Welcome, Snarky’s Machine!

kateiconThe other day, longtime commenter Arwen noticed something:


Oh, sorry. I got a bit excited there.

We did, too, when we first found Snarky’s blog, and after a couple of weeks of reading that and her smart, hilarious, ass-kicking comments here, we started wondering if she’d ever consider blogging for Shapely Prose. Unfortunately, we also read the “about” section over at her blog, which says:

Having been burnt out on online activism, ally jockeying, ally cookie distribution and watching the snoozefest which is oppression olympics, Snarky pretty much seeks to avoid attracting that kind of thing to her current blog. So please spare her your critiques of her politics, language or viewpoints, as she probably wrote theory behind your critiques on the internet two billion years ago.

And we thought, yeeeah, it figures we’d never get that lucky.

But then she kept being fucking awesome, and we finally decided nothing ventured, nothing gained. So we actually asked if she would ever consider writing for Shapely Prose, and Shapelings, SHE SAID YES! We have a new blogger!


Snarky’s been waiting patiently for two days while Fillyjonk drew the icon and I finished writing the mammoth post that went up right before this, though she’s already moderated a few comments for us, BLESS HER FUCKING HEART.

Now all that’s left to do before she starts gracing this place with her fabulousness is add her bio to the “About” page here:

Snarky’s Machine is a writer, storyteller, blacademic and rabid Barney Miller fan who wrote her first short story at the tender age of nine. She can’t recall the specifics of the story, but it rocked. Currently, she writes grants and presents workshops on a host of pop culture-y, diversity and writing topics and doesn’t mind being paid in delicious cupcakes. (Sometimes.) Her work has been featured in Bitch and couple of other places she can’t actually remember. Snarky received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2007 and can be contacted at snarky@snarkysmachine.org.

Welcome, Snarky’s Machine! We could not be more thrilled to have you.

This one’s for the masochists

You all know that we get a lot of trolls here; usually they are discouraged by our despotic comments policy and give up after one or two bits of low-grade trolling. Of course, when Dude Nation descended upon us to wave their liberty sticks, the frequency and stupidity of the trolling went sky-high.

Here’s the thing about getting really stupid trolls: they suck and we don’t want them here, but sometimes the things they say are hilarious. I mean, we’re talking perhaps-you-are-speaking-moon-language territory. We can’t douchehound them all, but we often have the impulse to let you know just how inane the people who want to fuck with us (with all of us) are.

To that end, I’ve started a side project: the Helpful Comments blog. I’ve anonymized the comments so as not to feed the trolls’ little egos while still providing maximum amusement for you. I intend to keep this updated as often as men feel the need to come here and tell us how wrong we are because we’re ladies and shit. Think of it as a safe way to use up your leftover Sanity Watchers points on any given day. Enjoy!

Tuesday Post

Ok, yesterday’s open thread worked pretty well, so I’ll keep it going. This time, I even have a topic. Just got this from Charlotte Cooper via Facebook:

Dear rad fatties around the world,

I am co-organising an event here in London called The Fat of the Land: A Queer Chub Harvest Festival. It’s a mixture of food festival, DIY punk stuff, fat politics, performance, and some silly stuff too. It’s secular but draws on harvest festival traditions.

It would be amazing to see a bunch of you here, but I know that geography and travel and money and everyday hassles make this difficult.

HOWEVER, you can still help out from afar.

Many of the people coming to the Fat of the Land are going to be new to fat stuff, and part of my dream for the event is that it awakens people to the notion that there are a lot of people all over the place already thinking about and organising around this subject.

What I’m looking for are messages of support from rad fatties around the world. Just a paragraph or so, about anything you like, but also expressing support for fat queers in the UK and the fat of the land in particular. Tell us what you think it would be helpful or encouraging to hear. I will publish the messages on the blog and display them at the event.

If you’ve got something to say to Fat of the Land attendees, post it here! And if you are in a geographical position to attend, check out the website!


kateiconHey, look! New template!

I was just going to change the header, as I’ve been promising to do since A Sarah joined us IN MAY, but then I realized I was really sick of looking at the old template. And hey, speaking of A Sarah having been here SINCE MAY, I also finally added her to the About page. Since I’m on a roll, I think it’s a good time to announce a few other changes around here.

Basically, the reason I hadn’t gotten around to changing the header or making it obvious that A Sarah is now part of the SP bloggerfam is the same reason at least 50% of my posts over the summer started with, “Hey, sorry I haven’t been posting!” As you already know, I got seriously fucking busy. And unfortunately, so did all of the other bloggers. And it hasn’t really let up for any of us.

So here’s Change #1: We will no longer be apologizing for not posting more often.We’re sick of writing it, you’re sick of reading it, and it doesn’t make content magically appear. It just makes us feel guilty and you feel… sick of reading it. So our official posting schedule from now on will be: We post when we can, period. Which is pretty much what it’s always been, actually, it’s just that “when we can” has become much more infrequent — and now, instead of trying to convince ourselves or you guys that we’ll go back to daily posting at some point, we’re just going with the flow.

Change #2: I am probably going to become strictly a weekend blogger. This is a good news/bad news thing. The bad news (if you’re inclined to see it that way) is: fewer posts from me. The good news is, that’s because I’ve actually gone and achieved the goals I set when I started this thing. Thanks to this blog (and the amazing support of Shapelings), I’m now in a position to get paid for writing elsewhere. Since the beginning of September, I’ve been doing 2 days a week at Broadsheet, 3 days a week at Jezebel, and various other freelance work. Which means, wonder of wonders, I have been functioning as a full-time writer. For money! (Not much of it, but still!) The Jezebel gig isn’t permanent at this point, but next month, I start a college speaking tour, and I’m trying to get book #2 together, so I have no idea when or if things are going to slow down. And frankly, the whole getting-paid thing means I’d rather they didn’t.

So realistically, I’m only going to have time to blog here on weekends. And some weekends, I won’t even have time to do that. It sucks, because I miss you all, and I hate not being able to hang out here every day. But I also really like getting paid to write — and sometimes writing about subjects other than fat, even! So that’s all I can tell you. If you want to keep track of where else I’m writing, I’ve started a new Twitter account, katepubs, where I will make note of any new publications — I’ve added that to the right sidebar here under “Kate, elsewhere.”

Change #3: When I redid the site, I hid the blogroll. My logic was, 1) it’s unwieldy, and I never update it anyway; 2) the fat blogs are already covered by the fatosphere feed; 3) does anybody really pay attention to blogrolls anymore? If anyone has strong feelings about seeing the blogroll return, I’ll certainly listen, but at this point, I feel like blogrolls are kind of more clutter than they’re worth; I don’t think they serve the same community-building purpose they used to.

Change #4: You can now access this site via shapelyprose.net. At the moment, it just redirects to kateharding.net, but eventually, I’d like to switch over completely. So, you know, get ready for that.

That’s it for now.  You can consider this an open thread. And thank you, as always, for reading!

Update: Are you ready for this? I also finally finished the FAQ! Or, well, finally got one up — it’ll probably change over time. For those wondering what happened to “Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?” it’s now the first link in the first answer.

World domination: One step closer

Our fearless leader is beginning a fortnight of guest blogging over at Jezebel! This is an explosion of awesome, as you’ve probably guessed, since Jezebel has lately been one of the most reliable blogs around for feminist news (often with a fat-friendly slant) as well as pictures of Zachary Quinto.

This means that Kate won’t be posting quite as much over here as usual, but the rest of us are still around (though busy and be-jobbed and unreliable about posting and all that). And, of course, you can still get your usual dose of Kate at Jez and at Broadsheet.

Have fun, Kate!

A Bit of Clarification

Update: One other thing I want to make perfectly clear, because I’m seeing this coming up a lot: We Are the Real Deal is not sponsored by Dove. It is a grassroots project, and nobody’s getting paid. MamaV approached Dove about sponsoring the panel at BlogHer — which still did not mean anybody got paid, just that Dove put money into promoting it. As part of that deal, we all agreed to put links to Dove on our blogs right before and after the conference, and there was a similar one at WATRD when it launched. That is the full extent of what I’ve done to promote Dove as part of my brief involvement with WATRD. Dove had no input into the content of the panel and is not sponsoring the blog.

Meanwhile, I’m not only seeing claims that the blog is Dove-sponsored, but seeing it characterized as “astroturfing.” That is utter bullshit, and it is incredibly not cool for people to keep spreading that lie. Feel free to criticize the content all you like, and criticize me for getting involved at all, but calling it “astroturfing” suggests that we secretly took money from Dove to promote their products while pretending to be blogging as usual. That is simply false, and incredibly insulting. I’d love to get paid for blogging, believe me, but I would never take money to fucking lie. If you’ve been running around the internet saying that WATRD is Dove-sponsored, let alone that it’s fucking astroturfing, please do your best to correct those falsehoods. Thanks.

So naturally, when I’m offline for most of two days, blog drama happens.

If you didn’t see my tweet yesterday, I have officially quit We Are the Real Deal.

What I didn’t add is, I officially quit days ago, and you’ll note I haven’t posted there in a few weeks. I didn’t just walk off in a huff yesterday. Quite honestly, my main reasons for leaving were that I already did not have time to keep up with what was going on there, and I’ve got a full-time job opportunity on the horizon which, if it pans out, will make that pretty much impossible.

But yes, I was terribly disappointed by the post yesterday, and that inspired me to make a quick announcement about my leaving, because I did not want to give the impression that I endorsed it. And yes, I’ve been uncomfortable with other elements of the content, and with the decision not to moderate comments. Since my time is becoming even more limited, engaging with hostile commenters and further discussing concerns with contributors behind the scenes is just not feasible, so the only choice was to leave.  As I feared I might need to from the beginning.

New Contributor Miss Lori posted a great comment that pretty much sums up how I feel, which you can read (along with a snapshot of what went on) over at BFD. As I just said to all of the contributors in an e-mail, I hope that these growing pains are part of building an inclusive, empowering site. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to be as active as I’d like to be in shaping that vision, and in the meantime, I don’t want my silence to be taken as agreement with everything that goes up there.

That’s pretty much my last word on the matter, and I’m going to be offline all afternoon.

Happy Birthday, A Sarah!

It’s our newest co-blogger’s birthday, and she just moved to a town where she doesn’t know anyone to celebrate with. So let’s make the Shapeling party count: I want champagne and baby donuts flowing freely (inasmuch as donuts can flow), links to puppy pictures, limericks and revised song lyrics in our girl’s honor, chair-dancing, and all manner of rowdy behavior you’ll regret tomorrow.

And of course, the most important ingredient of any good fatty party: TWO WHOLE CAKES.


Happy birthday, lady!

P.S. For your birthday, I might even get you a masthead with your name and picture on it, but don’t hold your breath.

New website, BlogHer, etc.

So, there’s a new body image website in the neighborhood, and I’m a part of it — which some of you might find surprising. I kind of do myself, actually. 

We Are the Real Deal is a companion project to the body image panel I’ll be a part of at BlogHer tomorrow. Heather Blessington, who’s been blogging about body image and eating disorders at MamaVISION since 2006, approached a bunch of people who deal with the same topics about working together. So far, so good. But here’s the surprising part: the list includes weight loss blogger Roni Noone and competitive bodybuilder MizFit as well as Inside Beauty‘s Claire Mysko, Heather, and yours truly. ED blogger Melissa Henriquez is also joining us on the panel — not sure if she’ll be blogging at WATRD or not  blog (see comments for how I screwed that up) — and Jessica Weiner will be there at BlogHer, too. (Cherry on top? The BlogHer panel, as you might have noticed in the sidebar, is sponsored by Dove.)

The good news is, all of these women seem lovely from the interactions I’ve had with them. (And surprisingly, Dove was awesomely hands-off in terms of content for the panel — they just forked over money and let us do our thing.) The arguably bad news is, there’s already one post on the site I substantially disagree with. (Short version, as I’ve said before, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to lose weight, either — that desire is a natural response to all the pressure to be thin in this culture. But I do think there’s something wrong with buying into the belief that making “healthy lifestyle choices” can make anyone thinner, with expecting that you will be among the tiny percentage of people who keep it off permanently, and with trying to move toward a more positive body image by changing your body. Roni herself lost a lot of weight and is keeping it off, but that makes her a statistical outlier, and I think that for most of us, hoping to be a statistical outlier instead of making peace with our bodies as they are is deeply unrealistic and damaging.) Better still, there’s a good chance that comment moderation will be a whole lot less Draconian than I would prefer it to be. 

So why the fuck am I involved in this? Well, I thought it might be interesting to stick a toe outside the Fatosphere and enter into the kind of conversation I have no patience for here — the 101 stuff I don’t want to deal with on my own turf. We Are the Real Deal is Heather’s turf, and she — like all of the other bloggers, who have built up loyal followings in their own ‘spheres — has a very different audience than we do here. I do like the idea of talking to a different audience, and I can muster some patience for the 101 in a new context.

Do I like the idea of reaching out elsewhere enough to keep attaching my name to this project? We’ll see. Totally depends on how it evolves. Again, I can’t emphasize enough that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Heather, Claire, Carla (MizFit) and Roni during the planning process. (Despite my taking Roni to task for that one post, she’s also said some really cool things, both on the blog and behind the scenes.) They are all absolutely committed to the goal of improving girls’ and women’s body image, coming at it from different angles. In theory, at least, this is a really good thing. In practice, if it becomes some kind of Better Body Image Through Weight Loss clusterfuck, I’m out of there in a cartoon blur. No question.

And of course, nothing’s changing around here. I have not gone soft on dieting or diet talk. I still do not have the patience to explain this entire blog to people who can’t be bothered to read it. If we get newbies via WATRD, they’ll have to abide by the comments policy or get the banhammer. This is absolutely not a portent that I’m reconsidering my values and standards and about to make a big announcement that I’m dieting “for my health” or something. I’m just trying something new, somewhere else. It might work, it might not. But Shapely Prose will still be a haven for all you noisy, companionable folks to have Advanced Blamer-style discussions about fat and body image, with no fear of the same old shit creeping in here.

Anyway! All of this sounds terribly negative when I’m supposed to be promoting a new site, but I’m not about to bullshit you. I’m nervous about this. You might have noticed I don’t tend to compromise when it comes to this stuff, and working with a bunch of people I don’t really know involves a lot of compromise. But so far, it’s been good, and it might even turn out to be great. Go check out the site and let me know what you think — and if you do have patience for 101, please get into the comments there. 

Also, if you’re going to be at BlogHer, please do come by the body image panel at 1:45 tomorrow, then come get your copy of LFTF signed at the bookstore (Claire Mysko will be there, too, signing You’re Amazing!) between 4 and 4:30.