Spring Break

Hey, folks, Shapely Prose is going on hiatus until on or about March 22. Everybody’s batteries are running low, and some shit’s changing behind the scenes, so it’s blogcation time. This will be an open thread unless I get pissed off and close it at some point, so… be good.

The Last Dragon

Throughout my personal fat acceptance journey there have been small moments of victory that I actually realized were victories at the time. The time where I tossed a size 10 sequin raincoat – I fit for all of ten minutes back in 2002 – into the donation pile without one second of, “Well, maybe I could work out a bit more and…” or evicted that pair of tiny pants draped sinisterly over my bedroom door. Times where I didn’t hold up an OBVIOUSLY too small sweater and wonder if I could make it work and instead actually listened to the screams of protest coming from the region just south of my neck.

Paring down my closet so it only housed items I could fit at that very moment was revolutionary for me. As I was given – like many women – to having what I termed a Kirstie Alley closet, named after reading about the wide range of sizes housed in her own wardrobe. Purchasing clothing in my actual size isn’t the struggle it was during my college years, nor does it fill me with the kind of hopelessness it once did. I can’t believe I used to torture myself with jeans that had no hope of ever making it north of my ankles and then get mad at my body rather than the damn pants.

And for all that progress there was still one remaining dragon: magazines.

Long after I was healing and accepting my body as is, I was still buying magazines that suggested otherwise. You know the ones. The ones with pictures of a giant, juicy cake underneath fantagical claims such as, “Drop all the weight you want by ___! (whatever holiday was two hour away)”. The ones with a celebrity airbrushed from here to ya ya talking nonsense about healthy eating plans and sensible exercise programs.

For some reason I still bought and collected these magazines even though I knew better and despite their presence making me feel worse. I carried them to the gym and read them during workouts, thus making them drudgery rather than pleasurable. Instead of raging it Big Willie Style I was raging it Big Whiny Style, not seeing the disconnect between my feelings and my actions.

Even after I started blogging here, I was still BUYING those damn magazines. While not actively engaging in hot buttered diet fail, actively purchasing those magazines was highly problematic. I could talk all the fat acceptance I wanted, but I was kidding myself as long as some part of me felt compelled to buy those four dollar tomes of false promises and shame.

One afternoon while engaging in some minor craft fail and The Last Dragon on Netflix instant view I decided to purge my place of those magazines. I grabbed stacks and stacks and began dumping them into my blue recycle bin. Kept at it until I had reclaimed the space under my bathroom sink and three shelves in my linen closet.

I made four trips to the dumpster singing the chorus of Rhythm of the Night and I felt fucking good slaying the last dragon.


According to the Vancouver Sun, there’s a new way to torture yourself through dieting. Literally:

The medical procedure involves stitching a small piece of polyethylene mesh onto a patient’s tongue, making it painful to ingest solid foods and forcing a low-calorie, liquid diet.

You pay a nice man named Dr Nikolas Chugay to spend 10 minutes to stitch a torture device into your mouth, and you pay him $3,000 for the privilege, and then you eat 750 calories a day for a month. And you lose weight! And also you forgo all pleasure in life because you are combining constant pain with a sub-torture level of sustenance!

According to the article, “Since last September, Chugay says 35 people have opted for the surgery.” That’s 35 people who hate themselves so profoundly that they paid a doctor $3,000 to sew a pain patch into their mouths.

Can someone please wake me when we’re in that post-feminist world full of jolly fat people that I keep hearing so much about? I’m going to go huddle in a closet with T-Rex till then.

Quote of the Day

We’ve gotten ourselves to the point where we’re behaviorally and neurochemically dependent upon food.

-MeMe Roth, during Nightline’s big fat debate

That’s right, you lazy gluttons! This is what your lack of respect for your bodies, the healthcare system, your fellow taxpayers and MeMe’s certificate from a degree mill have wrought.

We are now dependent on food.

It has gotten that bad, people.

I haven’t watched much of the debate, but kudos to The Rotund for getting in there! I don’t think I could have listened to MeMe say that (or anything else) in person without my eyes actually popping out of my head.

Leaving to spend more time with my baby-flavored doughnuts

Well, bah. This is hardly the sort of thing to devote a post to. It belongs in some second-tier WordPress tab labeled “Things Muttered by A Sarah In An Offhand Way While Looking At The Floor, Immediately Before She Offers Pastries In Her Compulsive Approval-Seeking Way.” Oh well. Here’s what I’ve realized, folks: I’m a happier and (therefore) better commenter than I am a blogger. Partly this is because I find it much easier to write responses to things other people have said than to find something to put down on a blank page. Partly (maybe relatedly) it’s because I have never, ever, ever felt especially comfortable in the spotlight as myself. As Dottie Otley in “Noises Off” or Sheila in “The Boys Next Door”? Yes. As myself, giving words to my own thoughts and trying to project my own voice to the back of the auditorium? Dear God, no. NO. Let me whisper secrets to a dear friend or pour my heart out in the therapist’s office or the confessional and I’m in my element… but please don’t make me give a speech or a sermon or presentation without providing me with a stiff drink and a three-hour nap immediately upon stepping down from the podium.

Were I so inclined I could probably deconstruct this, and probably find lots of bad reasons for my feeling this way. (Internalized sexism. Various disorders listed in the DSM. Insufficient bravado. And a heaping helping of Nice White Lady, wherein I am irrationally given to believing that my privately-imagined flaws, my moral failings, and my heroic efforts to be a Good Girl are really, really interesting and command the attention of a the rest of the whole dadgum disapproving world… as evidenced by, for example, this parenthetical aside which you are currently reading.) I know. And I do try to pay attention to those, and to keep challenging myself to act in ways I haven’t been scripted to act.

The confounding factor, though, is that my life has changed a lot in the last six months. Specifically, I started a new job — a job where I have to be the person at the front of the room, or the person in charge of the website for the online class. I have much less time to give to anything other than work and family needs… and when I do have spare time I want to spend it doing ANYTHING other than being before an audience or having a leadership role in a group. Unfortunately, my joining the SP masthead predated my new job by only a couple of months. The result being, of course, that as soon as I became one of the bloggers I pretty much clammed up.

Anyway, I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I was really honored to be asked, though, and… ah geez, is there ANYTHING that can go here that isn’t a cliche’? It was an honor. I learned a lot. Thank you, co-bloggers, for the opportunity, for making me a better writer and person, and best of all for your friendship. Worn-out expressions all, but all true. (And also, here’s a private aside to the Shapelings who aren’t one of the four SP bloggers: Snarky’s and SM and FJ and Kate will ABSOLUTELY TAKE THE PISS out of me if they hear me say this SO DON’T TELL THEM, but I can’t shake the feeling that I didn’t do right by you… that I should have moderated more and written more and been in better touch with the other bloggers over email. It’s possible this is actually true, and it’s also possible that this feeling is just me being compulsively fractious with myself again. I have no idea. If an apology is called for, though, believe me that it’s offered and heartfelt.)

Okay, so that’s that. On to more important topics! I’m excited because I just found a source for locally-milled whole wheat flour, and I’m having fun thinking about what to make with it. Has there yet been a whole-wheat baby-flavored doughnut? Can you make whole wheat doughnuts?

Read more Kate

If you haven’t yet read Kate’s latest piece on the Kevin Smith/Southwest Airlines debacle, get thee to Broadsheet, stat. It is definitive, and it is moving, and it will remind you of why you started reading Kate’s work in the first place.

Whenever the issue of whether larger people should be forced to buy two airline seats comes up — as it did this weekend, when director Kevin Smith was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight, and as it did last April, after United introduced a policy practically identical to Southwest’s — the first and only thing a lot of folks think of is that time they had to sit next to a fat person on a flight, and it was so uncomfortable.


Here’s the first thing I think of when this issue comes up […] The weekend my mom was dying.

Read the whole thing, and the next time someone concern trolls you about fat people flying, send them that link. If their heart’s not broken by it, they didn’t have one in the first place.

Kevin Smith Kicked off Southwest Flight for Being Fat

So, a famous person has finally been fucked by an airline’s fat policy. Director Kevin Smith got booted off a Southwest plane tonight, after he was already settled in “WITH ARM RESTS DOWN,” as he put it on Twitter, where he’s been documenting the experience. The captain apparently deemed him a “safety risk.” I’ll let Smith take that one:

@SouthwestAir, go fuck yourself. I broke no regulation, offered no “safety risk” (what, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?). I was wrongly ejected from the flight (even [attendant] Suzanne eventually agreed). And fuck your apologetic $100 voucher, @SouthwestAir. Thank God I don’t embarrass easily (bless you, JERSEY GIRL training). But I don’t sulk off either: so everyday, some new fuck-you Tweets for @SouthwestAir.

(That’s 3 tweets cobbled together.)

I am so sorry that Kevin Smith, human being, had to go through that. But quite frankly, a part of me is really happy that Kevin Smith, Famous Person With 1.6 Million Twitter Followers, is holding an airline’s feet to the fire over this bullshit. While watching him tweet furiously @SouthwestAir (and sending a few of my own), I could only think, “Oh, please, let this be Southwest’s Maytag moment.” And let the other airlines learn something from it. I’m the kind of person who thinks it was awesome that Heather Armstrong used her platform to shame Maytag into offering decent customer service, and I’d like to see more corporations realize that word of mouth is a whole new fucking ballgame in the age of social media. And the only way to make sure you don’t get burned is to offer decent service to everyone. Famous or not famous, fat or thin.

To Southwest’s meager credit, they’ve got somebody working their Twitter account who’s at least savvy enough to have apologized to Smith already and promised to make things right. For him. Smith is already on another flight, and has offered the airline his fattest look from there. But there are still probably millions of fat people who dread getting on flights — and not just on Southwest — because they don’t know if they’ll actually be allowed to use the tickets they paid for, or if they’ll be removed from the plane like criminals, forced to fly standby and in some cases, forced to fly standby and pay twice as much for it.  (That’s part of United’s policy, which I bitched about on CNN last April. Fillyjonk also wrote about airline douchebaggery here.) For instance, friend of SP Tari, who cheered Smith on, but then tweeted, “The @SouthwestAir / @ThatKevinSmith thing makes me acutely aware, though, that I’m flying to Atlanta this week. Delta: please don’t suck.”

I am really happy that Kevin Smith, human being, is on his way home, but I also hope Kevin Smith, Famous Person With 1.6 Million Twitter Followers keeps up the righteous indignation on behalf of all the fat people who aren’t in a position to say, “WELCOME TO YOUR PR NIGHTMARE, ASSHOLES.” And even though he is, and he did, and he doesn’t embarrass easily, and a whole lot of us thank him for all of that, his last tweet tonight says it all:

The @SouthwestAir Diet. How it works: you’re publicly shamed into a slimmer figure. Crying the weight right off has never been easier!

Update: Moving this up from comments — Smith’s back on the ground, and one of the first things he tweeted was, “Hey @SouthwestAir? Fuck making it right for me just ’cause I have a platform. I sat next to a big girl who was chastised for not buying an extra ticket because ‘all passengers deserve their space.’ Fucking flight wasn’t even full! Fuck your size-ist policy. Rude…”

Thanks, dude.

Photoshop’s greatest hits

It’s nothing most of our readers haven’t seen before, but Newsweek has a refresher course on the “biggest airbrushing scandals” of the 2000s. Consider it a visual illustration of the impossibly narrow standards of beauty that we’ve been talking about this week (and note especially how the women of color involved have had their skin lightened to fit that epically narrow ideal).

ETA: For shame, Newsweek! Looks like you got the “inspiration” for this piece — along with many of the examples — from our friends at Jezebel. Thank heavens for the mainstream media, doing all that original reporting, am I right?

It’s National Handwriting Day*

Normally, I am not swayed by faux-lidays, but I was excited to discover today is National Handwriting Day. Often times it is far quicker for me to put fingertips to keyboard yet I am still drawn to pen and paper. I’m sure my slight obsession with all things office supply related might have a touch to do with it.

I am a lefty-turned-righty so my handwriting is heavily influenced by learning to form letters and numbers as a left handed person. I still write many of my letters from right to left.

Some friends attribute my strong powers of mental recall to photographic memory and Synesthesia – conditions I have – though I believe a considerable amount can be attributed to my rabid handwriting habit.

Writing by hand makes things stick for me and apparently there is some cognitive benefit too according to a study performed at the University of Washington.

According to research carried out at the University of Washington that involved test subjects of second, fourth and sixth graders, kids who write it out by hand demonstrated the capacity to write more, write better and write faster compared to their computer-using counterparts.

It’s a nice excuse to test drive pens you might have lying around or make some new friends. Plus, I’m sure there are lots of people who would love getting some snail mail written with love.

*Hey, it’s still 1/23 on the East Coast!

Links: Golden Globes backlash, or This one goes out to the ladies

Those of you who hopped on our Golden Globe live-blogging adventure on Sunday (which was way, way more fun than I expected — GIVE YOURSELVES A HAND) might be interested in the following posts on Jezebel about (sadly predictable) sexist reactions to various women at the show:

James Cameron & Kathryn Bigelow Used To Be Married — Get Over It

‘You Don’t Put A Big Girl In A Big Dress’: Dissing Christina Hendricks

And, my personal favorite: Paper Devotes 363 Word Article To Mo’Nique’s Leg Hair

Basically these are all iterations of a theme: woman dares to look “different” (i.e., boobs, leg hair) and/or succeed artistically, must be put in her place. Well played, media journalists. What daring provocateurs you are.