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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.

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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.

Big Girl, You Are Beautiful

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Let go and just be…

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Make every moment one of your favorites.

CDC wages war on BBW via WWW etc

Clearly there aren’t any real problems needing money in this country. As evidence: a government sponsored multimedia hatefest going by the name “Weight of the Nation”. If you want to read all about it there’s a complete and brilliant article by the magnificent Marilyn Wann.

http://fatattitude.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/marilynwanndishesback/

 

Here are the some great requoteables from the article.

 

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I attended the first, government-sponsored Weight of the Nation conference in 2009. I didn’t pay or anything self-defeating like that. I just walked in (with a brave friend or two) and delivered plastic-wrapped fortune cookies to the fancy luncheon tables where major stakeholders were about to chew on the alleged “obesity” problem. If the professional food scolds took a cookie, they got messages like these:

  • The war on “obesity” is a war on PEOPLE!
  • The No. 1 threat to fat people? Your unexamined prejudice.
  • What’s the word for science that serves bigotry? Hint: It starts with “you.”
  • If you can’t imagine fat people being healthy…that’s YOUR pathology!
  • Tell people to lose weight if you want to endanger public health AND civil rights!
  • How many fat people must you starve, poison, slice up? Celebrate weight diversity now!

And the Orwellian:

  • Weight ≠ Health. Diversity ≠ Disease. Hate ≠ Help.

…and more

When the initial frenzy of Weight of the Nation has calmed down — after everyone has enjoyed this round of hating fat people and there’s been a healthy boost to budgets, profits, viewership, and ad revenue — I predict we’ll hit the same wall that every dieter encounters: the return to reality.

I suggest that reality is not so bad. To keep a grip, ask yourself:

  1. Would you question the motives behind any other national PR campaign designed “for your own good” by major media, corporations, and the government?
  2. If it were any topic other than weight (where you might feel vulnerable), would you be so quick to believe the numbers they cite to justify a “War on [Whatever]“? (Most egregious exaggerations: “Fat people cost ‘us’ billions!” “Everyone’s going to be really fat!” “Our children won’t live as long!”)
  3. Would you rather trust your own judgment about what’s good for you or get swept along by the latest fruitless panic?
  4. Do you want to connect with other people who are saying, “WTF” about Weight of the Nation?

Here are some:

Debate the Weight is a suite of data-supported arguments from the Association for Size Diversity and Health that controvert what they call “one of the most misleading and misguided public health campaigns — ever.”

Nutrition professor Linda Bacon compares Weight of the Nation to bear-baiting in ancient Rome’s coliseum in HuffPo. She writes, “Proponents may think they mean well by deploring the size of roughly half our nation, but it’s easier to rail about fat than examine the commercial and class motives that create the real health and wellness divides we live (and die) with.”

Jezebel editor Lindy West says “being mean to fat people is pointless.” And elaborates: “The assumption that you have a right to legislate another person’s body ‘for their own good,’ or ‘for the children,’ or even ‘because they’re gross,’ is its own kind of crazy — but to inflate that assumption to apocalyptic proportions, railing against the nation-obliterating medical bills of nebulous future straw-fatties, is fucking bonkers.”

Michele Simon, public health lawyer, gives great reasons why she is not attending or watching Weight of the Nation Including this one: “Scientific evidence shows that fat people have enough problems dealing with discrimination, bullying, etc., and the last thing they need is more fearmongering brought to you by the federal government and cable television.”

Slink magazine calls out weight-shaming as wholly unhelpful to health. Its rallying cry: “Because obesity, BMI, and all the other fad words you throw at plus-size women don’t stick or mean anything, and the moment we manage to hold off ridiculing women and our bodies long enough and alter the way we talk about plus size, fat, and our bodies to talking about healthy diet and exercise, the better off we will be.”

What’s your secret agent name?

The following was posted on the blog Red No. 3 in response to some fat-hating drivel which included the phrase “agent of obesity”. The self-loving fat-accepting blogger behind Red No. 3 envisioned  O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. (Operatives Built with Exceptional Size Imperiling Thinness’ Yoke)

The official seal of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. (Operatives Built with Exceptional Size, Imperiling Thinness’ Yoke). You call us whales. We call ourselves Killer Whales.

…In scanning the comments, one thing jumped out at me. One commenter had praised New York’s fat shaming, saying “I’m glad to see a move against an agent of obesity.” The continued on with some boiler-plate liberal fat hate about consumeristic culture of over-consumption, blah, blah, blah, but that phrase struck me as kind of funny. Soda is an “agent of obesity”? Fat people have agents now? Out servicing our agenda? Obviously, this was a person who prefers their fat shaming with a big dose of dehumanization, regarding “obesity” only as some nebulous concept and forgetting about the actual fat people that exist that they are trashing, but I couldn’t help giggling at the concept of being an “agent of obesity”. Like a spy organization? We have secret agents in service of OBESITY…

And off I went. I went over to Twitter and made a joke about the remark. Then created a hashtag. Then saw a bunch of other people joining in the fun, imagining our secret agent code names. Mine is Nick Fatty, Agent of O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. I even came up with acronym for that! Operatives Built with Exceptional Size Imperiling Thinness’ Yoke. And from there I expanded to Tumblr and created my secret agent portrait and even an official seal for O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. (Which I’ve now typed enough times to wish I wasn’t amused by the periods denoting the acronym). And eventually portraits of a whole lot of other O.B.E.S.I.T.Y. agents having fun with this as well. Heck, there are even t-shirts!

Link

Fat Positive Vid

Brilliant mini-documentary of fat activism including footage of my Fat Sheroes, Marilyn Wann and Linda Bacon. Kudos to filmmaker Sara Zendehnam.

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