Big Fat Flea in NYC Tomorrow!

Last year I went to the Big Fat Flea in NYC for research, fat community, and, of course, shopping. I mentioned the Flea in my post on fat clothing swaps, but I wanted to make a separate post about the Big Fat Flea to remind anyone in the NYC area to GO! GO! GO! It’s such an amazing experience and is so affordable and there is so much great stuff. Nothing is over $10, and admission is also only $10. Located at NYU Law School (40 Washington Sq South), the event begins at 10:30 and goes til 6 pm.

Flea volunteers model donated clothing, via bigfatflea.tumblr.com

I attended the flea last year, and after everything was over I escaped to a cafe in Chelsea with my friend and Flea volunteer Jenn Leyva, where I interviewed her about her experience volunteering and shopping at the Big Fat Flea for her first time.

Me, holding up some sort of product called ‘Blondie’ at the cafe where Jenn and I met up. Whatever, it was cute.

Over lattes and croissants we spent the first several minutes of conversation going over the pre-Flea volunteer coordination details, and Jenn’s specific experience being in charge of the masculine clothing area (heads up, fatties: BFF aims to cater to all, with both masculine clothing and clothing 5x+). We talked about the importance of staying gender-neutral and queer-friendly and body-positive, and how adept the organizers of the Flea are at these things because they are enmeshed in their community and take great pains to make sure politics turn to practice.

Jenn Leyva about to say something smart.

Near the end of Jenn’s summary of her experience, I think we got into some really important things that are potentially useful to others who are interested in going to the Flea (which I highly suggest you do if you can!) and that relate to politics of fat fashion, accessibility, and fat community building and resource sharing: Continue reading

How To: Host a Clothing Swap

tumblr_m6yw9atpiB1qjlpumo4_1280There are several reasons that I love fat clothing swaps. They are a great way to make new friends (if you aren’t too shy!) and change up your wardrobe at the same time. They are also usually a nice space to explore different style choices and get lots of compliments in a fabulously body-positive atmosphere. And, if you’re fat and sized out of most mall stores, plus-size swaps offer very important resources that you don’t usually have access to (namely, clothing that fits for Goodwill-prices or–better yet!–free).

Some swaps are huge and benefit important non-profits, like next week’s Big Fat Flea in NYC whose proceeds go to NOLOSE (and is less of a “swap” I guess, but is similar in purpose). Others are fancy affairs organized by fashion bloggers and activists with sponsors like Lush cosmetics (see 2011′s The Gold and the Beautiful for a great example of this). Local chapters of non-profit groups like NAAFA often hold swaps for their members. But my favorite kind of swap is the kind you do in your living room with 10-30 of your friends and several full-length mirrors.
Continue reading

Cute Crafting: Avatar Trinket Boxes

Icon Box03I’m a sucker for avatar generators of all kinds, especially when I can make my mini-me as cute & chubby as I am (I’m really into my BitStrips character right now because she’s super fat). Awhile back my boyfriend introduced me to the Square Face Icon Generator, which is pretty adorable–he uses his for all of his social media icons now. I had some free time today so I decided to follow their tutorial for making 3-d cubes out of your square. Click through for the adorable results & instructions: Continue reading

Whose bodies?: On public harassment and victim blaming

(Originally posted on tumblr, here.)

A few weeks ago a man approached me while I was downtown waiting for the bus. We both had just exited the 150, which runs from my campus and the Veteran’s hospital (both in La Jolla) to downtown San Diego. I was listening to music on my phone as I usually do, sunglasses on, unsmiling. I was not mad or unhappy in any way, just keeping to myself. The man walked up to me and waved his hand in my line of vision, smiling.

“Hey lady!”

I smiled back, and then looked down at my phone.

“Lady!” He motioned for me to take off my earplugs.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“You should smile more often, you’re awfully pretty!”

“Thanks,” I said, again looking back down at my phone.

“But I saw you on the bus though. You know what the problem with people is these days? You people don’t interact. You don’t smile! You just listen to your music and tune out the rest of the world! You should talk to people, honey, c’mon.”

I sighed. He went on. I smiled. I even agreed with him. I did and said anything I could think to do or say to indicate (politely) that the discussion was over and I didn’t want to talk anymore. But he was oblivious, or just didn’t care. I was basically stuck there, with all the women near me silent (probably thankful that they were not the subject of this dude’s tirade), wishing I could just tell him to shove it and walk away. I didn’t say anything like that though; it wouldn’t be polite. He eventually walked away and I chalked it up to a minor annoyance. Continue reading

Sometimes your body changes, and it sucks

(Originally published on tumblr, here.)

Historically, Fat Acceptance has framed body positivity in fairly stringent and problematic ways. I think a lot of work has been done to address these issues, but oftentimes these things get played out over and over again as new people come to the fold.

When you first discover body acceptance, after years and years of hating yourself and fucked up weight loss attempts and (for many) disordered eating, it can be so tempting to latch onto this mantra of “LOVE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE”. This results in a lot of fat activists advising others to simply “accept yourself”, and anything else is automatically Bad Activism.

Of course, not understanding the nuanced ways we experience ourselves/bodies and embracing this approach to self-acceptance often means trying (usually unsuccessfully) to sweep one’s more ambivalent feelings under the rug. It also means not being open to others’ discomfort with their own bodies in ways that can be racist, ableist, and cissexist.

In The ‘Fat’ Female Body, Sam Murray writes about one of the more insidious aspects of this kind of humanist logic: it reasserts a problematic dichotomy between mind and body. It says that we must, in our minds, overcome our bodies (and hatred of them). This is problematic for a couple of reasons: 1) this is the same strategy we are supposed to use, according to contemporary fat-hating society, to lose weight and become “normal” people, and 2) our bodies and minds are not ACTUALLY split—we perceive and understand the world THROUGH our bodies, and to imply that we can just “change our minds” about how it feels to be fat in a fat-hating world—in a world not made for our bodies—disregards this pretty important reality. Continue reading