Ursula and Hans: unrecognizable mermaids

It’s two years too late to consider the reductionist make-over of the Ursula doll in the Disney Villains collection “news”. But it was news to me. I learned about it from a fat-abulous performance poem by Melissa May. The poem “Dear Ursula” is an open letter to the character from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. You can watch the clip below of May performing it at the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

 

You can read the outrage when the news was fresh (though the concept of thin as beautiful was still old and cliche then) in articles like this one at Tor. In the July 2012 article, Poor Unfortunate Souls: Why Does “Fashionable” Equal “Thin” to Disney?, author Emily Asher-Perrin asks the right questions. In response to the official statement

“The Disney Villains Designer Collection is a unique, stylized and fashion-forward take on these iconic characters.” – John Balen, Disney Store director.

Asher-Perrin asks

By “stylized,” you mean “unrecognizable,” right Disney?

Unrecognizable is the only word for her/not her. That is not Ursula. It just isn’t. As irritated and angry and sad and unsurprising as the erasure of women of size is in general, this one hit me particularly. Not because I’m a Little Mermaid fan. I’m not.

I like mermaids and I like redheads and I have nothing against singing crustaceans. I’m not big on the one true love and you’re nothing without your man stories and I really hate them as propaganda um, entertainment, for children. But what bugged me about this one was the happy ending slapped over the original.

In case the only version you know is the one with the date-rapey fish singing “kiss the girl”, in the original story by Hans Christian Anderson the mermaid did not get her man. And the deal was if she couldn’t make him love her, she would die. But he fell in love with someone else and the mermaid’s sisters made a pact with the sea-witch for a magic knife and  if “Ariel” killed her prince instead she’d live and could return to the sea. But she decided she’d rather die, and let him live happily without her, even though he’d know nothing of her sacrifice.

Put a little salsa music behind that punchline.

More than a sad little story about a sad little mermaid, this was a story about Anderson. Hans Christian Anderson was the little mermaid. He was an unhappy gay man who loved men who didn’t love him back and he wrote passionate letters to those men saying “she will never love you like I do”. His stories are fiercely bleak and full of noble, young women who are constantly dying. But nobly. Those stories have lasted generations. To me they are a strange patchwork of writing and queerness and surviving or not.

Which brings me back to Ursula. That simple fat beautiful drawing of an octopus-woman-sea-witch-goddess is based on a real complex fat beautiful person. A drag queen called “Divine”. He died in 1988 before the movie was finished but Ursula is Divine. An extra wrinkle in the historical queer tapestry of this mermaid’s tale.

Divine

So Disney, we love Ursula. Big and bad and unapologetic. Disney, can you capitalize on that love and sell us back something smaller, straighter, thinner and tell us it’s prettier? Tell us it’s fashionable. One lie at a time. One more erasure. Thin out the truth. Change a little. Change a lot. Tell us it’s what we really want. All the same figure, the same doll, the same story. Put a chorus line behind it. Maybe some singing mice.

Dancing on Air: Emma Haslam wins and keeps winning

Emma Haslam wows Britain's Got Talent. photo credit: ITV/PA Wire

Emma Haslam wows Britain’s Got Talent.
photo credit: ITV/PA Wire

“I see a pole. I see a skimpy outfit…” Simon Cowell lets his sentence trail off. Emma Haslam responds to his unanswered question with “I’m trying to prove that pole fitness is not just for the usual sizes. Obviously I’m a bigger lady.”

Whatever fitness instructor, pole dancer and aerialist Emma Haslam set out to prove on Britain’s Got Talen, she proved. She won over the audience and the judges with her routine. She got unanimous approval of the judges (4 YESes) to move on to the next round of competition.

Since then, Haslam has appeared on British television and Newspapers promoting size-positive fitness and sex appeal.

“Producers begged me to go on the show after seeing a video of me, it was crazy. I was more nervous about speaking to the judges than anything else,” Emma said in an interview.

“For you to get up there and have such good body confidence is a massive example for girls all over this country,” said Amanda Holden; actress, singer and one of the judges of Britain’s Got Talent.

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Her confidence and skill attracted the attention of Yours Clothing (a fashion brand who specializes in stylish dresses and casual clothes sizes 14-32); they offered Haslam a modeling contract.

“When we saw Emma we thought it was great to see her promoting such a positive body image,” a spokesperson for Yours Clothing said.

I’ve included pics from her recent Yours Clothing photoshoot for your enjoyment.

article-2648337-1E7609AD00000578-738_634x456

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What I chose not to include in this article was Haslam’s age, marital status, weight or dress size. The last two have been featured heavily in every article about her (The Sun, The Mirror, Huffington Post, etc) usually in the headline. While I’m delighted she’s not obscuring her size or apologizing for it, I think it’s tedious that snips, snails, events and accomplishments are what little boys are made of but measurements, wedding rings and mothering are what little girls are made of. Not on my blog.

This is Emma Haslam's facebook profile pic. Follow her on Facebook. You know you want to.

This is Emma Haslam’s facebook profile pic. Follow her on Facebook. You know you want to.

You can follow Emma Haslam at all the usual social media suspects.
Twitter: @emmaspoledancin
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emmaspoledancing
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/emmaspoledancing%20
official website: http://emmaspoledancing.co.uk/
http://emmaspoledancing.co.uk/

Perspective

Artist: Maya Kern

Artist: Maya Kern

More art of Maya Kern

follow the artist on twitter and facebook

Fattitude the movie and me

If you’re on the fat-positive mailing lists or following blogs like this one, you probably already know there is a terrific new  movie that WILL come out called FATTITUDE. And no, it has nothing to do with me. (Or this blog.) Other than in the way it has something to do with all women of size and body-positive activists everywhere.

The filmmakers, Lindsey Averill and Viridiana Lieberman, currently have a kickstarter campaign. You have 29 days to get in on the fun.

Fun: a documentary filled with interviews with fat historians, activists and artists like Marilyn Wann and Substantia Jones.

Not fun:  death threats and stalking and harassment Averill and Lieberman received after challenging a hate-baiting troll over misuse of their movie trailer. You can read more about the harassment in an editorial Averill wrote for XOJane.com.

A complimentary article at Huffpo praised the film but couldn’t resist going for the slightly jokey headline:

‘Fattitude’ Will Stop You From Making Fat People The Butt Of Your Jokes

Troll-baiting? Or just Sir Mix-a-lot stuck in writer’s head? Oh My God, Becky.

fat bottomed girls rock

fatbottomedgirl

official queen video

Fat Sex and FAQs

Warning: Mature content.

So the article was called

FAT SEX: what everyone wants to know but is afraid to ask

and it was written by (I kid you not) msvaginascience :

I’m a fat woman. I’m a fat woman who has had lots and lots of awesome sex almost exclusively with partners much smaller than myself. When I met my current partner a year ago, I was at my fattest, about 150 lbs heavier than he is, making our sex the most drastic in terms of size difference relative to my past partners. Most women I know would not be comfortable with that size difference, and in candid moments, friends have asked, “So, how does that work?” The short answer? It works just great and I love it. There are many misconceptions about how fat people have sex, especially when one partner is fat and the other isn’t. I’m here to explore that topic, specifically the issue of being a fat woman having sex with a smaller partner.

I know many women who would love to have sex with smaller partners but feel that it wouldn’t work mechanically, that two drastically different bodies couldn’t come together in a pleasurable way. Additionally, many women who do have smaller partners tell me they don’t totally enjoy sex because they feel self-conscious, embarrassed, or unfulfilled because they can’t “let go” during sex. This brings me to what I feel is one of the most important parts of enjoying sex as a fat woman:

You’ll need to overcome the idea that your partner doesn’t know how fat you are. 

Your partner knows, and guess what? He or she wants to have sex with you. When I was a young chubbette, I remember trying to contort my body into more “flattering” positions while I was having sex, as if my partner didn’t notice my belly was getting paunchy. I’d arch my back, refuse to do positions that made me “feel fat,” and drape different parts of my body with a blanket or pillow to hide my increasingly chubby body. Sometimes that made me feel more at ease, but mostly it became tedious, distracted me from feeling sexy, and annoyed the crap out of my partner who just wanted to see his hot girlfriend naked. Once I became much larger than I’d been before, I simply refused to have the lights on during sex for the same reason — “He won’t know what my body looks like if I don’t show him.” Well, he totally knew how fat I was, and guess what? He still wanted to have sex with me, and what’s more, he loved having sex with me. It took me a long time to realize that my partners were having sex with me in part because of the way my body looks, not in spite of the way my body looks. It sounds simple, I know, but when you spend your whole life being told that fat bodies are not sexy, it takes some time to realize that sexiness isn’t that simple. This understanding is not something that happens overnight for most of us. Hell, it can take years. But, the sooner you learn (yes,learn) to feel sexy just the way you are, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy your sexuality more fully. Really, this goes for men and women of all sizes, not just fat women.

Irresistible hook and well-written. But, those questions you’ve been afraid to ask. The tricky ones? Still unanswered.

Ms Science –may I call you, Vagina?–  is quick to disclose (okay brag a little) that her sexual experience is limited to partners smaller than herself. So the suggestions and positions are mostly common sense rather than a down and dirty how-to.

I appreciate the coming of age stories of “how I learned not hate myself” but I don’t want them in every fat positive article I read. I want an article that promises information of how to have fat, happy sex to deliver on the promise. I’m reminded of a time when all the lesbian love stories involved an element of self-hatred and how they overcame it, embraced monogamy and got the happy ending. Those of us who aren’t monogamous and self-hating? Just skip to the end.

To paraphrase: if you’re a fat girl who wants to bang skinny boys; it’s easier than you think. If you’re looking for feel good self-talk/love your sexy self (and to be honest, we all want that sometimes) check out these delicious fattie bloggers complete with sexy, smug, full body pix (no soulful eyes or pretty faces) just grrls walking their buttiful talk.

http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2013/03/things-no-one-will-tell-fat-girls-so-i.html

HOW TO HAVE SEX WHILE FAT: A SHORT GUIDE TO SEXY FUN FOR FATTIES AND PEOPLE WHO F#&@ THEM

http://www.xojane.com/sex/sex-with-a-fat-person

Here are my answers to (some) unanswered questions:

1) Fat girl on top? Depends on her knees, fellas.

2) Strap ons for fat/fat pairings? Rather than struggle with the traditional positions and repositioning bellies and shifting harnesses, go for a thigh harness. Then do it in your most comfortable sturdy armchair. You use your hands (and knee) to effect lift and thrust rather than your hips. You can bounce her (or him) on your knee. Do hold on (and/or encourage your partner to hold on to the chair behind you) so s/he falls forward during orgasm. One of the advantages of bed-sex is you seldom fall off.

3) Cunnilingus without losing the plot or blocking your airways? Use both hands. While holding the labia open to expose the clit, I like to keep the thumb of my dominant hand close so that I can switch back and forth when my tongue or jaw start to freeze up. Notice where your index and pointer finger are in this operation. Regardless how deeply involved they may be, the relative inflexibility of your fingers to the floppiness of the flesh thrashing around them, allows you to either use that joint as a nose rest or if you’re a mouthbreather to create a kind of “air pocket” so you can push in/on rather than pull away to catch your breath.

What questions do you still have? Where do you usually go for answers?

Fat, Trans and (Working on Being) Fine With It

Fat, Trans and (Working on Being) Fine With It

Mey

Posted by

on March 28, 2013

click here for more trans*scribe

CLICK HERE FOR MORE TRANS*SCRIBE


One of the scariest things about the early steps of my transition was shopping for clothes. I wasn’t ready to go out in “girl mode,” and even if I was, I didn’t have the clothes to do so. Every time I went into a store I was deathly afraid that the cashier would ask who I was buying the dresses for, that other customers would realize what I was doing, or worst of all, that I would bump into someone I wasn’t yet out to. Even though it should have been fun buying new outfits and picking out clothes that finally reflected who I was and what I liked, it was huge cause of stress in my life.

What made it even worse is that I’m fat.

I’m about six feet tall, I wear a women’s size 12 shoe, and a size 20 dress. So not only do I have to deal with the crippling dysphoria that comes from having a body that I often don’t even recognize as my own, I also have to deal with the cultural misogyny that tells me that a woman can’t be as big and fat as I am and still be desirable.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

PHOTO © MEYLLEN DJNERES

When I started coming out, I also started getting people telling me that I wasn’t a real woman. I was told that I was claiming God made a mistake, that I was making the wrong choice, that I was kidding myself. I was told that even if I dressed and acted like a woman, because of my genitals or chromosomes, I would always technically be a man. I’ve been able to block most of that out. My friends and family have, almost universally, been incredibly supportive and accepting. They see me as the woman I am. There are still a few comments here and there about “biological women” and “biological men” but I’m learning to manage those. Even though I had learned to ignore people saying I’m not a real woman, I now have to deal with an entirely new criticism of my body. Now that I’ve started presenting as a woman, people feel free to comment on how I look.

best-glasses-sweater-in-the-history-of-life

PHOTO © MEYLLEN DJNERES

Apparently, now my size is fair play. As a guy, the last time I remember someone making fun of me for being fat was in the ninth grade, but as a woman, I get comments on my weight almost every time I post pictures on my blog. Whether it’s someone commenting on one of my photos saying, “And this is why america [sic] has fallen into ruin. You are morbidly obese,” or porn blogs sending me messages saying they would love to see naked pictures of my “sexy fat ass.” As a woman I have to navigate this strange world where people either feel like my fatness is somehow hurting them or exists only to feed their fetish. And it sucks. I already deal with enough body image issues as it is, you know, the whole dysphoria thing, and I really don’t need society’s standards of how big a woman can be to give me more.

I don’t need stores to only carry dresses and pants up to a size 12. I don’t need stores that only carry women’s shoes up to a size 10. In the town I live in there are only two stores that carry a wide selection of women’s clothes that fit me. Building up the courage to get dressed, put on makeup, do my hair and then go out in public to do some shopping only to be told “We don’t have anything in your size” feels like an affirmation of all the times I was told I was a man. I’m lucky if the thrift stores have more than two or three nice things that are my size. If I want new clothes I have to shop online, go out of town, or wait for the stores to restock their supply. It’s not fun. It makes me frustrated with my body. It makes me even more frustrated with the fashion industry that says women who look like me don’t deserve nice clothes.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

PHOTO © MEYLLEN DJNERES

My dysphoria means that sometimes I look in the mirror or I look at my body and feel sick to my stomach at what hormones have done to me. They have misshapen my genitals, given me hair in all the wrong places, messed up my skeleton, and made my voice sound like it’s coming from someone else. It’s hard to see myself as someone who I can like and love, let alone as someone that another person could like and love. I’ve lost sleep because of how I feel about my body. In the past I’ve even withdrawn from my friends and stopped socializing because of how I feel about my body. But it’s getting better. I’m learning how to not hate what I see. I’m reminding myself that some women are hairier than others, some women have broad shoulders, some women have small boobs. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. I’m not about to let even more body hate derail that. Yes I’m fat, but that doesn’t mean I have to hate that about my body too. There’s already enough I don’t like. So instead I do my best to embrace my fatness.

It’s tough as hell dealing with so much that tells you you’re not being a woman in the right way. If they’re not attacking you for what’s in your pants or in your genes, they’re attacking your for your height and your waistline. And then when they will accept fat women, they say that they better have curves in all the right places and be a perfect hourglass figure. Well, I’m not. I have broad shoulders, small boobs, a big belly and fat thighs. It hard to love my body sometimes, but it’s still beautiful. It’s still sexy. It’s still desirable. It’s just hard sometimes to see that. That’s why I have to practice purposeful body love. I’ve had to learn an entirely new set of exercises and techniques to deal with an entirely new type of attack on my body.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

PHOTO © MEYLLEN DJNERES

My body is my own and not here for other’s critique or objectification. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. Sometimes I get dressed up in one of my favorite outfits and take some pictures, not to share with anyone else, just for myself. Sometime I look at fat fashion blogs and smile at all the other beautiful, amazing, gorgeous women who look like me. Sometimes I go shopping so I can find a dress that I know I look amazing in, despite what other people might think. Sometimes I take a bath, relax and just try to enjoy the feeling of being in my own body. I listen to music by Jill Scott and Aretha Franklin or watch Hairspray. I surround myself with friends who tell me I’m beautiful and compliment me on my looks. I remind myself that looks aren’t everything and that no matter what people think and say about my body I am a smart, talented, creative and powerful woman. It’s taking some time, and sometimes I struggle to love my fat, transgender body, but I’m getting there. I’ve learned that loving my body for all of its fatness has helped me to love my body for all of its transness as well.

Photo © Meyllen DJneres

PHOTO © MEYLLEN DJNERES


About the author: Mey (short for Melínda) is a 26 year old queer trans Latina who lives in Idaho with her cat Sawyer.  She loves scifi, fantasy, horror and comic books.  Her hobbies include reading books and watching movies, going to concerts and being a comedy nerd.  She’s afraid of heights, airplanes and whales.

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