Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Fat Experience Project

Laurie and Debbie say:

Maven has started a new fat website, and it is spectacular!

The Fat Experience Project® is an oral, visual and written history project which seeks to be a humanizing force in body image activism.

By collecting and sharing the many and varied stories of individuals of size, the Fat Experience Project® seeks to engage with, educate, empower and enrich the lives of people of size, our allies and the world at large.

We believe that, at the root of discrimination and judgment, there is often an unfortunate lack of basic understanding.

We believe that sizeism, racism, classism, ableism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia are related issues whose intersections may best be understood through the exploration of personal impacts.

If you haven’t already gone there and stopped reading …

The site collects individual stories and posts them in categories: Celebration, Childhood & Family, Labels & Language, Self-Love & Actualization, The Shame Game (and perhaps more, or more to come).

Anyone can submit a story. The site welcomes:

* first-person, non-fiction, autobiographical essays.
* first-person, non-fiction, autobiographical video entries.
* Topical spoken word pieces (via text, video or mp3)
* Representative photographs (artful nudity OK.)

Here’s a bit from Stacy Bias in the self-love & actualization category:

I find myself in wonderment at people who are able to motivate themselves to simple tasks like gardening and cleaning their house and grocery shopping on a regular and consistent basis. I have nearly completely divorced myself from my skin. I feel as if I’ve almost completely moved out of my own body. I don’t wish to challenge myself. It’s like, I’ve broken so many promises to myself that I don’t even believe me anymore, so it seems somewhere along the way I stopped trying to even pretend like I was a capable individual.

This is and always has been a huge part of my fat experience — this disconnect between my hyperactive mind and my nearly ignored flesh. My body has been a shameful reminder of my failings, and so for the most part, I have ignored it as a tool for my survival. It has been under-used, abused and all but abandoned.

So, my solution then, is to challenge myself for 20 minutes every day.
I don’t care what it is. Taking out the trash. Doing dishes. Scrubbing my toilet. Going to the store. Dicing vegetables. Going for a walk. Sorting papers. Organizing a room. Picking up clutter. Pulling a few weeds. Cleaning out my car. Whatever. Something that involves movement. Something that involves the kind of self-care that I seem to consistently avoid.

And another, from an mp3 by Liv McClellan (audio files are transcribed on the site):

We have a lot of fatties in my family. My mom is fat. My mom kind of fluctuates between a size 12 and a size 20. She just kind of fluctuates in between there, depending upon what’s going on in her life. My dad actually has now got a gut on him, you know, later in life. When I was younger, I was definitely the only fat kid. … And my dad was a PE teacher. So, you know, it was a very interesting sort of relationship with the expectation that you were active. I played soccer when I was little, t-ball, swam from the time I was five until I graduated from high school, competitively. Always, was always doing something. … And what I, as an adult now, this Health at Every Size sort of philosophy that I embrace — that wasn’t there. It was just sort of – you’re fat, so you’re unhealthy. … We had a nurse practitioner that I hated; who wanted me on every diet ever and was always telling my parents that I needed to be on a diet. Then I finally moved over to a pediatrician when I was 13 or 14 and she was an adolescent pediatrician, and she was like “Yeah, you swim twice a day, five days a week, and a 6th day you swim for 2 hours. You do all sorts of activities, you play soccer, this that and the other. You’re healthy. You’re overweight, but you’re healthy.”

This is the kind of site that can only get better as more and more people contribute to it. You know you have an anecdote, a story, a success, a memory … a fat experience. Maven wants you to share it, in the right kind of context, for the right reasons.

Check it out.

Letter to My Body: Looking in the Mirror

Laurie says:

BlogHer invited me to be a guest editor and write a “Letter to my Body” for their Body Image topic. Women have been writing these letters since they began on Valentine’s day. Deb wrote hers a while ago.


It’s hard for me to think about writing a letter to my body because I don’t feel separate from it. So I’ve decided to visualize talking to myself in the mirror. I think out loud a lot so that’s not hard.

I’m going to talk about “being present in my body” even though that phrase still feels a little separate, but I don’t have a better words to say it in. I didn’t start out this way. Learning to be present in my body most of the time was a mixture of joy and hard work that happened after I grew up. And since I’m sixty-six, it’s been going on for a long time.

I’m grateful for the physicality of my life, both in it’s intensity and all it’s subtleties. Feeling the air on my skin on a warm day, seeing the world as I walk through it. I like the patterns in the cement, the leaves on the trees, I like the faces as I go by.

I’m not necessarily grateful for the fact that being present is about pain as well as joy. And when I hurt, I”ll feel the interruptive intrusiveness of quite small pains as well as the sometimes overwhelming power of strong pain.

I’m grateful for the pleasures of taste, for the repleteness sensation of eating, for orgasm and the more subtle pleasures of sex.

I’m an artist and I work with my hands. There’s the physical sensation of making something with them, something that didn’t exist before. And there’s the passion of dance – whether it’s just me dancing or when I’m teaching belly dance to kids and experiencing their intensity.

Then there’s my face in the mirror looking back with all the lines that tell the story of my life so far. I like that too.