On Intersectionality and Stuff

by Sarah on August 28, 2014

I was all set to kick up the frequency with which I post on here a few weeks ago…

…and then Michael Brown (an unarmed teenager) was shot and killed in Ferguson, and I’ve been sick to my stomach ever since.

Yes, there is a war on fat people in our society. Yes, married people receive substantial financial and social privileges over single people. Yes, women are still underpaid and underrepresented and victims of a system that frequently leads to violence against them. Yes, I experience and like to write about all of these things, and no, I don’t like to compare oppressions. The cycle of oppression sucks, from top to bottom.

That being said, I will never know the feeling of having to constantly fear for my life and the lives of my family at the hands of the people in this country who are supposed to defend and protect. I can only try to imagine it, I can only try to recognize all the ways in which I benefit from the system, and I can only try to wield any power I have or may have to help break down this system which privileges white skin and criminalizes black skin, and to try to help raise up the voices of marginalized groups.

As Dr. King once said, “No one is free until we are all free.”

And so while I will continue, at some point in the near future, to talk about what it means to be fat and single in a culture that shames and ostracizes fat and single folks, I wanted to take this break to also recognize the privilege I have in being able to write about these things and still sleep safely at night, due only to the color of my skin, and to recognize the great injustice that a near majority of the people in our country cannot say the same.

For further reading, I highly recommend Colorlines for their coverage of events in Ferguson.

If you need a bit of humor with your dose of reality, there’s always The Daily Show and/or this, this, and this from The Onion.

If you want to donate money, the Michael Brown memorial fund could use your help, and I would also recommend checking out Black Girl Dangerous’s White Privilege Media Bucket Challenge to support two fantastic programs that focus on supporting voices of marginalized people in media.

Also, maybe read up on how to be an ally and sign the petition at Color of Change to ask GoFundMe to take down the fundraiser for officer Darren Wilson.

That’s all I got.

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Fat Parkour

by Sarah on August 9, 2014

Me: I’m not sure if it’s lack of strength or fear.
Coach: Welcome to parkour. It’s probably fear.

In case it is not evident from the title of this site,  I am fat.

I have been fat my entire life.

It wasn’t until two years ago that I stopped thinking of fat as a bad thing, a limitation, a disability, a challenge to be overcome, or a temporary condition (thanks in no small part to this book), and it was only in the last few months that I’ve started to become really interested in exploring the capabilities of fat bodies.

As a result, I’ve started taking parkour classes, and since this is becoming a bit of an obsession and will probably become something I write about frequently, I thought I’d start by detailing some of the reasons I’m doing it.

1.Lack of role models – Like I said when I went rock climbing, there just aren’t enough images of diverse bodies doing physical activities.

When you’ve only ever seen thin, muscular bodies doing certain activities, it becomes easy to assume that other kinds of bodies can’t do those things. One of my goals for this year is to be able to do a handstand, so I’ve been actively seeking out images of diverse bodies doing them. As you might imagine, there are not many. (Check out My Name is Jessamyn and Supportive Yoga for two of them… okay, well, like… the only two. But they’re awesome!)

So since I’m down with my body looking like it does and putting pictures of it wherever I can, I figure I’m probably a good candidate to help fix this problem. It doesn’t hurt that I am fairly flexible, decently strong, generally able, and have a big dance and martial arts background. This combination of things leads me to believe that eventually in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to do more cool shit and post pictures of it on the internet.

And hopefully this will inspire more folks and we will have more diverse images of bodies doing things and more people will stop believing society bullshit about their limitations and so on and so forth.

2. Bodies can do cool shit. Bodies of all sizes, shapes, and abilities can do cool shit. Not all bodies can do all the things, obviously, but mine can run and jump and climb and swing and balance, and that’s all pretty freakin’ awesome.

When I used to be in theatre, I used to love climbing and working at heights (one of the many reasons I was an electrician and not a sound designer) and I seriously miss it now that I sit at a desk all day.

So it feels good to be running, jumping, climbing and moving in ways my body was designed to move. My body likes it.

In fact, it might like it too much, based on the amount of effort I have to exert at work not to go practicing on the office equipment.

3. Everything they told me was wrong. Many of the things I’ve blindly accepted in life based on the “common wisdom” are just completely wrong. And each time I prove one wrong, it feels really good and super empowering.

So why should I trust them when they tell me that there are limitations on my body due to its size?

I’m doing parkour because I’m choosing to believe that anything is possible and that many of the things I’ve always believed were inaccessible to me are actually achievable with a bit of work.

And, as I like to say, there’s only one way to actually find out…

4. There is a difference between a physical and a mental limitation. So first of all, kudos to the coach who told me in class yesterday that “it’s probably fear.” And the truth is, he’s right.

The limitations in my head are likely stronger and more lasting than the limitations of my strength and flexibility, but until I test them, I’ll never know for sure. And using my body weight as an excuse not to try? Well, that’s just not how I want to live.

Happily, the parkour philosophy is very much about challenging these mental limitations and overcoming fears in ways that feel really awesome and empowering, and the community has done an exceedingly good job at making me feel like I belong, regardless of ability. (More on that soon.)

I think it’s a match.

[That all being said, let me restate that it is nobody's job to prioritize health or physical activity in any way, and nobody has to try to overcome fear or push past their mental boundaries or learn to do handstands either. These are not my attempts to "be a good fatty" or to perform fitness activities in order to appear compliant with societal beliefs about how I should be actively attempting to change or manipulate my body in some way. I am doing parkour. I am also fat. I plan to continue doing parkour, and I fully expect to continue to be fat. Pushing limits and overcoming fear and just generally being an adrenaline junkie are just things I like to do and feel good about doing, and I have a healthy and able body that lets me do them. My choices are not intended as judgement on anyone else or as anything other than personal choices.]

So, here’s picture #1. It may look like I’m sweaty and tired and slightly annoyed (okay, those things are probably all true), but take into account the fact that I walked across the top of the rail that the guy in the background is folded over, then swung across the rail above the guy in the green shirt, landed on the one where I’m sitting and sat down… because yeah, my body can do that shit.

The conversation that is causing me to make that face at the coach was something like this: Me: Wait, let me stand up so I look like I'm doing something cool.  Coach: You're balancing on a rail.  Me: Oh, right.

The conversation that is causing me to make that face at the coach was something like this:
Me: Wait, let me stand up so I look like I’m doing something cool.
Coach: You’re balancing on a rail.
Me: Oh, right.

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Subverting the Stereotypes

July 16, 2014

There are a lot of negative stereotypes out there when it comes to singles, and the more confident and vocal I become about relationship issues, the more I find myself able to engage with them out in the wild. Which I have to admit is a hell of a lot of fun. Today, at work, […]

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Singles and Healthcare

July 2, 2014

Since my social media feeds are blowing up with comments about the shit-tastic SCOTUS ruling (and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s rockin’ dissent) I thought I’d take a moment to talk about singles and how our relationship to healthcare is different and more challenging than coupled folks, and why this decision is extra-frightening for single people in […]

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The Courage of My Own Convictions

June 10, 2014

When you believe a thing that is very different from what most of the world believes, it can be hard to hold on to that belief. And this feels especially true when that belief is so big that it becomes an identity. There seem to be only two good options: silence or flag-bearing. I started […]

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Re-Examining Relationship Anarchy

February 21, 2014

Relationship anarchy, as far as I can tell, is not particularly well defined nor widely documented, but the little I’ve read about the idea has always called to me. I think, in essence, it says that when two people are in a lower-case “r” relationship, that relationship does not have to fit into any pre-existing […]

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Fat Bodies Can Do All The Things

February 19, 2014

I went rock climbing tonight with a friend, and I had her take pictures, but I was debating whether or not to put them up on Facebook. I was worried that it was narcissistic or that I was just trying to make my life look super-cool or whatever. And then I also start to obsess […]

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Who Gets to Talk About the Single Experience?

February 6, 2014

MY friend shared this article on my Facebook page today (it’s not called a “wall” anymore, right?) and I noticed that the article rubbed me the wrong way despite it supposedly advocating on behalf of single people. I’m still working on putting my finger on the whole reason I’m feeling so upset, but so far […]

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But I Just Want to Read… (Thoughts About Media Literacy)

January 27, 2014

When I was in high school, I remember feeling a strong resentment towards my English classes. Despite being an avid reader and lover of the written word, I hated having to analyze and deconstruct every sentence. Why did it matter who the narrator was? Is the author’s tone really significant, when I just read a […]

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Singler Files #2 – Marriage, and Marriage, and Marriage… Oh My!

December 20, 2013

Welcome to the second Singler Files. Yes, it’s been a while since the first one. But hey, life happens. I have plenty of things in store for 2014, though, so it’s time to get things fired up again. Have thoughts on the below articles or other great resources you’ve seen lately? Don’t forget to share […]

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