An Open Letter To Lane Bryant

21 08 2012

Dear Lane Bryant:

I could be writing this to Charming Shoppes as a whole, I could also write a letter to Old Navy, or even Torrid.  I have many things to say to all of them, as well as the seemingly endless list of stores that carry 00-14, 00-20, 00-whatever arbitrary size they choose to end at (as long as it’s a straight size.  Don’t need no fats coming into their ~beautiful store~), but the bottom line is no one is as backhandedly spiteful to the fat chicks as you, Lane Bryant.

I’ve been wearing your clothing since I was eight.  I’m 28 now.  I don’t know that your halls ever housed a bastion of delicious style that women were scrambling to purchase, though there were a few times when some nice items could be unearthed.  No matter how many people have contacted you to complain about the fact one 26/28 is stocked per style, no matter how vast the sea of 14/16s and 18/20s became on your inevitable clearance racks, you have not changed; your quiet defiance saying more about your true feelings towards fat women than your “real woman” ad campaigns ever could or would.

All of that has been said before, said well, and said by people better than me.  The real complaint, for me, right now, has to do with what I saw when I went into your Niagara Falls Boulevard location last night.  I saw a teal-and-navy chevron dress with a front-to-back bias cut.  I was taken aback— I was not expecting to see something I’d like so much.  I tried it on, and it fit well, which is another thing that I never would have thought.  The material was a light jersey, very similar to what Old Navy would peddle on their website.  I tried a few dolman-sleeve sweaters for work as well.  Everything was similar cut and fabric quality to Old Navy.  There’s not really a problem with that— Old Navy is relatively cheap material, but it’s affordable.

So, what’s my problem?  The price for the dress was 79.95, and the sweater I’d thought about buying was 54.95.  That is ridiculous.  Before you even factor in New York’s sales tax, it’s about 135.00.  For two items.  Two items of dubious quality, no less.  I had seen a “Reebok for Lane Bryant” or whatever athletic top as well, but before even trying it on, I checked the price.  59.95.  Now, I can’t speak for others, but I would say I make a solidly middle-class wage, and for me, that is flat-out unaffordable.

Let’s play a game for a moment here.  Let’s pretend Lane Bryant does not actually hate its clientele.  Let’s pretend everything the media has to say about fat people is true.  I’m not talking about health issues so much as socioeconomic issues.  If fat people are truly lower on the money ladder, why is it that you choose to take sub-par clothing and price it on a much higher scale?  The argument that there is a much smaller market, so the profit has to be higher per unit is bull.  After all, according to the media, the number of fat people is just exploding.

My entire point of this now lengthy ramble is that I am sick of having prices hiked up simply because the company knows its customers do not have many other choices.  I would absolutely love to shop at places other than Old Navy online, Lane Bryant, Avenue and so on. I don’t have a choice, though.  I don’t know how else to get the attention of Charming Shoppes/Lane Bryant— Lord knows the emailing hasn’t done a thing.  I honestly hope that people will see this and talk about it.

Sincerely,

A Super-Annoyed Fat Chick

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Acceptance Through Salad

10 01 2011

I feel strongly that women (and all size activists, really) should stick together, because unity will take us further than anything else in this world.  I say this because I am about to critique a blog entry I found in the Notes from the Fatosphere blog feed.  Everything I say is said with respect, as there are points I simply must raise.  Some of them have just been overlooked by the author, whereas some I feel are overlooked by the Fatosphere as a whole.  I can be overly idealistic when it comes to acceptance, too, I think, so take that grain of salt as you read.

While catching up on the Fatosphere blog feed this morning, I found an entry from over at Big Liberty called “We Do Not Revel In Fat.”  I am on the Fat Liberation blog feed.  I love this blog feed.  I love that it was started by fat libertarians, of which I am one (a fat libertarian, not a founder of the blog feed).  I don’t think I even asked to be on it, I just…showed up one day, and I am honored someone wanted to put my crap on a feed.  ANYWAY, back to this entry…

Upon reading “We Do Not Revel In Fat,” I felt a sense of unease creeping over my brain.  I could not figure out why, initially, but after turning it over a few times, it came to me: I feel that it separates the “Good Fatty” from the “Bad Fatty.”  For those readers who are familiar with SA blogging, these terms most likely need no explanation.  For those of you who clicked this from my Facebook (thanks!), I’ll briefly explain.  The “Good Fatty” is the fat person who is fat in spite of their active lifestyle and food pyramid-following ways.  The “Bad Fatty” is the one who, as Glenn Beck put it, “let their thighs grow into the couch.”  Man, did that little clip piss me off– that’s another can of worms, though.  It seems to me that the “I’ll be a Good Fatty!” mentality is a stop that many SA’ers make on their travels to body and/or fat acceptance.  I don’t dispute that many fat people fall more into the “Good Fatty” category than the “Bad Fatty.”  That is not my point here, though.

“We Do Not Revel In Fat” makes a series of blanket statements about the habits, diets and mental states of people who are…fat.  The author makes the assumption that all (via blanket statement) fat people or SA’ers do not choose to be fat, do not choose foods high in refined sugar, do not have food addictions, what have you.  I have issue with this.  There are people who choose to be fat.  There are people who eat a diet high in refined sugar, and in some cases, actually shun healthier foods.  There are fat people with food addictions.  On a less healthy and functional level, there are fat people who reject thinner people.  Why am I saying all this?  Because I think part of Size Acceptance means including these people.

To me, Size Acceptance is people getting respect and equal treatment regardless of weight and whatever personal choices that person may or may not make regarding their weight.  I feel like that last part is sometimes forgotten by SA bloggers.  Concepts like feederism, or people who wilfully eat unhealthy foods I have seen oft chastised by SA bloggers.  I have news for you, Size Acceptance: society sees a fat person eating a salad and a fat person drinking gravy from a can as the same exact thing, and will discriminate against them equally.  Well, the fat person eating the salad might get a bundle of sympathy clucks from other people, but the pity, disgust and discrimination will still be present.

Do I agree with it when I see a fat woman write a lesser-fat woman’s experience off because she can buy clothing off the rack?  Absolutely not.  As I stated in my first paragraph, I have a strong belief in unity bringing strength.  I guess my point is, ultimately, that going to the gym or playing video games for 14 hours straight does not make it any more or less okay to be fat, so we should we separate the two?  In every group, there will always be those who smash stereotypes as well as those who perpetuate them.  We should not villify those who perpetuate stereotypes– that will detract energy from what we all actually want, which I thought was acceptance and respect.

As for me?  I’m probably like most people, I fall somewhere between “Good” and “Bad” on the fatty scale.  I really don’t spend too much time worrying about it.





Barbies!

8 01 2011

I’m not going to write a post about Barbie and how damaging she could be– it’s been done approximatwly seven trillion times.  I will, however, say this: has Mattel made Barbie thinner?  I was reading a completely SA-unrelated blog the other day, where I saw a photo of a Barbie in a plastic car with what looked like a Disney Little Mermaid doll.  Her arm looked eerily similar to Isabelle Caro’s:

I cropped the image and added an image of Miss Caro’s arm for comparison.  Now, Barbie has never been anything but impossibly thin, but this seems ridiculous to me.  I haven’t rooted out any of my Barbies from the 80s to compare, but I clearly do not recall any concave places on the arms of my dolls.

We’ve thinned and sexualized Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake.  Cookie Monster eats vegetables.  Santa himself has gone on a diet.  Where does this end?  How far are we going to take this?





A food rant.

6 01 2011

Every time the obesity epidemic (media’s words, not mine) comes up, there will be at least one person claiming fast food is the real, ultimate villain, making everyone’s BMI shoot sky-high.  “Why, if it weren’t for the fact that fast food is just so much cheaper than fresh produce, poor/middle-class people would be so much healthier!”  This seems to be a popular way to rationalize higher average weights in lower-income social brackets.  Terms like “food deserts” get tossed around in a bunch of high horse bloviating that financially comfortable people seem to excel at. (On a side note, “food desert” makes me lol.  I think of the Family Guy episode where Stewie and Brian are in the desert and they see the soda machine mirage.  Also makes me think of a Tiny Tim-esque little kid on the corner in New York City screaming, “HELP!  HELP!  I CAN’T FIND ANY BANANAS!”)

So, this attitude has always bothered me.  For the past two and a half years, I lived on a very tight budget.  My income was under nine grand a year, and a shocking portion of that went to my monthly rent.  My food budget was very low, so I was forced to be mindful of prices on everything I bought.  What did I find during my time of highly controlled spending?  I found that produce is far and away cheaper than meals at McDonald’s. That’s right, getting a burger at Wendy’s was a treat for me.  I can tell you the prices on foods I liked to have when I went to these places: a Mcdonald’s 10-piece nugget combo is 5.79, before meal tax and/or sales tax.  A 1/4 lb. single combo at Wendy’s is 5.69.  At Burger King, I’d get a two cheeseburger value meal (no cheese, please), and after tax and student discount, that was 5.24.  I would finagle the people to give me my boyfriend at the time’s 10% student discount.  Fifty cent actually made a difference for me.  Even value menu ordering is somewhat expensive.  True, a McD’s 10-piece nuggets is 3.69 while three 4-piece orders is just three bucks, but once you factor in a soda and some fries (or the admittedly delicious apple dippers), it’s still going to run you quite a bit.  5.50 for one meal is quite expensive.

To further my point, I pulled up this week’s Wegmans (a Western NY-based upscale supermarket) flyer for my area.  Let’s see what’s on special!

  • 8 lb. (!) Club Pack Navel Oranges, 4.99
  • 5 lb. bag Florida Grapefruit, 2.99
  • 8 lb. (!) Club Pack Apples, 5.99
  • 3-pk. Cucumbers, 3.99
  • 6 pk. Wegmans-brand whole wheat english muffins, 2.69
  • Club Packs 80/20 Ground Beef, 2.49/lb.
  • Club Packs 90/10 (ooh, lean!) Ground Beef, 1.99/lb.
  • Wegmans-brand in-pkg steamable frozen veggies, 16 oz., .99
  • Wegmans-brand fruit on the bottom low-fat yogurts, .40/ea

Some of those prices may seem high at first glance, but when you think about how many apples eight pounds actually is, it’s dirt cheap.  “Club Pack” is basically a family pack– I believe 3+ pounds.  Ground beef is excellent for freezing in small packages.  My mom, my boyfriend and I will sometimes brown two pounds of beef for tacos, and we almost always have enough left after taco night for a complete second meal.  We buy the 90/10, so at 1.99/lb., that’s about 67 cents per person.  I abosolutely love the steam-in-package veggies, too.  We’re big vegetable eaters, so we’ll go through a pound package in a meal, but that’s only 33 cents per person.  So even with the beef and the veg, the tally’s only at a buck per person.

I enjoy the occasional fast food meal, but one cannot deny that what I just described beats the pants off of McD’s in both price and flavor.  So why is it, then, that people constantly claim fast food is a cheaper alternative?  I will admit that I don’t know what other parts of the nation pay for their groceries.  I know that, at times, in Maine, it could get pretty pricey (especially the meat and milk).  Even at the highest price point, though, it was still noticeably cheaper than grabbing a burger somewhere.

And through all my delicious (and oft low-fat/carb) meals, I am still fat.  When I moved from Western New York to Maine, my eating habits drastically improved, due to my limited income, and yet I lost no noticeable poundage.  So, media, chew on THAT.  I had less money, so I ate better, AND I lost no weight for doing it.

For a myriad of reasons, the family sitting down to a meal together is mostly a thing of the past in the States.  People don’t buy McDonald’s for their kids because it’s cheaper, they buy it because it’s all they have the time or energy to do after their longer-than-average work day, or in between jobs.  Maybe they don’t care about their kids.  Maybe they care immensely about their kids, and their kids are begging them for a Big Mac.  There is no one answer as to why people give their kids fast food.  I don’t even really find it to be all that much of a travesty that people feed their offspring fast food.  I do think that we should be honest, though, when we complain about all of this stuff.

Cooking at home is cheaper than fast food.  Sitting down to a meal as a unit can have positive effects (not talking about weight here at all).  If people are going to complain, can’t they at least complain about it in the right way?





“It’s not okay to be fat.”

6 01 2011

I got out of bed to write this.

I haven’t written here in a while, my life has been upside down in all kinds of ways and I just have not had it in me to write about anything lately.  There has been something that’s been eating at me all the while, though.  I’m sure, by the title of this, you know what I’ll be discussing.

On the rare occasion media attention is given to anything weight-neutral (or even, dare I say, size-positive?), one will, without fail, encounter a comment from a reader/viewer that expresses “worry” that anything less than staggeringly negative protrayal of fat people in the media will lead the unwashed masses to believe that it’s okay to be fat. If this sentiment does not come from a reader/viewer, it will most likely come from the article/news clip/media bit itself.  If it’s not TLC’s BRITAIN’S FATTEST MAN in which we witness an impossibly large person simpering and sobbing for their very life, somehow this will lead the sheep that we all are into donut-plaqued oblivion.  Fat kills, I’m sure you’ve noticed.  How anyone above 300 pounds has not yet dropped dead is beyond our entire medical profession, it seems.  If we have a show like Mike and Molly (which I do not care for), eventually we’ll wake up to our five-year-olds in scooters.

Naturally, when it is spelled out in such a fashion, these notions look ridiculous.  They are ridiculous.  The reality is that having a fat person or two on television might actually be an okay thing, and it might not have an effect on our society.  Ultimately though, this is not my point.  My point is this whole validity of being fat thing.

I don’t care if being fat is okay or not.

I’m sure this is not what you expected me to say.  “This girl blogs about size psitivity and size acceptance!  How can she say she doesn’t care if it’s okay to be fat?!”  It’s a simple thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s okay to be fat or not. The reality is, people are fat, just like people are gay, straight, and are of various races and ethnicities.  It is foolish not to accept reality.  It doesn’t matter what you think of a fat person– be they the “good” fatty, who can fit into pants at Lane Bryant and eats according to the food pyramid or be they the “bad” fatty, who has to use a scooter because they chose to gain weight to the point of impaired mobility.  These people exist.  Are we really a society that will shun people based on something like this?  I ask this, but I’m not sure I want to know the answer.  Once upon a time, women could not vote.  Once upon a time, black people had to use separate water fountains.  Once upon a time, an interracial couple could not get married.  We’re still working out the whole gay thing.

You don’t hear people say “it’s not okay to be Hispanic.” Well, maybe you do, but I surely do not spend my time talking to racists.  I’d like to think that, for the most part, people who would say that are considered the dregs of society now.  So, if people who would say that are on the lower rungs of our lot, then why on God’s green Earth would it be okay to tell someone it’s not okay that they are fat?  It’s not any less hateful than discrediting someone due to the color of their skin.  If you sit back and think about it, how many people would put themselves through this scrutiny willingly, if all these oh-so-great diet plans work?  Man, if the only thing standing between me and acceptance was a few months at Jenny Craig, don’t you think I’d have done that by now?

When I worked for the Census Bureau in Maine, our local office mantra was “it is what it is.”  Reality might not always be a savory thing to come to terms with, but it is what it is.  Fat people are here, just as we always have been and always will be, barring some kind of government-sanctioned mandatory barriatric surgery.

If that happens, I’m buying an island and making the sovereign nation of Joeyonia with my cat.

Disclaimer: I’m somewhat groggy, so if my point is muddled, please excuse.  This has been ping-ponging around in my head for what has probably been months now.





A Vignette

18 09 2009

Yesterday I stopped, as I usually do, at the Wendy’s in Augusta, near campus.  Class gets out at 6:45, and it makes more sense to have dinner BEFORE the drive back to Bangor, rather than ravenously devouring a Pop Tart or something ridiculous just past 8pm.  I always go in, because the staff generally isn’t used to someone wanting a Completely Plain Double Stack Yes That’s Right No Cheese.

So, anyway, I’m in there waiting for my food, and the slightly chunky young man who was operating the fryer was chatting to everyone.  The restaurant was pretty dead, seeing as Augusta shuts down at roughly 4:45.  He says, “You guys.  My doctor was SO mean to me.  He goes, ‘You’re fat.  You need your cholesterol checked.’ Just like that!  How rude is that?!”  So, I smirk and say, “Did you have it checked?”

“No…but he wants me to.”

I said, “Go ahead, do it.  Doctors do the same to me, but mine is normal, even low.  It shocks them!  If yours is in the normal range, he’ll be wrong and you can rub it in his face!”

He flashes this bring grin at me, and EVERYONE up front starts laughing appreciatively.  “Yeah, I think I’ll do that,” he replied.

I left in a pretty good mood.





Bullying.

21 08 2009

Simple title for a simple subject.

This post was inspired by this post and its subsequent comments.  I wanted to share my story and opinions.

Is it, though?  Bullying should be open-and-shut, something school/after school program/daycare officials should shut down when they see it happen, or are informed of it happening.  In my experience, however, it never was.  Not one principal, vice principal, teacher, or councelor ever did anything about it.

(Commence navel-gazing autobiography!)

I guess I’ve always been different.  Growing up, raised by a fiercely (to me) independent, intellectual and successful single mother who actually took the time to rear me, I saw the world in a different light than most of my peers.  This translated to me dressing differently, acting differently and getting along well with people older than me, as well as adults.  I guess I also was a little off, socially.  I didn’t (and still don’t) pick up social cues too well, but excel in other departments.  In second grade, I was reading long “chapter books” when other kids were bumbling through The Cat in the Hat.  So, I had that working against me, but it wasn’t something immediately detectable.

I was big.  Not really fat (I surely was not skinny, though), but big.  I was always off the height and weight charts for my age, and by quite a bit.  I was the first person in my year (and the year ahead of me) to hit five feet, I needed a bra at nine, and I had to start buying clothing at misses’ stores at seven (and then Lane Bryant at nine).  I also had hard to fit feet, so I wore penny loafers instead of childrens’ sneakers.

So, I was a sitting duck for the usual things children tease about.  From second grade to fourth, it wasn’t that bad, and I would consider it within the realm of typical playground bullying or teasing.  Nothing physical, just kids on my case.  It hurt, but I guess it all does.  I could still exist within the social construct of elementary school without being too miserable.

When I got a little older, though, things really kind of went downhill.  Puberty came quite early for me, ten or so, and with puberty came weight.  I gained 50 pounds when I was ten (almost eleven), definitely moving me into the “chubby/fat” category.  This is when it got hairy.  I started to become ostracized by my peers, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world had I become invisible along with being shunned.  I didn’t, though.  I became sort of a scapegoat.  It didn’t help that I had recently moved from Ohio to Massachusetts.  I was an outsider in my classes, and as far as the other students were concerned, it didn’t matter if I was from Ohio or Iowa (one of the things they just couldn’t seem to get right.  I kind of laugh about that now).

In the interest of keeping this entry shorter than 10,000 pages, I’ll cut to the chase.  A number of things happened to me while growing up– 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade were really minefields.  I had large rocks hurled at me and my face, I was assaulted, a lab stool was thrown at me, hitting my knee and injuring me, and groups of kids would surround me and heckle, pinch and prod me until I left school and walked home in the middle of the day, without my backpack.  The last one happened several times.

Now, why didn’t I go to the principal’s office, you ask?

Because they wouldn’t do anything.  If anything, I’d get in trouble for walking out of class.  The infuriating part of this, for me, is that no one would help me.  Even if my mother came in to see them, the school officials would brush it off as “kids being kids,” and send us on our way.  When I would act out as a result of the bullying (I stole some things a few times), I got detention.  Now, I don’t refute the fact that I did someting deserving of punishment, but not once did anyone ever try to figure out why I was doing what I did.  When I would repeatedly come to the principal about the bullying, nothing was ever done.

To this day, I still become angered to see kids getting bullied.  When something happens that it goes to court (like the link talks about), and people are STILL hiding behind the old “kids will be kids” addage, I wonder, “WHAT does it take?”  It is no different then “boys will be boys” to justify rape.  Why is “kids will be kids” still an acceptable dismissal?  Bullying is an incredibly damaging thing, and is far and away different from “teasing.”  I still am working through the effects of some of the stuff that happened to me.  There have been people bullied worse than me, and I have to wonder what their adult lives are like.  Why can we not take this seriously?  How many kids have to become irreparably damaged before this is considered a real problem?

I’m sure this case with the anorexic girl will end up losing, but I hope it won’t.  I don’t know if bullying GAVE her the disease, but I’m sure it helped her along summarily.  I hope the case is taken seriously.