Body Impolitic

Category Archives: Size Acceptance

A Few Choice Links

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Debbie says:

My links list is longer than your browser window, and my time is limited, so here are a few favorites:

frontI have one friend in particular who rages about “unisex” t-shirts with no space for boobs, and I thought of them when I read this Alice Goldfuss piece:

So, why didn’t I make a shirt that says “JUST USE ‘FOLKS’” and offer it in every cut? Because, sometimes, the best way to expose privilege is to take it away. Many men expected me to include men’s sizing by request. By telling them no, I gave them a choice: don’t participate in something you enjoy or adapt to the only option given.

This is a choice marginalized people face every day. …

Something this campaign also helped expose was society’s very limited view on what it means to be a woman. Society expects women to be short and slight, and any deviation from those rules is not supported. Despite offering women’s shirts up to 4XL in size, some women still couldn’t buy them due to women’s sizes being smaller and shorter than men’s. Usually these women have to buy men’s shirts, because they have no other options.

To those women (and nonbinary individuals, and people with gender dysphoria) I accidentally excluded with this campaign, I am truly sorry. You have my permission to take the design and make a shirt for yourself that fits.

My next shirt campaign will have both women’s and men’s sizes, but I want to emphasize that this is bullshit. Labeling clothing this way forces our bodies into a binary that doesn’t exist.

You can buy Alice Goldfuss’s shirts at Outreachy.



I had never heard of Emily Ratajkowski until I came across her essay in Glamour earlier this month. Ratajkowski is an actress, a model, and a Bernie Sanders supporter, who (strangely enough) does not think those things are contradictory.

I’ve been called an attention whore so often that I had almost gotten used to it….  [A]s women we are accused of seeking attention more than men are, whether for speaking out politically, as I did, for dressing a certain way, or for even posting a selfie. Our culture has a double standard that runs so deep, many women have actually built up an automatic defense—attempting to be a step ahead of potential critics by making sure we have “real” reasons for anything we say or do. …

It’s absurd to think that desire for attention doesn’t drive both women and men. Why are women scrutinized for it more, then? And if a woman dresses up because she does want attention, male or otherwise, does that make her guilty of something? Or less “serious”? Our society doesn’t question men’s motivations for taking their shirt off, or shaving, or talking about politics—nor should it. Wanting attention is genderless. It’s human.

Ratajkowski is funny, a clear thinker, and a good writer. If we didn’t know what she looked like, if she used a different name or kept her personas separate, would we read her writing differently? And if she was a funny, clear thinking male model, would that be different again?


Most articles on disability are either “medical model” perspectives of one kind or another, or they are “my story”: anecdotal experiences. The staff at The Mighty found a new approach: short descriptions from 28 people to build a big picture. One capsule take on what brain fog feels like is just one perspective: 28 stories provide a solid foundation.

“Brain fog is like stumbling around in the dark with no clear path out. It’s like your brain being trapped in quicksand constantly.” — Rachel Johnson

“Brain fog is needing a reminder to remind you what your reminders are for.” — Selena Marie Wilson

“Brain fog for me is feeling completely lost in a familiar place.” — Cherie Rendon

I have never experienced anything I would really call brain fog, but reading these descriptions gave me a much fuller concept than I had before. Now I want to see this model applied to different experiences of disability … and longer stories.


We can always count on Ragen at Dances with Fat to find the most important stories and write about them clearly. This post is no exception:

Brookhaven Elementary school in Mississippi prioritized students not seeing a 9 year old girl in a “too snug” t-shirt, over that girl’s education.  She was removed from her classroom and put into in school suspension her mother then brought another outfit which was also deemed inappropriate.  The school has verified that they are standing by their decision.

Here’s the first inappropriate outfit (Ragen also has a picture of the second one):


After dissecting the story behind the story, Ragen concludes:

mostly what I want to say is that this kid is fricking nine years old and she deserves to be able to go to school to learn in pants and a t-shirt without having to worry about being dragged out of class in front of her peers and put into in school suspension because of a ridiculous fat shaming dress code and the sizeist teachers and administrators who choose how and when to enforce it.


Stacy Bias provides a fine antidote. Her twelve Good Fatty Archetypes include:


The others range from No Fault Fatty to Fatshionista, and nine more. You’ll enjoy them.

Aside from my usual sources of links, Lisa Hirsch sent the Dances with Fat link (and a couple of others that didn’t make it into this post), and Body Impolitic’s own Lynne Murray sent the Stacy Bias link. Thanks to both!

Post-Olympics Link Roundup

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Debbie says:

Coverage of the Rio Olympics led me to a substantial number of fascinating articles. Now that the event is over, I’d like to share some of them with you:

This really well-designed New York Times quiz has you match Olympic and Paralympic athletes with their sports. I confess I only got five out of 16 right, but the point — that all different kinds of bodies can be athletes’ bodies — is made, and made well.


The quiz pairs well with Ragen Chastain (often quoted in this blog), writing about fat Olympians at her blog, Dances with Fat. Ragen breaks down five unreasonable assumptions which people sometimes draw from the existence of fat athletic competitors. Here’s her list, plus her full comment on one I thought she did particularly well.

This proves there’s no excuse not to be fit at any size

This proves that anyone of any size can be an Olympian

This proves that everyone of every size can be healthy

First, don’t confuse athletically successful with healthy.  Many athletes push far beyond what would most support their bodies’ health – risking  and getting expensive sports-related injuries that they wouldn’t otherwise be at risk for – in order to be successful at their sport.  They are absolutely allowed to do that – their bodies, their choice (though that doesn’t meant that we shouldn’t be asking questions about the way that sports are managed/judged and what is really “required.”)  Moreover, health is difficult to define, multi-faceted, not an obligation, not a barometer of worthiness, and not entirely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstances.

This proves that anyone of any size can be an athlete


Female Olympians face their own set of challenges. As menstruation becomes more talked about around the world, Zheping Huang at Quartz discusses Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui’s radical acknowledgment.

When China’s favorite swimmer Fu Yuanhui openly mentioned her menstrual cycle on Sunday (Aug. 14) at the Rio Olympics, it was the first time many Chinese people realized it is possible to swim while being on your period. …

“I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down,” Fu said, between gasps of breath. When asked if she was having a stomachache, Fu said: “Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.”

Just like that, Fu broke a great sporting taboo by talking about menstruation in public. During the 2015 Australian Open, British tennis player Heather Watson blamed her poor performance on her period after losing in the first round. At the time Watson’s remarks shocked the sports world and later sparked initiatives to break the silence on the issue.

The article goes on to discuss Chinese attitudes towards menstruation, tampons, and virginity. I learned a lot.

It’s no secret that people of fluid, indeterminate, or challenged gender have a daunting set of Olympic challenges. We’ve written here about Castor Semenya and Dutee Chand. Dana Moskowitz, writing at Deadspin, makes the question very personal.

What is it, exactly, that makes me a woman? Is it my breasts? If so, is it because they are a certain size? Is it that I have a womb? Does it matter that I have no idea if my womb works because I’ve never tried to get pregnant? Is it my two X chromosomes or my level of testosterone? I have no idea the status of either my chromosomes or testosterone for the simple reason there’s never been a good medical reason to test them. Asked to prove that I am a woman, I’d probably come up with this—everyone says I’m one.

I find myself returning to that thought exercise as Caster Semenya competes in the 800 meters this week. Semenya was told her entire life that she was a woman. Until she wasn’t….

Sports reporters have found ways of dancing around what this is. That’s why you’ll see the word “fair” in so many headlines about Semenya….

See, ladies, this is just about fairness! About leveling the playing field! About following the rules! Geez, women, calm down. We’re trying to make your races more fair for you!

One tactic, used by SI among others, is warning that this could be the end of women’s sports, as if this and not underfunding, sexual violence, and harassment were what kept women out of sports. Reporters will harp that this is about maintaining women as a protected class, ignoring that the legal term protected class means a group you cannot discriminate against—making this the bizarre act of asking if Semenya is too manly to be a woman, in which case she would receive the bizarro right to be discriminated against.


But if your body size and shape is culturally acceptable for the Olympics, and you aren’t menstruating (or don’t care to talk about it) and no one has challenged your gender, the media still gives itself complete license to analyze and criticize your religious attire. At Al-Jazeera, Rachel Shabi has a biting response:

Witness the countless headlines breathlessly hailing the first United States Olympian to compete in a hijab: the fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

To help us get to grips with this dazzling achievement – the hijab, obviously, and not the fact that she’s ranked eight in the world – we had BBC World tweeting about the incredible phenomenon as: “Hijab and a sword” – which, we hope, is the start of a series, continuing with, say: jodhpurs and a riding crop; athlete pants and a javelin; leotard and a chalk bowl.

And then there was the viral image of Egyptian and German women playing against each other at Olympic volleyball, one in a bikini, the other in a hijab.

As the Libyan-American writer Hend Amry tweeted in response [to comments about “cultural clash”], the actual caption to this picture could have been: “Athlete vs athlete”. …

[W]hat has crept into so much of the commentary is a sense of – what shall we call it? – Orientalist awe, as with this Washington Post headline: “Muslim female athletes find sport so essential they compete while covered” as in, wow, these women love sport so much that they’ve even managed to overcome this uniquely disadvantageous Muslim religion thing.

If you’re celebrating the fact that official sporting bodies have stopped being so restrictive over uniforms, maybe spotlighting the hijab each time you see an athlete wearing one isn’t the way to do it.

In the end, so many of these links, and so many other Olympic stories, come down to what should be a very simple thing: what would it take for us to simply appreciate the athletic ability of these amazing people, without making assumptions about them, shoving them into categories, or generalizing from them as individual competitors to everyone else, competitors or not?

I’m about ready for Olympic competition for journalists; and most of them are a very long way from the finish line or the perfect 10.

Lisa Hirsch sent us the New York Times quiz, others are from our general reading.