Fat girls don't do that!

So, let's get the confessionals out of the way.

I'm fat.

Normally, I could give a shit if I'm fat or skinny--I function much along the same lines as Rosie O'Donnell when she said she simply doesn't pay attention to her body enough to know if she is fat or skinny or a spaghetti noodle. I'm the same way.

But being a lover of sports, being a lover of 'movement'--I find myself forced to confront the fact that I am fat almost every single time I step outside my door in my tennis shoes and jogging pants.

See, fat girls aren't supposed to exercise. Or be mobile. Or demonstrate their physicality in anyway other than the prescribed fat girl ways of eating, sitting and watching t.v., hiding behind towels, etc. Most of us as women know at least part of the reason why that is. If your body isn't 'available' for male consumption, nobody wants to see it. And what better way can a woman possibly say she is 'available' than being skinny and working out in an effort to maintain that availability? So if a woman is fat AND working out--it's almost like a joke. Who does she think she is? How dare she assume that any man would want to see her fat ass heaving around a baseball diamond?

Feminists have discussed "fatness" within the context of sports/exercise/movement many times. Unfortunately, especially in blogland, this discussion is rarely fruitful. While some productive ideas are discussed (like the anti-gay/queerphobia that often presents itself in the form of fat hating), more often than not, what happens is that the discussion folds into a 'body-censoring' group project. In other words, fat women shoot hostile looks at skinny women who 'love the attention' their skinny bodies bring them, and skinny women throw the snark at fat women who 'blame us because men don't find them attractive.' And suddenly nobody is allowed to love moving their body because the results of moving ones body are so different for so many of us.

I think those are often brutally painful discussions because each person is more interested in proving her point than critically examining how exercise, movement, mobility, sports, etc is so strictly monitored by various cultures. Which leads to a lot of hurtful and triggering name calling and dismissals, and even worse, censors out the voice of many women who experience 'fat' and 'skinny' on levels that aren't what the mainstream expect them to or in multiple ways at different times. For example, as a Latin@, I am not considered 'fat'--but curvy (or big boned, ya feeling me, Latinas?). And playing softball with a group of other Latinas? I rarely experience insecurity at all. It's more about laughing, drinking a beer or two, and occasionally running like hell towards the next base. However, as a non-20ish woman simply walking around a university sports complex--I've been laughed at and have had fat friends accosted by groups of young hot shot university boys for being 'fat bitches.'

I, like so many other women, experience 'fat' in multiple ways that change according to who I am and how other people interpret me. Which makes me wonder: is it possible to reframe discussions around exercise, movement, sports etc to recognize the way 'fat' and 'skinny' are fluctuating and impermanent concepts? Is it possible to reframe how fat/not fat is talked about in feminist circles?

Why can't a fat woman do a 'skinny' sport like gymnastics or ballet without it being turned into a massive joke or a disgusting turn off (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/International/Story?id=2999487&page=1)? Why can't a slender woman (who may be bi, lesbian, simply not interested, etc) move her body without maleness and male desire becoming how the rest of the world (including other women) interprets her movement?

Are the two situations connected? If so, how? And what can we, as women who are interested in creating space for women to move without shame, fear, or paranoia, *DO* to hear each group of women (and all the women not represented in the fat/not fat dichotomy) and support them?

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Shapely Prose forum

the shapely prose website - which i think does a fantastic job of discussing fat acceptance ideas and feminism - recently started a community forum for discussion among commenters. so far, it's been an excellent place for discussion and there's an entire area of the forum devoted to exercise. so far, discussions have included how to shift from casual cycling to commuting via bike, how to start exercising, how to find exercise clothes that fit, and even how to deal with comments at the gym. i strongly suggest it as a great resource for this, where all of the responses have been positive, have supported movement for women regardless of size or weight.

Fat girls are doing it for themselves. AND others ;-)

I recently started a yoga class and was I ever hit in the face with that feeling. Being the fat girl in the room was tough. I couldn't assume one of the poses because my boobs were interfering, and couldn't fully embrace yet another one because my belly poked out too far.

About an hour into the class, the instructor (who is wonderful, by the way: Yay Skeeter!) mentioned how glorious it was that we all bring our own bodies, which are beautiful containers for our amazing spirits, to the practice of Yoga. And I was reminded that yes, this is my body and I inhabit it differently moment to moment. A few minutes later, I realized that the only person thinking about my fat butt in that yoga studio was me :-)

I find that issues of body size are more often avoided and tiptoed around because one cannot ASSUME sisterhood. At a size 16, I've been told "Well, you aren't all THAT fat." I once showed up for an audition to a show that called for a character that was "250 ponds" and when the director looked at me she laughed. "You CAN'T weight that much!" Oh yes, yes, I can, but you simply have too vivid an idea in your head about that that looks like. http://www.mollena.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/mo-stormy-color1.jpg because sometimes it looks like that, mofo!

I feel strongly that seeing women as fellow beings who move about in vessels that suit them in various ways at varying times in their lives can help one access the myriad facets our our selves

When you see ME, without prejudice, you realize that the size of my thighs has little to do with the content of my character. Whether you are a fat girl stinkeyeing the twigette nibbling a triple cheeseburger or you are the lissome lass snickering at the bounteous buttocks of the babe next to you at the gym: See Humanity first. Gaze with compassion for them, and for yourself.

Peace

Mollena

Look into my thighs...

I recently started a yoga class and was I ever hit in the face with that feeling. Being the fat girl in the room was tough. I couldn't assume one of the poses because my boobs were interfering, and couldn't fully embrace yet another one because my belly poked out too far.

About an hour into the class, the instructor (who is wonderful, by the way: Yay Skeeter!) mentioned how glorious it was that we all bring our own bodies, which are beautiful containers for our amazing spirits, to the practice of Yoga. And I was reminded that yes, this is my body and I inhabit it differently moment to moment. A few minutes later, I realized that the only person thinking about my fat butt in that yoga studio was me :-)

I find that issues of body size are more often avoided and tiptoed around because one cannot ASSUME sisterhood. At a size 16, I've been told "Well, you aren't all THAT fat." I once showed up for an audition to a show that called for a character that was "250 ponds" and when the director looked at me she laughed. "You CAN'T weight that much!" Oh yes, yes, I can, but you simply have too vivid an idea in your head about that that looks like. http://www.mollena.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/mo-stormy-color1.jpg because sometimes it looks like that, mofo!

I feel strongly that seeing women as fellow beings who move about in vessels that suit them in various ways at varying times in their lives can help one access the myriad facets our our selves

When you see ME, without prejudice, you realize that the size of my thighs has little to do with the content of my character. Whether you are a fat girl stinkeyeing the twigette nibbling a triple cheeseburger or you are the lissome lass snickering at the bounteous buttocks of the babe next to you at the gym: See Humanity first. Gaze with compassion for them, and for yourself.

Peace

Mollena

"Are the two situations

"Are the two situations connected? If so, how? And what can we, as women who are interested in creating space for women to move without shame, fear, or paranoia, *DO* to hear each group of women (and all the women not represented in the fat/not fat dichotomy) and support them?"

I think you hit the nail on the head pointing out the shame, fear, and paranoia as the being the root of the problem. What we can do is give women permission to be who they are and look as they do without our judgement and criticism or projecting our own insecurities onto them. We have to evolve beyond that and see that you being attractive, or successful, or coupled detracts nothing from me regardless of my status or any other women for that matter. It also doesn't elevate me above you if I am those things, I think there is enough love, success, and attraction in the world for all of us if we just stop seeing everyone as competition. There is no reason why I can't celebrate and appreciate you just as you are, fat or thin. I think there is still far too much emphasis to little girls growing up and to women in general they they should be grooming themselves, acting, and dressing in ways only for the attention of males. I think this sends a strong signal to girls and women that their value is dependent on their ability to attract a mate/ or their appearance.

My opinion is that if women don't begin to extend a little grace to each other and make the connection between how we view ourselves is reflected by how we view and value each other, we'll have a sore time trying to unite to right the wrongs against women that occur every day. We have to make that choice, to know our own worth as humans and women and recognize that is of equal value to others.

Because of what I do, I get to hear from plenty of non-fat women who hate on me because of my confidence and charisma and many confess to being annoyed that I can look like this and still be so happy and self-assured while they work so hard to maintain their style of hotness and they feel like slaves to the maintenence. Let em be skinny, let them worry about their implants, or being replaced by a woman half their age if when things sag...more power to them if it makes THEM happy, but if it doesn't bring them the joy they hoped, they need not look to abusing big fat me to validate themselves, I see right through it. Truth is, they're victims, still acting based on their fears and to me that is what's so tragic about it, fat and non-fat alike are enslaved by that "ideal" standard of feminity, beauty, size, weight, and shape and the fallout isn't pretty for any side.