Who gets to label me and my worth? I do!

by byanika on 17/01/2011 · 83 comments

in leopard,My Manifesto,self worth,spreading the love

 

 

 

Hi Sweethearts!  

Who gets to label me and my worth? I do!

When I joined the blogsphere a while back I wasn`t aware of the whole fatshion-movement, but was very happy to find that there were other people out there claiming their own self worth in a positive way, in terms of selfesteem, bodyimage and fashion.

It didn`t take long for me to become aware of the discussions raging in the sphere though: Who can claim to be a “real” woman? Is loosing weight a sign of self-hatred? Do you have to dress a certain way to be “celebrating your curves”? How big do you have to be to be a fatshionista?How should we all label our selves (curvy/fat/overweight/plus-size)? Here are my two cents.

I have been plus-sized most of my life, and have struggled with it very much, but I while I still have lots of insecurities about my self I have always also had a strong sense of who I am and a fiercly positive approach to life, despite lots of opportunities for bitterness shall we say. I am, and have always been, determined to prove those who bullied me wrong, to prove those who told me that I am more or less worthy because of how I look or feel or think wrong.  As my understanding of the dynamics of labeling has grown I also find that where as before I would cling to whatever compliments given me, I have come to understand that positive labeling is also just that, and that labeling in it self -positive or negative- can be very confining and limiting -if I let them be.

Growing up I would get comments like

“.. but at least you have a handsome face”
(comforting me that my body was under par I suppose)
 
” you know, Anika, you are kinda fat in a thin way”
(really? don`t even know where to start with that one)

Comments like these left me quite bewildered; was I fat or wasn`t I? Where did I fit in, and where did I want to fit in? Was it wrong of me to want to loose weight because my knees started to hurt a little? Was I beautiful with my chubby arms and all? Would I still be me if I lost weight? Would I still be funny without my fat-jokes on my own behalf? Did I make those jokes because I felt I had to or because they actually were funny, or did they expose my sometimes shaky self esteem? Was not being overly confident a good thing or a bad one? Could I live with out labelling?

Of course I can`t, we do seem to categorize the world we perceive, and this does not have to be a bad thing at all, categorizing helps us make sense of the world, but can also prevent us from redefining or developing our understanding of our selves and our surroundings. I love to give compliments and to receive them, but I try to be aware of how I let comments -good or bad- impact me. I am always interested in and supportive of how people define them selves, whether I am talking to one of the teenagers I work with or chatting with a blogger. I don`t for a moment want to try to impose on their right to define who they are for them selves. I simply want to get to know them, respectfully.

Am I to say to a person who looks male to me, but identifies as a woman, that they must be wrong because it doesn`t match my preconcieved notion? No.

Should I assume that every person that strips on the beach struggles with it just because I do? No.

If you define your self as fat, great! If you choose a different label, that`s fine too.

Let`s not exclude those who label them selves differently then we do our selves, let`s not put down those who aren`t included in your criteria for “real women” or what ever.

Let`s not pretend that plus sized women are the only people who have the right to body issues.

Let`s not dismiss those with views that differ from our own as “haters” without considering their point of view.

You also don`t have to agree with me. What I am trying to do is simply share how I view this subject.

I am a firm believer that action speaks louder than words, so last summer I got to work with spreading some serious love to the blogosphere, featuring bloggeristas of all sizes.
 
 
After a few months I received a comment from an anonomus reader about these features that I wanted to adress:
  
Let me start off by saying that I welcome and appreciate the input from you, my readers, be it positive, negative or constructive.
 
 
The comment said:
“She’s adorable, I love her style..! (About the featured blogger). I don’t want to sound like a whiner or a wet blanket… But I’m not really loving these Spreading the Love entries with smaller straight sized women…. They all have great style and are cute and pretty, but it’s not really something that interests me…

The comment included an excerpt from the interview that the reader went on to comment on:

“Could you share with us your thoughts on fashion vs fatshion?

Well, I am not aware of what that word means.. I am assuming it has to do with bigger women and fashion.. I hate the fact that a word has been coined. Everyone can participate in fashion no matter how they appear. Equal opportunity for all!”

This is insulting, doesn’t know what it means? hate it was coined? Fatshion was coined as a means of women owning their fat, and being fashionable about it. To hate that is to say that we should still be trying to conform to look the same as these girls… Pretty as they are, it’s not me. and it wont be me.

That is the sentiment of the reader who left this comment, fair enough. This is my answer, respectfully.

I have chosen to feature bloggers of all sizes, as I appreciate them all and always want to embrace diversity.

I did give this some thought, because I am curvy/plus size/fat/what ever my self, and I didn`t want to hurt or offend other fa(t)shionistas. However, I decided that I wanted to dare to be open to bloggeristas/readers of all sizes, focusing on them as people beoynd their size, as this is what I do in my life outside blogging.
 
I have tremendous respect for fatshionistas, and gladly accept that as one of many labels of me. I did feel brave taking the plunge by starting a fashion blog as a plus size-girl. At the same time, I did feel that I have something to offer, as a fashion-loving girl, as me, size included, but not because I am a stylish fat girl. Does that make sense?
 
So, does size matter? Yes, it absolutely does.
 
It IS hard to be a fat girl, at least in my experience. I`m not thin, never have been, and probalbly never will be. This has been the source of considerable heart ache for me, and sometimes still is. Only yesterday I was shopping for clothes and felt like shit because it was hard to find stuff that fit, and I found my selv struggeling to override the voice in my head telling me I was ugly and less worthy because of my weight. I have had a tough childhood that left me damaged in many ways, feeling that I hold no value as a person and that I was extremly ugly. My body was a big part of that. I also was fortunate to have a strong and loving mum, who has done everything in her power to take care of me and my self esteem and self respect.
 
My blog is absolutely about saying screw size-tyranny, I strongly want to advocate self respect and self expression through fashion, celebrating my size instead of letting it shame me. The thing is though, I want to support that in everyone, fat or thin. I absolutely get the empowering aspect of redefining and claiming a label such as fat, that is one expression of self respect. Some plus size bloggeristas identify as fatshionistas, others don`t. As it turns out even we fat girls are a diverse group.
  
 
As for the comment about how it felt hurtful for the reader that the blogger I featured was unaware of the concept of fatshion, well, she may be aware of it now. I don`t personally think she meant offence by her comment, all though how I can understand that it might feel hurtful for some. That being said, I didn`t know about the word fatshion before I started blogging either, but I absolutely understood the dynamic behind it.
 
I do recognize that being fat doesn`t make me an expert on all things size and self image. I have my own experiences that I relate through, but I am humble about my take, and always open to input, like I got from this reader. That is the reason why I have chosen to ask all the bloggers I feature the same questions, including their take on fashion and fatshion. Personally I find it interesting to hear the differing views on this subject. I want to thank all of the bloggers who are taking part in Spreading the love.
 
I am by no means perfect, and when I make mistakes I am the first to acknowlegde it and apologize. My intention with starting this feature-series was not to offend or take away from the empowerment of any women. Quite the opposite. That being said, I will not avoid taking a stand, in a respectful manner, for fear of negative feedback. I would always much rather invite sharing and discussion than not.
 
So, sweethearts, I would like to hear from you. What is your take on this? Do you want these features? Are they not interesting to you? Do you want to take part? Do you take offence? Does it seem meaningful to you that I continue to feature all of these ladies of all sizes who at least have one thing in common; their love of fashion?

Writing this honest post is something that was scary for me too do, but challenging my fears and doubts -redefining what I think I can and can not do is always such a good thing, be it daring to wear colour, taking full figure pics, connecting with you my wonderful readers, exposing my self to getting comments on my posts or to not getting comments, dealing with my hang-ups, laughing at my own jokes, thinking that I am pretty, opening my self up to my loved ones, learning to let go of the need to be what ever others need me to be, getting up again when I fall.

 

I am trying to live my life as authentically as possible,

 embracing and challenging my self,

learning from others,

and staying curious and humble when meeting new people and learning to know them and their worlds.

 

In short,

Hi, I`m Anika. I know who I am.
Lovely to meet you!
  
Who are you?
 
 
 
 
  
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