. He was in late-stage heart and renal failure, and this fall was the beginning of the end. When I arrived, a nurse popped into the room to check on him. “Are you in pain?” she asked. “Just a little,” my dad said, joking through his wincing.

It didn’t have to end like this.

My father was born larger than life, to a family of larger than life people. DNA sequencing showed we are almost entirely Viking stock, no great surprise given the height and breadth of our bodies.

When my father turned 20, he was over 6’2 and 300lbs. His feats of athleticism echoed…

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A great blog came out today by a great fat activist. Yes, I know her IRL (which is to say we’ve met) and I’ve even had the opportunity to be offended by her. It happens. Real people say shit.

What’s interesting is what happens next when it’s brought to their attention. What happened in the case below is it got Stacy thinking. What she thought became the article/blog “Not Fat Enough For Fat Activism.” Which got me thinking.





There are a couple of things interesting to me about this. One is that the comment above drove enough traffic to Ms. Bias’ site that she followed it back. I admit to being Reddit-illiterate. But the internet is a very public place where often private things are said. Unfortunately as you can tell from the screenshot, the original author deleted her identity and so the blanket apology Bias’ blog offers cannot be tailored to fit her specifically. Bias says:

I often see this misconception in conversations about fat activism happening outside of fat activist circles. Smaller fatties or thin folks who are tentatively reaching out to fat activism hit up against something that pokes them in a tender spot and finds them feeling left out or unwelcome. The space I can imagine that happening in most frequently is the space of checking privilege.

So first, I’d like to clear up the initial misconception. As the fabulous Glenn Marla says, “There is no wrong way to have a body.”

As I can only speak for myself here, I want to state that I believe this fervently. There is no kind of embodiment that is superior to another. Any belief to the contrary would collapse the very foundations of my ethic. The point of social justice movements like fat activism, disability rights activism, anti-racism, feminism, queer rights, etc is to create all bodies as equal, independent of difference. I, personally, want a world in which all bodies exist in spaces of equal accessibility that are free of stigma and oppression. To that end, holding or projecting negative beliefs about bodies that aren’t like mine is exactly counter to that goal. So let me state clearly: I do not believe that fat bodies are superior. What I do believe is that fat bodies are not inferior. And there’s a world of difference.


So there’s Stacy’s opinion/apology. I agree. Mostly.

I will admit that I often find and preach the superiority of fat bodies. There’s nothing particularly useful in shaming bodies for being bodies of any size but I still love it when the guy in the movie tells the neurotic supermodel “Eat something.” In a world obsessed with thinness and a culture obsession with thin superiority to simple say “Hey that’s not nice. Every body is equal.” is insufficient. Give me an anthem with some heft, okay?

The fact is that all things are not equal. Not in balance. Sometimes when the scale tips in our favor, we shout “Hurray for curves and belly rolls and big, beautiful babes.” Gay Pride is not about hating straight people. Fat Pride is not about hating skinny people. Feminism is not about hating men. You are welcome to march in my parade, Baby. However I’m not going to stop the parade to make you the exception to any rule.

You will hear some mockery of heterosexuality in Queer spaces; distrust of (and rage at) straight, white cis men in Feminist conversations; etc. If you stay at the party long enough, you’ll hear straight, white, cis, feminist men raging at the same. The point is that in a culture that privileges and elevates one classification of people over another, it is ridiculous to ask the more oppressed party to always be worried about the feelings of the less oppressed party.

This doesn’t make your feelings invalid. It’s a question of whose responsibility is it to deal with them. Accusations of reverse “fat-shaming” are like accusations of “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism”.  There is nothing in melanin or estrogen or fat cells makes someone nice or even right. Fat, feminist, POC can and will piss you off. This isn’t an -ism.

Basic privilege 101: oppression is not a feeling.


There is a cultural machine that chews up fat or brown or ___ bodies. It creates commerce on self-hatred. It polarizes us against each other. Fight the machine.

Often what you may be experiencing when you feel unwelcome in a group is “Other”-ing. This can be particularly unpleasant for whom the experience of being Other is unfamiliar. Your feelings of alienation and/or entitlement keep you from being an effective ally or an active participant. Deal with it. Work through it. Like a fat girl wearing a bikini to the beach. The first time may be a little daunting. Each time you do it, it’s easier. Until the day when the guy who makes some snotty remark doesn’t even warrant wrinkling your brow. You look great and you know it. The feeling of it and the truth of it will sync up.

Just keep showing up.


Whoops! Target Inadvertently Offers ‘Manatee’ Dresses For Plus-Size Women

In the Twitter era, marketers have to be extra careful that what they put on their websites isn’t offensive, even intentionally. Extra, extra careful.

Witness what happened yesterday when self-described “Digital Maven” Susan Clemens was shopping on and noticed an odd discrepancy: The same style of dress in the exact same color was labeled differently depending on the size. The name of the color on the plus-size version was suggestive, and not in a flattering way.

Clemens tweeted her discovery, quickly garnering dozens of retweets:

Someone’s idea of a mean joke? Absolutely not, says Target spokesman Joshua Thomas.

He points out that “Manatee Gray” is a color found on many products across a range of categories on the Target website, some of them in women’s regular and even petite sizes.

In this case, he says, there were two different teams of buyers responsible for the “missy” and plus-size product lines, and the teams didn’t coordinate when they inputted the product information for the site. One team apparently used the color’s official name, while the other eyeballed it.

“We apologize for any discomfort this might have caused and are working to update the name of the dress to reflect Dark Heather Gray,” he said. “This was an unfortunate oversight and we’ll take it into consideration moving forward.”

Lesson learned, boycott averted.

This article originally appeared at the web address below, authored by Michael Zhang · Feb 11, 2013.


Memphis-based photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero has long been aware of strangers making fun of her behind her back due to her size. So aware, in fact, that she has turned the whole concept into a full-blown photography project. Titled Wait Watchers, the series consists of Morris-Cafiero’s self-portraits in public in which strangers can be seen in the background giving her strange looks and/or laughing.

The project was born when Morris-Cafiero was working on a separate project titled Something to Weigh. For one of the photos in that project, she snapped a self-portrait while sitting on some steps in Times Square.

After processing the film, she noticed that there was a man behind her making a face at her while being photographed by a female friend:


She noticed something similar in a photograph captured just five minutes later at a different location.

Morris-Cafiero then began setting up her camera in heavily trafficked public areas, composing the shots, setting a self-timer, and then stepping into the frame. The camera snaps a photo while she’s doing everyday things (e.g. chatting on her phone or grabbing a bite to eat), and her hope is that the image also captures an interesting expression from at least one passing stranger.

I now reverse the gaze and record their reactions to me while I perform mundane tasks in public spaces. I seek out spaces that are visually interesting and geographically diverse. I try to place myself in compositions that contain feminine icons or advertisements. Otherwise, I position myself and the camera in a pool of people…and wait [#]

The images capture the gazer in a microsecond moment where they, for unknowable reasons, have a look on their face that questions my presence. Whether they are questioning my position in front of the lens or questioning my body size, the gazer appears to be visually troubled that I am in front of them [#]

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

Woman Photographs Herself Receiving Strange Looks in Public

You can find more photos from this series over on Haley Morris-Cafiero’s personal website.

Image credits: Photographs by Haley Morris-Cafiero

Dances With Fat

End the war on fat peopleReader Kathleen sent me an article today about a researcher who suggests using a stent graft to limit blood flow to the gut after eating as a way to decrease weight gain.  This made me think about all the alleged “obesity interventions” that have possible side effect of death.  So I have to ask myself – in this whole “let’s eradicate obesity” push, does it count if they kill me?

I know this sounds dramatic but I’m starting to think that the people who are supposed to be responsible for my healthcare want me to be thin so badly that they are happy to risk my life to get it done, and it doesn’t matter what I want.

Weight loss surgeries are  “likely increase the actual mortality risks for these patients by 7-fold in the first year and by 363% to 250% the first four years.” Then there…

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