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Mid-Week Music to Lift my Spirit

I spent today “enjoying” time at home while my digestion waged war with my menstrual cycle over who would reign supreme over my lower body.  I’m still not sure what’s “winning”…

With THAT lovely image in mind, I did find some comfort today as I was browsing the Internet between costume designing, laundry washing and watching some channel’s marathon of self-purported “Movies That Don’t Suck”.

One bit of fun was this little stop-motion animation of books doing the jig to a song that I’ve recently danced in a huge skirt:

The same folks also did a bit longer and more elaborate animation that was cute as well. Then, I found myself falling into… not so much a “melancholy” so much as a mood wherein I really appreciate a good somber bit of video set to a good swelling of emotional music.  It led me to this fantastic piece with a Cello, a Piano, and a Drum that really makes me want to be the sort who creates emotional videos with scenes from a show because I think it would PERFECTLY work with a series of scenes taken from the Dr. Who universe:

I liked it so much I found the song on Amazon so I could purchase the mp3!  Not only is that music beautiful to me, it is a very creative embellishment on classical works; a taking of something “original” and “classic” to make it one’s own; to give it a new and broader life. The height of creativity to my thoughts today.

In a more FA-related finding I came across this fake advertisement for a new beauty product called “Fotoshop by Adobé”:

It is, for the most part, a rather clever put-together of many of the ideas that many have already discovered about today’s media images: that they are all creations manipulated from reality in such a way that no one can actually approach the goals of “beauty” they uphold.  My slight “beef” with it is a line about “why eat right or exercise when you can just LOOK like you do” for the, hopefully obvious reason (among others) that it fully endorses the conflation of visual appearance with internal health. Otherwise it is at least a bit encouraging to me to see something of this nature making the usual Facebook rounds.  There is room for improvement but I still hold out hope!

Thought that in 2012 I might give readers a taste of some small measure of what else makes April D “tick”.  This is today’s “entry”.  What’s making YOU tick on this early January day?

“Best Way for Girls to Lose Weight”

Above is a commercial which has been making the rounds on Facebook the last day or so. In case you’re not able to watch it; we see a line of electric bikes set up in a line (all colored pink you’ll notice). Slowly, people (mostly women) approach the bikes and start using them.  Doing so activates a digital pink line powered by the movement of all the bikes which shows a dancing man doing a “strip dance”.  At the end, the man “goes around a corner” to pull off those digital undies and comes back with a sign in front of his bits which says, in French: “Bravo!  You’ve burned 2000 calories! “.  The tag-line for this commercial at the end is  (loosely translated*, again in French):  “Losing weight would be easier if it was more fun”.  The ad seems to be for a water company “Contrex” which wants to be known as “your slimming partner”.

Okay.  First off, let me say that I LOVE the idea of making exercising, moving around, FUN again instead of a drudgery intended to bore and yet be endured for the sake of “less fatness”.  What I DON’T like and wish we could really REALLY move away from as a world; is the idea that even after making movement fun and a group activity that folks seemed to enjoy, the punchline is still:  Hah!  See, we made you (girls) work out and now you’ve burned such and such calories so forget all the fun, etc; it’s the CALORIE BURN that made it all worthwhile, amiright?  *sigh*  NO!  Just make moving FUN.  Period.  The end.

Also very problematic is the way this is STILL marketed as a way for “girls” (yeah, not even women though you’ll notice that most of the folks using the machines are far from “girl”-aged) to lose weight.  There is one older gentleman who climbs up on a pink bike at one point but overall the message is STILL that women, sorry “girls” will NEVER be accepted unless they lose weight.  No.  Never.  What’s that adage?  You can always still lose another 10% and be “healthier”?  Yeah.  Talk about setting the bar to “infinitely impossible”.

My thought? Set up video games that run on treadmill or bicycle power similar to this electronic dancing man.  I know there are already such devices out there.  Bring them to the limelight!  Also? Remind folks that all that work they do standing and moving about in their daily lives is ALREADY a great bunch of exercise.  Promote forms of movement that cater to people’s vastly different desires: group activities for those socialites, individual sports or games for those who would rather work on challenging themselves alone, different skill levels for varying levels of ability.  Fight for government subsidies to create safe spaces around each nation to DO these sorts of activities.

But, above all, STOP equating movement with a Smaller Body.  You set people up to ultimately fail and stop WANTING to move when the only goal is a smaller body which does not occur or does not last.  Make the goal: Have Fun, Get Your Heart Rate Up, Enjoy the Movements Your Body is Capable of Making.

When you REMOVE the conflation between health and weight; you end up with people interested in, instead, working towards fitness goals that don’t involve smaller pant sizes or tighter dresses (you know, since we’re all worried about these “girls” you know).  Fatness isn’t killing us sooner, isn’t taxing the healthcare systems more than actual illnesses, and is really only a measure (consistently and erroneously measured and analyzed) of how large your body is; NOT what it is capable of.  Weight is not a proxy for behaviors.  All bodies benefit from movement.  As the awesome Dances with Fat writer Ragen so aptly points out:

There are exactly two things that you can tell by looking at someone’s size:

  1. What size they are
  2. What your personal preconceived notions and prejudices about that particular body size are

That is just perfectly put.  Visual cues on fatness need to be disassociated from all the baggage we’ve attached to it.

We need to put our energies into efforts to spread the word that movement IS fun.  It isn’t a payment you make to the gods of thinness.  It is energizing and fulfilling and good for you body.  No matter WHAT size that body may be.

*Literally: “One would lose weight better if it was more fun”

Balancing Points: On taking a rest

Balancing a Sword

Balancing Life

There are many things in life that we balance everyday: Checkbooks, jobs and homelife, kids and careers, housework and freetime, classes, love, money, time, life, food… they all take a part of our energy to consider and require finding a balance in order to get through from day-to-day without becoming overloaded.

When do you know when  you gone over your own personal threshold?  When do you feel that sword begin to sway and the point begin to drop?  Can you feel it even?  When life is rushing past is it sometimes just too much to even notice when things are no longer a balance of come and go and have just become go, go, GO?

I know that I often advocate that no matter what you look like or how undeserving society or your own mind might think you are: everyone needs a moment to be calm and un-stressed.

Perhaps that means taking a week away from the pressures of diet ads and fat-phobic messages on TV.  Or maybe you’d rather find something that truly riles you up* and takes your mind off of any of the mundane and/or inane bits of the regular routine by placing it in the realm of a fight for social justices. Maybe being “Stress Free” for you means simply not having to cook one night. Or getting a night away from regular duties with kids or spouses or friends or the job….maybe it means turning up the radio for that one great song and dancing like no one is watching; releasing all that tension with every frantic move of your body to the rhythm pulsing around you.

Whatever it takes I am here to post another reminder that it is never “not quite the right time” to get just a moment to yourself.  It isn’t being lazy to hold up that “STOP” hand on the pulse of what is rushing around you and, in whatever manner works for you, take a mental/physical/spiritual time-out. I feel that a large part of learning to love ourselves and accept who we are, is not only to accept that Yes Virginia, Humans DO have Limitations; but to recognize, acknowledge and work to take the appropriate rest that is required for any and all of the limitations we have.  Not every moment has to be “go”.  There can (and should) also be some down-time moments for “stop”ping.

On my “Go, Go, Go” list right now I have:

  • Last class for my MLIS
  • Swimming laps Tuesday
  • Practice for Belly Recital April 3rd
  • Fencing with Adam D Thursday
  • This blog (In a related note: I’ll apologize now that there will be no food post tomorrow, I need to cook more and take more pictures now!)
  • Trumpet practice for concert this coming weekend in CT (March 13th)
  • Full time job
  • Part time job

On my “Stop!” list I need to take a few moments of breather to catch up on:

  • Sleeping
  • Cooking long meals for the joy of creating
  • Crochet
  • Thoughtful blog posts related more directly to FA (Or is that more on the “go” list??)
  • More non-planned weekends with the Hubby to just relax, make love and be together

What falls on your own lists of Busy and Rest?  Do you find yourself neglecting the Rest in order to get more done on that Busy list?  Don’t forget that the body and mind both need time to recoup to function optimally.  It is something I myself often forget and need to be reminded of (hence this post!)

*On the riling up bit: I LOVED the Hunger Game books (well the first was a hit out of the park the second was good and the third a bit disappointing) so I am thrilled at the possibility of seeing this on the big screen. But seriously?? Why post a casting call asking for someone who looks “underfed but strong” to play the female lead? I GET that these kids were all nearly starving.  But that ISN’T what you need to ask for in your damn actresses. If you’re looking for a very lean athlete; SAY THAT!  But to suggest what you’re looking for is the breed of self-starving model that already dominates the acting playing field is really head-shakingly, eye-rollingly ill-considered.  Also?  Katniss was an olive-skinned young girl.  Not a white girl.  Just saying.

End of 2010: Resolutions met, what’s on the horizon now?

Way back in January of this year I decided to embark on an adventure.  Rather, a set of at least 52 adventures in the form of books; one per week if all worked out according to plan.  I’m a bit stunned and incredibly chipper to report that I have just finished my 100th book for 2010.  Wow.  That got me thinking about what else I’ve accomplished this year and, I have to admit, the list is pretty impressive to me. As I notice the ramp-up to all of the gyms and weight-loss programs and pills just before the new year* I thought I’d reflect instead and jot down what I’ve been up to this year of 2010:

  • 100 books
  • 116 posts for this Fat Acceptance blog (which is an average of 9.67 a month!)
  • 15 new crochet projects
  • 13.78 miles swum
  • 7 trumpet performances
  • 6 belly dance shows
  • 4 courses towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science
  • 2 jobs (One full-time; one part-time)
  • Countless new culinary dishes using CSA veggies never-before-tasted in our household

And there might be some turtle-doves and partridges in there at the end somewhere or something like that.

I love looking back through my folders of pictures and swim logs and noting that no-where did I have a spreadsheet dedicated to restrictive calorie counting or other behaviors that have been nothing but destructive to me in my life previously. There is no list of gifts I hoped to receive but never did for not achieving a particular measurement or weight. For me that still continues to be a source of pleasant happiness.

Granted, there were some tough moments as well. There are times I wondered if I would ever get enough sleep to make it through the next day.  There were times when driving an hour to belly dance was wearing and not exciting.  Times that the overload of busy and living and dealing with issues around FA just made me want to sit on the floor and say “NO!” But life, unfortunately, doesn’t matter what sort of hissy fits I throw, life just keeps on going.  Overall though I have to say that this year has been generous and giving with its “ups” and rather thankfully stingy with the “downs” for me.

For 2010 I resolved to once again go at life like an adventure; one that does not require me to look or be any smaller or different in order for the magic to happen.  It has been a busy, whirlwind year of amazing moments, wonderful thoughts and simply fabulous people.  I am blessed and can only hope that blessing continues for yet another year of adventure in 2011.

So what do I resolve for 2011?  To have 52 further adventures.  They will likely be books again; though perhaps I should increase the number to 211 to match the year a bit?  Nah.  I think I’ll let the adventures flow as they may. And I can’t wait to try out some of the great FA neutral/positive materials available for my newly received Kindle.

Also?  I hope that next year I also get to pet the nose of Joshua the Camel again.

Joshua the Camel

His nose is soft and a bit whiskery!

How was your 2010?  Did the ups outweigh the downs?  Were there at least a few stellar moments?  Was it nothing but bliss?  Do you have resolutions to share?  A distinct desire to never make another resolution again? Feel free to share your thoughts as 2010 leaves and 2011 enters.

*”What will you GAIN as you LOSE?!” is one slogan I have heard from one of those programs in the past week I’ve been on vacation.  All I can do is scoff as I mentally count off what I “gained” by dieting in the past; and I can tell you it doesn’t match what those paid sponsors suggest: distraction, self-loathing, happiness linked to a number on the scale or measuring tape, obsession with tasteless food and when next I get to eat the disgusting “snack” bar, total mental break-downs from lack of energy, MORE WEIGHT.

I’d rather that this slogan was asked of people who dare to stop dieting instead:  “What will YOU gain when you lose (the pressure to diet)?”  How about: a bit of self-esteem, confidence, an ability to look at the world with fresh eyes and a mind not constantly focused only on when the next tasteless meal is coming, a life unfettered by calorie counting and exercise done solely to add to your daily allotted calorie in-take. In short: a world where your body is not public property, subject to the scrutiny of others who will always be judging and always find you wanting. That’s what I’d rather got “lost”: that sense of self-entitlement that many feel to judge and comment upon the bodies and lives of others around them.  I’d say we’d quite easily then GAIN a lot more sensitivity in the world and less self-hatred.  *mini-rant over*

TV Ads: What they’re really saying

Just a quick Friday note, scheduled to post while I’m on my way up to our mini-cation in Maine.

I think the chicken-cartoon artist who draws those Savage Chickens cartoons hits the nail right smack dab on the head with this one:

From Savage Chickens

All TV Commercials, paraphrased: "You're Not Good Enough"

Very clearly stated.  Remember, just because many businesses thrive on trying to convince you that you are only worthy of this life if you hate yourself enough to want to use their products, it isn’t true.  You ARE good enough, just as you are.  Right now.

So go forth this Friday and remember that you are enough.  Good enough, worthy enough, just: enough.  Without change.  Without conditions. Without altering yourself at all.  You. Are. Remarkable.

On being a skinny…food?

Okay so I’ve been watching some of the kerfuffle via Sociological Images and Jezebel regarding the Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps ads appearing around New York City. My take? The folks at the pretzel company are being willfully dense about the entire thing, even though they ARE taking steps that MIGHT (I hope) lead to reconsidering not just one ad but the entire campaign.

To sum up, in case you haven’t been watching or just haven’t caught wind of it yet, apparently the company began posting this ad around NYC (Via Sociological Images):

Pretzel Add "You can never be too thin"

Oh really?

A bunch of twitter-pating and such later and the company begrudgingly removed this ad.  However it turns out this was just one in a set of four; of which this second is still being promoted (Via Jezebel):

Pretzel Ad "Tastes as good as skinny feels"

Again...oh really? This isn't striking the same tone as the FIRST disputed ad?!?

According to the twittering pretzel folks “We’re a thin pretzel cracker… ‘Thin’ just happens to be a good word to describe the shape of our product.”  Well you know what else might work?  How about I find you a few words to replace “thin” and “skinny”, words so intrinsically tied to body image no matter what you are trying to willfully claim here?

I mean, come on, really?  Just because you don’t follow PETA standards or high fashion protocol by having bikini-clad normatively beautiful women draped over your damn product doesn’t mean you aren’t fully aware of EXACTLY the social meme you were hoping to capitalize upon with these very precisely worded ads.

Words MEAN things people.  Either you’re willfully ignoring this in communicating to those objecting to these ads or you’re living in some sort of beautiful fairy world where “thinspiration” and the Fantasy of Being Thin  is not a way of life. I mean, really, I’d like to live in the imagination world these folks inhabit where such phrases can possibly be interpreted in a non-weight-loss-inspired (even pro-ana) way.

So how about I give you a few other words you could have used, eh?  I mean how about one of these instead:

bony, cadaverous, emaciated, fragile, gangling, gangly, gaunt, haggard, meager, narrow, peaked, pinched, puny, scrawny, shriveled, skeletal, skinny, spindly, starved, undernourished, underweight, wan, wasted, wizened

Huh?  Not quite the image you were going for?  Oh.  Okay  Well, sorry, but looking up “skinny” brings up pretty much the same list as for “thin”.  So does “thin” really describe what you’re going for here? A nice emaciated pretzel?  Very taste-inspiring, no?

Okay, no, you’re right.  I should be fully honest; that wasn’t the full list of possible words. I could have chosen (*cough*justlikeyoucouldhave*cough*) some of the OTHER, less obviously part-of-a-negative-body-image-discourse, sorts of synonyms for “thin” or “skinny”.  How about one of these?

delicate, ethereal, featherweight, fine, light, narrow, slight, small

How about “So light and airy, we think the feather might fall faster”.  “Just a slight reminder of how tasty we can be”. “Delicately delicious”.

See what I did there?  I’m not even IN marketing and yet I managed to quickly choose a few words (and even come up with slogans, you’re welcome) which don’t necessarily bring immediately to mind the half-naked, weight obsessed women you’re so proud you didn’t drape around your ads (at least in images)  like so many others blatantly do.

So while the company has taken the first step by agreeing to remove the first objected-to ad because they “didn’t intend to advocate unhealthy weight loss”, there is still this lingering wonder I have if the entire campaign will be rethought or if this one action was taken as a token gesture of “See, we capitulated to the masses.  Now hush-up and leave our remaining pro-ana-inspired ads alone you meanies!”

Come on Pretzel Crisps; prove me wrong for worrying. You claim to understand that images of women as objects and props used to sell food is tacky.  You also took down one offensive ad clearly promoting the ideal that a person (or pretzel?) can NEVER be too thin. Brava! Now take that one small step past this and realize that it isn’t just that one ad; that words can do just as much harm as pictures, and remove those equally damning slogans as well.

I’m hoping myself that the company will choose to take a fresh eye to these sorts of slogans and recognize just how harmful a mentality they come from and end up promoting.

Again, one more time (sing it with me if you’d like), in closing, I would like to remind Pretzel Crisps and everyone else: Words MEAN things.  They don’t exist in a vacuum. Words are informed by the culture in which were are seeped and it is blatant ostrich-head-in-sand behavior to just ignore this when crafting ads.

Words.  They mean things.

New blog look, recap of 2+ years of content, link love

New blog look:

So Round Shape has updated its look.  Or, to be less passive, I’ve updated the theme on my blog to reflect the way that I feel about it.  That is to say, that this is an electronic notepad into which I jot the many thoughts I have regarding my own life as a lap-swimming, trumpet-playing, belly dancing, crochet pattern-crafting, fat, white, cis-gendered, married without children, woman living in the North Eastern US of A.

Since this new theme is sans header I decided to add a recent picture to the top of my right-hand column.

Basically: new look, same author and generally fat-life related content.

Recap of 2+ years of content:

Oh and this comes as I enter the second month of my now 3rd year of blogging here. That’s  over two solid years of posting on my own experiences and thoughts.  Holy heck.  How does time go by so happily and quickly sometimes?

To recap these few years I decided to look back at my posts which seemed to get the most traffic:

By far my most popular post is for my Amigurumi Hummingbird pattern, which has seen a lot of action since its posting last December.  Who’d have thunk it?

A more blog-title-related post with a large amount of readership was my rambling about getting a shorter haircut with the dreaded “Chubby Face”. This might explain why my absolutely top, of all time, search term leading here is “hair styles”.  Well I do hope some folks stumble across that page and realize that there are no really and truly arbitrary hair style limits they must adhere to based simply on the size or shape of their head!

Lastly, three other posts which I really enjoyed seeing at the top of my list of popular posts were “Who LOOKS Fat vs. Who IS fat” and “Muffin Top, who lives in every lane” and a bit further down after my “about” page and a few others, “Fasting reminds me why I don’t diet anymore.”

Link love:

Since I’ve been reveling this past week in the joy of not having classwork due, thanks to the end of my summer course just this Sunday with the handing-in of an entire website coded and loaded by myself and 3 others, and reveling in the celebrations of my Adam D’s recent birthday this Monday, I’ve been reading but not really writing my thoughts on a few topics going around.  So here I’m going to share some link-love for folks doing some amazingly thought-provoking or smile-provoking things in the spheres I read.

Stiletto Siren has to be one of my favorite fashion blogs to watch, especially considering I’m no-where near a fashion (or fatshion) person myself.  Her poses and sass and the outfits she showcases are wonderful to see, as is her wit wonderful to read.  This most recent post actually excited this normally jeans and polo-shirt wearing woman to consider a few spunky dresses of her own!  Rock on Stiletto Siren!

Bri over at Fat Lot of Good has a nice response to “estimations” that obesity will and will continue to further degrade quality of life in us fatties.

Estimation is not science people. Estimation is not cold hard fact. Estimation is not causation. Sorry Dr Jia but estimation just isn’t good enough. So you can take your brilliant idea that my weight affects my quality of life and you can jam it.

Brilliantly put Bri!!  And this comes, in my mind at least, in conjunction with the idea being circulated now that calling people “fat” instead of “obese” will ensure an INCREASE in the shame people feel about their bodies, which proponents of this idea claim is the Best Idea Evah!  Corpulent does a fantastic break-down of this insanity and Obesity Timebomb shares some equally interesting thoughts.

Big Liberty does a nice wrap up collection of the main thoughts and her own reflections on what quickly became a Lane Bryant kerfuffle regarding a designer’s proposed fat-acceptance t-shirt logo of “Does this shirt make my fat arse look fat?” and LB’s knee-jerk “OMG!  That’s AWFUL!!” response.  Was LB just trying to rally for its customers but not quite getting the concept of positive reclaiming of the word/concept “fat”?  Was it innocent mistake or calculated in the hopes of rallying customer support?  What’s your take?

That’s the interesting stuff I’ve been following this week and last.  Anything great that I’ve missed??