How to be on a Diet

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On January 1st this year,  I started a diet. I hadn’t done a diet for a long time, because I do this other thing which is liking myself. Which is every bit as hard and prone to constant failure as a diet but which I nevertheless think is a better thing to do, on the whole.

But I thought I would attempt some diets for my show. Because my show is called How to be Fat and is about things fat people do, or, in reality, things I think fat people do, and things I personally do, and, at points, things I personally do because I think they are what at people do.

And one of those things I did was go on a diet. First,  I went on the Slim-Fast! plan. I planned to try a whole bunch of diets. I planned to try them out and see how they made me feel. I didn’t think about losing weight, really. Or, I didn’t weight myself. But i would be lying if I didn’t say that somewhere deep inside (really deep, ‘cause I am fat so there’s a long, long way to go to get to my inside), but deep down, yes, I did think that maybe, somehow, dieting ironically and experimentally for a show about being fat might be the thing that makes me thin. Because, I suppose, despite everything, I still believe in the thing. The idea that somewhere, hidden, there is an answer. That, though, of course diets don’t work – I’m not stupid – and nothing works – of course – and what even is a lifestyle change? I believe one day I will find THE THING.

And maybe I always will.

And maybe THE THING is ironically dieting for a show about how I am fat.

I chose the Slim-Fast! plan first because it’s easy. You don’t really have to do anything except buy the stuff and consume it. Both activities I have had a lifetime of experience at. Of course, buying and consuming – putting something in your body, that’s not nothing, that’s a major thing to do. But it feels simple. It feels so simple.

It’s also telling yourself multiple times a day that you don’t get to have the thing you desire, because you are shit, and you have to instead drink and drink with a name that is vaguely taking the piss out of you.

However, it also feels slightly transgressive – the Slim-Fast! Plan. As the main focus is meal replacement milkshakes. And milkshakes are the kind of thing that you don’t often consume if you are on a diet. So, it’s like, how is this a diet? You are literally living on milkshakes. That is the opposite of a diet. And as diets are awful that must be fucking excellent.

Oh, except, I don’t like milk. I don’t like dairy products much, but I have such a strong aversion to milk that my children claim I am ‘scared’ of it. I am not scared of it. That needs to be made very clear. But I once visited a dairy farm while I was breast feeding and it made me feel very confused about dairy products. Breast feeding makes you emotional. All kinds of things can happen. I got a milk aversion.

And, of course, it’s ironic that my kids are the ones who mock me for this. The ones who directly benefited from me doing breast feeding. (I’m sure you assumed that, if not, maybe leave.)

So Slim-Fast!’s exciting riot of milkshake did not excite and actually slightly repulsed me. I found the banana and strawberry versions particularly troublesome. And the cafe latte, mocha and vanilla ones easier. And, I know I could have probably used non-dairy milk to make it, but I felt that once I started modding Slim-Fast! into something less personally scary, then the closer I would be to just throwing it all away and eating proper food.

And I was quite close to that the entire time.

But it was, and this is the most important thing about it, on a basic and practical level, easy.

The first couple of days were okay. I had a bit of a headache, but it was just after Xmas and I had been mainly eating Pringles, chocolate and cheese for the past couple of weeks. (For some reason cheese does not set of my dairy aversion issues. I am not scared of cheese. But then, I am not scared of milk either, actually. Please stop saying I am just because I refused to buy you a Mars Drink.)

But apart from the headaches I was mostly fine. I wasn’t really hungry. Whatever is in the milkshakes to make you not hungry seems to work. I didn’t feel hungry at all.

But I felt ashamed.

That name, Slim-Fast!, really is pretty obnoxious kind of name. It is sort of hollowly encouraging while basically taking the piss out of you at the same time.

Also, Slim-Fast! like this is some kind of emergency.

FUCKING GET ON WITH NOT BEING FAT, YOU DREADFUL COW.

When I bought the Slim-Fast! I got the lot. I bought the milkshakes and meal replacement bars and snacks that are their versions of crisps and chocolate, and I found myself obsessively explaining to checkout staff that I was doing this for a show. I was not REALLY doing this. I WOULDN’T REALLY DIET. I AM COOL. NOT LIKE THOSE DIET PEOPLE. THOSE FAT PEOPLE.

I am not one of them. If I am fat, which okay, I may be, I am cool about being fat. I am fat because I want to be. I am not one of those sad people who are fat but wish they weren’t. Ew, losers.

I quickly got trapped in that old spiral of having to explain that, yes, I was fat, and it was okay. I was okay about it. Sort of. Mostly. But I thought I’d try this. Just to see. To see how I felt. I wasn’t weighing myself or anything. Usually the checkout staff listened to all this and then told me they would like to see my show or that they admired my will power. (It does take quite a lot of will power to make a show. It takes ages.)

Sometimes any kind of explaining what I was doing, making it seem okay, was beyond me. One time I was in Emporium on London Road and I had a pre-mixed vanilla shake in my bag. And I was hungry, it was mid morning and I’d eaten nothing, but I was too ashamed to get the shake out and drink it.

I got a glass with ice and poured the shake into under the table like a cheapskate at the pub.

The novelty of it wore off eventually. The thrill of drinking milkshakes (ew, but also, so wrong hence illicit and fun), the easiness of not doing food, the secret buried excitement that, hey, what if this makes me thin, tho? I’d end up being thin without ever having to admit I’d failed at having an okay body by dieting for real.

And then I was hungry. And I could not deal with being hungry. AT ALL.

I was travelling home travelling from London after work and it was 9.41. I was so hungry. I’d had all my food. And I didn’t know what to do. I was so sad. And the idea of staying this hungry all the way home was horrible. I just couldn’t figure out what I was meant to do. Surely I should eat if I’m this hungry?

It had been 10 days. So I quit Slim-Fast! right then. Maybe other people can, I don’t know, just not eat when they really want to because they are hungry, but I can’t.

I’m not saying this is why I am so fat. But it might be. This might be why I am so fat.

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Eating Everything

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I am 42 years old and one month. And what a month.

When I turned 42, at 11am on 1st November 2014, I began a project to Instagram everything I ate. Every fucking last thing. Everything that has calories and goes in my mouth. Everything. [Yes I know THAT has calories. So far this has not been an issue.]

The morning, when I started, it was [obviously] my birthday. I was at Victoria station on my way home from Ipswich, with a hangover sloshed over an adrenaline high. I had no real intentions for the project other than to see what happened. I tried not think about it too much. Because I thought it might be too hard. Psychologically and practically. And it is.

That morning, I took photographs of the pain killers and vit C tablets I was taking in an attempt to feel a bit better. And then of the two burgers I ate for [mostly] the same reason. And then later of some birthday cake and some pizza and some donuts and all the stereotypical fatty food I was eating on my birthday and I made an Instagram for the pictures and I just kept going.

What fat people actually eat can be a sort of mysterious thing and also an obvious thing. Of course I eat LOADS, but loads of WHAT? Blocks of lard, what?

Some people think that I, and everyone else, is wholly in charge of what their body looks like, that body size is based on a simple equation that says [weight of cake eaten] – [number of stairs climbed] = [size of ass].

Calories in, calories out.

Because bodies are literally made of the food you have eaten glued to your belly and bum and thighs, minus the bits that fell off when you went jogging.

The cholesterol clogged heart of fat stigma, and the terrible fear of a fat plague lumbering towards us, destroying health care and giving literally everyone type II diabetes, is the idea that fatties choose to be fat. That makes it okay to shame them. Makes it even some kind of civic duty to shame them because perhaps, one day, if we make being fat bad enough and embarrassing enough and shameful enough it might finally not be worth all those lard sandwiches and the fats might wake up and FINALLY STOP JUST EATING ALL THE TIME.

I’m not very interested in whether that is true. What I’m interested in is showing you what I eat and seeing how I feel about that.

Seeing how ashamed I feel about that.

Because of the idea that being fatties choose to be fat and that I am making that choice by choosing what I eat, I’m ashamed of what I eat. Because I’m ashamed that I’m fat. I’ve eaten in secret. I’ve taken advantage of a weekend alone to eat food that no one knows about but me. I eat lots. Of course I do. It’s exhausting being ashamed that many times a day.

There was day I at four bags of Hula Hoops. Have a look at them. I did not feel good about this. I thought about not photographing them. But I did photograph them.

I will show you all the gross food that makes this fat body. Like the tables of food they show the fatties in diet programs. Because that’s why I’m fat, right? Here’s that thing I do to get so fat, that you know I MUST do from looking at me.

Here’s everything I eat. I’m ashamed of it.

It’s worse than showing your naked body, showing this. Some people have told me that doing what I’m doing would be their worst nightmare. And I get that.

[I eat so little fruit, god.]

[[Maybe I should eat more fruit so it’s not so disgusting.]]

I know that photographing my food will affect what I eat. I have tried to be as true as I can and show my diet as sincerely as I can. I know that’s an issue. All I can do is try.

I don’t comment with the pictures. I don’t explain. Sometimes I really want to. I want to apologise. I want to say I shouldn’t be eating this. But I don’t. I don’t say anything.

I’ve had a lot of reactions to my Instagram. A lot of fats have told me they enjoy it. Because this is just food. Normal food. And here it is. Let me show it to you. The hideous process by which I become this terrible thing is so mundane really, here like this. The food a fat person eats is just food.

I just eat food.

I eat the same kind of food anyone else eats.

And I know this because the main way people react to my Instagram of Everything I Eat is to like a photo of something they would enjoy eating too.

The main way people react isn’t about shame or how terrible all this food is. The main way people react is to say food is nice. It’s nice to eat it.

I like that you’re eating that. I would eat that too, if I had that to eat.

I really like eating crisps.

*

This Instagram will be part of a show I’m making called How to be Fat. It’ll be on next year in Brighton and London. I’m very excited. And really fat.

Being Okay

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Someone said to me once, not long after I started this blog, how sad they were to discover that I was not okay about my fat body. I they had always assumed, was fine about my fat body. No issues. I was totally okay with the fat body I had.

I gave them hope.

Sorry. But no. No hope here. I’m not okay about my fat body.

I am ashamed of it and it makes me sad. The usual deal.

I try hard to be okay about my fat body. I’d like to be okay about my fat body. I hold on to the idea that maybe one day I will be. One day, if I try really hard I will be okay about my fat body and then my life will be so much better.

What does that remind you of?

When I tried to be okay with my fat body I ended up failing. I’d failed at all the diets and now I was failing at this.

Failing, like.

If I’m okay with my fat body now now, why am I looking at this 5 2 diet thing?

If I’m okay with my fat body now why have I missed breakfast and lunch today?

Would a person who was okay with their fat body eat this Magnum, or not? A person who was okay with their fat body would know.

I’m not okay with my fat body, but I pretend to be. And why wouldn’t I? I don’t want you to know that I’ve failed at this just like I’ve failed at Weight Watchers. I go out of my way to make you think I am okay with my fat body. I go on stage and I dress up in outfits that show VBO and I will take my clothes off in front of you because, shit, yeah, would someone who wasn’t okay with their fat body do this?

I bought this wedding dress in a charity shop yesterday. Because it fit me, and I do enough stupid dress up stuff that it seemed silly not to. And I laughed with the women at the counter about how, no, of course I wasn’t going to get married.

[Because I’m fat, fats don’t get married. LOL.]

And would someone who wasn’t okay with their fat body do that?

I was devastated when I discovered that being okay with my fat body wasn’t an answer. Wasn’t, at any rate, an answer for me. Because, of course I pretend I am okay with my body, and pretend to the point that I think a lot of people think I am okay, and so, I don’t know if other, people who seem to be okay really are, or are pretending.

There are people who seem like they are and I truly hope they are. It seems like a good idea.

But maybe there isn’t okay with my fat body and not okay with my fat body, so much as being more or less okay, more or less of the time. Maybe there is no more a ‘being okay with my fat body’ than there is a ‘being thin’.

And I’d rather fail at being okay with my fat body than fail at all the diets. Because at least I am only failing at one thing here. And at least you can’t tell I’ve failed at this by looking at me. At least I don’t have to wear my failure like a puffy shame suit everywhere I go.

At least there is that.

But the main thing that makes me disappointed about not being okay about my fat body is that I always thought that being okay about my fat body is the thing that would make me thin. You know, because I only overeat because I am sad about how fat I am. [Not for, actually a billion reasons.] So if I was okay with it, then…

That’s why I want to be okay about my fat body.

But I’m not, you know. And now you know.

The Elephant in the Room

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I was in a musical. It was a real one, not one I dreamed or anything. I was in Get in the Back of the Van’s Live Art Community Musical at the SPILL Festival in Ipswich. Other people were in it too.

Anyway, lots of things about this process have been interesting. I sung on stage or the first time ever. Something that wouldn’t have been possible without very kind and patient people with actual musical ability teaching me how you sing a song. It seems you have to sort of roughly know what the music is doing. Something that to me was basically magic. But some wizards taught me so it was fine.

When I do stand up, especially longer performances, I get stressed about learning the words. ALL the words. And it had never really occurred to me before that if you want to sing a song you also have to learn the words. ALL the words. But you do. That was a small surprise.

I am not, it turns out, a super good singer. I am okay. And that was a disappointment because, as a fat, I had always had a secret fantasy that I would be an awesome singer if I tried properly. Isn’t that a thing fats get? Super good singing made out of all the fat somehow?

Turns out, not always. Sometimes you’re just fat. Sometimes you’re just fat and not secretly Mama Cass.

Other things I have turned out not to be super good at include dancing.

[And things I was also not super good at but already knew I was not super good at include accents.]

One of the reasons I wanted to be in the musical was because I thought the idea of a body like mine dancing in a musical was interesting and challenging and unexpected. I still think that’s true, although, I was massively disappointed to discover that my OTHER secret fantasy that didn’t happen was the one of being called upon to dance one day and finding I was massively, amazingly good at dancing [like in the plot of a some awesome feel good movie I have totally not written in my head and totally isn’t called Fats Can’t Dance].

Of course, I now know this is because people who are massively, amazingly good at dancing got to be that way by doing a lot of dancing, not by suddenly being able to do it, the one time they were asked.

[This may also be the case with singing.]

[It’s not the case with doing accents. Believe me, I KNOW.]

At one point in rehearsals, some of the people who are pretty good at dancing did quite a complicated dance, which, in part, involved getting up from the floor extremely quickly. Which was amusing to me because, of course, bodies do not get up of the floor that quickly. LOL. You fools.

Except, theirs did. So I tried and mine didn’t. Or mine did eventually, I’m not still there, or anything. Mine did, but a lot more slowly. I could do this dance but only at about half the speed. And the thing about dancing is, you are meant to do it AND do it at the right speed. AS WELL.

Now this show was specifically designed to push back against ideas of who should be in a musical, who should perform and how they should perform. So I didn’t feel bad or sad about any of this. Actually, I felt pleased and valued to be bringing another kind of body into the room.

But I was the fattest person in the show. I was the fattest person in the rehearsal room and I was the fattest person in the stage. The thing about that is how quickly I knew it. I probably knew it within 20 seconds of walking into the room on the first day. And not, of course, I should be clear, because anyone mentioned it. No one ever mentions it. I just know. I just always know. I check. I always check. Everywhere I go.

I ALWAYS know.

Maybe it’s not that unusual. I don’t really know. I’ve never really spoken to anyone about the fact I do this. Do other fats do this? Does everyone? Do people do it with other things? Do very tall people check out if they are the tallest? If you are the only person in a room who isn’t white, I think that might be something you’d notice.

That is why, often, it is always such a relief to spend time with other fats. Not that non-fats aren’t cool. You can be non-fat and cool, it’s really fine, but if I am around fats I can stop checking who’s the fattest. And that’s nice because always checking if you are the fattest person is exhausting.

Is it me? Yes.

Is that okay?

Am I the fattest bridesmaid?

Is that okay?

Am I the fattest human being in the world?

Is THAT okay?

While was in Ipswich doing the musical as part of the SPILL Festival, I got to see Project O’s SWAGGA. SWAGGA is a dance piece performed by fat activists Charlotte Cooper and Kay Hyatt. It was an incredible thing to see. As soon as I saw the two performers, and saw that they had bodies like mine, I was genuinely, massively excited. I’d never seen that before. I’d never seen bodies like mine legitimized by being on stage, moving. I’d never been invited to watch bodies like mine moving. I’d never been told [and told really, fucking explicitly] that was a pleasurable thing to look at.

I don’t know if I was the fattest person in the audience for SWAGGA. So, maybe I don’t ALWAYS know. [Maybe I don’t know so much when I’m at radical, fatty poz dance shows.] I was the fattest person in the group I was with, but there were other fats there. But as a fat person in the audience, I felt privileged. I felt like the one with the right kind of body. Because I had a body like the bodies the performers had.

And in the musical, although my body was not like the bodies of a lot of the performers, it was amazing to be around dancers with traditionally beautiful bodies who valued my body and the different things I could do with it. Sometimes the things I could do with just by possessing it. Performing when you are fat, is such a strong statement of being visible whilst fat. Asking people to look at your fat. Letting them look at your fat.

Watching SWAGGA made me feel as differently about my body as I can remember. Not just that my body was okay, but that body was better.

[Don’t worry, this isn’t about to turn all ‘Real Women Have Curves’ or ‘Fuck Off Skinny Bitches’ [not that I have HUGE problems with that, sorry. I think it’s okay to sometimes feel angry with the people who have the privilege you lack.]] All I mean is, I felt my body was better in some contexts. Better in some ways. Because it could do other different things. It could look like only it could look. It could entrance in ways only it could entrance.

I came out of SWAGGA feeling excited, even a bit smugly pleased to have a fat body. And as I walked back to The New Wolsey Theatre, a man shouted at me, to tell me I am fat.

And I am.

Yeah.

Here is a Guardian review of the show I was in. 

I am Instagramming everything I eat. 

Looking Good

The story of Sarah Millican’s rough treatment on twitter after appearing in the BAFTA red carpet in a flowery dress and looking pretty much like a lot of women her age look like when dressed up for a special occasion has had plenty of coverage. Millican’s own piece is here.

What I think is interesting and crappy about this story is that Millican was cruelly criticised for failing to meet society’s beauty standards, even though much of Millican’s act is precisely about being an outsider to those standards. Millican’s act, and I think it’s great (also do seek her out live for the full on radicalness of her), is about, for a lot of the time, not meeting beauty standards and how she feels about that. It’s an important voice to have, because it is the voice of a fuck of a lot of people, women, especially, who feel they can’t fit into this world of ridiculously high aspirational beauty standards.

But for women in the public eye the necessity that they meet this arbitrary standard of fuckability is so high that even if they are famous for popping that particular balloon in their art, they are still expected to scrub up and play the game off stage. Ha ha not really. I am actually hot. (Yes, that old story.)

It’s as if talking about this might be okay, but actually being it is really not. Like, we’d actually prefer it if you were played by a conventionally looking woman in fat suit and glasses.

Awards shows are a ridiculous parade of women getting assessed for wearing dresses and men getting assessed for their art. Men get the trophies, women are the trophies. What matters is how men feel and how women look. But when Millican makes so much great work about how she flounders trying to meet beauty standard, how she is a beauty outsider, and is at an award ceremony celebrating artistic work being criticised for being the exact thing she makes work about being, could her work ever be more overlooked that this?

Buying Clothes in Charity Shops Whilst Fat

If you follow this blog you’ll know that I am not the sort of fat blogger who presents for you the latest looks from Evans or Simply Be or tells you where all the clothes I am wearing were bought from, or which generous clothes making companies sent them to me for free.

I don’t give you this info, partly because this blog is about me not you – here are some pictures of me in my clothes, you, meanwhile, can do what you like – but mostly I don’t give you that info because I don’t have that info, because I don’t buy clothes.

Well, I do, but I don’t buy clothes from shops.

Well, I do, but I don’t buy clothes from real shops.

I have a lot of clothes these days – more clothes than I have ever had in my fat life which has included long periods of only having about three outfits worn in heavy rotation. I have a lot of clothes, and I hardly bought any of them (properly), they are either clothes people have given me, clothes I have bought from eBay or clothes I have bought from charity shops.

I like to get stuff from charity shops for  eco reasons and money-saving reasons, but, also, I like to this because it is better fun than regular shopping and gets me better clothes than regular shopping ever could. But I do think that some fats think it is hard to get plus size stuff in charity shops one of the points of this article is to tell you that it really isn’t.

Is There Size Fat Stuff in Charity Shops Tho?

I’ve seen charity shops get a lot better over the 25 years I’ve been shopping in them and occasionally working in them, and in some important ways for fats. One of those ways is sizes and sizing.

Excuse the tedious statement of obvious, but the clothes in charity shops come from donations. They are the size of the people donating the clothes. This means that charity shops represent the body sizes of actual people far better than regular shops – because the clothes come from actual people. And, as we keep being told, there are bunches and bunches of fats walking around now, those people are wearing clothes that they get sick of wearing and give to charity shops just like non-fats. More fats on the streets mean more size fat clothes in charity shops.

And people act like the obesity epidemic is a bad thing. CLEARLY NOT. Idea: why not focus on this total bonus instead of shaming people about diabetes or whatever?

Not only is there more fat-size stock, the marking of that stock is much better today. 25 years ago when I worked in Oxfam we might write the size on the price ticket if it was marked on the garment, or we might measure it. But it wasn’t seen as an important part of the pricing process. Nowadays almost every charity shop uses size marked hangers and hangs garments in size order – meaning fats can stick to the fat end of rails. (Except Oxfam. Why, Oxfam, WHY? You’re supposed to be the best at this.)

Of course the sizing isn’t perfect. Sizes vary from store to store and store assigned sizes will be the first thing the shop uses to assign their sizes. And things that are marked XL will be labeled XL and hung among the 22s and 24s, even if they come from a store where XL means a size 14.

What this means is, first, it is good to have a strong, by-eye sense of what will fit, and second, it is good to try things on.

If you are the kind of fat who is traumatised by memories of trying stuff on in communal changing rooms, or not fitting into the stuff your friends did or any other trying-on-clothes-while-fat nightmares, this is going to be your obstacle. It’s good to know if stuff fits because it is harder to take stuff that doesn’t fit back to charity shops (some do – but there are rules).

But wait, trying stuff on in charity shops is not like trying stuff on in other shops. I do try stuff on. I find it easier because they haven’t made the clothes, so they’re not judging or excluding me if I don’t fit into them. I do sometimes find it hard going looking at my puffy flesh under bad lighting as I fail to fit that flesh into a variety of clothes I thought were my size, but I don’t feel like a non-person because of it – just an unlucky one. Also, in charity shops, staff rarely interact with you as you try stuff on. So it’s just you and the mirror – it’s not a lot different to trying stuff on at home.

Oh, and it helps to wear a base layer of t shirt or camisole and leggings, which staves off a lot of the fears of being semi-naked in semi-public. A decent base layer can even lead you into the wilds of trying stuff on right there on the shop floor. If you get there, enjoy it, you have a magical power now.

However, if it proves impossible to try stuff on, and sometimes it does, and sometimes, despite all I have a said a small charity shop might not yield any good plus size finds, they are still excellent sources of bags, home furnishings and collections of more costume jewelry than any one person should own or could wear.

Where Are the Best Charity Shops?

Some people like to go charity shopping in swankier parts of town in the hopes of choice finds. I’m not sure this always works. Shops price band depending on where they are, so stuff costs more where people can pay more, and shops also send stuff around or even centralize all donations to one warehouse. In Brighton where I live, I’ve got great stuff from the relatively downmarket London Road area or from fancier Hove. I’ve even got exciting finds in the centre of town. However, a trip to a place specifically to trawl around their charity shops is one of my favourite days out. From Brighton: Lewes, Bexhill and Eastbourne all make excellent destinations.

This is another thing I think is banal and obvious, but I am very aware of how some articles on ‘yay for charity shops’ can seem to  miss the point of what the shops are. That they are there to make money for charities. They are not a source of cheap designer clothes for me because some old dear sorting them didn’t know what Marc Jacobs meant.

Buying from charity shops should be an excellent scheme where everyone benefits: the clothing donors, the charity and me, the customer. I don’t expect everything to be dirt cheap, I expect it to be fairly priced and if something seems too expensive I leave it on the rail – maybe someone will pay that for it, and if so, good for the shop. It would be horribly unfair on the people donating their belongings to charity shops to sell it rock bottom. I don’t usually think much about the specific charity I want to support when I’m buying stuff, but I do if I’m giving my old stuff away. And if I give my stuff to charity shops I want the charity to benefit, as much as possible.

Also, when I think something seems pricey in a charity shop, I often check myself and realise I would probably pay that for it in an eBay frenzy. It’s funny how expectations warp.

And one of the reasons I prefer charity shops to eBay is that if I get something home and it doesn’t work, I feel a lot less regret. Because, damn, worse case scenario, I just gave £10 to Oxfam – hardly a cause for great woe.

Buying Stuff in Charity Shops – the Effects

Some charity shop clothes I really like include:
My leopard print jumpsuitMy Margo dressDivine's white fur capeThe coat that makes me look like a Lady Doctor WhoTiger dressSonia Rykeil dressGreen dressThe dress I cut down to make this skirt

From top left: leopard print jumpsuit, Margo dress, Divine’s white cape, coat that makes me look like a Lady Doctor Who (and the scarf), tiger dress, Sonia Rykeil dress, green dress, the muu muu I cut down to make this skirt.

In fact, everything I wore to dress as Jackie for Treble and Vortex’s Joan and Jackie: leopard jumpsuit, fake mink coat and wet-look boots.

The dress I wore to be Jerry for Treble and Vortex’s Bryan and Jerry.

And there’s more, so much more that I haven’t even worn for this blog yet. Like this extraordinary cape/dress/poncho/incredible thing.

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Why Charity Shops are Best for Fats

Some of this advice might apply to anyone shopping in charity shops. And that’s great – non-fats, I will allow you to also shop in my charity shops – but there are things I think are special about charity shopping and being a fat.

1. Fats are field-trained for the worst parts of charity shops

Shopping in charity shops is far more hit and miss that regular shops. The choice is huge but really restricted, you might find nothing, or you might inadvertently stumble on a treasure trove of stuff (because someone your size with your taste has just had a massive clearout). You don’t know if the shop will have anything for you and you have to be flexible and maybe move on to jewelry. In short, it is the kind of mostly-frustrating shopping experience fats have been having their entire lives (but much, much better because of when it’s THRILLING).

Charity shopping might seem really awkward and inconvenient compared to regular shop shopping, but not for fats, for fats, not really knowing if you’ll find anything, having to buy stuff if you find it because you might not see it again, is basically every experience of shopping. We have trained for charity shops our entire lives.

2. Charity shops are randomisers

You can’t go out for a work jacket or a yellow dress because you don’t know what you’ll find out there. And that can be a great thing.

If you are fat with restricted choices, living your life in a constant hailstorm of advice about what is fucking flattering, it is all to easy to stuck in a fashion rut. Charity shops care little for fashion, taste or – hoo ray – for what is flattering, and can present you with new ideas in ways that the limited number of regular shops who stock fat sizes ever can. It’s thanks to charity shops that I now have tastes that run from the theatrical to full on fancy dress (that’s cosplay if you are under 30).

I am grateful to high street shops that stock tights and pants in size fat, I’d chafe without them, but in a charity shop you might find a tartan corset dress in your size and have no choice but to buy it immediately.

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3. The best thing of all

And that’s the best thing. When I buy some awesome thing in size fat, I like to think about the other awesome fatty that chose it and bought it and wore it. It’s thrilling finding outlandish, theatrical fat clothes that lie outside the fat lady norm. I like wearing the rad fat clothes of another rad fatty that went before me, saluting their taste and knowing that I’m not even the first person to wear a dress like this with a body shaped like mine.

Fat Calling

Here is a response to all the posts about cat calling with one about how I feel about cat calling: I don’t feel anything about cat calling. I don’t get cat called.

I don’t get whistled at, I don’t get ‘hey sexy’, I don’t get ‘smile gorgeous’ or any of that.

I’m fat. I get fat called.

What get’s shouted at me isn’t ‘you please me’, it’s ‘you displease me’. It’s ‘fat bitch’. (I sure some fat people do get cat called. There are probably a lot of factors at play. But I don’t. I only ever get fat called.) I get people in the street telling me I am fat.

Because, if there’s one thing fat people might not know about themselves, it’s that they are fat. You know how it is, fat people just don’t know they are fat until one day they see a photo of themselves on holiday and are shocked, SHOCKED, about the latitude of their fatitude and they join a fat loss club and fix the terrible problem.

Yeah, except, no – or hardly ever. And I have written before about how fat people know they are fat.

People shout at me from cars when I cross the road. “Fat bitch,” they shout. “Thanks for the information,” I don’t reply. It’s the Eddie Izzard joke isn’t it: “Bloke in a dress! Bloke in a dress. Heh, heh, I told him.”

(And aside to that, is that last week, I was in Poundland, and an old lady called me ‘tranny’. I still don’t quite know what to make of that. I guess she meant to call me a ‘fat bitch’ and got mixed up in her hate messages.)

Once, when I was on my 20s – when I was also fat – an old man shouted at me “You’re so fat you don’t know what to do.” Existential fat calling. I still don’t know what he was trying to tell me. Except that what he was trying to tell me was probably: You are fat, be ashamed more. Hide from me delicate eyes.

Fat calling is probably a little easier to deal with than cat calling. It is horrible and shaming, but I don’t have to concern myself with whether or not it is a compliment. Or whether I should enjoy it. It is a castigation. It is explicitly meant to make me feel bad.

I am a fat lady, so I am a different class of lady. I have lost the being attractive to men competition. And that is what the men who fat call me are telling me. The same as they are telling the cat called ladies that they have won. It all comes from the same place. Some ladies get told they are doing well, some get told they are doing badly. And we all get told that we are being judged. That it’s what’s on the outside that counts.

If the patriarchy is making us compete, and it totally is, I can see that it might feel nice sometimes to be winning that competition – after all, we don’t get to choose not to be in it, why not make the best of it? But that’s just like being the gladiator that does well in the amphitheater one day. It’s probably better than being the one bleeding in the sand. But it’s no real victory. They’ll make you fight again tomorrow. And the rules might be different then and you won’t win forever. Also, even if you did, the thing you’re doing so well at, ideologically, a bit horrid.

So, I think it’s much better to fight back against the idea that we should be forced to compete against each other like gladiators of sexiness.

And I’ll just leave it on that image.

Pebbles

I went out on Saturday and backcombed my hair relentlessly becuz it’s half-grown out mullet thing is making me look uncannily like Brigitte Nielson in Red Sonja. (Like being fat, that’s not bad, per se, but sometimes it can be hard work being it ALL THE TIME.)

The final result ended up with me looking like a grown up Pebbles from the Flintstones (or I thought so, I don’t want to stamp on your memories. It’s not canon.) But for me, this is Pebbles – she’s divorcing Bam Bam and she’s on the look out for the Tyrannosaur Rex that can fulfil her needs.

Pebbles

This is a terrible fashion blog if you want to know where anything comes from. i’m not even making a pretence at telling you anymore.

In the Black

I was a fat kid and a fat teen and now I’m a fat old lady. At some point in my mid teens, I started wearing all black. Not unusual for a fat (or for a non-fat in the Midlands in the 90s).

But black was never me. I like colours. Loads of colours. Loads of patterns. The more the better. Most days I dress like this. And at some point in my 20s I decided that I wouldn’t wear black; that I wouldn’t wear it because it was what fat people wore.

This was me trying to do a bit of fat acceptance, but not doing it very well. Not that I do it very well now.

It can be easy to fall into a trap with fat acceptance (or being okay with being  a fat) because it is HARD, and it is too easy to compare yourself to other fats who seem to be so great and happy at being fat (and maybe are or maybe aren’t, because you just don’t know) and feel like, oh, I am so bad at being okay with being fat – I suck at liking myself, I SUCK. I am not sure it is possible to really feel totally ok with being fat all the time in this fat-hating world. (Altho if it is and you are, that’s amazing.) For me, it’s not, and I try to remember that feeling ok with being fat is ok, but that not feeling ok with being fat is also ok. Because this stuff if hard and it is too easy to end up in a trap of feeling shitty about myself for being fat and then feeling shitty about myself for feeling shitty about being fat becuz aren’t I meant to be ok with this now?

Totally ok with it all the time, right?

It’s (stil)l January: month of unpleasant introspection.

Stopping wearing black and wearing colours and patterns was a first attempt at being ok with fatness in my 20s. I’m 41 now, and it’s clear that, for me, this is a life’s work.

But now, I’ve levelled up to being okay with being fat AND being ok with not always being ok about being fat. And I don’t have to never wear black becuz black is for people who are not ok with being fat.

Sometimes I wear black now.

black

I do need to get more black clothes tho. I hardly have any.