It's been far too long since my last post, and for all my high hopes of posting more regularly I've missed the mark. However, I will give an update on how things have been going and share some of the things that have kept me busy for the last month and a half. Here's part 1 now:
After working as a temp at Anthropologie for two weeks (full time, which ended up throwing off my usual routine badly, including my posts here), I made a bid to stay on as a sales associate, and started working again about two weeks later on May 4th. In the inbetween time I did spring cleaning, continued the job search, and participated in family stuffs. As for the job, I've still got some things to learn, but it's coming along well. I actually can wear some of their clothes, which really surprised me since their size charts say they only go up to about a 14. I've found that shirts can be variable in fit and it just goes to show that you shouldn't put too much stock in what the tags say since nothing in women's sizing is standardized.
However, all this thought about clothing and women had me thinking about how we perceive ourselves. I know I'm big, fat, curvy, fluffy, chunky, stout, or whatever you want to call it; I usually wear a 18/20 or xxl-2x on top and 20-24 and 1x-3x for bottoms and weigh 247 lbs. I don't have a problem with my looks or the numbers associated with each inch of my curves; I love my body, it's mine after all! I'm healthy in all the ways doctors measure, and take care of myself with exercise and balanced diet habits. (Not that I should have to defend myself, but being different from the cultural ideal on the outside means people will question and make assumptions about my insides too, whether it be health, habits, or qualities of character.) But I want to be really honest here, and I want people to realize just what 200+ lbs looks like. It's certainly not what Hollywood would make you believe because bodies are so unique, especially women's.
To Hollywood Jennifer Lawrence is fat, and Mindy Kaling is huge, which is just silly. If you were to meet them you'd realize they're more normal and probably still smaller than most of the women you know. (Plus there's Photoshopped versions everywhere making our perspectives even more out of proportion, though that's a matter I'll leave alone for now!) Movies and TV portray larger people as the butt of jokes, especially women, and as undesirable or even subhuman. The words fat and lazy or fat and stupid somehow seem to pair well together as stereotypes in people's minds after being used as insults for long enough. Studies even show that the attitude has trickled down into hiring practices for jobs. Larger women are automatically perceived as less competent, discriminated against in many ways for it, and there's more you can read here. And to clarify, they're looking at obesity as measured by BMI, which for someone who's 5' 6" like me would mean weighing 186 lbs or more, making where obesity starts not as large as you might think. But please keep in mind BMI is simply a demographic tool created in the 1800s as a mathematical formula for aiding those looking at population trends in the larger picture. It was never actually meant to be used as a tool to measure the health of individuals, and most European doctors laugh at us Americans using it as such.
For example here is a site that shows what real people look like and shows you what they weigh and the size they wear as well as being able to search through all the information by several different criteria - and this is what 300 pounds actually looks like. VS this and well, not much else because Hollywood has been pretty scared of showing women who are larger as part of their regular viewing repertoire. (Mike and Molly, and shows like Glee are starting to change this, but only recently!) And really how many people in Hollywood are even over a size 8? Yet the average size in America is a 14, and there are plenty of people larger than that too. Many clothing companies for fashion forward styles only go up to that 14, or perhaps an 18 for the more budget friendly labels, which makes little sense in the current market as it cuts so many women off from trends and well made clothing. It's something I care about quite a bit despite wearing tshirts and jeans half the time....they're easier to come by, especially for someone who is prone to getting paint or chemicals on them! But being at Anthro, well.....it's a job you get to dress up for. Which is a fun challenge for me; our budget is tight, but we've fit in new things like a gauzy maxi skirt here and floral button down there.
Additionally, I came across this really great article that looks at women's attitudes about size and how the media comes into play concerning how satisfied we are with ourselves. You can skip all the other links in the post as long as you make the time for this one! It's pretty powerful in expressing some of the things that I used to think were what separated me from all the "girly" girls and women I've interacted with. I was simply never able to think or talk that way about myself or others. I have a sense of self respect, that stems partially from the way I fundamentally see people - created in God's image or from a scientific viewpoint wonderfully unique genetically! And as people each of us has value, we all have something we can contribute to society, which can be physical or intellectual. So, sure I'll tell you if your clothes seem to fit you well or not if we're shopping, but what the article highlights the more sinister tendencies that shape the negative ways we can see ourselves. However, this is why I don't talk about whether I'm on a diet or if food makes me feel guilty (it doesn't for the record). They just make people feel worse, including yourself. Food shouldn't trigger guilt, it should be reminding us of the good things that come out of the earth and the happy times we've shared with loved ones. (due to scents, flavors, and other sensation associated with the foods, which are ways we build connections to memories in our neurostructure thanks to the tactile nature of experiences that happen to include food.)
And beyond all that, to tie in art here, I think art featuring a variety of bodies is just more interesting than if everyone was about the same size. The same as life in general should be when you stop and think about it. After all, we wouldn't want everyone with blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin either. Variety is good, seeing it helps us appreciate ourselves more as we learn that each feature is interesting and beautiful in its own way. Some of you may have already seen this one or similar earlier versions, but I wanted to share some Photoshopped versions of famous art. They're all more round than what we're used to seeing, but still show some variety while being idealized as well. They're certainly closer to an attainable, healthy reality than the tendency to skewing small is in today's culture. Not that people need to bother emulating any of what we see....unless of course we're talking about painting techniques! In which case...go ahead as long as you steal well enough to make the idea your own new version of the thing.
So, this has been a really loaded post, which hopefully some of you will enjoy. I'll reveal more about what's been going on in my life during next post! I should have more time over the next few days now that I'm getting back into a routine.