Open thread

Have at it, Shapelings. I’m using all my words for dissertating today and my co-bloggers are using theirs for their paid jobs. Fluffcation rules do not apply on this thread: feel free to talk about what you want and get as controversial as you feel, so long as you abide by the Comments Policy.

Speaking of which, there has been a trend recently (mostly not from regulars) for commenters to say “I know you said this thread is closed, but” or “I know you said to take this threadjack to Ning, but” or “I know you said this thread is fluff only, but” and then to go ahead and say whatever thing they would have said anyway. To which I say: what the living fuck? This is not a discussion board. (This is.) This is a blog, and we moderate the shit out of it. You don’t have to like every decision we make, but you do have to respect it. It’s not about disagreeing; it’s about respecting the work we put in here. And hey, if you don’t respect that work? You don’t get to comment, though heaven knows why you’d want to anyway.

End of lecture. Open thread!

Getting to 101

A Shapeling (who wishes to remain anonymous for the purpose of this thread) has some questions she’s been mulling after some of our recent discussions about gender and feminism. What do you do when the men in your life are only partway to feminism — when they agree that, say, women should have equal pay for equal work, and that rape is bad, but they think the rest of it is silly or overreacting? Or when they don’t accept that some of their own behavior — whether it’s as “minor” as flirting in the street or as major as thinking their sexual needs are more urgent and non-negotiable than their female partners’ — contributes to the culture of sexism?

Our Shapeling asks:

So I guess my question is, how do you navigate this type of territory?  How do you educate a loved one about their own sexist behavior when they don’t believe they are being sexist?  Without any back story, the easy response is that I should just dump him if he can’t learn to respect me and take me seriously…  But what do you do about men you can’t dump?  What do you do if it’s like, your uncle, or your dad, or your brother?  You can’t just dump your family.  So what are you supposed to do when you’re dealing with someone who, for the most part, is on board with your feminism, but still has certain sexist expectations about you, and is unwilling to admit or acknowledge that certain behaviors are sexist?

I’m sure we all have some experience with negotiating our own feminism (and other commitments to social justice) with reluctant people in our lives. What do you do when people you care about convinced they’re not sexist — and are wrong?

Help Us Plan a Book Tour!

OK, Shapelings, lots of you have been asking where we might be going on a book tour, and the answer is, we have no idea yet.

Well, we have one idea. There will definitely be an event at Re/Dress in Brooklyn on June 5. Other than that, nothing’s firm yet. So we need a little help from American readers. (Apologies to non-American readers, but right now, we can’t afford to tour anywhere else.) 

First, questions:

1) Do you own/work for/frequent a venue (bookstore, plus-size boutique/bar) that might be interested in hosting an event with us? Can you put us in touch with someone there?

2) Do you attend/work for a college that might be interested in having us come to speak about body image/lead a workshop/whatever? Do you know who to talk to about that?

3) Do you live in a city where you suspect (or better yet, know for a fact) we could get a large audience to come out for an event? If so, where?

And now, caveats:

1) Our publisher is contributing precisely $0 to our travel fund, so this whole tour will be coming out of our own pockets. Realistically, that means we might only be able to hit a few cities, and they will probably be the big ones that everybody goes to. If we had unlimited time and money, we would LOVE to visit the little ones nobody goes to, but that’s just not feasible right now — with the exception of college towns where the colleges will pay to bring us in as speakers. (If you know of a great venue or think we could get a great crowd in a smaller city, please do mention it! We’ll consider anything! Just be aware that there are some pretty severe time and money limits going on here, so we don’t want anyone to be surprised and disappointed if it turns out we just hit a few big cities on the east coast, plus our hometowns.)

2) In light of the above, there will probably be very few events at which both of us will be present. The Re/Dress shindig will be one, and we will probably both be in Minneapolis at the end of June, so we’ll try to organize something there. Otherwise, it’s likely to be  just one of us. 

All right, take it away, U.S. Shapelings. Where should we go? Who might want to host us? What kind of fatty networks do you know about in your hometown? 

Thanks in advance for whatever you’ve got.

Welcome, Salon readers!

Regular readers: my essay from Feed Me! Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight and Body Image, edited by Harriet Brown, is on the front page (eeee!) of Salon today. Check it out!

Visitors from Salon: Welcome! Well, most of you, anyway. Please note that the comments policy here is a whoooole lot stricter than Salon’s, and all first-time comments are held for moderation. So if you just dropped by to tell me that fat is unhealthy and disgusting, I’m deluded, I should look into diet and exercise, or anything along those lines, be aware that your comment will never show up on the site — unless it’s so exquisitely shitheaded, we decide to make you a Douchehound of the Day.

Everyone: If you want to get a copy of Feed Me! —  and you totally do — you have two options. 1) Go buy it. 2) E-mail Harriet with your name and address before 1 p.m. EST on January 26 to be eligible for a free copy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Best of

Check out what’s going on in the Shapeling community. We are pushing 700 members! If I could make virtual confetti and balloons drop on Shapeling #700, I totally would.

Tiffany shares a grossly food-shaming holiday poem/email forward, and fuzzyoctopus starts a chain of brilliant body-positive response poems.

Genevieve asks, What is/was your FoBT?

leafspeech looks for advice on how to deal with the aftereffects of her mother’s WLS.

Check out the meetup forum for upcoming events.

Weekly-ish best of

We are totally thrilled that over 300 of you have joined the freshly minted Shapely Prose community at Ning. If you haven’t joined yet, go check it out! Since it’s so active, I thought I would start a quasi-regular post highlighting some particularly active or fun discussions on the forums.

miakodajs relates the all too common experience of receiving compliments on her new thinness after a hospitalization.

Tari starts a discussion on “the hell fun of dating as a non-self-loathing fat person.” This is a hot topic — over 100 replies so far!

Fillyjonk asks for your favorite “Etsy sellers, small local shops, obscure online boutiques, and other places to buy non-mass-manufactured plus-size clothes.”

Knitmeapony asks what bikes would work for a fat urban commuter.

Keep them coming, Shapelings!

Announcing the Shapely Prose community site, or, I hope you have some time to kill

Attention Shapelings! Remember how, a while back, we asked you what you wanted to see next out of Shapely Prose, and then you told us all kinds of things, and then we got stressed out and stopped posting much? Good times. Well, one of the most frequently expressed wishes was to have a place where Shapelings could connect with each other off-blog for chatting, meetups, and just generally extending the community we’ve built here.

Good news, everyone! Starting now, such a magical site of happiness exists. Rev up your clickin’ finger and head on over to:

Shapely Prose (the sequel)

If you don’t have a Ning account already, you should be able to join here.

Obviously, we still encourage your participation via comments here on the blog! But when you want to hook up with other Shapelings, talk about something off-topic, post photos, or do whatever, we think you’ll like the new Ning site. And if you don’t, there’s a forum thread called “Suggestion Box” where you can tell us how to make it better.

We expect the community site to be largely self-regulating. If it is as useful to you as we hope it will be, then it will be too busy for us to monitor all the forums. Obviously, there won’t be a benevolent dictator there as there is here, but we hope that you will abide by the community guidelines established in our comments policy in terms of language, respect, and trolls. If things get out of hand, we’ll revisit the idea of moderation.

So head on over, try things out, and have fun! You’ll notice some content on there already, as we invited a few Shapelings to test drive for a while before opening it to all y’all. Thank you to our fabulous beta testers (you know who you are) for helping us out. See you on Ning!

If you have any questions or concerns about the new site, please direct them to me via email (my address is in the sidebar).

Fat scrubs, anyone?

Shapeling RedSonja is hoping some of you have some expertise in finding some shapely scrubs.

I work in a veterinary hospital. Uniform is scrubs. Unisex scrubs. Unisex scrub pants that have a high waist in the front, and low in the back. This is just wonderful when I have to bend over to pick up a dog….. And unisex scrub shirts that tend to ride up as the pants sag down. Argh. So my question is — do any Shapelings know of any scrubs specially designed for fat people? Not just unisex sized up, but that can actually accommodate the Rack of Doom and the Thighs of Doom?

Since our bloggerly expertise is more along the lines of a different kind of Scrubs, I’ll turn this over to the commentariat. Any medical Shapelings out there who can recommend a scrubs source?

(This kind of request, which we occasionally get, makes me think we should have a category for basic “where do I find this fatty item” questions. Fat Google? Fatopedia? Any ideas?)

Stop Her Before She Diets Again!

Shapelings, A Sarah needs your help. She just left the comment below in another thread, and I thought it deserved its own post. 

I’ve said many times that the journey to body acceptance is not short, straightforward, or without switchbacks. Intellectually grasping the wisdom of giving up dieting often comes loooong before you’re emotionally ready to give up the fantasy of being thin. And that means that sometimes you might fall into that trap of thinking, “It’s fine for other people to be this fat, and no one should judge them for it, but I just can’t be happy until I lose weight!” 

That’s where A Sarah seems to be now. Here’s her comment.

Um, help? I’m feeling tempted to diet! I’m at the high range of what I’d always thought to be my basic 20-pound range, which wouldn’t ordinarily make me feel ugly and SHOULDN’T, anyway, make me feel ugly… but it’s wrapped up with my feelings about my post-two-kids body that I’m having a hard time with, seeing some pictures of myself from six or seven years ago when I was at the “low” end, feeling like the emotional connection in my marriage has cooled, and the fact that I’ve been more active than usual lately (not for weight loss) and was surprised when I didn’t start feeling leaner.

I guess I’ve still got a ways to go on my FA journey. So I thought I’d send up a “need assistance” flare here at SP. I did a search for a thread that was marginally relevant so I didn’t hijack the more current threads. [Heh. Thanks. -Kate] Hope that’s okay.

I’m throwing this out to the readership because honestly, I don’t have a good answer. When I used to feel like that, my answer was usually, um, to diet. Until one day, I crossed a threshold where that was just truly no longer an option in my mind. I still have my moments of wishing I were thinner, mind you — that was my default mental state for so fucking long, I can revert to it pretty easily if I let my guard down. But the good news is, they really are just moments now, gone as quickly as they arrived, usually because I think something like, “Well, what are you going to do, diet? Fuck that.” Even if I did still consider dieting an option, I’ve come far enough now that I couldn’t sustain the shame and self-hatred necessary to stay on a starvation plan long enough to lose weight — maybe not long enough to cook a meal, at this point. That, my friends, is progress.

But it took a long fucking time to get here.

[ETA: I totally skimmed the part about how you’ve been more active than usual lately, AS, so you can disregard the following advice, but I leave it up for other Shapelings who might be in the same position and find it useful.] A Sarah, my only piece of concrete advice is this: if you have the time and inclination (and aren’t already doing it enough that an increase would take you to crazy levels), exercise. Nothing restores my body image faster when it’s flagging. Moving my body reminds me of what it can do, which stops me from obsessing solely about how it looks. The endorphins are fun, and they certainly take the edge off of hating yourself. And I swear, after I exercise, when I look in the mirror, I think I look better — even though clearly, my body composition did not change in 45 minutes, or however long I just spent doing something. If you like to swim (and can handle wearing a bathing suit), getting in the water can also have a nice little baptismal effect to reset your thinking — I always feel sort of purified after I swim or do water aerobics (perhaps because I’ve literally been bleached). But really, any movement helps (me, anyway), and it doesn’t even have to be hard exercise. A session of gentle yoga or a walk around the neighborhood can do the trick, which is getting me out of my head and into my damn body.

Shapelings, do you still struggle with wanting to diet? How do you stop yourself? (Or do you?) Tell A Sarah what you do in comments.