Once again I am behind the curve with current events. I recently listened to a show interviewing a woman, Gabi, who writes a fashion blog, GabiFresh, for “curvy girls”.¬† In the interview Gaby was talking about her swim wear line of two piece bathing suits sizes 14 – 24 that are being called Fatkini’s. There is apparently a movement to reclaim the word fat.

Since I don’t post any pictures of myself on this blog, unless you know me, there is no way you could know that I am overweight. Plus-sized. A big girl. Zaftig. And all the other polite euphemisms. I do have a pretty face, good hair, and nice hands and feet. These are the bits that get oohed over when people are looking for ways to compliment.

I have been this way for a long time for reasons that, while complex, boil down to more calories in than calories out through exercising. Very simple.

Except its not. Fat people exist in a category of things its okay to hate along with Nazi’s and brussel sprouts.

Being overweight is seen as a moral failing on the part of the fat person without regard to psychological, genetic or economic factors. Reasons are no excuse. Prejudice against fat people is deeply ingrained in US society: fat people are lazy, fat people are stupid, fat people are unhealthy, fat people are unattractive, fat people are a drain on society. Fat people are worthless. And its okay to not like fat people, there are no repercussions like other prejudices.

Lazy, stupid and worthless are the three most common descriptors from a study of the weight bias that doctors who treat obesity exhibit. You read that right. The people supposedly treating patients who are overweight walk into the exam room with that attitude. You will have value once you are thin. But how thin?¬† “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Thank you Wallis Simpson.

We use the terms overweight, obese and morbidly obese as if they are static. They are not. The guidelines have been adjusted multiple times including in 1998 when the federal BMI guidelines changed and instantly 30 million people were suddenly overweight or obese. Hence the epidemic. But the numbers are really not the point of this post.

In our society being fat is one of the worst things that can happen you. That is the attitude. I think there is also a healthy dose of classism in there. Once upon a time being fat was external proof you were wealthy enough to eat rich food, now it is external proof you are too poor to eat healthy food.

Living as a fat person I can’t say I would ever wear a Fatkini. A bikini is not my style even if I were thin. We all have weird body issues that are mostly our own private hell, but when Gaby started wearing and selling Fatkinis suddenly her body became public debate. Does she have the right to wear it was the first stop on that train. Her “right” to swimwear seemingly comes with a societal obligation to be ashamed about how she looks.

Here is the curious thing. She’ll look just as fat if she’s in a one piece, two piece or wearing a tent, so what’s the objection really about? Lots of comments on the web articles were about people not wanting to look at how disgusting she is. Now there is an inherent viciousness in online comments, but the tone on several article threads was uniformly destructive. Again, since it’s okay to make fun of fat people, you can see how the commenter’s felt justified.

Being called fat is an insult. Being fat and happy is an affront. Not caring that you are fat is downright revolutionary. A feminist movement trying to counter “fat shaming” through self-acceptance will take some time to get a foothold here in the US but it is definitely something to watch.

In the meantime, I’m sure we can all do with a little self reflection about who and how we shame others. Or ourselves.fatkini

It is spring where I live which means there is snow on the ground and several more inches threatening this week. This time last year it was 80 degrees and sunny. Two weeks ago it was 65 degrees and sunny. Mother Nature is obviously menopausal.

As I drove my daughter to school she and the car pool kids were complaining about the weather because its almost spring break etc, etc, etc. I told them I remembered many an Easter Sunday with snow on the ground when I was a kid. Part of that is the magical liturgical calendar, which I am sure is calculated in a sub-basement of the Vatican using the phases of the moon and cast chicken bones, and part is global warming which causes the lake effect snow by us.

When I was a kid every Easter we would get a new dress, hat, gloves and Patten leather shoes for church. Invariably the dress was made out of some sheer material with cap sleeves guaranteed to leave you with goose bumps the whole day. Even the leg wear was thin – ankle socks with lace rather than tights.

My brothers on the other hand got a pair of dress pants, long sleeve button shirt, jacket and tie. They were warm, we were cold. And so began the lessons of women needing to suffer to look beautiful.

As I was relating the unfairness of the Easter clothing to my captive car pool audience I remembered the purse we would make in Girl Scouts every year. First we would spend several meetings crocheting a square. The square would then be made into a tube by lacing a piece of ribbon along two edges, with another ribbon laced through the top to create a drawstring. We would then cut images out of magazines and decoupage them them to plastic margarine tubs. Once the tub was sufficiently decorated and dry, we would punch holes around the edge and use another ribbon to lace the crocheted tube to the tub.

Found this on Etsy. Mine never looked this good.

Needless to say the kids in the car thought this was hilarious. I tried to explain that it was the 70’s and we decoupaged everything, but I guess you had to be there. I just found the instructions for Margarine Tub Purse in the 1972 edition of a “Polly’s Pointers” column. I was not the only one subjected to this craftiness!

This endless “craft project” produced what was now called a purse, intended to be used for church on Easter Sunday. A purse just big enough for some folded up Kleenex, some money for the collection plate, and a lip smacker. Bonne Bell Lip Smackers was a home town company and a big craze for a while. Originally they were as big as glue sticks & with a hook and a cord so you could wear it around your neck. Orange Crush, 7-Up and Strawberry were my favorites.

The smell of Spring.

I used to wear vintage hats once upon a time. I have a dozen hat boxes in the attic filled with impractical, whimsical creations that I take out and look at occasionally but have not worn in 15 years. My daughter and her friends will occasionally go through them, trying on and posing the way they do in the department stores before the saleslady gives them the fish eye.

Each and every hat was worn to one party or another back when I had a much funkier job (and freakier friends) than I do now. Black turtleneck, black skirt, black boots and dynamite hat and I was dressed to the nines. One or two hats could possibly make an appearance in the future, but mostly they are “too much” for our modern lifestyle. More subtle statements are the order of the day.

Summer is easier for hat wearing because even a flashy straw looks practical. Still, a woman wearing a hat, baseball caps and sun visors excluded, garners a certain level of attention that can only be attributed to the hat. And it doesn’t have to be Gaga-worthy or Sunday Church Lady fancy to convey “hatitude”. I think there must be something different in the way you walk when wearing a hat, or maybe society has gotten so far past the hat as accessory that it looks special.

The most common comment I get from women after they say that they love my hat is, “but I couldn’t carry it off”. I never have understood that phrase. I am a big believer in you can carry off whatever you want to wear if you act like you mean it. Just find the right hat and you are in business.

A side benefit is that men seem to flirt more when you are wearing a hat. I guess the hat says “look at me” and they do. Its an invitation to offer a compliment, engage in conversation. By the same token I do love a man in a nice brim. I hope the Mad Men craze hangs in there long enough to get men besides Tom Waits and movie stars wearing hats without team logos, messages or a kangaroo.

We could all use a little more hatitude. A little more personal power.

A current object of desire from one of my favorite¬† millinery’s – what do you think? In Lilac or Chiffon Yellow?

Not to start down the global warming/climate change road, but the snowy place I live in has had astoundingly fluctuating weather this winter. A 3-day winter weather advisory with wicked wind chill followed by 48 degrees and rain today.

The snow is gone and my seriously confused daffodils are poking up in the garden.

Walking in to work today I noticed two things: every ones spring flowers are confused and there is a distinct lack of umbrella etiquette on a college campus. Add in the fact that most of the students have earphones while they are texting and you get an occasional pile up at cross walks.

While this is a limited study in a specialized location, I think I have identified several umbrella “types”. Just like you can bet the Indian men will raise their umbrella above yours as they pass on the sidewalk, there are a couple of umbrella fashions you can always count on.

High Fashion: If there is a clear bubble umbrella walking toward you it will invariably be held by young Asian woman wearing high heels and carrying a Hello Kitty backpack. These students are incredibly well-dressed and make a bee line for the Management School.

Low Fashion: If there is an umbrella with a broken spoke, it will be carried by a scraggly art student whose too-long jeans hems are soaked black with muddy water. This umbrella is not to protect the person carrying it but an attempt to keep their portfolio and tackle box dry.

Piggy Fashion: Golf umbrellas that can cover three people are invariably carried by a single person talking on a cell phone. The air of entitlement does not end with the solo occupancy but extends to their indiscriminately bumping others umbrellas as they breeze along the sidewalk like the prow of a ship.

Practical Fashion: Compact and cheerful portable umbrellas are carried by nursing students. I know they are nursing students because they wear their scrubs tucked into their candy colored wellies, and they are always smiling and walking in packs. The dental students, who also wear scrubs, don’t smile or walk in groups. Don’t know why.

There are always assorted frat boys who wear only hoodies when it rains, and the freaky guys who think rain = warm weather and put on shorts and sandals. These are the students who will so generously share their viruses with the rest of the campus in a few weeks.

One sight that never gets old for me on a rainy day is the guy holding an umbrella over his girlfriend while his back gets all wet. I find this sweet and considerate. Sting just needed a golf umbrella and a nicer girlfriend in the ’80s.