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Monday, 21 January 2013

Guest Post: The Great Debate

Let me be very clear from the get go here lovely readers. I detest ''size bashing''. I detest it so much it almost leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I feel physically repulsed every time I see any ''size bashing''. In the last few weeks I've been dealing with quite a few comments along the lines of demeaning my struggle with my own weight. Making light of the decision I made. Accusing me of buying into the ''skinny culture''. I'm sure you get the picture. 

I am all for people feeling comfortable in their own skin. Feeling healthy. I am not, in any way shape or form, ok with seeing any size bashing. 

With this in mind I'm introducing a guest post to you all today from a wonderful woman by the name of Chloe. Chloe posted a comment on Facebook over the weekend that resonated so completely with me that I asked her to discuss her feelings here on The Agoraphobic Fashionista

We hope you take away the message that is intended.

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When Susie Orbach suggested 'Fat is a Feminist Issue' in 1978, the average dress size in the UK was probably about a 12; now it's closer to a 16/18. The reason I say probably is not because I can't be bothered to research – it's because I can remember going to M&S with my mum, an average sized woman, and she bought a size 12. Whilst she always thought she was fat, she really wasn't, and she's always been how I judge 'an average size'. 

I've talked before about my weight, and my relationship with food, but I didn't go into details about my relationship with my own body. I'm now 38, and slightly fatter than I'd like to be – I always know when I'm too fat for myself because I can feel my neck jowls bunching up and I get calf splints when I walk. I no longer own a full length mirror because I honestly don't care. I know if I'm too fat by the way I feel, and as long as I have clothes on, that's good enough for me. 

I'm fat – I have always been fat to a degree. For me it's just a description of my body. Fat has been used towards me as an insult over the years, but it doesn't hurt me. The only time being called fat upset me was when I was 15, and a boy said I was too fat to go out with, unless we lived in London; apparently in the small town I grew up in, being fat wasn't as well accepted as in the Capital.
For some people, being fat isn't just a description, it's a badge of honour. The 'Fat Pride' movement has become more widespread in recent years. I've heard complaints about this from a wide variety of people, the most compelling argument of which was this; being fat is not really the same as being gay. 

It's generally accepted, by all but the most stubborn or unintelligent people, that being gay is not a choice, it's the way you are born. You cannot be 'turned' gay, and sexuality is a sliding scale rather than black or white. 

Whilst some people are genetically more likely to be overweight, it's not really something you're born with. The fundamental difference between being fat and being gay is that you can make yourself fat and you do have a certain amount of control over your weight. 

Going back as far as I can remember, every woman on my mother's side of the family was large, my mother being the smallest at a 14-16. I don't know if this is because of something in my genetic make-up meaning I'm more likely to retain weight, or because being overweight is a side-effect of some mental health issue which runs in our family, or if it's just due to just nurture rather than nature.
The biggest similarity between being fat and being gay is actually that people are teased about it. In recent years, the term 'queer', once used as an insult, has been reclaimed and used in a descriptive way – and this is actually what I like the most about 'fat pride'. Whilst I'm not particularly 'proud' of being fat, I'm OK with it. Even when I lost eight stone, I was still fat. I was fit and healthy, but definitely fat. 

Since going to Plus North last year, I've met loads of amazing fat bloggers, who really don't care about their weight but care about fashion. I went because I make jewellery to fit people, not because I'm fat – that was just a nice side benefit. I've always believed people should be able to get jewellery to fit, whether their necks are massive, or their wrists are tiny. I spent the day making jewellery to fit, and meeting plus size fashion bloggers, a lot of which I've kept in touch with. 

I know where I'm going with this – I'm just trying to say it in a way which isn't offensive, like most things I say. I'll skip back a little.... 

My husband uses a wheelchair. I love him because of who he is, not because of the wheelchair, and
not despite of the wheelchair. I'm not going to say it's not something I think about, because that's ridiculous; I love him and he uses a wheelchair, of course I think about it.

We have a friend who has cerebral palsy. He's joined a few dating sites, all of which are for disabled people. I was upset for him by this. He shouldn't be limiting himself to people who either are disabled, or who want a disabled boyfriend. I met someone with a disability fetish once, because she was going out with someone else at Ian's university who uses a wheelchair, and I didn't share her attitude at all. I'm not with Ian because I have a fetish for people who are paralysed, but I also respect that she has a fetish for people with disabilities. 

My friend with cerebral palsy is a lovely man – I've always said he would make someone an amazing boyfriend, would treat whoever he's lucky enough to be with like a princess, and it would mean we could double date (I'm half joking here). I literally don't understand people limiting themselves just to people who have the same physical characteristics. 

Now I come to my point. I know a lot of great women who happen to be plus sized. I also know a lot of amazing women who are not. I want everyone to stop 'skinny bashing'. We don't have to put ourselves into two camps – skinny and fat.
Just because someone is thinner, it doesn't mean they've 'betrayed the sisterhood'* – they're still 'real' women. Not every woman is 'curvy', and I reject the idea that voluptuous is merely a polite term for being fat. 

Yesterday I saw a cartoon stating that 'people don't want a t-bone steak that's all bone, they want meat on it' with a picture of a woman with a fat ass. It offended me. You might be surprised because I'm fat, but in all honesty it's because I actually, totally and vociferously believe that no one should be judged by their appearance, whether they're considered fat or thin, or curvy, voluptuous, 'meaty' or 'bony'. 

The reason I was asked to write this is because Sera has been accused of accepting the media representation of what is 'normal'. After a short time of knowing her, I know she lost a lot of weight so she could stay alive longer for her child and change her son's nappies. If she'd said to me she lost weight to feel better when looking at herself in the mirror, I'd have felt exactly the same. Someone choosing to lose weight so they like how they look in the mirror is nothing to do with me. As long as they're doing it for them, and not for someone else, that's totally their choice. 

I choose my friends on their personalities, not on the way they look or feel about the way they look. I have friends who are transvestites, gay, transsexuals, straight, feminist, 'traditional men' for want of a better word, religious, atheists, black, disabled... I literally couldn't give a shit. If I like someone I'll spend time with them, and if I don't I won't, and it will never have anything to do with a box society chooses to put them in. I won't choose to hang around with people just because they're the same size as me – I hang around with them because I like them. 

I may lose weight in the next few weeks, because I want to get into using my rowing machine again, because I enjoy it and it will help with the shin splints. It does not mean I feel any different about myself, or any of my friends. Anyone who thinks me dropping a dress size is betraying any ideas I have about myself or other people can, quite frankly, find themselves a new friend.

* totally stolen from Spaced when Daisy is encouraged to wear lipstick

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Chloe from www.lifesbigcanvas.co.uk

If you like what Chloe has to say and you'd like to support her in any way you can, have a look at her store, linked above, and you'll find her on twitter, @peskychloe
I know she'd love to hear from you as to your thoughts and feelings.

Thank you for spending some time reading here today.

Sera
xo

11 comments:

  1. This was wonderfully written and I wish more people thought like this. I used to be overweight and developed an eating disorder in my late teens and I actually got more negative and hurtful comments when I was dangerously thin. I don't care what my friends, or even my partner looks like just that they are amazing people.

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  2. This is a really fantastic and well written post, I really enjoyed it. I'm battling my weight because it's something that I am truly unhappy about: but equally, I know plenty of people of people who are overweight and are truly happy with it. I don't believe anyone else has the right to question or judge anyone else's being the weight they are or why they are that weight, regardless of where they are on the scale. X

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  3. Great blog post. As someone who is constantly struggling with my weight or at least the idea of my weight I completely understand your point of view.

    When I was skinnier (not skinny, just skinnier haha) I felt more healthy but not necessarily any happier and now I'm a bit bigger again I would like to get that feeling of good health back but despite my weight, I ALWAYS feel the same inside!

    One of the things I didn't like about being slimmer was how differently people treated me than when I was larger...it doesn't make any sense to me. Nothing has changed about me just that the needle on the scales happens to be in a different place.

    People are too quick to judge others based on the limited information we share online about our lives and it is a shame but unfortunately I don't think it will change. Some people seem to have a default setting of "critical and judgemental".

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  4. Great post! I loved reading it. I know exactly what you mean by people putting you in a box. I am not a thin woman but neither chubby just a bit with meat. For this reason some people like to categorize me as not fitting into 'thin' or 'fat' I supposedly fall inbetween and do not 'belong' anywhere, when I was younger I let it get to me. Now that I am older, it is still not something I like but then in the end I really do not care. Luckily my friends love me for who I am and I wouldn't want to be friends or spend my time with negative people who have nothing better to do than judge people.

    Ixx

    Limes&Smiles

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  5. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment of this post. I cannot bear this "real women have curves" business. I do not have curves but I certainly have all the bits that make me a woman. I think people should really stop worrying about what everyone else looks like, it's getting beyond dull now.

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  6. Just fabulous! i couldn't agree more.

    It's your life to live how you choose!

    Txx

    http://www.fantasticfunfashion.blogspot.co.uk/

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  7. Excellent post - well done Chloe and Sera for hosting. Great GREAT stuff.

    Elly

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  8. Absolutely loved this - brilliant. "Curvy" should be banned it's such an overused nonsense word. Thanks for writing. Emma x

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  9. Wow, what a post. Unbelievably brilliant writing. I hate the whole lot to be honest. I want to lose weight so I can feel better about myself and be healthy, because it is not healthy in any respect for a 29 year old 5 foot 6 woman to be over 16 stone and I do not want my son to have my food issues. That's as deep as it goes for me. I'm not dreaming of being any particular size just to be "mainstream".

    The thing that gets to me so, so much is that despite all the good wishes and the nice people who say it's on the inside what counts, there is an enormous difference in the way you're treated at different sizes. I got lots of compliments when I had lost a good bit of weight. People felt like they had the right to tell me I looked "much better" or "you're looking great at the minute" - can I not look nice in a larger sized coat? This worked both ways, mind - - I lost two "larger" friends when I lost weight, and lost count of the digs I got about "eating rabbit food". People see you moving on and doing something different and project their own issues on to you.

    With regard to actual attraction, I find talented, courageous people unbelievably attractive, regardless of what they look like. A lot of people don't believe me when I say that, but it's the truth. I have had crushes on very odd-looking people for reasons that varied from knowing a lot about a subject that interested me, being able to play an instrument, make something, or being headstrong. The night I met my husband he stuck up for me when he didn't even know me and that was it, hook line and sinker. One of my favourite things about him is that he is able to reverse a car like nobody I have ever seen before. How daft is that?!

    I feel incredibly sorry for your friend, limiting himself like that. The world is an odd place. Also - looks fade. I've never once looked at a 90-year-old man and thought "phwoooarrrr!". I think the one thing that we all need to realise is that everyone's different. I'd also recommend buying less of stupid celeb magazines and staying the heck away from the Daily Mail.

    I have no idea if this comment even made sense but I'm going to hit publish before I lose my nerve & delete it. Fabulous post. *applause*

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  10. Beautifully put... What a thought provoking read.

    I'm at my largest (excluding pregnancy) and drowning in my own enforced misery of it... I can look at my body and see the amazing 'vehicle' that gave me my son, I can see the body that got me through physical abuse from both my own hand and anothers... What I assume everyone else sees is the greedy glutton devoid of willpower... I have envied other addicts as at least their weakness isn't on constant display for instant judgement... I read an article where statistically male jurors will find an overweight woman guilty as opposed to their lean counterparts! Fucks Sake!!!

    I'm trying really hard to recover from bulimia, this has caused me to hit this top weight, no-one would give me a round of applause or a spot on a chat show because I refused a bag of crisps (or kept them 'down') and that's because I'm still fat.

    I truly and utterly believe you miss out on amazing people by judging the cover, my book is a page turner I just don't want this to be the end....

    @chelleyesblu

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Love to hear back from everyone!
Sera x