It’s important to understand what it feels like to turn on a show and watch something that feels and looks so deeply like one of the most important moments of your life - all the way down to intimate details - and to see someone else at the center of your story, to know the possibility of that moment ever being truly yours again is gone. It is devastating. It is heart-breaking. It makes you want to stop being vulnerable, stop sharing stories. It makes you feel like you’re nothing.
That’s what I felt when I saw the pool scene in Episode 4 of Shrill.
I want to offer my side of the story and what’s come out of speaking publicly about it. This will be my final public statement about this:
I'm reclaiming this Valentine's Day and making it about self-love, treating myself, and wearing strappy underpants. Here are my 8 picks - 4 IRL and 4 digital - for romancing yourself:
Pick #1: this hot bra and panty set from Torrid's new collab with plus-size model Tara Lynn - they're strappy, make my boobs look bubbly, and make for an excellent secret under my puffy winter coat when I got out to buy puffy cheetos.
Pick #2: Dave's Gourmet hot sauce - it's perfect to add to my V-day morning cheesy nopales scramble, or can be used to throw in the eyes of my enemies.
Pick #3: Tulsi sweet rose tea - for its heart mending qualities and because it makes an excellent accompaniment to journaling.
Pick #4: Butter Warmers/Fondue for 2 for 1 - twice the dipping power. Who wants to share either warm butter or warm chocolate? Not. Me.
Pick #5: When Love Meets Fear kindle version - David Richo is like the old school therapist dad you always needed. Get ready to cry the tears of 1000 painful realizations that you're totally capable of being an accountable adult human.
Pick #6: The podcast Strange Magic - Meet your hosts, experienced witches and tarot experts, Sarah Faith Gottesdiener and Amanda Yates Garcia. Start with the "High Priestess" episode and learn how this archetype is about alchemizing trauma.
Pick #7: Stream My Bloody Valentine, the 1981 version - Horror movies from the 80s remind me of the true meaning of love - sending someone a human heart in a velvet candy box.
Pick #8: Nina Simone playlist on Spotify - I choo choo choose to watch myself slow dance in the mirror.
I recently had the very good fortune of being contacted by Rachel about interning with me. We scheduled a meeting, she blew my socks off and now she is making my life better one google doc at a time.
Here's a little more about her:
Rachel is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley (go bears!). Inspired by people watching and a love of helping, she is studying to get her bachelor's degree in psychology. After graduating in May, Rachel is looking forward to jumping into the professional world of body image and progressive sexual health education and ultimately pursuing her Masters in Social Work. When she is not study, Rachel is an avid television watcher, concert go-er, and collector of funky socks.
Do you want to see her perform an original piece on fat embodiment for at UC Berkeley's double feature: the Vagina Monologues and Our Monologues show? Click here to buy tickets.
I've seen the fatness-as-a-product of trauma conversation pop up about 5 times in my feed this week, and though I have no desire to belittle the truly stultifying realities and effects of trauma (sexual and otherwise), I would like to offer the following 4 additional frameworks to consider as this conversation is happening:
1. The More Marginalized a Woman Becomes, the Greater Her Risk of Sexual Assault Becomes
The idea that someone can "protect" themselves from male attention or sexual assault through being fat patently denies the, I think, fairly conclusive work that feminists of colors (particularly feminist indigenous studies) have done to show that the more marginalized a woman gets the more at risk she is of experiencing assault. Because as women become more marginalized, they become more easily deniable witnesses and become more dehumanized - conditions that facilitate violence.
2. Fat Women Are Actually Sexually Desirable & Have Lots of Sex
The idea that fatness is universally undesirable is also patently false and a delusion of fatphobia. There's also pretty good evidence that fat women have sex at similar rates to their thin counterparts, but are less likely to have meaningful romantic relationships than their thin counterparts because of stigma.
3. Emotional Eating & Fatness Are Not the Same Thing
I'm troubled by the conflation of "emotional eating" and being fat. Those are *two separate things.* Typically "emotional eating" only becomes visible when the person is fat. The eating behavior of fat people is always scrutinized fair more harshly than the eating behavior of thin people. There are many thin people who would be considered "over eaters" or "emotional eaters" but their eating behavior is rendered invisible through fatphobia, and fat people's eating behavior is already always rendered hyper-visible through fatphobic confirmation bias.
4. Fatness Is Not Deviation or Failure
The notion that fatness is already always deviant or unnatural - or requiring explanation or apology - is deeply pathologizing and stigmatizing. Fat is a standalone identity and existence - not a deviation or failure to be thin.
I want to conclude by saying that I do not wish to belittle or question the lived experiences of people who have experienced trauma. Nor do I want to dictate how people experience the period following trauma, but I think many times people make sense of trauma using pre-existing/pre-fabricated cultural frameworks that are frequently deeply bigoted - which I feel exacerbates the experience of trauma. My intention and hope is, rather, to trouble the analysis/framework that seeks to pathologize the body of the traumatized. In so doing, I hope to reduce the ripple effects of trauma through de-stigmatizing body diversity.
Update: My Life Is Complete Now. I Have My Own Lipstick Color. That's it ^^ up there, girl!
Back story: So, like 400 months ago I got an Instagram DM from this cutie pie named Shae. She was like “Hi, I make cosmetics and I have a vision that I craft a lip color that’s just for you.”
My face when I heard that:
Since this has been a lifelong goal of mine, I responded with many capitalized words and exclamation points.
We decided to talk on the phone to brainstorm.
What was meant to be a quickie palette chat turned into a 2 hour heart connect. I started off at my favorite coffee spot and by the end of it I was tearing up while staring at the ocean nestled into the dunes of Ocean Beach. We discussed building ethical feminist businesses, the role of intuition in entrepreneurship, the radical new relationship we want to create with money, makeup as a practice of embodiment and play, healing and visibility.
Shae is an academic (like full-on PhD level teaching academic) who got a tarot reading a few years ago that said she was gonna:
1. Find the boo of her dreams (done.. she just married her sweetie) and
2. Find her career going in an unexpected direction (done… Shae Face & Body).
I was (am) amazed by the thoughtfulness she puts into her craft. When we were talking about my vision for the Virgie lipstick, I told her I wanted it to be an homage to my fat hero Miss Piggy and document my drive for high visibility, statement femininity.
Because of magical cosmic universal non-coincidences, a few weeks after our deep ass convo I was in her neck of the woods (Long Beach) for the Sister Spit Tour:
After the show, she let me play with all the different versions she had formulated and we ended up with a winner.
Wanna wear it? Go here to shop Shae Face & Body!
P.s. Shae also makes deodorant (which I am currently OBSESSED with), a gentle exfoliant for your face, a face cream, mascara and many, many other things. She loooovingly (no exaggeration) crafts each and every product. All her products are vegan, cruelty-free and conscientiously made by her - a queer femme and feminist with a heart of ice cream. Enjoy!
This November Babecamp is heading to Negril, Jamaica for the first-ever Babecamp Retreat! One of my favorite days during the 4-week virtual Babecamp program is the Big Girl Panties Day - a day dedicated to recognizing just how much hard stuff we have already taken on and claiming our ability to harness that bad-assery to create the lives we want (not the lives that our culture has already set out us for us).
So I decided to bring BGP Day to Jamaica.
When I found out that Crybaby Club made a Big Girl Panties pin I fuh-reaked out. Soon after, they mailed me one for each babe who will be at the retreat so I can personally pin them after they've designed their very own pair of BGPs. AND THEN Crybaby Club offered these loving words:
"The girls here at The Crybaby Club know life can be rough sometimes. However, more often than not, you just gotta pull your big girl panties up and deal with it! This is why we are thrilled to be the exclusive supplier of big girl panties for the lovelies at BabeCamp."
There is ONE spot left in Babecamp Jamaica. If you're interested in registering read more about the retreat by clicking here. Shop for more adorbs babe gear at Crybaby Club's online shop & follow them on Instagram @crybabygirlgang
When Perfectly Priscilla asked if they could send me a dress, I went straight for the one I could imagine meeting Stevie Nicks in:
The Beachfront Maxi.
I live next to the Pacific Ocean, and was already envisioning the life that Beachfront Maxi and I would be sharing together - margaritas at the Beach Chalet, literally hours of quiet afternoon time spent reading Martha Stewart Living, all while literally dozens of admirers stared on in awe of the goddess vibes this dress effortlessly exudes.
I debuted the dress yesterday during a Sunday brunch date with Jacob at Scratch in Mountain View. Goat cheese with bacon and avocado omelets, chicken and waffles with maple syrup, a toasted muffin with lemon curd and my beloved coffee. That food was working hard, but this dress was working harder. Literally everyone in the restaurant wanted to be my boo.
The Beachfront Maxi hit all my favs:
Plunging neckline. Check.
Flowing fairy babe feels. Check.
I need to be able to go from brunch to crystal woo evening plans easily.
Kimono/bell sleeve. Check.
I have big arms, and need a super roomy sleeve.
I got a ton of attention in this dress, which I paired with an oversized sunhat and amber necklace from H&M.
I hit 1.5 snags (one was an actual dress construction snag and the .5 was something that I personally consider a snag, but isn't a flaw with the dress per se):
1. I ended up adding some string to the back impromptu style before I left the house to keep dress from falling (see pic). This was the first time I had seen a dress with a neckline this deep that didn't have a behind-the-neck tying mechanism. I quickly found it falling off my shoulders. So I grabbed some string from my craft pile, and threaded the lace. It took about 3 minutes, but I cannot imagine having worn this dress without this modification.
0.5. The dress is quite see-through. I recommend pairing with a slip. I would wear this at the beach with bright bikini, though. And if you're an exhibitionist then, heyyy, no slip required.
Take a look at the other cute Perfectly Priscilla offerings by clicking here. www.PerfectlyPriscilla.com is an online boutique specializing in sizes 1X-3X.
One of my biggest fears as a fat woman is being photographed non-consensually by someone who seeks to violate my privacy and autonomy for sport.
It’s happened before.
Once I was on the train, commuting downtown, when a group of teenagers got on. They sat right in front of me on the otherwise empty train, and started taking group selfies. When I looked up I saw one of them showing his friend the zoomed in image of my face, while he pointed and laughed. It turned out that photographing me was the real reason behind the selfies. It has since made me hyper-vigilant while on the train.
Once I was a high school teacher. One of my male colleagues took me aside and told me that a student had texted everyone at the small school a zoomed in picture of my backside. He showed it to me on his phone. No head, no torso, just my butt. The student had taken the picture while I was writing an assignment on the white board. For the remainder of the year I didn’t feel comfortable writing on the board in my own classroom.
Dani Mathers, 2015 Playmate of the Year, non-consensually took an image of a naked woman in the changing room at the gym and then posted it on snapchat. Some of the coverage on the event has sought to reduce this behavior to “bullying.” In fact, this is an instance of sexual assault. Referring to this behavior with the infantilizing language of “bullying” seeks to lessen the severity of the behavior and downplay its truly violatory nature. I recently wrote an article about the ways that violent behavior with life-long effects are quickly- and wrongfully - glossed over by using this kind of language.
Even though this is one of the most invasive and degrading experiences an individual can undergo at the hands of another person, it’s important to realize that Mathers’ behavior has bigger implications for fat women – creating a sense that nowhere is safe to just exist.
Fat women already opt out of public spaces like malls, beaches, restaurants and yes gyms because we feel unsafe. This is not a product of paranoia. It is a product of the behavior we have observed again and again.
We rightly fear being made fun of at any time.
We rightly fear being made to feel unwelcome.
We rightly fear being photographed without our consent.
Mathers’ decision to dehumanize, publicly humiliate and assault this unsuspecting woman shows the need not only for personal accountability but also for a cultural shift. We must stop asking people who are experiencing fatphobia to change their bodies. We culturally must recognize that fat shaming and fatphobia are expressions of bigotry, and that bigotry is a social problem not an individual one.
Whether the culture wants to admit it or not, Dani Mathers’ behavior didn’t happen in a vacuum. She felt emboldened by the dominant discourse that positions fat women’s bodies as public property, available for unabashed criticism and undeserving of basic rights, like privacy.
I'm so excited to announce that I'm working with the Berkeley Public Library to curate a 100% free Fat Positive Summer Festival this June and July!
Fat Positive Summer Festival in Berkeley, CA - June 22 - July 3
Lose Hate Not Weight: A Critical Examination of Diet Culture
Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave.
Wednesday June 22nd
In this 60 minute lecture Virgie Tovar – author, expert and lecturer – offers a primer on the history and sociopolitical realities of our cultural obsession with weight loss. The story of modern day “Diet Culture” didn’t begin with juicing or cleanses, but rather over 200 years ago with the inventor of the graham cracker.
Fat Positive Shorts
Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch, 1901 Russell St.
Thursday June 30th
A selection of short films designed to challenge our understanding of fatness:
Freedom from Fat Shame! A Reading + Discussion
North Branch, 1170 The Alameda
Saturday July 2nd
Virgie Tovar has assembled a group of incisive writers and activists for an evening of body liberation with readings and personal stories. Let their words smash your feelings of fat-shame and help you foster acceptance in yourself and celebrate diversity your community! Featuring comic artist Casey Gilly, Co-Managing Editor for Everyday Feminism Jezebel Delilah X, poet Baruch Porras-Hernandez, burlesque performer Irene McCalphin, and Dr. Kjerstin Gruys, author of Mirror, Mirror off the Wall.
Interview requests should be made to me via e-mail at email@example.com. Further questions about the events can be directed to Jack Baur firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to our media sponsors Ravishly, Halmoni Vintage, and Wear Your Voice Magazine.
Graphic design by Jen Hickman
Special thanks to the Berkeley Public Library and Jack Baur for making this festival possible!
For more information go to www.BerkeleyPublicLibrary.org
UPDATE: WE HAVE OFFICIALLY HIT CAPACITY! THE RESPONSE WAS AMAZING! WE ARE SO EXCITED TO MAIL THESE CARE PACKAGES OUT ♡
Last night, Natasha, the owner of Oakland-based store Halmoni Vintage, and I sat in her shop for hours playing with her dog Peanut, talking about ways to celebrate Babecamp's 1-year anniversary (!!!!), and scheming about bringing some cheer to plus size babes who need it this Christmas. And here's what we came up with: take the huge piles of clothing from last weekend's Fattyland event, pick out some stuff we really loved and send it to plus size babes who need a gift.
So here's how it works:
We're working on the honor system, but we envisioned sending these gifts to plus size babes who could use some cheer because they're going through a tough moment financially or emotionally. Natasha is setting up a date for Bay area babes to pick up some goodies in Oakland. That means: we won't be mailing packages within the Bay Area.
The plus size clothing we have is in sizes 1x-6x and can mostly be described as femme, with a vintage flair - though we have some basics, too. Each package will be lovingly put together with 1-3 items - could include things like accent scarves, tops, skirts and dresses.
If that's you, please send your name, address, and your size to email@example.com. If you know you would absolutely not wear a certain color or item of clothing or if you're fashion-adventurous then definitely please include that in the email too!
> We have a limited number of packages. First come first serve.
> Shipping to U.S. addresses only.
Once we run out of supplies I will update this blog.
Virgie & Natasha
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.