DC/Balto Shapelings: Call me!

Hey, Shapelings in DC, Baltimore, and environs, please contact me! Shapeling Kate217 is setting up a meetup next month, and I don’t want to put the details right on the site, so I need the contact info of anyone who’s interested. (Then I will probably pass you off to Kate217, who is about 29305802 times of a better planner than I am.)

Brand-new email address is babyflavored at gmail dot com.

Friday fluff: Where in the world are Shapelings?

Kate and I were discussing yesterday how we don’t even know where most of our readers live. Every so often a comments thread will explode with “you live in Atlanta? I live in Atlanta! We should meet up!” but there’s no centralized location for seeing what Shapelings are near your home base. So I’ve created a Frappr map, and I hope to hell it works. Go add yourself, and then tell us in comments where you live! And while you’re at it, let us know how fat-friendly it is, and whether there are particular stores, restaurants, or attractions that visiting Shapelings should be sure not to miss.

Kates Harding, unite!

Thanks to enterprising Shapeling Kelly, there is now a Facebook group called “I am Kate Harding!” Since most of your friends no doubt know that you, too, are that chunky chick Kate Harding, why not spread the word further? This would also be an awesome place for you to post pictures of yourself in baby donut gear.

To join, log into Facebook and search Groups for Kate Harding. (I would link to it directly, but direct links to Facebook always break when I try to do that. Clearly I am not the most tech-savvy blogger you’ve ever seen.) If you’re not on Facebook, I don’t believe you.

Friday Meta-Fluff: All roads lead to SP

So what with our FAQ-building and our blogwars and all, I’ve been thinking about how this blog turned from an awesome blog to an awesome community. To that end, here’s your fluff question for today: How did you first find your way to Shapely Prose?

Personally, I knew Kate from Fatshionista and also knew that there was this really well written blog called Shapely Prose, but it took me months to put two and two together and realize they were the same person. Once I realized that we lived in the same city, my fate was sealed: I was a (proto-) Shapeling for life.

How did you make your way here? And while you’re at it, are there any new blogs you’d like to recommend to other Shapelings?

Also: Happy Friday! And if you’re in North America today, bundle the hell up!

All right, ‘fess up…

Which one of you is Hannah Lobel?

The woman HAS to be a Shapeling. If she’s not, we absolutely must find and recruit her.

Edited to add: Wow, the whole Utne Reader is like something out of an alternate universe this month. Also check out Love Your Fat Self, by Feministing contributor Courtney E. Martin, and this skeptical book review that expertly skewers the smug superiority of diet writing. The cognoscenti are catching on, guys.

Edited again to add: I went ahead and emailed my adulations to Hannah. My love was just too strong to resist.


Diet and gym ads are ramping up this week, in preparation for the short burst of business and the sustaining influx of money they’re about to get in the brand-new year. They’re getting ready for what Sarah calls The Resolutionists — the crowds of people who tell themselves every year that this will be the year they lose the weight, who pay their Weight Watchers and gym membership fees up front, and whose interest and resolve peters out after weeks or months when they get weary of punishing themselves. It’s such a good deal for the weight-loss industry, which after all thrives on such perseverative behavior, that I had to check Wikipedia to make sure that the New Year’s resolution “tradition” wasn’t made up in the last few decades, a la De Beers and the “traditional” diamond engagement ring.

I don’t want anyone supporting the diet industry, and god knows we’re all trying to break out of the “set unrealistic goals, fail to meet unrealistic goals, self-flagellate for failure, repeat until death” cycle. But I do kind of like the idea of New Year’s resolutions, as a promise to yourself to be better to yourself. No reason why it has to be New Year’s, but why not? It’s as good a time as any to make the commitment to be gentler with yourself, or more nourishing, or to stop standing in your own way.

That’s all that the people who resolve to lose weight are trying to do, after all. It’s just that they think they can’t really start until they earn it through weight loss. It all sounds awfully familiar, no?

So I invite you to revisit your Fantasy of Being Thin, and resolve to make that fantasy happen without the weight-loss step. Just skip that part — you don’t need it. All it will do is ensure that you constantly feel like a failure, and that you never get around to resolving anything more fun. Resolve to stop waiting until you’re thin — or until you’re an acceptable person, in whatever way that means to you — to date more, or dance more, or take up martial arts, or learn a musical instrument, or wear cute clothes, or finish that novel (ahem, Kate). Resolve to remember that you don’t become greater by waiting until you get smaller. In fact, you don’t become greater by waiting at all.

Personally, I’ve worked pretty hard not to have a personal Fantasy of Being Thin, but all I’ve really done is reinscribed it — now it’s a Fantasy of When I Have My Shit Together. What I seem to be waiting for, more than anything else, is to be the kind of person who can always keep the house clean, who never leaves clothes on the floor, who does the dishes immediately after dinner. You can see how it’s just the FoBT in a different dress — it’s still about docility and control. I’m much more creatively productive at other people’s houses, because I don’t have to be constantly faced with evidence of my failure to Have My Shit Together. So here is my resolution: I will not wait until my environment is flawlessly clean before I can do art. I won’t let the presence of dirty dishes, or my disinclination to do them right now, paralyze me like it has in the past. Being neat and organized are not prerequisites for anything I want to do.

What’s not going to stand in YOUR way this year? What are you going to do for yourself when you give up waiting?

Surviving Thanksgiving

For a few weeks now, my belly dance teacher has been announcing that the studio would be closed the entire week of Thanksgiving, so “take some time off, eat a lot, and get those shimmies bigger.” Since I carefully avoid the forms of media that most obviously prey on women, that’s about the only message I’ve gotten about Thanksgiving food this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m having thoroughly unconflicted feelings about it.

For one thing, I have yet another stomach bug, so I don’t know if I can even enjoy Thanksgiving food. Not that I particularly do in the first place; I could pretty much go without turkey my whole life and not miss it. What I’m really sad about is not being able to eat a big chocolate chip cookie on the way up. The Amtrak station has the best cookies, and if I don’t feel better by 5 or so, I’m not going to get one, and I will be BORED AND SAD.

For another, Thanksgiving food is a minefield for fatties whether they’re feeling okay or not. In some families, you garner comment if you don’t eat what others consider enough; in others, if you eat what others consider too much. Pretty much nobody’s family considers what’s on your plate to be your own goddamn business.

For a third thing, like everyone here, I have at least one toxic relative. For once, mine isn’t my mom, who has actually stopped dieting for the first time I can remember. But among our guests will be my aunt’s mother, who isn’t even really related to me so I don’t see why I have to put up with her. (Mom says “she’s got nowhere else to go” — translation, nobody likes her.) This woman is brittle, haughty, judgmental, and an absolute pro with a backhanded compliment. She’ll be the worst threat, but my aunt is her Mini-Me, and then my uncle is generally abrasive and misogynist. Then on Friday we’re doing an extended-family thing with my mom’s cousins, who are more of the same — diet-obsessed women and thoughtlessly chauvinist men. Good times.

I know everyone has apprehension about the holidays, being as how they’re food-centered occasions that seem to be the perfect time for your whole family to comment on your weight, your looks, your eating habits, and your life prospects (or just sit there and silently disapprove at you, which might even be worse). It’s a gauntlet. But there are ways that we can make it easier.

I designate this thread for two things: Venting and, um, thanksgiving. Let off steam, right through the holiday and beyond, about your family and their absurd holiday behavior, food-related or otherwise. If they drive you to your room, come here and let us know; if you just know they’re going to irk you beyond words, expound on their worst peccadilloes. But for each complaint, add something you’re looking forward to or something you’re thankful for. (I’m really excited about going to Lee Lee’s Valise! And I was looking forward to that cookie. And I’m so thankful for the commentariat, and for the chance to be part of this blog.) It might not balance out — with some people’s families, it just can’t. But it’s a good reminder that things aren’t that bleak. In fact, paired with some Pollyanna-ish positivity, some of us may find that our families’ foibles start to seem a little amusing.

Well… perhaps “amusing” is a little ambitious. We’ll shoot for “mitigated horror.”

Friday Fluff: Once and for all, Name Yourselves!

Update: I’ve made the executive decision that we’ve narrowed it down to two choices: Shapelings and Proselytes. Go vote for one of those here.

All right, Shapelies/Shapelers/Prosies/Shapelings/Other, it’s time to decide for real which name we’re going with.

I made a poll and everything. WordPress won’t let me actually post it here, which sucks, but still, there’s a poll, and you should take it.

Then come back here and discuss. We’re gonna settle this thing today.