Working Braless Whilst Vibing to Ravi Shankar is Just How I Roll

It’s how I like to work.  I write best when I’m super relaxed and letting the rest of the world become  a distant, calming buzz in the background. I hate to be bound up and tight. I put on my favorite cotton caftan and trod barefoot to my home office retreat, where I am beckoned by my ASUS to let my long fingers glide along the dusty keyboard until they are done.

While lying on my chiropractor’s table today, I had time to think about blog post ideas.  If only I’d written them down. 

I guess I’ll just have to wing this one.

Um….

Let’s see.  Well, I feel really proud of all the inner work I’ve done toward healing my relationship with my body. It is a commitment every single day. But, I find it completely unavoidable to be reminded that my fat body type is the butt of stupid sitcom punchlines and the worst nightmare of every human in Los Angeles, including me (sometimes).

I’m tired, ya’ll.

I am a woman. I am a woman of color. I am a fat woman of color.  I am living in a city where billboards donning, thin, white women with perky tits and quarter size nipples try to entice me into getting the fat sucked out of my ass for just $99 down.  It’s fucking tempting.

As some of you know, I had liposuction when I was 23.  I was about the same size as I am today (230 pounds and a size 18), and I hated myself something serious.  I desperately believed, with my early 20’s, brainwashed, depressed, confused heart, that my life was going to be beyond my wildest dreams if I could just be thin. So, 11 pounds of fat sucked out of my thighs, butt and stomach later, I was ready to see my name up in lights.

It did’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped. It’s kind of a long story that I’ll have to share another time. I promise.

My point is that I have plenty of white patriarchal forces that are trying to inhibit my calling as an activist and a writer who won’t obey.  But I’m like, fuck the patriarchy.  Cuz I’m a badass mixed fat bitch who takes up space when she dares to, and  is working on not apologizing for it.

So, the other day, when I was scolded by a male co-worker/pal for apologizing way too much in a particular situation, I was mortified.  It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Proud, fat, feminist Pia? Apologizing too much?  Shit balls.

It took me some quiet reflective time to really think about what had transpired.  Maybe I wasn’t such a badass. Perhaps I was a disappointment to my fellow feministas. How could I, a self-proclaimed taker-up of space, find myself in such a quandary.

Or, maybe I was being a little harsh with myself. Probably. Yes. Pretty sure. Yeah. I think.

I am not Audre Lorde.  Not even Audre Lorde was Audre Lorde.  I mean, she was fuckin’ awesome, but I’m guessing she had her bad days too.

I find it very hard to break a pattern that I’ve been married to for most of my life. Especially when that pattern is encouraged in many areas of my life. And while I’m pleased I can identify the dirty bugger, self-awareness isn’t the only step in my quest to become free from the mental slavery to perfectionism and people-pleasing. I need to practice.  I have to try things that feel uncomfortable in order for them to become second nature. I have decided that my apologizing episode only proves that I’m human and that there is always room for improvement.

Today, on my way to the chiropractor’s office, I held my head up high as I walked alongside the bustling street with the kind of confidence and fearlessness that encourages me to keep going on this healing adventure. Some days I feel fucking great, and other days are shit.  But I press on, grateful for the path that my sisters have paved. Thank you Audre, Gloria, Rosa, Sojourner, Harriet, Frida, Bell, Hillary and Michelle.

In solidarity,
Pia

The Fat Girl Diet Debate & How I Fucked Up

So, here’s the thing.  I’ve spent at least 20 years of my life on a diet and I’m not sure I ever want to be on one again.  That’s why you will see me posting cute memes like the one below.  And my point is that if you don’t want to lose weight or ever be on a diet again, you don’t have to.  You don’t have to let the media and our culture force you into believing that your life will be awesome when you get to a size 2, when you are perfectly happy and free as a size 22.

But lately I’ve been seeing a lot of plus size women posting photos of themselves working out and sharing their weight loss stories on social media. I admit it irritated me initially because I felt like my fellow fatties were quitting the “team” and going over to the dark side along with Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah. It was as though they’d all been sucked into the dieting vortex, never to show off their their round bellies again.

Jhud before & after

I felt, well, abandoned.

But then I began reading the nasty messages (traitor, hater, you think you’re hot, etc.) that my fellow chubsters were writing on the weight loss posts, and that made me angry.

Why?  Because we have choices.  And yours are not the same as mine. They are also not better or worse than mine.  And what you do with your body is none of my fucking business.

I think I can feel my hypocrisy lifting just a little bit as I write this.  Yes, I do feel lighter. Aaaaahhh…

Women’s bodies are constantly being policed, and I certainly don’t want to be a part of that oppression. Hell, I’ve been a victim of it.  I cannot, in good conscience, criticize another woman because she is making decisions based on what she feels is best for her body. Especially if it in no way negatively impacts others. 

Not to mention, that one day I may decide that I want to lose some weight or begin an exercise regimen again.  And I should be able to do that without comment at all. I don’t need to be glorified or denounced for what I choose to do with my body.  

This is an official apology to anyone who has ever felt that I made them feel less than part of the body positive movement because they choose to lose weight.  My bad.  I get it.  You do you and ‘Imma do me! We can all be a part of this very important movement, no matter what we look like or what choices we make for ourselves.  All our voices count.

Ciao for niao,
Pia

6 Reasons to Love Your Stretchmarks

These aren’t mine, but they are beautiful!
 
Women are told that stretchmarks are ugly and that we should use expensive creams to get rid of them.  I was sold on the idea that my stretchmarks were inherently bad and that getting rid of them would enhance my beauty.  I actually tried some of these so called “miracle cures” years ago with no results. I felt desperate and unattractive. That was then. This is now.  
Don’t let this be you.

I have a lot of stretchmarks — mostly from having an eating disorder that had my body going up and down in weight many pounds at a time.  With every 20-30 pounds gained and lost, a new set of stripes would appear on my hips breasts, and stomach.  I used to cringe at those marks as they altered the texture of my skin.  I still don’t love them 100%, but I’m really trying.  And here’s why:
  1. I earned these motherfucking stripes god dammit!  My stretchmarks are a steady reminder of where I’ve been.  When I look down at them, I see a girl who used to hate her body and cover it up in shame.  I see a woman who has evolved into having a more positive relationship with her body.  My marks tell a rich story, with lots of twists and turns.  These stripes are sacred now.  They are mine.
  2. They’re perfectly normalA lot of people have them;  both men and women, fat and thin. I am not unique!
  3. Stretchmarks are like fingerprints: No two sets are exactly the same.  How cool is that?
  4. I get to tell advertisers to fuck off.  I LOVE doing that.  No more selling me shit I don’t need.  I no longer have to be manipulated into believing that parts of my sacred body are ugly.  So next time I see an ad for stretch mark diminishers, I’m going to scream “NO THANKS MOTHER FUCKERS!”
  5. They’re kind of cute. I know it doesn’t feel like it right this second, but I’m going to give it some time.  I will be nice to my stretchmarks and tell them that I love them.
  6. I have an opportunity to set a good example for the women and girls in my life. It’s not what we say that has impact, it’s what we do.  So I will be brave and show the people in my life that stretchmarks are not scars to be hidden, but badges of honor to be worn with pride!

Here are some links to sites that celebrate stretch marks:
http://stretchmarksarebeautiful.tumblr.com/
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/stretch-marks
Google search
 

In solidarity,
Pia

My Love-Hate Relationship With Shapewear

Like lots of women, I have used shapewear over the years to “smooth out” my belly bulge and any cellulite that might peak through a fitted garment.  I have worn corsets, girdles, control top pantyhose and Spanx Booty-Booster Shorts. I always wanted to look sleeker and more toned because everyone knows that lumps and bumps are the anti-Christ (insert sarcasm here). God forbid I should look like the average woman. The idea that I could fool people into thinking that I do 100 squats a day seemed so easy and so, well, powerful.  I was screaming from the rooftops, “Look at my flat tummy and perfectly round glutes. Ain’t I awesome?” without ever having to say a word.  There was something safe about leaving the house and not worrying that a rogue body part might jiggle at the wrong time (i.e.anywhere other people roam). I literally feared and loathed my fat.  And that, my friends, is the sad truth.

Does this look familiar?

Does this look familiar?

In a society that worships thin women, I, for many years, believed that I had no other choice but to squeeze my body into uncomfortable contraptions, which would cut off my circulation and leave deep marks in my skin. Taking off a girdle at the end of a long day is by far one of the most freeing feelings ever (that and taking off your bra).  I was sort of addicted to looking thinner. But underneath all that, I think what I felt was bondage — not just physical bondage, but psychological too.

Naomi Wolf

That is exactly the sentiment I feel when struggling to get my thighs into a pair of Spanx.  I am obeying our culture’s decree that my body is inherently bad, and that a restrictive medieval contraption is the solution to body woes and low self-esteem.

Have you ever seen an ad for a man’s girdle?  I think I’ve seen one in my life, and I know plenty of men with large bellies, flabby arms and wide asses.  But they are somehow exempt from the same scrutiny that women endure.  Imagine if men had to wear “Slim-Cognito” briefs.  We would never hear the end of of their complaints.  But women have been altering their normal proportions for centuries in order to adhere to an unrealistic Barbie-like physique, and often at the expense of their health.

girdles

For the past few weeks I have been wearing clothes in varying degrees of fitted-ness without shapewear, and it’s felt incredibly liberating.  Yes, my ass jiggles when I move and I can feel my ample stomach poking through my faux leather leggings, but at least I’m comfortable. Oddly enough, I’ve actually started feeling better about myself since I deserted the Girdle Society. What’s more is that my fat is cute!  I even started this hashtag on Instagram:

#myfatiscute

Art by Tara O’Brien

With all that being said, I think as women we are entitled to do what feels best for us.  I may not abandon my tummy-tamer just yet, but I’m learning to live without it. If wearing shapewear makes you feel good, then go for it.  But if it irritates the fuck out of you, trying going without and see how you feel physically and emotionally. You might be surprised.

xo

Why Is the Thick Sistah on the End? (Asked My White Husband)

Over the weekend I celebrated my birthday and I was feeling great in my fat body and channeling my inner goddess into everything I did. Friday I had a fabulous massage, mani/pedi and had drinks with one of my besties, Melinda Alexander of Mumumansion).  Saturday  was an amazing party at my house, and yesterday was spent sailing on my boss’ huge boat in Santa Barbara with my hubby and co-workers.  It was a wonderful way to start they year ahead.  I was surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. I even wore RED (which I said was my new signature color), so that’s exciting too–actually doing what I say I’m going to do.  LOL.

Me in my sexy butterfly dress!


But yesterday, while filling up on gas before the drive to Santa Barbara, I saw the billboard for the new film Baggage Claim, which opens September 27th. 

Jill Scott is on the far right.

I looked at it and thought, “I wonder why Jill Scott is on the end?”  As soon as the thought entered my mind, my husband popped his head in the window and said, “Oh, they put the thick sistah on the end.”  My mouth dropped open as we fist bumped it out.  First of all, my husband is white. From South Dakota. And is not known to ever use words like “sistah” in a sentence.  But more interestingly, he noticed what I also noticed, that Jill Scott–the thick sistah in question–was indeed on the edge of the billboard, as almost an afterthought. I was thoroughly disappointed in the placement of her photo, but pleasantly surprised that my husband even noticed it. 

What’s interesting, is that of the entire cast, Ms. Scott is, in my opinion, the most talented one.  But there’s one problem–she’s fat.  And in Hollywood if you’re fat, you cannot be the star.  In fact you are either the butt of stupid jokes, or you are the “funny friend,” or you are fat and need a makeover. Those are the choices.  I think few fat actresses have ever managed to be the star despite their size.  The obvious example is Queen Latifah (whose talk show premieres next Monday–woohoo!), who has starred in many movies and often gets the hot guy, without having to lose weight or justify her size.  She has starred opposite hot actors like Common and Dijmon Honsou, with ease, confidence and grace.  She is definitely one of my sheroes!

Queen Latifah & Common

That got me thinking about size acceptance and race.  In my experience, I have found that being plus size, fat, heavy, thick, etc., is much more acceptable in the black community (except in LA).  I remember black girls with big booty’s and thick thighs wearing daisy dukes when I was in high school in DC in the 90’s. They always got lots of attention from the black guys, and songs like Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A Lot, were homages to their fluffy proportions.  And it wasn’t an intentional grassroots size acceptance movement, it’s just the way it was. Why is that?  And what can we learn from it?  And more importantly, why in the hell is Jill Scott on the edge of that fucking billboard???


Jennifer Hudson
Mo’Nique


I think that Hollywood is using the tactic of “better health” to convince black female entertainers into being thin at all costs. I think they have largely been excluded from body scrutiny in comparison to white women, but now the jig is up, and body shaming has spread like wildfire.  Hollywood has convinced black women like Jennifer Hudson and Mo’nique, who were once confident in their ample figures, to publicly share their weight loss stories with the world as though it somehow justified their existence. I sometimes feel like, “where my fat girls at?” And I want to be clear that choosing to lose weight should be a personal decision.  I simply believe that now all women (even women of color) in Hollywood pay a high price in order to really make it.  And that sucks.  

And don’t get me started on the weaves….that’s a blog for another day. Oh, Lord!  

Ciao for now,
Pia


Guest Blogger Virgie Tovar on Hot FAT SEX

I am so thrilled that Virgie Tovar has agreed to be a guest blogger.  She is an inspiration to me on so many levels, and helps me to accept and love my body just as it is.  She is brave and funny and beautiful and wears her fat as a political statement, while donning mid riff lacy baby dolls and eating yummy desserts.  I really need her to rub off on me.  Seriously.  Ok, without further delay, here’s her amazing shit!

Jiggle Paradise
By Virgie Tovar
I orgasm the hardest when my belly is out – wobbling, undulating, jiggling, pushing my big breasts closer to my double chin, when my lover is staring at it, mouth open, squeezing the pads of his fingers into the soft flesh of my thighs as he holds me open, kissing my calves, sucking my toes.
The first time this sort of thing happened I was seeing a guy I had been in grad school with. He was a barista, the lead singer of a metal band in Santa Cruz and had a pet tarantula named “Thing” or “Death” or something. I know. We bonded over shared reading material and he seduced me in a San Francisco coffee shop with his critique of colonialism.
He told me that the way I walked into his coffee shop with my short skirts and enormous pitch black sunglasses to get free iced mochas – with the obvious and total conviction that I was hot shit – got him hard. He begged me to let him eat my ass in the stock room amidst all the hermetically sealed stacks of cups and bound bales of earth conscious brown napkins.
I said yes.
I’m a 250 pound woman, 5’5’’ with long black wavy-curly hair, olive skin, almond-shaped eyes. I’m half Mexican and half Iranian. My skin is soft, my lips have a pronounced cupid’s bow, and my manicure and pedicure always match.
I always say that my first introduction to radicalism was through sex. After being brainwashed between the ages of five and 18 into believing that my body was inferior (and, most heart breaking of all, that it was unsexy!) because I’m fat, you can imagine my shock when nearly every man I expressed interest in sexually reciprocated the feeling.
And for a long, long time that was enough.
Even though I met lovers and boyfriends who wanted more and who told me I was more, what I wanted was for my body to be desired and wanted, to be drool-inspiring, to stop traffic, to take people’s breath away. All the things that I was taught mattered. All the things I thought would make me complete.
Even though I’m smart, creative and funny, for a long time – like many fat girls who are top heavy – I thought my tits were what mattered most about me, the best thing I had to offer the world. They are big and round with perfect cleavage and seem to tick off on all the major criteria for pornographic boner worthiness. When I was 19 my boyfriend said that he loved my tits, but that they weren’t the hottest thing about me. After a decade of thoroughly entrenched boob supremacy, I started to believe him.
One morning in May, after a nine-hour romp with this fireman I’d been seeing for three months, who only left my bed because his balls were too sore (to which I feebly offered “put some neosporin on them.”), I stood in the mirror looking at my chubby face, applying some bright blue eye shadow, and I finally really realized something: that the sex scarcity isn’t real! Sex will always be something I can get (because I’m a woman in a patriarchal culture! And, yes, because I’m a hot fat girl) –  what else do I want?
I discovered that I wanted the following:
            1.       I want to sleep with people who inspire me!
2.       I want amazing, amazing orgasms that make me cry and scream and have deep realizations about the planets and freedom and shit!
3.       I want to ask for more when I want more and not settle for anything less!
4.       I want to have political conversations that lead to sex that lead to political conversations that lead to dessert sharing!
5.       I want to say “no” to hot dudes just because there are tons more hot dudes where they came from!
6.       I want dresses that look like fruit and I want someone else to buy them for me!
So, when a friend recently professed his feelings of desire for me (in the form of free styling an hour long poem at 11pm), it was clear he wanted me for my politics. Yes, yes, my body too. He wanted to hug me and squeeze me and be inside me, but my body was a vehicle for a bigger emotional experience – the experience of sleeping with a woman who loved herself and knew she was awesome. And I was ok with that – in fact, I was fucking hot for that. I decided to say “no” – even though I wanted him too – because it made me feel powerful and it reminded me that this jelly isn’t for everyone who wants a taste.
But I did feel like getting some belly petting and so I let him do that.
I’ve learned that my jiggly belly likes to be out. I show her off in crop tops and bikinis, in bright pink body con dresses and cheetah print pencil skirts. My belly is soft and textured with rivuleted stretch marks. It pokes out of dresses and lacy baby dolls.
It represents my politics, my hotness, my entitlement to the kind of pleasure I want, my refusal to bow down, the tender parts of me, a sacred battleground where I fight for ownership of my existence.  
And for me that’s what sex is all about.
Learn more about Virgie and buy her awesome book here: 
  
Virgie Tovar, MA is an author, activist and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012). She holds a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender. After teaching “Female Sexuality” at the University of California at Berkeley, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2005, she went onto host “The Virgie Show” (CBS Radio) in San Francisco. She is certified as a sex educator and was voted Best Sex Writer by the Bay Area Guardian in 2008 for her first book. Virgie has been featured by MTV, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Huffington Post, Bust Magazine, Jezebel, 7×7 Magazine, XOJane, and SF Weekly as well as on Women’s Entertainment Television and The Ricki Lake Show. She lives in San Francisco and offers workshops and lectures nationwide. Find her online at www.virgietovar.com

3 Stories That Will Make You Say, "WTF??"

Fat shaming can look like this:

Cue obnoxious 6th grader:   Boy says to girl, “You’re fat!  Na-na-na-booo-booo!”  He runs away. He secretly thinks the fat girl is cute but can never admit because we live in a patriarchal society that teaches us to abhor women who take up space.


Cue fat shaming victim:  Girl sobs. And then sobs more. She is humiliated and spends the next 20 years hating her body and going on diets so she can try to look like Kate Moss.  Epic fail.  (Insert shameless plug here) But then she starts reading my blog and website and slowly starts to love her self more and more.


Do you know the feeling?

Situations like these are not uncommon in school yards, but they’ve expanded to include all sorts of other arenas as well. I was reading up on some cases of fat shaming and came across some truly appalling examples.

Get this.  At the Borgato Casino in Atlantic City, female cocktail servers where subject to a policy prohibiting them from gaining 7% of their initial body weight.  The women allegedly faced mandatory weigh-ins and were told to take laxatives or stop taking prescription medicine in order to stay thin. To make matters worse, the judge ruling on the case said that it was a perfectly legal thing to do. He claims, “The Borgata Babe program has a sufficient level of trapping and adornments to render its participants akin to ‘sex objects’ to the Borgata’s patrons… Nevertheless, for the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person’s participation.” Um.  Wow.


Don’t get any bigger than this or you’re FIRED!!


I don’t know about you, but I used dread going to water parks.  I always felt like my body was being compared to those of thinner women around me, in skimpy swimsuits.  When I was a teenager I always wore a t-shirt over my swimsuit to cover what I thought were my gargantuan thighs.  Now I actually have gargantuan thighs and like them on most days.  But I digress.  Here’s the story…

Madelyn Sheaffer of Missouri lost 100 pounds and decided that she finally felt comfortable wearing a bikini–yay Madelyn!!  However, when she showed up to the Adventure Oasis Water Park, she was asked by employees to put on shorts because they said her bikini bottom was too small.  Sheaffer recounts, “I just felt like I was singled out… I felt like it was both age and body discrimination…There are 16- or 18-year-old girls wearing just the same amount and no one’s criticizing them or making them feel ashamed or feel uncomfortable in their bodies.”  My thoughts exactly.  The supervisor on duty told Madelyn to put on shorts or leave.  Our girl called the police to file a complaint.  At a girl!  But it doesn’t end there.  The police removed her from the park, saying, “the facility made the call and we rely on their judgment.” WTF is going on here?  I guess having fat and not having a model thin body is against the law now. And I thought Missouri was the “show me” state.  So much for that.  

This is Madelyn.  Not sure I get it, Missouri.

And then of course there’s that asshole psych professor, Geoffrey Miller from the University of New Mexico who just plain hates fat folks.  Did I mention he’s an asshole?  Oh, right.  He tweeted this: “Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.”   There has been a huge backlash against this prick. Unfortunately there is evidence to back up  the fact that graduate school candidates with a higher body mass index who did face-to-face interviews got into schools at a lower rate than applicants with a lower BMI or overweight candidates who had phone interviews.  I guess we’re back to the fat = dumb and lazy argument again.  


Yes. Yes you are Geoffrey Miller.


And so, what is the point of sharing all this?  Well, besides enlightening the hell out of you, I hope you’ll get angry and fight fat shaming when you see it happening.  Sometimes it’s subtle and at other times it’s right there in your face.  So whether you’re fat or not, stand up and do the right thing, because discrimination is ALWAYS wrong.


ciao for niao,
pia