The Joy of Un-Stereotypical

There are many things that are frustrating about being fat in society, and I do not mean to downplay any of that.  However,  I try to be a “glass half full” kind of person so today I thought I would take a (slightly tongue-in-cheek) look at some of the benefits of living outside the beauty norm.

I’m not scared of losing my thin privilege or that aging will take me outside the beauty norm because I’m already there.

I never have to worry about wearing the latest in designer styles because they don’t make them in my size.

I never have to worry that someone is only dating me/hiring me etc. because I am stereotypically beautiful.

There is a little added bonus to my accomplishments because I did it despite being outside the norm.

I get to be part of the NAAFA-LA chapter (ok, I could do that at any size but if I was thin I might never have found them and they are just so awesome that I had to mention them)

If someone is interested in dating me, I already know that there is a good chance that they have the ability to think beyond what they are aggressively sold in our culture.

My body size is so far outside the beauty norm that I feel freer to make decisions based on what I like or want rather than what is “expected” or “in style”.  (I think nude pumps are hideous so I don’t care if they “in”, I’m out!)

Since I stopped dieting I have so much more brain space to think about other things.

I’m not terrified of becoming fat or obsessed with becoming thin so I can love the body I have and make health decisions completely based on my health.

I’m sure that there are others, as always feel free to leave them in the comments.  And may I suggest taking today to be thankful to your body for all of the amazing things that it does for you (blinking, breathing, smiling…)

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Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 11:03 am  Comments (45)  

45 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hehe! I too do not find nude pumps aesthetically delightful!

  2. How about getting the opportunity to shock and educate people in ways outside of our culturally accepted norms by walking around healthy and proud in a big body: in and of itself it’s a revolutionary act.

    • Hell to the yeah!

      ________________________________

      • I second that! You GO Girl!

  3. Gosh, I was just thinking something similar this morning. I love being tall, and I wanted to make a list of things I love about being fat and fat-accepting. Rather than a list of specific things, I found that mainly I am not afraid.
    When I was thin I was afraid of everything: afraid of being fat, afraid of remembering my chubby childhood, afraid of clothes not fitting, afraid of people, afraid of standing out, afraid of not fitting in, afraid of not being perfect. I had no confidence because all my self worth was wrapped up in my weight and clothes size. I’ve come a long way since those days and I never want to go back to that fear.

  4. I didn’t have to worry having my children would “ruin” my body..in fact, I could appreciate my body more post baby. But I do like some nude pumps!

    • Right! I am 8 months pregnant and feel far from ruined! ;) And I think I will be much more accepting of how ever my body turns out after the baby comes (and a huge thanks to this blog for that!) And I only wear pumps if I get to just sit and look pretty in them, hehehe.

  5. You know it’s sort of interesting you happened to make this list today. I have to struggle with being an AVM Survivor (AKA back to back brain surgeries) and I was just told by my Dr Yesterday that I was an anomaly. Most people who have that done do NOT have a quality of life. I still do artwork, Dance, I’m engaged and to be married in October, I Teach workshops AND am being contacted BECAUSE of my size in the belly dance community. TO Change the whole “Thin is in” thing in the dance community right now.
    Having had and survived Brain Surgery, Heck 2 of them and coming out the other side fairly unscathed which like hardly EVER happens. I got my priorities straight. I Try and Live life to the Fullest because I know I am lucky to even HAVE a quality of life. TO be ABLE to do the things that make me happy like my Belly dancing and such.

    SO my list has a lot of the same stuff yours does..Not having to care about the latest fashions..but goes a step further, the cute little costumes and such that are not only not in my size but the size chart they have, good lord I don;t even know who CAN wear them. SO I make my OWN costumes and they can look however I want, and I can make NEW styles. It’s awesome!

    I don;t have to worry about fitting in ANY social norms because I am damned lucky to be alive..what;s a bit of fat compared to ya know..being dead.

    My outlook helps others who are afraid to try dancing and such, because they say “hey if the fat girl can do it and be successful, I can to! I look like her!” and if the thin girls give me the stink eye, then that’s their bad, they learn when they take my workshops and they are gasping for breath and I am doing JUST fine.

    I can eat WHATEVER I WANT and I don’t feel guilty. We can go to this AWESOME Ice cream place that has some AMAZING home made had churned ice cream in almost every flavor imaginable (including like popcorn flavor and such) And get it in a home made waffle cone and just sit and enjoy…which I do.

    Living outside the social norms in size, car color (my car is florescent electric green) in style (I wear what I want and what is comfortable) in body art(I have visible tattoos that are NOT small) And in my hobbies (it;s kinda funny when people think “belly dancer” means “Stripper” and I get the look up and down like “how the heck did YOU get hired..are you double jointed or something”) It;s just freer doing what I want and not giving a crap what people think. I’m not hurting anyone. I know I am strong and live a HAES Lifestyle. So if someone is bothered they can come up and say something..but for some reason they never do.

    I wish everyone could live the lives they want, not just in sizer but in EVERY aspect. Live openly and freely with no fear. Who knows if more people started living a fearless life then maybe it would became the new thing and we could all live in harmony :)
    Tis nice to dream.

    • To dream is the start of reality and it sounds like you have a great reality! Thanks for giving me more great feelings to start my weekend!

      • Thank YOU. I just try and make the best of what I have. And never stop reaching for the stars. It;s hard sometimes..I get brought down and sometimes I can;t see the stars but in my heart I know they are there. My reality is based on overcoming a TREMENDOUS amount of adversity and just wrong place wrong times situations I have had to endure. And when you have something like brain surgery..it makes you look at life differently. I now try new foods and different things where I would have hesitated in the past.. because it;s like “Well I had 2 brain surgeries..what;s a 100% vegan shake gonna hurt? SO what if it;s a bluish green color and has some odd stuff in it? It’s not gonna kill me?” so I try new things without fear and lemmie tell ya, that is the most freeing thing of all. Being Fearless.

    • Lyssa, you also have the ability to be considered AMAZING and a role model by other folks like me!

      • Aww thank you! I don;t know if I will ever stop being amazed that people would think of me as a role model.
        It’s so odd, Like I get slammed just as much as anyone else who is out there and is different, weather it be from my weight or my adversity being a person who has had brain surgery. And I just do what I do. I take after my role model my grandmother, who was a child prodigy and played the piano, but when she got divorced and had to raise 7 kids by herself, you bet your bottom dollar she was working at McD’s to make ends meet.She eventually was able to get back to her life’s dream as her kids got older and eventually DID become a large part of the Music community. But she knew where the priorities were and never let the hard times get her down. I just follow the Philosophy..If your dreams aren’t worth fighting for, then what is? We do what we have to do to reach for the stars. And I do have people telling me that I am an inspiration, and it feels odd sometimes because I just think I am doing my normal thing. But I appreciate it, and I accept the responsibility that comes with being a role model. It’s an interesting thing really. But I am so touched that I could be a role model for you and any other people who feel the way we all are sometimes made to feel which is ashamed. I don’t want ANYONE to feel bad about themselves. We are snowflakes, no two are alike..and personally..I prefer those big hefty snowflakes, they are easier to see all the fine beauty and detail of the ice crystals ;)
        I do Sincerely thank you.

    • “My outlook helps others who are afraid to try dancing and such, because they say “hey if the fat girl can do it and be successful, I can to! I look like her!””

      THIS!!!

      I’ve been out of commission for most of the last three years with injuries, and am just getting ready to start performing again. Before I was injured, I wasn’t “thin” (except during my ED), but as a smaller inbetweenie, I was in the “commercially viable” range.

      I’ve come a long way with accepting my body, but I was TERRIFIED of going back into the professional arena as a fat woman. What gives me the courage to put myself out there again is knowing that by doing it, I’m giving other people permission to do the same.

      • Thank you SO MUCH for this reply, Nadira!
        I’ve often said to myself, often feared “who wants to see a fat chick sing/bellydance?? What give ME the right to stand up in front of a mic or dance in front of people??”
        ..You just hit the nail on the head. ♥

        Oddly enough, just before seeing this article, a friend asked me for video of my bellydance performance at a hafla we just put on. It wasn’t ready yet, but she said when it was, I oughtta YouTube it.. which made my stumach tie in knots. o.O She told me that not only did she really enjoy the performance, but that I should put it out there because it could inspire other people…

        And what was my knee-jerk reaction..? “No.. thank you.. but who’d want to see that..??” Somehow, even w/bellydance bringing my self confidence up MUCH higher than it used to be, I still struggle with angles and catching sight of “the wrong curves,” etc. And from a lifetime of being treated really badly because of my being the weird, short, fat blind kid, I can still be -really shy.-

        But what you said there? Thaaaat makes me think maybe the Universe might be trying to say something, here… You inspire me to ponder the idea that maybe I should put that video up whenever it comes in.. ’cause.. yeah.. somebody out there who feels just like me might be watching, and someday wanna dance too… ♥♥♥

      • Yes absolutely! And I wish you good luck with your recovery! Not just dancers but ANYONE who has suffered some sort of medical set back..it;s HARD. And a lot of times people just cannot relate. Some medications can make people gain weight, not being able to move your body as much due to pain or injury can cause issues and people seem to forget that. But if we ALL learned to accept one another for who we are and people actually gave RESPECT to those who are not JUST overcoming adversity but also in doing it after some sort of major medical issue, they should be looked up to, be inspirations as not “well she;s bigger and I can do it if she can” But of taking away the excuses ” Oh I had a long day at work..” or “Oh I have kids to raise” but by standing tall and saying “Hey I had to over come (in my case) Brain Surgery and chronic pain and you don;t see me whining and complaining I’m out there I’m dancing I’m living my dream” you take away the excuses. And that my friend is where it really is. That’s the best kept secret in the world. By taking away the excuses you become almost untouchable. I Tip my hat to you and I wish you all the best in your endeavors!

  6. I laughed out loud when you ended this post with “And may I suggest taking today to be thankful to your body for all of the amazing things that it does for you (blinking, breathing, smiling…)”

    I blogged EXACTLY that yesterday! http://tmblr.co/ZCfk4wKMC16R

  7. There are many others also.

    When I sit i down I can put a cup on my belly and drink from the straw so stay hydrated and type simultaneously!Also the people at chipotle always give me free extra scoops so I get two meals for the price of one. I am made of cushion so I give awesome comforting hugs. My husband and I are both comfy no matter how we cuddle cuz were made of cushion. Just to name a few!

    • I like the idea of being made of cushion! ;)

      Also the ability, like the tea cup, to put my crochet length close to me so its not under tension, so i can crochet while watching tv at night…

      I have no idea what “nude pumps” are, and I am note sure I want too… ;)

      Thankyou, Ragen, for another lovely post, and a wonderful weekend to you all out there in blog-land :)

    • “Made of cushion.” I love that! :D

  8. I agree with this list! Living outside the norms, I feel free to be myself and buck society.

    • Hey! I’m also a fat libertarian! Rock on, Sister! :D

  9. Because I don’t obsess about my body I am free to just enjoy life wherever it takes me!

  10. Automatic asshole detector. Being fat, I can know immediately if people tend to judge a book by its cover.

    • Ooooooooh, EXCELLENT point.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth. Anyone who dislikes you on sight for what you look like is someone you know isn’t worth bothering with.

      • Yuuup. My body is an instant litmus test on fatphobia :P

  11. I love my “ren wallet” (read- cleavage)! Even if I don’t have my purse on me, I have at least ONE place to put money- and possibly other things! *lol* Cell phone? Check. Bottle of liquid makeup? Check! Lipstick? Sure, why not? Now maybe I wouldn’t wanna KEEP all that stuff up in there (boy credit cards can pinch! ;)), but being able to put certain goodies between (or beside) The Girls for a while can be- pardon the pun- a real asset! ^_^

    Plus as a bellydancer, when I move, people can SEE it better! :) (That’s one of the great things about bellydancing as a bigger girl. :) I may have to cover up more than the thinner girls, but I’ve actually had thin dancers express how jealous they are of MY shimmies. o.O Always such a strange- yet wonderful- feeling when you’re so used to being put down & feeling bad about your weight. Bellydance is GREAT for bigger dancers- ’cause it encourages beauty in all sizes. ^_^) -And even when I stop moving, my fluff keeps moving! *lol*

    And though it may be harder for people to see the more minute tummy & breathwork, I also -always- have a place to balance my sword. ;D Where some girls might not have enough chest or hip to balance theirs, w/a little costume consideration, I can lift & shimmy w/my blade balanced just about anywhere. :D

  12. Loving this post. I still struggle with a lot of fear and feel so restricted by it. The idea of living so freely and confidently is truly inspiring and something I work on every day.

  13. AMEN!!!

  14. Small children and animals always want to cuddle with me because I’m squishily comfortable. So does Mr. Twistie.

    It blows peoples’ minds when the shortstuff, fat, middle-aged woman in the funny clothes gets up and rings the rafters with her Grace Slick impression.

    The kids who worry about being oddballs have me as a role model. I’ve been odd all my life, and I’m happy with me, so maybe they will be okay, too.

    I’ve never had anyone doubt me when I say my baking is excellent. Of course it helps that I can back it up with really, REALLY good cakes and pies!

    I look a lot like my parents, who were two of the best people I’ve ever known. How could that not make me happy?

  15. I tripped and fell on concrete the other day and basically bounced, so I’m thankful for being so well cushioned. I have giant bruises on my belly and knee where a smaller person might have actually broken something.

    • I’m sorry, I’m not laughing at you falling, but I’m laughing at “basically bounced” because I did the EXACT same thing several months ago. I was trying out my daughter’s new scooter, and failed to grasp an important detail about how the brake worked, and when I realized the small hill I was going down was making me go QUITE a lot faster than I wanted to, I tried braking by dragging the sole of one sneaker on the ground. Needless to say, I catapulted over the top of the scooter and landed directly on my extremely ample chest. I banged up the side of one arm, but The Girls took the majority of the impact, and I walked away with nothing worse than a scraped arm and a few sore muscles.

      If I had been at what the fashion industry calls my ideal body weight, I’d probably have taken the fall on my face since I wouldn’t have had Mount Bazoombas between my chin and the pavement. Chalk one up for boobs!

  16. I love this post! These days I’m more happy to be outside of the expected norm than inside it. One of the benefits is that I’m invisible to douchebags. They seem to not see me at all. I hardly ever get catcalled, and when douchebags come into my work they immediately bother my stereotypically hot coworker rather than me. It’s stupid shit that shouldn’t be happening at all, but I am so happy to avoid it.

    And word on the “If someone is interested in me, I already know they reject a lot of society’s bullshit. It’s like having a built in screening process. Also, I never have to worry about being with someone who would divorce me if I got fat. Because lo and behold – ALREADY AM.

    • Anna, my friends and I call that our ‘twit filter’. Being fat is a great twit filter.

  17. Thanks to my deathfat I’ve probably avoided some serious injury when I’ve fallen. I’ve been able to eat without restriction and not think of food as a burden because I’m sure some people already believe that about me anyway! And on the vain side, because clothing choices for us are so limited, when I wear something that isn’t expected on a fat woman, I tend to get compliments.

    When it’s hot out, I know I can sweat freely and not worry about it because apparently all fat people are sweaty blobs anyway no matter what the weather is, ha!!!!

  18. When I was having swimming lesson I made progress more quickly because I’m naturally boyant. :)

    When I embrace FA I become a walking example of how you can love your body and feel attractive no mater how you look, and so I educate little girls everywhere and make the world a beter place. (If I was thin and conventionally attractive I could still do that, but I would have to do it through giving a speech, and teaching by example always works so much beter!)

  19. I really like your point about positive thinking. I have been a lot more positive since not worrying about dieting and concentrating on being healthy instead. I spend far less time obsessing about my body, my weight and my food choices. I suppose it comes as no surprise but it has only been very recently that I have truly embraced a lifestyle of not letting the media hype about fatness in society to get to me.

    Interestingly, since I have fully embraced my natural beauty and not been concerned with fitting in with societal standards, I had a young attractive man try to pick me up. This is a big deal for me as I have been married for quite some time and not had anyone try to pick me up for years. And he was of the attractiveness of a man I never believed would be interested in me as a human being due to my current fatness. It proved to me that being happy, healthy and positive is far more attractive than being thin.

    So thank you for reminding us of the power of not giving a damn!

  20. There are definite positives to being a large person. I was taking a self-defense class for women, and the instructor and I discussed it. She actually said that my size alone is a deterrent, BUT if anything should happen, I have the size and strength to FIGHT BACK.

    As for finding clothes? I’m a seamstress. EVERYTHING comes in my size!! *laugh*

  21. Has anyone mentioned that it’s much easier to be comfortable when you sit on a hard bench or lean against a wall? Who needs pillows?
    I differ somewhat about the fashion. It’s not that I want to wear what’s current, it’s that *I* want to be the one to make the choice about what to buy, and not have that choice made for me.

  22. One recovers faster from small illnesses (like flu or food poisoning) if the body has some reserves.
    Also I don’t get drunk as fast as my thinner friends.

  23. Great list! Makes me think of a quote I saw today: “Beauty may make you happy, but happiness makes you beautiful.” So often we’re told that not conforming to the very narrow standards of beauty in our culture, we’ll be miserable. And many companies do their best to try to make us miserable, even though there are so many joys in being un-stereotypical, and even more from just accepting yourself as you are.

  24. I’m still working on reaching the amazing level of self-acceptance I see here, I’ll be honest. However, I know it’s something I need to work on since I found out about a year ago that several things about myself I’ve always hated can ALL be traced back to a neurological disorder that produces so many apparently unrelated symptoms that it frequently (as in my case) goes for many years undetected. It was a breath of fresh air to discover that there was a REASON my metabolism never responded to exercise the way my sister’s does – she is slim, strong and healthy, but my body grabs every calorie I consume and keeps it forever. Even when I was doing marathon training (I’ve walked two marathons, both of them when I was in the “obese” level of those stupid BMI charts), and walking 20+ miles a week, my body wanted to be squishy. Now I know why. I feel better knowing it, but accepting that fact has been harder.

    So I don’t have a long list of pluses about being plus-sized yet, but here is one: People compliment me on my hair all the time. I do have good hair – it’s waist-length and blonde (thanks to a little help from my stylist, since golden blonde is kinder than dishwater blonde to my fair complexion), so I know they’re not trying to make something up. However, since I never get compliments on my shape, I get much more specific compliments than the simple “OMG you look GREAT!” that I hear many of my thinner friends receiving. People feel funny about telling a fat lady that she looks “great”, so they have to be specific about what they like. A few I’ve heard recently: “Wow, that shirt really brings out your amazing blue eyes!” “You have the most beautiful skirts! I love them!” “You have such pretty hands.” “OMG, your hair! I love what you did with it today!”

    I’d take that over a generic “great” any day!

    • Bee, if it’s not too personal, can you tell us what the disorder is? There might be a few other folks out there who also unknowingly suffer from it and have the same odds and ends of symptoms.

      • Oh, please no … I just posted this whole long informative thing, and WordPress apparently ate it. I have four kids crashing around downstairs and I am out of time to write it all again. :( I’ll have to come back later and try again.

      • OK, trying one more time! I have ADHD-PI (Predominantly Inattentive), which has quite the laundry list of possible symptoms. With all the research I’ve done, I’ve found that the Wikipedia entry for it is the best summary for the disorder and the symptoms (both in childhood and adulthood). Among other things, it results in low energy levels and a slower metabolism. Since ADHD-PI doesn’t include hyperactivity, people often get into adulthood having never even researched the possibility since they assume that they couldn’t have ADHD since they are the opposite of hyperactive!

        It helped a lot for me to understand how it was that my sister can exercise and eat well and be thin and strong, and when I exercise and eat well I just sleep really hard and stay quite squashy. Even after several months of walking an average of 15 miles a week for marathon training, I was still registering as “obese” on the BMI charts – I was strong and in great health, but I was still fat.

        I don’t use it as an excuse – I can always work harder to be healthy, and I’ve slacked off on that. This means that I have to work way harder than “normal” people (whatever that means) to stay organized, stay focused, wake up in the morning, stay awake in the afternoon, and not let my attention wander when I’m in a lecture-type situation. That’s my responsibility to come up with coping mechanisms for those issues, the same as I would need to have appropriate coping mechanisms if I was hearing-impaired or in a wheelchair. It can be an excuse, but only if I let it.

        If you look through the list of symptoms and think you might be dealing with this, it’s a good idea to print out some information and take it with you to your doctor. My doctor had heard of it because (oddly enough) her son has it, but it’s a much less common form of ADHD and it’s better not to have to convince your doctor that it exists. :D


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