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Short, Fat, Female and In Power

I have started getting the NAAFA Newsletter via email and the most recent update has an brief snippet about a woman from Ancient Egypt who has long fascinated me:  Hatshepsut. As I have of late been rather burnt out trying to maintain a constant level of rage against the many atrocities against fatness in daily life, not to mention those being even more forcibly and dangerously foisted upon the rights of women of all sizes, I found this brief mention of an amazing woman from the past to be a breath of fresh air. Not least of which because researching it lead me to the discovering of ANOTHER amazing woman…

Hatshepsut: Woman Ruler of Egypt (First of the few female rules to actually take the title of Pharaoh) for 20+ years (around the 1500s BC), established trade networks to rebuild the wealth of the 18th dynasty, commissioned the first recorded attempt to procure and transplant foreign trees (Myrrh), one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt with hundreds of works commissioned who was not shy about self-promotion of her amazing feats.

In short, she was powerful, intelligent, rich, important and knew her own value.  She was unafraid to not only use her connections and monies to the benefit of herself and her nation’s glory but she was out there for all to see: proud and fierce and female. Now, while researching the claims that she was also fat and short I was coming up…short.  Most representations of Hatshepsut in images or text refer to her beauty and blooming youth, etc.  I was happy to read that she ran the Pharaoh’s circuit in her 40s (go older woman!) but failed to find clear references to the woman actually being short and fat.

Queen of Punt

Source: Wikipedia images

However, I *DID* find references to the wife of Parihou/Perehu: Ati/Eti, the Queen of Punt (where Hatshepsut got her Myrrh trees to transplant).  This is where the true awesome rests.  The queen of punt, you see, was described as “short, fat, long-armed, and with a prominent behind”.  Rock on, Fatty Queen!

There is really not much written on the queen (or even her King for that matter) as records are more concerned with the goodies that Hatshepsut brought back from her expedition abroad to the still disputed location of the  Land of Punt than with the fat queen from the land they visited. However, she was certainly NOT the general image of a queen, so much so that artists depicted her vastly differently from other generic people images of the day.  Her non-thin appearance in such images is, to this day, discussed amongst those destined to find out, fromQueen of Punt in her Yellow Dress such depictions alone, what was “wrong” with her body.  Me?  I’m just happily enjoying the idea that a woman was queen of a land abroad and left such an impression that artists felt the need to capture her image.

Perhaps they were doing what amounted to mockery at the time, you suggest?  I feel that would have been a waste of time and talents when crafting a relief for the queen’s huge temple of Deir el-Bahri.  To me, these images are a representation of a woman that people were impressed with, enough so that they refused to carve her as yet another generically similar body-shapes but felt compelled to portray her as she was.

I say: Rock on you fabulous women of ancient days!  You RULED!

I Stand: for Loving all Bodies.

What a great thing to come home to after a long day waiting for my wonderful Adam D to get out of gallbladder-removal surgery (he’s doing well and recovering at home now!).

I stand for loving your body. Any body. All bodies. Mine. Yours. All of ours.  Using shame, bullying and hatred to inspire health is the furthest thing from healthy.  It is destructive, cruel and intentionally hurtful to the very thing such behaviors are purported to correct: health.  Stop the bullying.  All bodies deserve love and respect.

As my poster declares: I Stand for breaking the cycle of shame and hatred.  Body Love has NO limits.  Stop weight bigotry.

To see a Tumblr of these amazing posters go to I Stand Against Weight Bullying.  The submissions are so diverse and empowering.  So many voices crying out for a halt to hatred.  It is truly inspiring and hopeful and beautiful.

What do you Stand for?  (Or Sit for?  Or Pump Your Fist for?  Or Cry Out For?)

Not letting fat define you: doing what you want. Today’s example: Soldering

I’m a firm believer in the idea that you should never wait until your body conforms to some imagined shape/size/look limit before allowing yourself to do or be something amazing that you’ve always wished to do or be.  It is with this in mind that I write about the awesome adventure my hubby and I are currently undertaking.

We’re building a robot.

That’s right.  Freaking robotics.  We’re talking, circuitry, wires, mechanical parts, motors and a long-term end-goal of a smaller but functional version of Dr. Who’s K-9 unit. So far Adam D and I have put together a small kit with wheels and a base and managed to get all 4 wheels to spin, in the same direction!  (I fondly dubbed it “Flat-bot” because it is, thus far, a rather flat square chassis with wheels and one LED)

Yesterday we took out a kit to teach ourselves to solder.  Because many of the kits we got ourselves (using our pooled monies from the fairly recent holiday season) to make this eventual end-product require lots of small-wire soldering.  So, we soldered.  Like excited beginner pros!  It was fun.  It was a learning process.  It was something I’ve never though I would sit down and do.  Not necessarily because my body wasn’t the right size but perhaps because it wasn’t the right gender or some related fear that I wasn’t smart enough to take on the field of freaking robotics.  Yet, here I am.  Working on a robot.  Learning to solder and wire circuits to light up LEDs and spin wheel motors.

Soldering

Very intensely concentrating while trying to look through safetly googles that fit rather poorly over glasses. Next item of business? Prescription safety goggles!!

Two dance events in one weekend! Whew!

I’ve just come out of a weekend filled with belly dancing and wanted to share a bit of pic/video love from the great events.

First, on Saturday, was the Worcester Bridgefest.  It was a small but very energetic crowd.  Bonus: we managed to get one of the few breaks in the rain for our dance set.  So, while I’m dancing in sneakers on wet and muddy terrain, at least I’m not drowning from above!  This is the newest group I’ve joined: Isis (with Eves there as well).  This number is Filli Neihardi by Corvus Corax.  I love it!

Just look at the awesome size-variety in this group!  I love it!! I have such a great time dancing with all of these wonderful people. :)

Yesterday, Sunday, this fatty packed up a bunch of costumes and energy to dance a recital in New Hampshire.  The crowd was smaller and more reserved but still full of smiles and very clap-happy after each dance.  So, a different vibe than Saturday but still a wonderful group of equally size, shape and age-diverse, women to dance with!

Red and Firey!

Red and Firey!

Here’s the fun and incredibly sassy skirt-centric number that I performed with this troupe’s instructor.  We have a blast and I always feel I can ham-it-up for this one!

The other fun one I got to really act-up for this time was done to a song called “Start Wearing Purple”.  It always cracks me up!

So, this is what I’ve been doing lately.  Now to practice non-stop for the Gothic number I’ll be performing for Raks Spooki in less than 2 weeks!  It’s a sword piece and I’m trying to whip up a simple Xena-esque costume for it so you’ll definitely be seeing that one here soon.

What is up with all of you peeps?  Keeping busy?  Settling in for some lovely winter (or summer!) crafts or hobbies?  What’s keeping your minds busy today?

“Just the Right Size”: A Comic for Friday

I actually had a great smile on my face by the end of this comic from the blog Unshelved (which is an awesome mix of comics and library related awesomness!) and wanted to share the happy before what is, for me and more than a handful of others, a nicely long weekend coming up!

(The comic below will be the current day’s comic so after 7/1/11 please click the link above to be taken directly to the comic I’m referencing!)

Enjoy the celebrations you may have and remember, you might not have wings or be able to lift 850 times your own weight like a bug, but: “I’m just right” can be your personal mantra too.

Fat Art in History: Part the 2nd

If you missed part 1, check back here: for Fat Art in History Part the 1st.  As I said then, “Your reminder today? Beauty is a cultural ideal.  It changes.  It is not static.  It is never more “right” at one point in time than in another.  There’s a reason the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” continues to be such a powerful one. Diversity is not a four letter word.  Embrace it for a few moments here.”

These are works of art throughout history which showcase a range of body types.  Something I feel it bears repeating and has encouraged me showing these images: not only is beauty a fluid and non-static concept; bodies have always come in a widely diverse set of shapes and sizes; no matter how often folks may want to convince you that bodies should (and always have) come in one very narrow set of “Right” dimensions.

Martha Nilsson Edelheit’s “View of the Empire State Building from Sheep Meadow” (1972)

Michaelangelo’s “Sibilla Cumana” (1508-1510)

Peter Paul Ruebens [entire works really] “Bacchus” (1638-1640)

Peter Paul Ruebens [entire works really] “Venus at a Mirror” (1615)

Elizabeth Catlett “Tired” (1946)

Foto Friday: 32 Yard Skirt in Action

This weekend is going to be very busy so I’m actually writing this all up on Thursday evening!  Huzzah for “Schedule Post” buttons!

I finally managed to remember to get hold of the gorgeous digital photos done by Paul at RT2 photos and they are absolutely lovely.  More to the point of this post; they show that glorious 32 yard skirt from this post in action.

So here’s to celebrating Fatness in Action.  Movement of Fattitude.  Fabulous Fatosity in Frictional Form. Something along those alliterative lines.  It’s skirt-twirling time folks!!

Pug Rescue of New England fund raiser

From a distance, skirt all founced out in mid-spin

Pug Rescue of New England fund raiser

Mid-swoosh. I love the turn of the feet and how ruffled that huge skirt looks!

Pug Rescue of New England fund raiser

My full "Wingspan". And that's with PLENTY of ruffle left in the skirt. It's so much fun to dance with!!

And just one more because I can.  This one is from the cabaret number I was in.  I was one of the few lucky folks allowed to perform two numbers at this Pug Rescue of New England shimmy fundraiser.  It was a LOT of fun and after a full hour of zill workshop earlier that day; this number seemed to turn a lot of heads in appreciation!

Have a lovely weekend everyone.  Happy Solstice (happy Summer or Winter)!

Pug Rescue of New England fund raiser

Poised and ready for the hip drop on the next beat.

Fat Art in History: Part the 1st

Since I don’t have a culinary creation post to share today (I need to do more cooking and picture-snapping!) I wanted to share a few pictures and paintings that I’ve come across in my work when I have to flip through various art journals and magazines on various and sundry topics.  Feast your eyes on a bit of what I’d certainly call non-standard bodies in today’s age; painted, sculpted or photographed back years or decades or eons ago.

As I stockpile these finds I’ll add more such posts to stimulate your eye-candy pleasure! Your reminder today? Beauty is a cultural ideal.  It changes.  It is not static.  It is never more “right” at one point in time than in another.  There’s a reason the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” continues to be such a powerful one. Diversity is not a four letter word.  Embrace it for a few moments here:

Albrecht Durer’s “Four Witches”

a 1497 engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer

a 1497 engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer

Hans Baldung Grien’s “The drunken Bacchus with putti playing”

The drunken Bacchus with putti playing

Hans Baldung Grien/Grün (c. 1484–1545) was a German Renaissance artist in painting and printmaking in woodcut. He was considered the most gifted student of Albrecht Dürer

Elizabeth Catlett’s “Pensive Figure”

pensive figure

Elizabeth Catlett Mora (born April 15, 1915) is an African-American sculptor and printmaker. Catlett is best known for the black, expressionistic sculptures and prints she produced during the 1960s and 1970s,

 

Lucien Freud’s “Naked Man, Back View”

 

1993. Freud was a British painter. One of Freud's favorite models was Leigh Bowery. Inspired by what he called Bowery's "wonderfully buoyant bulk and those extraordinary dancer's legs"

Madge Tennent’s “Lei Queen Victoria”

A renowned art educator as well as painter of modern figurative canvases of Hawaiian subjects, Madge Tennent was based primarily in Hawaii between 1930 and 1939. She was among the first artists to embrace native Hawaiians as a primary subject matter

“Venus of Dolni Vestonice”

This figurine, together with a few others from nearby locations, is the oldest known ceramic in the world, predating the use of fired clay to make pottery. The palaeolithic settlement of Dolní Věstonice in Moravia, a part of Czechoslovakia at the time organized excavation began, now located in the Czech Republic

That’s all for this bit of Fat Art in History.  Are there other artists you’ve heard of that you’d like to see here sometime?  Feel free to share in comments!

Fat Art & Lane Bryant: Why do your shirts shrink so damn much?

Tonight the hubby and I ventured a few towns over to the public library for a free demonstration on Imaginary Landscapes.  While the “demonstration” was less that and more “Here are some fake trees.  Draw them!” Adam D and I did have a lot of fun being out and about and social with other kind human beings.  It was also nice to be in a very warm room on this below-freezing evening!

Imaginary Landscape

To me it doesn't get much more imaginary than lava pouring into a glacial mountain range and a goat eating next to a wee bridge...

On the other topic, holy frick Lane Bryant!  I mean, I KNOW the label says to wash in cold and tumble dry on low; so I will take the blame on this for now (but you better believe I’ll be checking on this again after a few months of washing the new shirts as directed). I am guilty of being a “Yeah, just throw it all into the washer on warm, tumble-dry on high heat.  Whatevs.” I will be changing this practice in the future for my favorite shirts though because I’ve noticed a disturbing fact.

My friends, I love the Suprima polo shirts from LB. They are comfy, soft, the sleeves a perfect length and (when on sale) nicely priced.  I’ve quite a few now.  However, I started to feel lately that these shirts were riding up higher and higher; that I was beginning to act all Next Generation Star Trek on my wardrobe all the time.  I wondered if I was gaining girth?  But no, my pants are all fitting the same, and not just elastic waistbands but jeans too.  Bras fit the same, t-shirts too.  Just these formerly awesome shirts were giving me that shrinking feeling; like I had eaten the “Grow” cake from Alice in Wonderland and was somehow stretching taller*…

Curiosity turned to a quick photo-evidencing moment when I just received in the mail my recent holiday order (yay for gift cards!!) with another new polo.  I laid them side by side to compare.  WTF; just….just LOOK.  (In case you can’t tell, the blue one is the new one).  Bear in mind that the pink shirt is only (at most) a year older than the blue one:

Pink&BlueShirts

These shirts are the same 18/20 size. The Pink has just, apparently, been through FAR too many warm water washes and high-heat drying-cycles.

These are not just a little different.  Not a SMIDGEN of shrink.  This is INCHES of shrinkage.  I know I must bow my head and acknowledge fault for mis-understanding that basic polo shirts would need to be specially washed in cold water and lovingly tumble-dried on low-heat.  However, that is a LOT of shrink for a simple, 100% cotton shirt to have, no? Is “Suprima Cotton” made from high-shrink wool??

So I guess my two new shirts (and all the older ones) will be now washed carefully as though they are being slammed down a frozen mountain stream and then whipped dry in the arctic air to prevent their delicate natures from being unbalanced and shrunken from…over-heating.

*Direct quote from Alice in Wonderland about this scene of Alice eating the wee cake: “she was quite surprised to find that she remained the same size: to be sure, this generally happens when one eats cake”.  Yes.  That IS generally what happens: nothing.  Yet to convince some folks of this is, for some reason, more fantasy than Alice’s world ever could be.

Fat Art & Happy Winter Solstice Wishes

We finally have some impressive (though not traffic-stopping thus far) snow going on here right now as we move into Winter Solstice. As I watch the flakes sift down outside I’m feeling content and warm and like I want to share some fat-positive art to ring in the end of the year and celebrate the turning back towards longer days and shorter nights!

Mermaids Fantasy

Warmth will come again, as the world turns back towards the sun.

Here is the piece I did a bit ago that I’ve called “Mermaid’s Fantasy”.  She’s a blue-centric Betta-fish-esque fat mermaid.

“This big and beautiful woman is a Betta Fish Mermaid. She is not flashy red or purple, simply a strong mix of beautiful blues.

She does not dream of leaving the sea, but often wishes the delicate creatures of the land and air might visit her instead.

Even if they ARE likely to be found on the coast, I’m not too sure the very fragile Monarch Butterfly would be willing to travel out to visit…but perhaps one hardy soul might!”

I had the sketch around for her for a LONG time and was very pleased with the finished outcome.

Autumn Harpist

Autumn has given way to Winter

The other piece I am sharing is not my own line-art drawing but I did the coloring and background.  She’s an Autumn Harpist (to me anyways!) and I posted the finished work last night.

“[I] love the thought of this lovely harpist ringing out the Autumn with a few last notes before winter settles in for good; before those last cold drops of earth-soaking rain turn to snow!”

So whether you’re loving this snowfall, dreading it, or living elsewhere and enjoying (or not!) your own different kind of weather; I wish you a happy Winter Solstice.