Pants and Gender

I was going to start this entry by apologising to you, my (hypothetical?) reader(s) for disappearing. But I changed my mind. Instead I’m going to restate that my primary reason for doing this is for me. I hope this helps someone or gives someone something to think about, and I think I may have done that already, which makes this wonderful. I think part of accepting my body is accepting that I can do things for me and not feel guilty about it. I know this next sentence is going to take some of that power away. But, I do hope you don’t mind the lack of apology.

Today, I went pants shopping. It was more clothes shopping in general, but I have a lot of shirts I like, more skirts than I wear (since I generally don’t) and just don’t wear dresses. I am getting older, as people do, and I somehow got it into my head that in order to step toward being a proper adult, I have to start dressing like one. To an extent, this is true. At least if I plan on interviewing in person for white collar jobs and then actually working said job. Dressing like an adult, to me at least, means dressing in something socially acceptable. Something that at the very least doesn’t “highlight” the flaws society says my body has and something that conforms to my gender identity. It also seems to require muting one’s personality. At least, that’s how I see it. Perhaps if my personality were something that conformed more to standards of “acceptable” I wouldn’t think this, but they don’t and that’s okay. If they did, that’s okay too, though I hope that goes without saying.

My current wardrobe can conform. But I don’t wear those pieces together very often. However, I still have some time while my real occupation is student and so I can exist outside of the dress code What Not to Wear tells me about. Now, I’m not saying anything against WNtW; they’re certainly on to something. When I watch I generally do think the “after” looks better than the “before”. But as I’m reading more from the areas of the internet where FA and feminism hangs out, I’m starting to think that seeing these (generally) women the way I see them is problematic. I haven’t been able to look past the “Wow, she looks so much better!” but I see the uniformity all too clearly. Today I was watching the Style network (I think? Cable has too many channels) and it has a similar show. I don’t remember the title, but one of the hosts was reading a letter from the makeover candidate’s daughter that said something like “Mom, if you wear more dresses, I will want to too” as if this were heart breaking and a reason to change the makeover candidate’s wardrobe. I found this hugely problematic.

I won’t lie. This is partially because I have a good relationship with the “wrong” clothes and a pretty bad relationship with the “right” ones. Wrong being clothes intended for men, right being clothes intended for women. Clothes marketed to women don’t fit my body. I am biologically female and I identify as such. However, up until this (fairly) recent trend of longer shirts, shirts to fit women would turn into crop tops on me because they didn’t account for breasts my size. If they made a larger size it was often too boxy and still unflattering (in the traditional sense). Pants designed for women often seem to shout LOOK AT MY THIGHS, and more often than not manage to give me a muffin top even if they’re falling off my body. I (understandably, I hope) hate this. I mentioned my clothes a bit in Two Setbacks, a previous post on here. The pants I talked about being a setback were designed for women (but I didn’t hate them), the shorts I loved are designed for men. When I was 14 or 15 I finally asked my mother if I could try some men’s cargo shorts. I consider that one of the best sartorial decisions I ever made. I haven’t gone back to shorts designed for women. I think I may own a pair and I think they may fit, but I can’t remember wearing then. Pants have been more problematic. As I’ve mentioned in Two Setbacks, pants have to fit more of the body and therefore more can go wrong, so it is harder to find men’s pants that look good on me than it is to find shorts. Men’s and women’s pants are often more similar than men’s and women’s shorts are. And if the only difference is that women’s pants are cut for my body and men’s pants aren’t, then it would make sense for me to gravitate toward women’s pants (even if another difference is that pockets are just more useful on men’s pants).

So, today I went shopping for pants with a healthy FA influenced attitude. I think I did a pretty good job at “ignoring” the numbers. I chose the size I think I would fit best in and my second guess to try on, rather than the size I wanted/hoped I was. I tried on the larger size first. The trauma I saved was noticeable. It’s much easier to go down a size than go up one. Not because of the numbers, per se, but because I didn’t have to see my body in something that squished it into something it wasn’t supposed to look like. Also, pants that are too small are uncomfortable. Pants that are too big are not. I think this new approach saved me. I tried on a lot of pants. Even the ones that were falling off made me hate what I was seeing. I almost pouted my way to jewellery and shoes several times. But I was able to see that it wasn’t my body. It really was the pants. My body wearing shorts “I look good!”; My body wearing pants “I want to cry!”. But I saw that yes, my body is in both those statements so it could not be the cause of the wanting to cry. Thanks FA!

I finally gave up and walked over to the guys’ section. As I was doing so I felt a lot of relief. I also saw a hipster boy in skinny jeans walking over to the juniors’ (teen girls’) section to look at pants. Take that society! The first pair of jeans I picked out and tried on fit better and looked better than any of the pants I had tried on yet that day and quite a few of the pants I own. I also bought a really cute t-shirt from the same section because that’s how I roll.

I feel like there should be a lesson here. But there isn’t. This is just my experience. I am lucky that I’m both willing, wanting and able to shop outside of what’s expected of me because shopping sucks.

August 15, 2010. Tags: , , , . Current. Leave a comment.

Huge Again and My Family

Or at least part of my family. I decided to watch Huge on the television this week. Since I’m home with my family, this means publicly viewing this show rather than hiding away in my room and waiting a few hours for it to appear on Hulu. I decided it shouldn’t be something I’m ashamed to watch, and not a bad thing to introduce to my mother if she were to watch some with me. It looked like I was going to have the TV room to myself as I was squatting the TV and watching the end of Cake Boss. Then my mother and brother pretty much both come in at the same time right for the beginning of the show. My mother to zone out and watch whatever I’m watching and my brother to be on his laptop.

Mother dearest asks what I’m watching when she sees a bunch of fat people on the TV and I tell her “Huge”. She asks if that’s really what it’s called and then says shows like this are what give people eating disorders. Last I checked, she still thought of “The Biggest Loser” as an inspiring watch, so I’m really not sure what she meant by that. My brother responds that eating disorders are caused by “dumb bitches”. I really want to tell my brother to shut up and start respecting people like a decent human being, but I don’t because we have an incredibly good sibling relationship and warring with someone in your own house never seemed like fun to me.

My brother continued to make fun of the fatness while my mother decided the show was “actually pretty good.” In fact, she asked if the previous episodes were on On Demand so she can catch up. Score one for team Huge. The show today was pretty awesome as always. I love how Poppy identifies as asexual. I do have a nitpick in that she’s also aromantic which isn’t always tied to asexualness but I still give major props to the show.

A little background on my family is that my brother grew up as a chubby kid and then turned around and now is just big as in muscular. My mother pointed out that she was about as fat as Becky until some random dude did a drive-by shout and called her a fat-ass and then she lost weight and is now one of the 5% of people who have managed to lose weight and keep it off. Not just for over five years but for over something like twenty. Maybe that means genetics should be in favour of me also having a transformation story like that, but I’ve yet to see any evidence. I also think it’s safe to say I’m no longer looking.

July 27, 2010. Tags: , , , . Current. Leave a comment.

Class

There are a lot of things I would like to write about right now, but I think the most prominent has to do with my identification as fat. Anyone who has been paying attention to FA or even just the obesity epidemic (the wording of which I’m going to ignore) is that fat is a class issue. Basically the argument is that poor people are fat because they do not have the time, money and/or access to gym memberships and fresh, healthy food. I’m not arguing that this isn’t true. It probably is, but I have no experience and haven’t done the research to really argue that.

See, there’s another side to this. I grew up in a pretty well-off area. While I was relatively poor compared to some of my classmates, they had the kind of houses that rival those on cribs and would be allowed to bring a few friends for a week in Paris for their birthday. So, relative is the key word there. I have access to good, fresh food. I have a gym membership (or maybe two). Thing is, I’m still fat. Or at least, I’m still what I would consider fat.

I’ve mentioned before, when I was in high school, playing fattest person in the room would generally mean me or a handful of other people. I went to a large high school. I can think of about four other fat girls out of my graduating class of hundreds. My idea of fat is different than a lot of people’s idea of fat. The problem is, all but a few media images reaffirmed the idea that the average woman was tall, blonde and thin. I had some sort of idea that the rest of the world wasn’t as blonde as I was experiencing but not about how they weren’t as tall or as thin.

When I got to college I noticed that while I did have a lot of friends who were taller and thinner than me and a few who were fairer there were large masses of short, dark, fat girls running around. I’d sit and people watch and marvel at the body type that represented the average sorority girl. Most were thinner than me, but I didn’t count a lot of them as thin. Maybe the freshman five/ten/fifteen (take your pick) played into this, but I think that wasn’t the case. I think I didn’t make the best social impression because the first two years were spent trying to figure out where my body fell on this spectrum. I’m still not sure, but I care less now.

When I hear things about my size being a small fat or an in-between, I don’t see it that way. I grew up being on the end of a spectrum, not the middle, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to deprogram myself from that. I was able to readjust my mental classification of others when I’m in that environment but put me back where I spent the first seventeen years of my life or ask me to evaluate myself and I’m still going to see things the way I was taught to see them by my environment that was then reinforced by the media. (The media is its whole separate rant.) Further when the idea of people getting fatter is framed in as a socio-economic argument, I’ve found that it is presented that the fat rich person is clearly an inferior human being because (s)he has no excuse.

This is a hard post to write because I do acknowledge that I have a privilege that comes with my family’s socio-economic status. Even in being fat. But the privilege doesn’t extend far enough to make me immune. I don’t want this to sound to FA like the “what about the menz” argument is to feminism. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded, but this is my experience.

July 15, 2010. Tags: , , , . Reflection. Leave a comment.

They’re Saying It’s Okay to Be Fat

So, I watched Huge I think this show is going to be good for me. It’s certainly a way to reflect on my transformation as an outsider. When I watched it, the smaller fat Amber* has a lot of problematic views and habits. Problematic as in indicative of an eating disorder. She chews her food 30 times, she has thinspiration. I’ve visited pro-anorexic communities in the past. I didn’t like their thinspiration, but I did pay attention to their advice. I followed some of their advice. I still want to try some of the things they suggested. So I found myself relating to Amber. A lot and not just with her potential eating disorder. But I also found myself rooting for Will. Even and especially when Will was facing off against Amber.

But that’s not the point of this ramble. The point of this is that I was listening to the latest Fatcast, a review of the show. Also, a review of the show’s reviews. I know words have power, but something they said really struck me. I’m down with fat acceptance and body acceptance and size acceptance and the word fat and the obesity! crisis!, but when they said reviewers were saying “This show is saying it’s okay to be fat!” as if it were a bad thing, I found myself agreeing with the reviewer and then going “Wait! No, no, it is okay to be fat!”

I can’t figure out why I am fine with someone calling me fat (as an insult) but not if they were to ask me “So you’re saying it’s okay to be fat?” (in disdain, not interest). I don’t know where this little voice comes from in my head saying “How could you possibly think it’s okay to be fat?” I’m not sure where that breakdown in logic is, but I want to find it.

*Go watch the show, this whole thing might not make that much sense if you don’t.

July 2, 2010. Tags: , , , . Current. Leave a comment.

Housekeeping

I have lots of things to say that may or may not be really worth saying, but I’m in the process of completing a lot of thoughts. The Rotund‘s latest post on her internet handle reminded me that I had actually been wanting to do one of those so here’s mine.

When I comment, I go by PG because I’m a busty gal. And PG is a nod to Power Girl. A DC super hero whose powers are pretty much her huge breasts. Okay, so not really, but that’s what she’s known for. And while I’m not a fan of misogyny in comics, Power Girl is almost a parody of that. Sometimes, well, usually, she’s just the most blatant example, but sometimes the writers and artists turn her character into something pretty great. I don’t read as many comics as I’d like ’cause they’re pricey and I’m too lazy to hunt down scans. So Power Girl in my head is kind of the potential I could reach to embrace my curves. And sure, she’s usually really thin and that does not fit with my image, but there’s something about her. I was also thinking about being Gert, another (Marvel) comic character who has an interesting body. In the bit of Runaways (the comic she’s from) she had her own body issues and was kind of the “fat girl” and I could identify with her. She was even drawn rather “thick” for a while.* And then I was reading one of the comics and in the back they had pages for all the main characters with their basic stats and Gert came in at 5’1 and 125lbs. Which means she’s not even medically overweight. I mean, I know the line for fat is placed differently for different people, but to me, that was just a slap in the face. Like I was just told I was too fat to identify with the fat kid. Considering one of the entries I’m stewing on is one about being not fat enough to be considered fat by some of the more prominent FA bloggers, I feel like I really need to revisit this point.

The other name I wanted to explain was the name of this blog. I feel like it almost doesn’t need an explanation, but I’m going for it. Basically my mother has this theory that there are “fat” mirrors and “skinny” mirrors. I think physics supports this idea. Anyway, the point is, is that dressing room mirrors especially tend to have these properties, probably because they’re so cheap. And since this is a blog where I reflect on my weight. . . well, some days I feel like I’m standing in front of a fat mirror and some days I feel like I’m standing in front of a skinny mirror and if I just keep writing about it, maybe I’ll figure out what image I should actually be seeing.

Finally, I would like to say something about the comments on this blog. Word Press insists I actually get a few people reading this thing. And every time I get a comment, I’m shocked and pleased, but I don’t think I’m going to be doing a lot of replying. I originally came up with different identifiers and this blog so I could divorce my body acceptance from any familiar audience and any conscious or unconscious pandering I may do toward them. Or any information I might want to not share. So while I do read the (few) comments I get and I appreciate them, I don’t want to start catering my writing toward a new audience when I still am trying very hard to figure out what I have to say to myself.

*I wish I could provide some links and better facts, but my Google skills are seriously lacking right now.

June 12, 2010. Tags: , . Current. Leave a comment.