You Can’t See The Condition Of My Condition From There

For the past few years, photographer, activist and friend, Substantia Jones, has celebrated love from February 1st thru Valentine’s Day by posting pictures of couples in love.What makes her work different than the many other photographs of loving couples is that her couples are fat ― and often in various states of undress.  For those first fourteen days of each February Substania shows the world something most rarely see depicted in mainstream imagery – that fat people are in love and are very much loved in turn. That’s the good news…

Each year more and more other media outlets take notice of her work with glowing accolades.   And without fail, whenever she receives these well-deserved accolades for her work in other media, especially social which will often reprint her photos, there is a backlash. Even when an article is overall positive or at least enlightening, as we erstwhile and current models of her Valentine’s Day series, Adipositivity.com, Uppity Fatty and Fat People Flipping You Off  series know…

Now seems like as good a time as any for an important reminder: Never read the comments.

Because, in spite of that good advice, every now and then I forget where I am, the internet, and it will start off with praise and commentary for the article, then someone post that first bad comment. And once that first negative comment appears – from that point on it snowballs into a downhill shitstorm. And that’s the bad news…

For just as inevitably, the negative comments swing from how someone looks around to those who will start spouting their unasked for two cents regarding someone’s “health.”  This is when those, who from a mere photograph can and will spout, near chapter and verse, of the presumed physical, and sometimes emotional, ills of someone, especially the fat someone. Often they do not even bother to be nice about it by wrapping it in the sandpaper of “can” and “may”.

Look at her, you know she has hypertension or diabetes at that size.

I can see his ribs, he’s got to be anorexic.

I just don’t understand how people don’t see the double standard. There could be totally average size people pictured and you don’t question their “health”, because it is the “standard.” Average, thin or athletic looking people could have heart disease, diabetes or liver disease, but no one makes definitive presumptions about their “health”. Give him a salad, get her a cheeseburger.

And for God’s sakes some arm chair Dr. Oz-es out there, really need to stop acting like your judgment is somehow based on some noble concern for our health. Especially when you are basing the things you spew upon a double standard.

Because you simply cannot judge someone’s heath based on a photograph. Unless, you’re Sherlock Holmes, but since he does not exist and even if he did Dr, Watson would tell him to zip it any way, you’re not him, but I digress. You know nothing about the people in the photographs or their background. They may have health issues that prevent them from losing weight, they may have depression or any number of things that would cause weight gain. You do not know if they’re trying to lose the weight and frankly it is none of your damned business whether they are or not. If I have a salad for lunch today, it for the same reason I will have a cheeseburger for dinner tonight, I like the taste. My food consumption is not up for public discussion, especially from a perfect stranger – because there is nothing perfect about them if they are commenting on my food choices–, and especially while I am actually eating.

Average, thin or athletic looking people could have heart disease, diabetes or liver disease, but no one thinks about their health.  No one would comment that she or he could be a contributor to the high cost of insurance. Yet, one look at a fat person and it is almost considered a given. Commenting that a fat is a contributor and that it is something we all have to be concerned is pure sizest bullshit. By making this presumption it bears the extrapolation that some think all fat people are poor and/or do not have insurance. Unless you personally are footing that fat person’s insurance premium, it is just an opinion, an erroneous one at that, and I believe most of us are familiar with the adage regarding opinions and sphincters.

No one should voice an opinion on the healthy or non-healthy status of someone else’s body, whether they are fat, skinny or in between; not even a random someone in the medical profession.  The only person who can voice a definitive opinion on someone’s health without impunity is that person’s private doctor.

You are not attracted to fat people/skinny people, that is fine, beauty is… after all. Do you have a right to that opinion? Absolutely. Do you have the right to voice that opinion? Yes, you do. However, is voicing that opinion germane to the conversation at hand? If not, then please keep that opinion to yourself and avoid potentially derailing a conversation that was not about you and your opinion.

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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 8
52essays2017
A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

And let’s see how others are slicing this week:
sol
Slice of Life Writing Challenge|Two Writing Teachers

Verbal Diarrhea Diaries – As Cute Does

“I bet you think you’re cute.”

This coming from a young woman in her early thirties to me because I, a grown-ass woman almost twice her age, beat her to a seat on the subway.  I’m sure she only said because she saw I had earbuds on and likely thought I could not hear her. Wrong.

Let’s see…

I.  I’m in a bodycon dress where this body is throw all kinds of conscious attitude, the boots are cute, the mane with it’s deep purple highlights is shining and glorious, the gold mirrored, clear trim sunglasses are fierce and the face is done.

II. A woman does not step out of her home looking the way I looked  and don’t know she’s got it going on – no apologies or *bleeps*  given.

III. Oh dear Lord, it’s 2016 – catty females still say “she think she cute”? I thought that was as played out as “jive turkey”. So disappointing.

Being called out on cuteness traditionally is supposed to tear a female down. It’s a chastisement. Because heaven forbid she should own her beauty. She should be modest and demur respond with something along this lines of “Oh no, I don’t think I’m cute”

Pssshht! This is me we’re talking about – addressing someone who is likely ten years the junior of my own children. Modest? Demur? Me?–Never going to happen.

“Let me explain it to you this way – both of my parents brought nothing but beautiful children into this world and I’m an only child.”

She said nothing else to me, but from the murderous look that crossed her face, I think she got the point.

N’est-ce pas?

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Let’s see how others are getting through this 10th day  of the challenge:

sol

Slice of Life Writing Challenge – Day 10 – Two Writing Teachers

 

Verbal Diarrhea Diaries: Open Mouth Prove Stupid

Verbal Diarrhea Diaries: Why I try to keep my earbuds in as long as possible while riding mass transit so exchanges like this are less likely to happen when I forget I’m not wearing shades to hide my eyes:

1. Every fat, black woman whose name you don’t know or can’t remember is *not* “Precious”.

2. The actress’ name who portrayed Precious is Gabourey Sidibe.

3. The name of the character Ms. Sidibe portrays on “Empire” is Becky.

4. Clearly you’ve forgotten that “Precious” was raped by own her father.

5. Therefore it was “Becky” having consensual sex on the show. Not Precious and not Gabourey.

Thus your exclamation of “Oh gurl, you shoulda seen Precious gettin’ it on like she think she be the real Precious like you know” displays ignorance on multiple levels and why I’m “lookin’ at choo like youse stupid.”

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Yes, the entire mini-tirade above was my response to being asked “Why you lookin’ at me like I’s stupid?” by the young lady who made the statement. I don’t think she actually expected me to answer her when I caught her off guard and responded with “Do you really want me to answer that?” and then took her to school Julia Sugarbaker style.

Let’s see how others are slicing it this week.

Slice of Life writing Challenge: Two Writing Teachers

Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers

 

Rebel

 

I’ve been accused of being hasty
Full of mischief
I don’t act my age
And just what would my maturity be
Were there no markers to presume me sage?

And since when does sage mean stoic?
Or static? Or standard? Or stunted? Or still?
If my entire youth was lived being the rebel
Why shouldn’t my later years
Hold the same will?

I share a bond with Luna
My spirit justly named
Come mess with me
Try to lead me astray
If by chance you think I’m tamed

Simply because my sea of ebon locks
Is pierced with a few opaque silver strands
I’ll blow smoke circles while we match martinis
’Cuz come the morning
It will be me who still stands

An Ample Beauty in all my glory
A modern Venus rising from the foam
Luna shines her light upon me
As I add new tales
To her ancient tomes

I’m vivaciously living to my fullest
So when I close my eyes at last
It won’t be with tears for what wasn’t done
But with a jocund wink
To my past

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National Poetry Month – Day 17

That’s A Dress?

A new plus-size clothing store opened in my area. I came to check it out, visually peruse the wares. With most of the clothing brightly colored, patterned and blingy, the store clearly catered to a customer base much younger than myself.  While the styles were cute, most of their skirts and dresses were much too short for my tastes, even if worn with leggings as is the current trend. It’s just not my style, but I keep looking because you never know, every now and then you strike gold and I did. I spot a semi-muted leopard print skirt with a pleated sheer black overlay hanging high on a wall. I am actually surprised by this skirt for a couple of reasons. The muted tones of the print together with the overlay was a considerable level up in comparison to most of what I had seen so far. Above all it was the only skirt in the entire shop that reached my knees. Bonus – it was on sale, so I had to have it. I catch the eye of a sales girl, point to the skirt on the wall and ask if it is in my size. She looks befuddled not seeing the skirt I’m speaking of until I point it out by describing the shorter skirt next to it.

“Oh, you mean the leopard mini dress!” She smiles finally understanding to which item I refer; only now I am the one who is confused.

“That’s a dress?” I look at it again, not seeing it all at.

“Yeah, let me take it down for you, you’ll see.” She finds an extender hanging hook and brings it to me. “See? It’s a dress.”

I dubiously took it and held it against my body.  To be fair the tube dress likely would be cute hitting mid-thigh or lower on someone who is 5’3″ or shorter. However, at my 5’8″ frame, worn as designed, it barely reached past my hips to my upper thighs and that is just holding it against me. With my body shape it would be even shorter when put on.

“Please tell me, where on earth would I be going at my age in something like this? Me?” I shake my head. It honestly was a sarcastic, rhetorical question, but the sales girl didn’t know that.
“Yes, you! It’s a club dress. You could easy rock that!” She nods as she visually appraised the dress against me.

“I’m fifty years old and there’s no way in hell…” I begin and then stop, seeing that she is about to cut me off with the standard tripe. “I swear if you’re about to say “age is just a number” close your mouth now before you lose a sale.” She closed her mouth so hard and fast I think I heard her teeth grind. “You’re new at being a sales girl in a clothing store aren’t you?”

She nods self-consciously in response. “That obvious?”

I take a mental breath and smile at the girl, hopefully taking some of the sting out of my words.  She is just trying to do her job, I reminded myself. “Just a little. It takes time to learn to read customers. Someone younger, you might be able to get them to buy it as a dress anyway. But I’m not that young. You saw that face I gave you a moment ago? That was the face of a woman who knows what she is about.  What her style is and what works for her. You can’t sway her. You don’t want to push too hard on a customer who’s set like that. She can have five items in her arms that she loves, but may walk away purchasing nothing because of that. In your case you’re lucky I have imagination and am buying this to wear as a skirt. So what do you think you should do next?”

“Ask you to show me how you’re wearing it as a skirt so I can show someone else how if they don’t like it as a dress neither.”

I mentally cringed at the double negative, but nodded approvingly, “Very good. And…?”

“Now that you have this skirt, we have a belt I think would go great with it. Let me show you, it’s this way.” She turned barely waiting for my response, knowing I would follow.

“Perfect.” I laughed.  “Show me.”

I’ve worn that skirt twice now with different tops and both times I received compliments on my dress.  Especially when seen  in pictures. The irony of it makes me giggle.

dress - skirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a dress?

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Check out how other lives are slicing today….

Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers

 

 

 

 

 

Slice of Life – Two Writing Teachers

Nothing To Fear? Want To Bet?

Please – read this first —-> Unseen, Unheard, Unvalued, Unimportant …

Now hear (read?) me out…

The fear of such an encounter is in nearly every woman’s subconscious, whether we want to admit to ourselves, let alone openly, or not.

Maybe it is not to such extremes in smaller towns, but in cities big and small, each day we as women who deign to step out past our front doors is consciously unconscious prepared for battle. We walk the streets constantly scanning faces and spaces, making as little eye-contact as possible, to keep from bumping into people and people from bumping into us. We walk the streets wondering was that brush against our backsides just the happenstance of crowded streets/bus/train/bar or was it something else? We walk the streets knowing that to hold eye-contact with a stranger too long can garner anything from a “were you looking at me?” stare with them quickly looking away, to a “what the f*** you looking at?” glare that makes you quickly shift your eyes. For extended eye-contact can turn into a simple one head nod of acknowledgement one human to another that is forgotten faster than the air refills the vacancy formed in passing each other  or it can escalate into what happened to GirlGriot. Or for the wrong woman caught by the wrong man on the wrong day with no knights, white/black or otherwise, to come to the rescue – something worse.

And all of this for no other reason for some than our having a vagina.

This daily battle is amplified pound for pound exponentially for us bigger gals. Where a look can also be one mere disapproval for taking up more space than some other person or outright disdain for our mere existence on this planet. Where a woman can strut down the street in haute couture, but can be brought down and made to feel a hot mess by the  hateful words and/or actions  of an (im)perfect stranger, because she appears to be over XYZ  pounds over some presumed benchmark of beauty.  If a cell phone is held up in our general direction, is the person just trying to read their texts in a better light or are we about to be photographed without our permission only to someday find ourselves subjected to the likes of Tosh 2.0 or “People of WalMart” type of vile and viral?

Now add being  a woman of color to the daily strategy, because unless we are already acquainted with them in other some way, the ones who could become a danger to us do not see the individual. The questions then become – is the guy looking at me seeing a Sapphire (the Angry Black Woman stereotype to challenge) or a Jezebel (the Promiscuous Black Woman stereotype to fuck)? While no one is ever mistaking me for the third stereotype a Mammy – the maid/mother/church woman/crone, I know for certain that the potential predator/s may look at me through any one or all three stereotypes and only see one thing – prey. This battle crosses every class, social and economic lines from roun’-the-way girls through to the upper echelons grande dames. The daily battle of our self-pride that says “Keep your head up,” against our self-preservation that says “but, keep your eyes lowered” because any day could turn into that day.  Just as no mother of black sons wants her child’s name to follow behind the comma of the latest victim of senseless violence, we have no desire for it to be our name behind that comma either.

We women are well aware that millions of women will go through their lives and never encounter anything that may challenge her safety. Still, if we have not lived it ourselves, we all know someone, or of someone, who has. Thus we all go through our lives knowing that on any given day it could. We either live in the grips of this fear, or in spite of this fear, or some combination thereof, but this fear is a subconscious part of our day, every single day.

I know most of you can’t, won’t or refuse to comprehend this, so I’ll repeat it.

Every. Single. Day.

And we do it in relative silence. Why? Because what’s the point in complaining? No ones listening anyway, as the saying goes.  It’s one thing to surmise that our well beings can mean so little to some. It’s a bitter pill to swallow down in our cores in the face of the truth of it. Had she been a white woman accosted by a black man in such a manner, someone would have quickly intervened. Someone else likely would have been taking cell phone pictures/videos for the police.  She would not be deliberately unseen by passers-by. She would not be unheard by those she called out to.  If silence equals consent, then the silence of each person that ignored GG’s plight in effect gave the man consent to harm.  I do not dare to ask what would it have taken for them to acknowledge her potentially dire situation and intervene. I am just grateful for the young heroes who did come to her aid, that we won’t ever have to find out.

But what of the next woman who encounters a man like that?

I read GirlGriot’s post. And re-read it. And read it yet again. I want to focus on the positive of the young men that came to her rescue, but I can’t get past the boulder sized lump in my throat that rescuing was needed in the first place.

I keep coming back to this: I shouldn’t have to fear men messing with me in the street. And I shouldn’t have to fear the people who are supposed to protect me from men messing with me in the street.
— GirlGriot Unseen, Unheard, Unvalued, Unimportant …

Nor should we have to have fear for the good Samaritan/s who do reach out to protect us, that their actions to help could put them in a different kind of harm on our behalf.

We should not have to fear…period.

But we do… Every. Single. Day.

No Apologies

So Linda Kelsey posted an article on the Daily Mail, a UK publication. In the article the self-proclaimed “unapologetic fattist”

Oh Linda Kelsey honey, let me begin with these wonderful words from the incomparable Mary J. Bligh:

So I like what I see, when I’m looking at me,
When I’m walking past the mirror

And yes it’s a full length mirror, showing all of me from my cankles, through my “bulging bellies and billowing pillows of back and shoulder stuffing, punctured by flabby arms and lardy legs” to my massive mess of curly hair. And I adore every ounce of it!

I am not going to go through the various fallacies in your pseudo medical proclamations solely equating fat with a litany of potentially fate medical conditions. We’ve all been on that not-so-merry-go-round and rather leave that to those who are better versed in that debate handle it. My focus is on your inability to understand how women of a certain size can dare to be happy. I do not know about you, but the source of my happiness is not attached to the size of my waistline.

You don’t like fat on yourself, that’s fine. You don’t like fat on other people, that’s equally fine. You are entitled to your opinion on both counts. However, your issues with the fat body are not mine. And certainly are not the Happiness Police. My happiness is not reliant upon your opinion -there’s that word again- of my fatness. My happiness cannot be validated or unvalidated by anyone but the crazy woman I face in that full length mirror each day.

I suppose a part of me is somewhat grateful that unapologetic fattists such as yourself at least recognize that not all of us fat chicks are miserable beings, hiding ourselves from the world, crying into a (insert fatty foods of choice here – I don’t want mention specifics and accidentally trigger anyone). After all we fatties are clearly so sensitive with no self control that even mentioning food could set us off on a feeding frenzy <– that was SARCASM in case you missed it. I am not grateful that you and your fellow unapologetic fattists feel that we should be just that though, hiding behind our own for walls until we shrink down to a size the lot of you deem no longer a blight and acceptable for public viewing.

Not gonna happen chica. You want to call me a fat girl, oh please do because guess what? I am fat and that’s that.

Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers
Slice of Life Challenge: Two Writing Teachers

You Know You Want Me…

.
.
I take a gulp of calorie free air
To stave off the craving I’m trying to brake
But I just can’t cope for goodness sake!
It’s not that the bunch of grapes are bad
Save it’s just not the thing to make me glad
So I’ll not lend an ear to its call
I’ll not let my gut be my downfall
I’ll not waiver from my niche
I’ll not satisfy this itch
Though it’s call is to me is proud
I’ll not give in it’s not allowed
“Just a thread of a piece” the call starts to quiver
No! No! No! Oh all right! Just a tiiiiiiiny sliver!
Knowing straight to my hips is where it’s bound
It’s a slippery slide from a diet to a pound
Oh why did that rhubarb, to me, start to talk?!
Guiltily home, with my whole pie, I walk

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…because I’m in a silly mood

dVerse ~ Poets Pub | OpenLinkNight Week 132

The Clothes Make The Man Or Woman

So this has been making the rounds of social media:

your_body
Someone recently responded as follows:

It’s a nice idea, but in a world where “the clothes make the man (or woman)”, it’s just not entirely practical to wear whatever in the eff you want, whenever you want, in spite of how it fits or what true messages it conveys. People think they are being individualistic or letting their personality shine or showing confidence with some of the unflattering things they wear, when in reality, they are letting their clothes define them and allowing their true selves to be buried under their latest fashion concoction. In other words, if one wears things that don’t flatter them, people tend to see the clothes (or lack thereof) instead of the person. So there’s my two cents.

I agree, if you are a CEO, you will be perceived as being more respectable and trust worthy in a business suit, than in jeans and a polo shirt, even if the suit is more ill-fitting than the jeans and shirt would be. Does it change how do business if you choose to wear to work because you are more comfortable than in a suit, no. But let’s be honest, how you are now perceived in knowing your business does change and it does matter and thus the suit. Even many  of those in the creative fields, where the rules of dress are very open, will attire themselves in a way more ‘suited’ to the situation, when conducting certain business transactions. We all understand that it is not necessarily fair or practical, or that matter makes sense, it is just the way of business perception.

However, where I disagree is in wearing  what’s flattering. What is flattering on a person is akin to the adage of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. It is very subjective.

Let’s go back in time and check out Cher’s infamous feathered concoction or the swan dress worn by Bjork at the Academy Awards in different years. Both outfits were considered “flattering” to the respective woman, but inappropriate to the occasion. Uh, it was the Oscars, the epitome of the art of movie making – a place where one would think individualism and being different would be celebrated. Yet both women were mocked for being just that – different. There is some mystical point you’re “allowed’ to color outside the lines before the one’s individualism becomes something bane to the sensibility of another. But who gets to decide that line?

Using the recent mini fashion storm with Gabourey Sidibe and the gown she wore at the Golden Globe being the perfect example. Gabourey wore what she wanted showing her individuality. Some loved what she wore and said it fit well. Others hated it and said  she could have worn something more ‘flattering’.  The same arguments pro and con were made of Melissa McCarthy’s gown.   The only persons whose opinion were correct in either case were Gabourey and Melissa’s.

Here is where the point of the post would be truly tested: Lady Victoria Hervey wore a body conscious gown to the Golden Globes after party where the world could see she was naked underneath.  Now Imagine the firestorm that would have erupted had either McCarthy or Sidibe decided she wanted to wear something any where near as sheer and/or revealing. They would not do so because they are very much aware that the fashionistas and especially Twitter would eviscerate them. The issue becomes a) why they will be taken to task for doing the same and b) who are the hell are those who would take them to that task are in the first place to be able to do so with impunity?
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Slice of Life Teal

Write, Share, Give: SOLS Time

If I Read One More Thing About Weight Loss I’m Going To Throw Up!

Do you know how sometimes you and/or your friends come across something so WTF?, so  – I don’t even know what to call it – that it must be shared just so the burden of knowing this exists is not yours bear alone.

This is one of those times….

The Device
To begin Aspiration Therapy, a specially designed tube, known as the A-Tube™, is placed in the stomach. The A-Tube is a thin silicone rubber tube that connects the inside of the stomach directly to a discreet, poker-chip sized Skin-Port on the outside of the abdomen. The Skin-Port has a valve that can be opened or closed to control the flow of stomach contents. The patient empties a portion of stomach contents into the toilet after each meal through this tube by connecting a small, handheld device to the Skin-Port. The emptying process is called “aspiration”.
http://www.aspirebariatrics.com/how-it-works.html

Where a standard catheter processes food removal after digestion. Here, the person has a type of catheter attached to his/her stomach that allows a portion of  food to be removed from the body before digestion is complete. This medically sanctioned bulimia is calories in, calories out without having to stick one’s fingers down one’s throat. Good, because I imagine that must be murder on one’s manicure.

Now, as a medical procedure for those who would need to do such to save their lives, I understand. I fully understand that there are those who can’t, and I do mean cannot, make use of the socially accepted methods of weight loss – dieting-exercise-Weight Loss Surgery.  However, let’s be honest. Never mind all the verbiage on the website that this “therapy” is used to assist in one’s “lifestyle modification”, and requires careful monitoring by one’s doctor.  We know a good portion of those who will volunteer to use this are going to be the ones who won’t (not can’t – won’t) be so bothered with those sociallyaccepted methods.

Considering the ‘aromas’ involved during a normal body waste removal and/or auto purge response. Never mind what’s involved scent wise with the use of catheters when things go wrong – and they occasionally do go very wrong.  I do not want to even think about what charm would emanate should that valve and/or pump ever fail.

And So…

  • If it comes down the front tube it’s urination.
  • If it comes down the back tube it’s defecation.
  • If it comes up the esophageal tube, though not necessarily out the mouth, it’s regurgitation.
  • And if it’s sucked out the inserted plastic tube on the side it’s aspiration.

They liken the process of expelling the contents of one’s stomach to the process of drawing one’s breath.  I know aspiration is the technical name for that part of the process medically speaking, the drawing of air or liquids through suction. Still, I’m betting, if the standard definition of the word were a person, s/he would be appalled and highly insulted by such.

And ooh, when it comes to sexy time, I bet that ‘poker chip’ must be so lovely to kiss to lick to gaze upon. Talk about redefining let me stick it in your port baby, ugh!I don’t know about you, but this is not something I will ever aspire to.