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

Advertisements




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.





Thoughts on 2009 and Resolutions

13 01 2009

Wow, it’s been quite some time since I’ve written.  I was out of town for over two weeks for the Holiday season, so things were just hectic.  This is honestly one of the first days I have had where I can sit down and really write– I’ve been back for some time, but the apartment really needed a good once-over, and I am STILL catching up on dishes.  All the while, my blog has been at the back of my mind, with a few things I’d like to talk about.

I know that around the Fat Acceptance blogs, New Year’s Resolutions are not a popular concept.  I know that I can barely make it through January with a sound mind, what with all the weight loss ads.  It’s gotten to the point that I have not watched TV for the past two weeks.  For the most part, I find the resolutions many people make to be self-damaging and almost doomed to failure.  People pledge to lose ten pounds, or to eat only salads, or what have you– why?  Most of the time, it feels like, the reason is so they can be considered more attractive, or that losing those ten pounds will fix their lives.  Fueled with post-holiday overindulgence, they sulk in their leafy greens at the company lunch table, saying things like, “Oh, I was sooooo baaaad at Christmas!”

Why do we do this to ourselves?  If people (women especially) were not constantly denying themselves things or foods they loved, perhaps they would not go so incredibly overboard on the pumpkin pie.  Actually, even if they DO have three slices of pie, the world is not going to end.  It may be a common sentiment, but I really feel that women as a whole could contribute so much more were they not bogged down with the pressure to diet and have a svelte little physique.

This all brings me to my resolutions.  Yes, I make them and I think the right KINDS of resolutions are not harmful.  I think resolutions that will truly better your soul or health (and no, I don’t mean “UR FAT UR GON’ DIE” health) are a great thing.  As far as health and what I mean by that, n example would be a diabetic pledging to test their blood sugar regularly to better manage it.  People who pledge to donate time to charities are also making good resolutions.  My resolutions?  Well, they’re small ones.  I would love to be in a position where I could be taking the time to give to charity, but right now, I AM the charity, I think.  My first huge resolution is to find a job.  I have decided to redouble my efforts, overhaul my resume and go door-to-door if I have to.  It’s been just over five months since I’ve moved up here, and the outlook is still bleak.  I’ve been fighting depression about it– it’s been getting harder to even apply for jobs on the rare occasion I see them, because I feel like I’ll just get rejected.  I have resolved to not let this get me down, and to keep on keepin’ on.

My second resolution is somewhat related to the first.  I’m trying to take better care of myself.  I tend to get angry about a lot of small things, which is probably not too good for me.  I’ve never been able to figure out if getting angry about smaller things has been a decent way to vent my anger, and thus making me less angry overall, or if I’m just stressing myself out for no reason.  I have always been somewhat of an angry person.  I get pretty bad road rage at certain things, and I’ll generally swear if I drop something.  So, I’m going to make a conscious effort to control my anger more.  Deep breaths, you know.  I’ve also decided to finally bite the bullet and go back to the gym.  I think the lowered level of physical activity has made me more jumpy, and I find myself itching to go out and do something.  Lastly, I’m trying to eat more veggies and fruit.  That one should be obvious.  I’m very tired of almost completely depending on multivitamins.

So, here’s to 2009 being a good year for everyone.





How I feel this morning.

20 12 2008

People talk a lot about medical studies, the ridiculous OBESITY HYSTERIA, and bigoted people.  This morning, I’m just depressed.  It all culminated while I was flipping through October’s Martha Stewart Living magazine.  There is a full page ad for Boar’s Head meats, which are delicious, but…

Two thirds of the page is a picture of a child, having just taken a bite of a donut, complete with rapturous facial expression.  Below the photo is a short passage used to create a sense of unease in parent’s minds abut what their child is eating.

“Do You Really Know What Your Kids Had for Lunch Today?

Did your daughter trade her lunch money for junk before she got to school?  Of all the good choices available, did she manage to find a bad one?  Kids are great at that.  And with all the talk about obesity and type 2 Diabetes, you have every reason to be worried.”

Of course they use a female subject for the advertisement.  Of COURSE.  I am not being over-sensitive when I say women are the subject of severe scrutiny for their physicality from pretty much day one.  Boar’s Head’s other advertisements (I found a few on YouTube) feature a more diverse group of children, but this particular one just cut me to the bone.  It has a strong sense of paranoia in its marketing, and almost a “SAVE THE VIRTUE OF YOUR DAUGHTER” feel as well.  You know what?  I had donuts from time to time as a child.  That’s not why I’m fat.  Growing up, I was more active than most children are now.  I was on the swim team, I played outside for hours (all day in the summer), and I didn’t own a video game system until I was in 7th grade.  I wasn’t allowed to have one until then.  I was still fat.  I was still made fun of for being fat.  Though, looking back now, I don’t think the kids had a problem with me being fat so much as it was an easy thing to use as a tool for punishing someone different.

Anyway, this advertisement just makes me so tired.  I love my body and who I am, but to get up every day and go into a world where you are regarded as disgusting and irresponsible is exhausting sometimes.  To walk into the Gap to look for gifts for people, and to be greeted with, “I don’t think we have anything in your size” gets old.  I know these sentiments have been echoed in many a blog, but I don’t think I have ever uttered these things myself.  I have always kept it inside, for whatever reason, and finally, today, I am tired and sad.  To the majority of this nation, I will never be attractive.  I have never had a local date/relationship, ever.  Almost every guy I have met who has been interested in me has been in some remote area.  At this point, it is irrelevant as I am in a long term, concrete relationship (which has been local in that we live together for the last 3 1/2 months of the 12 we have been together), but is it shallow to want to be attractive to others?  It might be against the feminist or size acceptance creed, but it’s something I want.

I am tired of being considered unnatural and awful for what I am.  It’s an awful feeling that no human deserves.





Through the eyes of Ruby?

29 10 2008

Today, I was puttering around my usual internet haunts, and saw a discussion thread about a new show on the Style Network: Ruby. This woman is really quite beautiful, with an attractive smile and Southern twang to her voice. She’s also almost 500 pounds. Actually, I think it’s 487, but the TV spots say 500 for sensationalism. At first, I was almost happy– could it really be that there is a television show about the life of a fat woman? A show which illustrates the dimensions of her personality? Her daily struggles to fit into society like a thin person might? I kept reading. It turns out that this show is going to chronicle her “weight loss journey” to become, in her words, “skinny.” Is it so much to ask that we could have a fat woman be the center of a television show who is NOT trying to lose weight? Showcasing a secure, self-loving fat woman (or man) in a lead or romantic role (especially with a thin partner) will always be “controversial” until someone bites the bullet and just produces something. Unfortunately, I am barring independent films from what I’m saying– as well as they may mean, independent films simply are not going to reach the masses of the world like a major production might.

I went to the official website for this show (link above), and started watching the previews and nosing around. Even if the main plot centers around her weight loss, should the show bring light to her inner workings and struggles, the show would do some good. The videos were hard to watch, and the “Getting Healthy” and “Living Large” were problematic in places as well.

Starting off with the videos: all three I watched featured that cheesy, piano-y, “inspirational” music. Not only does this set the stage for an ugly ducking-to-swan-like story, but it also creates a sense of pity for Ruby. She’s shown as being quite active, though– there are clips of her dancing and going to the gym, and also walking her dogs. Ruby’s voice is played over the music, saying various things that, frankly, made me very sad.

“I want someone to tell me I’m beautiful.”

“I can’t even cross my legs.”

“He said, ‘I want to marry you, all you have to do is lose weight.’

The first quote is depressing. Surely, many fat people have felt this way. Perhaps I am fortunate to have found the communities I’m involved in at such an early age (I became involved in the SA/FA movement at 15), but Ruby appears to be at least in her 30s. Has no one told her she’s beautiful? If that is the case, it’s incredibly saddening. She IS beautiful. I’m envious of her looks and smile, even just from the images I’ve seen of her just now. As for the second quote, well, a lot of people can’t cross their legs. I know I can’t, and I never could. Even when I was very young and on the swim team (and pretty skinny, looking back), I could never cross my legs. My leg muscles were too developed. Assuming I got down to a “normal” BMI, odds are I would still be unable. I know a lot of people who are not ever going to be able to cross their legs. It’s a shame that this action has become a symbol of femininity, when, much like other symbols, it’s unattainable for some/many/the majority of women.

Of all three quotes, though, the last is the worst. Ruby talks about a man who wanted to marry her. He tells her he will if she loses weight, and eventually leaves her. She says, in the video, that she realized she really loved him after he left, and that if she couldn’t lose weight for him/true love, then something really MUST be wrong with her. This really highlights the critical issues with females, the media and what we do to ourselves. Something is wrong with YOU because someone ELSE could not accept and love YOU for YOU? How is that your fault? Moreover, how could you love someone who would leave you because you were unwilling to change yourself? Women do this to themselves far more than men. Where are the women who are brave enough to realize that the fault does not lie with them? It would be wonderful to see women who don’t succumb to the guilt society heaps on this gender. At any rate, it becomes obvious Ruby has some self-confidence issues through this segment.

The “Getting Healthy” section also shows problems. I’ll start by saying I’m not in any way against weight loss: people need to own their bodies and be responsible and healthy. However, this is not tied to weight alone. This section focuses pretty much only on fat loss, though. “Setting Goals” talks on and on about setting “realistic” ten-pound goals. It’s really a shame. There was nothing to be found about other types of goals: jogging for an hour without stopping, being able to scale four flights of stairs without getting winded– things that show improved cardiac health. The video clips had cleverly placed sound bites of doctors telling Ruby that she was headed for strokes, loss of vision, loss of leg function, etc. Nothing had been said about her having or being pre-Diabetes, so I infer that she’s getting the usual no-no speech from a practitioner. Of course, that won’t really be known for sure until the show is aired. The only part of the dieting section that I was impressed with was the five-week sample menu that Ruby is supposedly consuming. I actually got hungry reading some of the items! Unfortunately, it’s pre-packaged food from a Jenny Craig-like diet center. Personally, I’d rather cook the stuff myself. A lot of it would be amazing when freshly prepared.

All and all, the show makes me nervous. I want to think it will do some good– maybe show people that being fat is not quite the horror many make it out to be. Will Ruby have difficulty losing weight? It does say in her “About Me” that she has been fat as long as she can remember. And I guess, if it came down to it, I’d rather see this than MTV’s Model Makers.