“Now that she is fat, she serves no purpose.”

By | April 4, 2012


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Apparently Fat Betty Draper Francis is causing an uproar on the internets. I’ll have more thoughts on this once my eye-rolling muscles recover.

Did you see me on CNN this week? And then The Daily Mail? Kinda surreal seeing myself in the Fail sidebar. And for all of that, I only had two troll comments to delete here. HAVE I CONSIDERED DIET AND EXERCISE? Thanks to you both, y’all should join forces and start a TV show or something.

I’ll be at PAX East in Boston this weekend, and I know I say this all the time, but seriously: say hi. I’ve met so many awesome readers at past PAXs, but only because they said hi. YOU’RE AWESOME, AREN’T YOU? I know you are. So say hi, will you? Allow me the pleasure of your acquaintance.

I’ll probably be the fat one in a big poofy crinoline.

It’s sort of great that I can only say that about PAX and not have it be a particularly unique description.

I Know You Have a Little Life in You Yet: Ending Mass Effect 3

By | March 26, 2012


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I get a lot of comments about my writing making people cry. It used to happen here periodically, and it now happens on xoJane with an impressive regularity.

I’m never sure how to respond. Though I can honestly say that I never set out with that purpose in mind, I take this as the highest possible compliment to my work. I take it as such because it means I have made someone feel something, and is there anything so immediately resonant of the importance of human connection than being made to feel something — to the extent of being moved to tears — by another person? That is communication working. That is my invisible hand reaching out through the ether and touching yours. That is all of us feeling less alone.

I am not a frequent crier myself. It takes something enormous to make me cry, although once it happens the effect will often last for a day or two. The last thing I cried about with such untempered sorrow was the loss of Oberon, my excellent kitty soulmate of almost 14 years, and I cried over that for almost a week, with breaks for getting work done and leaving the house. The most recent thing, as of this weekend? A video game.

 

*****SPOILERS HENCEFORTH*****

Read more »

What’s THIS?

By | March 22, 2012


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Hey folks. It’s been awhile.

Obviously I’ve been elsewhere… since October. I’m vaguely embarrassed by this, as historically I’ve gotten peeved with bloggers I liked getting too busy to blog — and here I’ve received what can only be described as a well-deserved comeuppance.

If you’ve been following me on xoJane you’ll know I haven’t been idle, bringing the good news of self-acceptance, rampant fattery, and my unabashed weirditude to the wider population. (Can I just take a moment to note how nice it is to write a series of concepts like that and know that nobody’s going to steal my Oxford comma because this blog doesn’t fucking keep to fucking AP style? Ahhhh.)

Also, I have this book coming out. Have you heard about it? I need to put a thing in the sidebar that goes HEY BUY MY BOOK, WHICH COMES OUT ON APRIL 10, 2012. Amazing-but-true bit of trivia: they had to stop the presses, literally, when a last-minute blurb from Camryn Manheim came through. WILD, RIGHT?

Self-promotion has never been my strong suit; I do the tiniest amount and immediately assume I’m being way overbearing. But I’m also learning that a huge part of writing for a living is cultivating one’s fucking hustle.

Also also, I’m saying fuck a lot because I’m used to having curtail it. Fuuuuuck.

So. Until I get that sidebar business resolved, here are an enticing array of pre-order links:

 

If you’re in New York City, I will be in your area on April 17th and 18th! On the 17th I will be at Barnes & Noble Upper West Side with the excellent Diana Cage. On April 18th I will be at the legendary Bluestockings bookstore.

If you’re in Boston, you’re gonna give up your Friday night for me on April 20th, when I descend upon the Harvard Book Store, with a little help from Women, Action, & the Media.

If you live somewhere else, then tell me where and why you want me to show up there. I’m gonna try to make this shiz happen.

There will be other cosmetic changes around this joint — I’d like to get some damn cakes in the header — and I really do intend to get back to blogging on a regular basis, I just need to let go of my need to always turn everything into a meticulously researched two-thousand-word epic.

Anyway, how have you been?

Cheers,

Lesley

 

‘Round the Mulberry Bush: Kids, food, and the hierarchy of needs.

By | October 12, 2011


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Sesame Street has added a new muppet: Lily was introduced in an hour-long special entitled “Growing Hope Against Hunger”. Her purpose is to give kids in food-insecure households someone to relate to, as well as to draw attention to the issue.

…In the special, Lily is prompted to make a revelation when one of the more popular muppets — Elmo — remarks that he “didn’t know there were so many people who didn’t have the food they needed.”

Lily then confesses to him that she doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from and that times can be difficult.

Food insecurity is defined as the lack of a consistent access to food for active, healthy lives, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA says 14.5% of households were food insecure at least some time during 2010 and that 5.4% of households experienced very low food security the same year.

Obviously, current rates of food insecurity are a side effect of the economic climate and continued unemployment or underemployment, although obviously this is a problem for some families even when times are good for the majority of folks.

Read more »

Because what I needed was MORE DRESSES: A review of Nordstrom Rack

By | September 15, 2011


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When the opportunity arose to review Nordstrom Rack, I was a little dubious. To be honest, I didn’t actually know that they carried plus sizes. Turns out they do, and starting September 15, they’ll be carrying more of them in the store where they already exist, and adding plus sizes to 15 additional stores. Yay! See, I’ve gotten accustomed to all my favorite discount stores (who shall remain nameless) limiting or removing their plus size selection, as so many have done in recent years, so rather than get my hopes up, I tend to presume that I won’t find anything to fit me, and sometimes I get to be pleasantly surprised.

There’s little to recommend my local Nordstrom Rack as a destination insofar as decor is concerned; the space is purely practical. On arrival, I spent several minutes wandering the big open floor in confoundment, wondering, oh no, maybe they DON’T have plus sizes in this joint. Or maybe they do but there will be three things and I’ll hate them all.

I needn’t have worried. Once I located the plus racks — which are integrated within the store, and not hidden in a back corner as is typically the case — I spent half an hour picking out cardigans from the racks of separates before I even found the dresses.

Read more »

The last few weeks.

By | September 14, 2011


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Things happened.

I got a new job! After nearly ten years at my previous employer — which I now feel totally comfortable saying was Simmons College — the crazy kids over at xoJane.com seduced me away by offering me a job as an associate editor. After a lot of thinking and soul-searching, I accepted. My last day at Simmons was September 2, which feels strangely far away now.

In less cheerful news, on Monday of the same week, my kittycat companion of thirteen years embarked on his Viking funeral, having fought several cancers and other ailments valiantly for a year. He was fifteen, which is average for a cat, but it still seemed too soon. This loss was actually far more difficult than I expected, as he was not doing well by the end, but as always seemed to happen in these cases, he went downhill so gradually that it was only later I realized how sick he truly was.

Oberon, in younger/healthier days, lounges on the living room rug.

Oberon, in younger/healthier days, lounges on the living room rug.

So, between the loss of the cat I’ve had since the year I reached the legal drinking age, and the change from my job of a bazillion years to a new position in a new field working from home…. it’s been emotional. And whiplash-inducing.

While I’m writing lots of stuff at xoJane.com now, I also intend to return to regular (weekly, at least) posts here, since I’ll have time to do so again. Tomorrow there will be a review of Nordstrom Rack’s plus size department, plus a giveaway (thanks to the kind folks at BlogHer, which you may have noticed is now serving ads on this site).

I also intend to get back to posting missives from Your Beluga Best Friend, who I have to admit is quite cross with me for being so unavailable lately. Have you ever seen an angry beluga? It’s adorable.

That’s all for now.

Short Cuts: The good, the bad, and the to-be-determined

By | August 18, 2011


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I know, it’s like all I am doing lately is quick little article-debunkings. Soon, my pets, I will have time for blogging again. Like roughly two weeks from now. Ahem.

Let’s start with the bad. Today’s Boston Globe has an article about trying to tell our kids how fat they are. And how it’s, like, hard. For one, the parent in question is often the mom, who, being female and human, usually has her own raft of body issues, many of which she has probably modeled for her kid. That’s what we call a vicious cycle, friends. Mom inherits emotional issues with body size and food and eating from her mom, then passes same on to her own kids.

…When her child started gaining weight in high school, [Agnes] Mastropietro was torn between telling Michelle to put down the chips and keeping quiet for fear of hurting her or triggering an eating disorder.

[...]

In her case, Mastropietro said that when she did suggest that her daughter stop eating high-calorie food, her teenager played “the sensitive card’’ and started crying. “She’d say, ‘You’re supposed to love me the way I am.’ ’’

The sensitive card.

The sensitive card.

Read more »

Short Cuts: Kitchen Sink edition

By | August 8, 2011


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The title sign for my CSTI workshop, reading "It's Okay to be Fat!"Damn, y’all, how busy have I been? Really, really busy.

A weekend ago I collaborated with the amazing Nancy Haque to deliver a workshop on radical fattery for Western States Center’s Community Strategic Training Initiative. It was a pretty excellent time. The day-long workshop went surprisingly great — I am always astounded when people seem open to these ideas, and don’t fight me on them — and I got to explore a bit of Portland besides, although my impression is that Portland is probably a more compelling place when you have a handy local to show you around.

I spent the better part of Sunday at Powell’s epic store of books, the only real break being when I figured I’d better check out some other places downtown and walked to Fat Fancy, which was closed. I took this as a sign and returned to Powell’s for another couple of hours. Later, I ate a donut with bacon on it, because pretty much everyone was all “GO EAT THE BACON DONUT!” It was less life-changing than I might have hoped, but an interesting experience nonetheless.

What else? I was on NPR’s Morning Edition today, talking about fat characters on TV. This bit was recorded back in January, so I had to read the transcript to remember what I said. You can read (or listen) here. And, of course, there’s lots of new stuff from me on xoJane, including this post about street harassment, the comments to which are cuckoobananas in their awesomeness and their rage.

But enough about me. On to the most amusing links of the past month.

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Reprint: Why the world needs fat acceptance.

By | July 25, 2011


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Cover of Geez Magazine for summer 2010, showing the back of a fat person's torso.The following was originally printed in the Summer 2010 “Body Issue” of Geez Magazine, a Canadian publication dealing with progressive spirituality. I just learned last week that it actually won something: 1st place opinion piece in the Canadian Church Press awards. Wild, huh? Anyway, that reminded me that the full text of the piece never did make it online, so I’m reproducing it here. 

When I was in the sixth grade, there was a boy in my class who was continually trying to put his hand up my shorts.

It was like a compulsion. His desk was beside mine, in the very back of the classroom, so we were largely unsupervised most of the time. I’d be sitting at my desk and I’d feel someone touch my knee, or the bottom part of one thigh. At the time I was too young, or too naive, to know that I should report this to a teacher. I was however old enough to believe I was somehow at fault, and that his efforts to touch me were embarrassing, even shameful. I took to surreptitiously punching the boy whenever his hand inched toward me. He was small for his age, smaller than I, and why he chose to harass me in this way, I’ll never know.

One day, after many months of foiling his groping attempts, I was called on in class, and had to stand beside my desk to give my answer. As I began to speak, I sensed his hand creeping toward the hem of my shorts, and up my leg. In one smooth movement, ferociously intent on keeping this problem from becoming the public knowledge of the whole class, I stepped backward, crushing his hand between my considerable rear end and the edge of the desk. He cried out in pain, and only when the teacher inquired as to what was going on back there did I turn to look at him with a calculatedly blank stare.

He went to the nurse’s office; I believe he may have had a minor fracture. I occasionally wonder what he told them by way of explanation. At any rate, he didn’t try to touch me after that.

Read more »

Male games for male gamers: A case study

By | July 23, 2011


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Duke Nukem's jeans-clad crotch in closeup

It's dick-tacular!

Several of you have emailed me about this today, so here you go.

Some dudes are planning a LAN party in Austin, TX to coincide with the release of Battlefield 3. Pretty much every FPS gamer I know is super-psyched for this title, and honestly, the LAN party in question sounds pretty boss. Until you get to the section that originally said:

Are there other restrictions? Yes. Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts. Though we’ve done our best to avoid these situations in years past, we’ve certainly had our share of problems. As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.

Since it’s been picked up by some blogs, the text has been changed to describe the event simply as a “gentleman’s retreat”, with a link to this site, in an effort to either elicit hilarity (that said men are trying to be better people by playing Battlefield 3 together) or to earnestly reframe the male-exclusive space as a positive thing. There is also some weird drama in which possibly-imaginary female attendees describe harassment at prior LAN parties put on by this group that may have never happened.

Ultimately, the question of whether women have been egregiously harassed at past events — although it would seem to be implied by the original wording — is irrelevant to this post. All I want to unpack here is the original language in the original pre-drama announcement quoted above, because I think it demonstrates a lot of what is wrong with games culture in an especially clear way.

The encoded, indirect message behind that text is this:

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