Sunday, August 28, 2011

Body Love: A Brief and Incomplete Primer



A few days ago, an ex-student messaged me, asking for some help. She’d started grad school, she said, and found herself feeling (not surprisingly, for grad students) inadequate, insecure, and ugly. While I obviously don’t have a cure for the competitive stress mess that is grad school, she figured I might have some resources for peeps who are feeling a little less than fabulous about their bodies.

I was a little startled. I’m all over fat pride, but body love in general? Yikes. I hadn’t tackled body love so broadly in over a decade. Still, I figured some things translated, so I wrote the following to her. I hope others just beginning (or needing a refresher course in) their body love journey might benefit from some of these ideas. Goddess speed to ye!

************




Our consumerist culture hinges on all of us hating our bodies and buying useless products in order to bolster the multi-billion-dollar “health and beauty” mega-industry. We're confronted with literally thousands of ads per day, and ads all preach body hate and promise "salvation" for the sin of "imperfection" via buying crap. I know no one, body warrior or average juanita on the street, who doesn't wrestle from time to time (or all the time!) with body image issues. 

As someone heavily ensconced in fat pride activism, I'm much more familiar with combating anti-fat messages. If your concerns are a little less specific or involve age, race, or something different, my ideas may need a little tweaking.
 :)

This is what I do to help bolster myself for the awesome journey toward body celebration and love:

* Limit exposure to mainstream media. If this is difficult or impossible, at least cut as many magazines and ads out of your life. Ideally, you would surround yourself only with body-loving people and messages.

* Put up art and quotes that celebrate diverse bodies. I have fat art all over my walls, fat buttons pinned to everything, and posters with size-positive messages taped up around me. My knickknacks celebrate various body sizes, sexualities, races, and ages.
 

* Hang out more with body-positive friends and limit exposure to body haters. This is sometimes pretty difficult and may take a while, but it’s doable. After a decade or more of work in this area, I now have no one in my close circle who would dare discuss sizeist, ableist, racist, or other hateful BS around me.

* Fill your noggin with body-loving messages. This can be everything from books you read to blogs, vlogs, and websites you frequent. I'll list some resources below, but please keep in mind I have a definite fat bias in my awareness of body image issues. If you don't mind, I'll also ask some friends for their recommendations for body-positive resources.
 :)

Resources from several body positive warriors:

* Virgie Tovar, one of my fave vloggers. Here she is, discussing body hate.
* I've loved About Face for many years. I also watched an awesome video by them a couple of weeks ago.
 
* AWESOME book lists:
 http://www.about-face.org/r/books/; http://www.books4selfhelp.com/body-image.htm
* Join an online or physical community that supports you. I find my fat pride communities, both in-person and online, are essential for fueling my fierceness. If you tell me your specific body issue, I'll help you look for communities and resources in your area.
* A great fat pride blog.
*
 Nice primer on dealing with hateration.
*
 The best resource for queer fatties and allies.
* Body-love zines like _I am So Fucking Beautiful_ by Nomy Lamm
* Joy Nash's stuff on YouTube. Her “Fat Rant” is a classic.


More to come...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kit-E-Cat 3000


Dear Makers of the Kit-E-Cat 3000:

I am writing to most enthusiastically thank you for inventing your phenomenal product. I received one for my birthday last month and have been continually pleased and impressed.

Your product is marketed as a method of stress-reduction. According to your commercials, the purchaser places the product on her or his lap, strokes it until it emits a grating hum, and revels in the benefits of lower blood pressure, fewer headaches, and a longer life span. Imagine my surprise when I discovered several other benefits, from entertainment to feet warming! I am constantly amused by the product’s tendency to end up on the highest point in my home, and I admit confusion and hilarity often ensue when I try to use the product while typing stories and lesson plans.

The other morning, I was pleased to find one more use for this versatile product. When tossing and turning before falling asleep, I suddenly found my head lying atop your product. As you likely know, the soft exterior of the product feels luxurious against one’s face; I found myself falling asleep within minutes. You can imagine my delight when, seven hours later, I awakened to the grumbling sounds the product emits when activated; I found this a much preferable way to begin my day than the usual, screaming alarm.
 
From warming my lap to helping ease me into sleep, your product supplies a host of benefits beyond those listed in your advertising campaigns. I can only say bravo for producing such an invaluable product. I can guarantee you that I fully intend to purchase another should my version ever, goodness forbid, break down.

Gratefully,
Elle Hill

Friday, August 26, 2011

New poem: Avalon

I've been a busy little buzzer! After all is said and done, I return to this blog with a melancholy poem. Eh, whatcha gonna do? I hope all enjoy.
----



Avalon

I’m thinking of a place,
bigger than a breadbox,
round like an apple with
bruises meant for
fingers and
gracious tongues.
They say its juice
holds the cure for many
post-industrial ailments,
but sometimes I
forget to believe.

I trekked there once
on accident.
I stumbled, and it
opened before me,
turquoise and orange like
a sunrise.
I tucked my large, fragrant
body in its grassy
bosom, slumbering while
branches raked grooves in
happy flesh,
a Shakespearean heroine
wrapped
in Titania’s dewy skirt.

Elephants lumbered
and the stars spilled their
milk into my
enraptured mouth.

I awakened some
time later, head
lolling on a rock, sand
coating my tongue.
My hair had grown
slick, oily.
River-carved canyons
dented my face.

I looked and
looked and
called and.

Some say it lies in
a forest, others
the sea.
So small, maybe,
so delicate and shy, the
growling of my belly
frightens it,
the pressure of my words and
want
rub the feathers
from its wing.
So vast I am
already lost
within.

I sit
here, motionless,
a rounded triangle, breathing
the fog, chewing
the air.
I remember the taste of
apples, the smell of
water.
My fingers grow blue in
the starlight while
the magnitude
of my body awaits
rediscovery.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Few Fat Pride Cheers

The NAAFA Convention cometh. This, plus the NOLOSE Conference, are the highlights of my year. Imagine relaxing into a warm bubble bath of love and acceptance while munching chocolate-coated nuggets of empowerment and equality. Yeah, it's a lot like that. 

A picture I designed a few years ago,
proving I should stick to verbal artistry.
Anyway, for the NAAFA Convention, my BFF and I decided to perform a few poems for "NAAFA's Got Talent." Inspired by the many slogans I've chanted during Pride, Take Back the Night, and in other parades, I wrote a few cheers for our newly formed Rainbow Fatniks. Yes, pictures are forthcoming.

Here they are, a handful of our fat pride cheers. May they inspire you to start your own parade.




Not too thin, not too fat.
Body love is where it’s at.

Brown, beige, yellow, blue
Gorgeous bodies, many hues.

Gay, straight, genderqueer
Everybody’s welcome here!

Pot bellies, thunder thighs
Beauty comes in every size!

Legs, canes, scooters, too
Wheelchair hotrods coming through!

Male, female, straight and gay:
All of us deserve our day!

Thin, round, short, tall:
NAAFA celebrates us all.