Archive for the 'Australia' Category

Cherchez la Femme

You may have caught at the bottom of my last post that I’m appearing in something called Cherchez la Femme next week. I figured it was worth a long post because I am dead excited about this and everyone in Sydney reading this should totally come.

In a nutshell, CLF is a monthly digest of popular culture and current affairs from a feminist perspective that’s run by organiser extraordinaire, Karen Pickering (who also co-organised Slutwalk Melbourne, the first SlutWalk protest in Australia). Usually, CLF is held at the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood, Victoria with each CLF focusing on something different; previous topics have included Feminism and Teaching, Feminism and Public Space, Feminism and Language, and in 2011 there was Feminism and Fat.

This time around it’ll be a bit different. This is the first time CLF has come to Sydney so the panel will be a mixed bag and the conversation will be more broad. Panellists at CLF Sydney are:

  • Nareen Young: CEO of the Diversity Council of Australia
  • Emily Maguire: Author of Princesses & Pornstars, Your Skirt’s Too Short & Fishing for Tigers
  • Van Badham: Author, playwright and activist. Currently Artistic Associate at Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne.
  • Catriona Wimberley: Postgraduate Fellow (and mega babe) at University of Sydney and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
  • and moi.

So with a cracking line-up like that, conversation can’t be anything but varied and super interesting.

Which is exactly why I love Karen for organising this event. So many public discussions about feminism (see Q&A‘s recent all-women panel) get bogged down in bullshit questions like “Is feminism still relevant?” and “Can women have it all?” which are so predictable and so boring it makes me want to vomit. By framing CLF as an explicitly feminist event, we can skip all that guff and get right into the meaty discussions. And it will be a discussion. As a panellist, I can tell you that we are not experts who will be telling you the way of things. Sure, we know shit but so do you, so it’ll be a conversation.

I’ll be wearing two hats while I’m up on stage. My activist hat – so I’ll be keen to chat about body image and fat acceptance – and my day job hat – so I’ll be chiming in on government and policy issues too. But I genuinely don’t know where the conversation will go and that is very exciting to me. (Personally, I can’t wait to hear about Catriona’s research.)

AND there will be half-time entertainment in the form of comedic cabaret babes Lady Sings It Better and jack-of-all-trades Andrew P Street will be playing his guitar.

So come along! Drink a beer! Say hello! It’s at 5pm, Sunday 21 April at the Vanguard, 42 King St Newtown. Get your tickets here (tickets will be available on the door if the show doesn’t sell out ahead of time).

Q: What’s big, naked, and shakes all over?

Va Va Boombah

Photo by Georgia Laughton of Logic Bunny Photography


A: Va Va Boombah!

Va Va Boombah is Melbourne’s (and, as far as we know, Australia’s) first burlesque night featuring fat performers. Given that I am both a fat dancer and a massive perve, unsurprisingly I think this troupe is AWESOME. (Just quietly, I very much want to perform with them one day.)

VVB has their next show coming up in Melbourne in just under a week’s time (details can be found at the bottom of this post), so I had a wee interview with co-producer Jackie aka Chubby Vagine to find out what VVB is all about.

Why did you establish Va Va Boombah?

Va Va Boombah actually started on twitter, when one of my co-producers, Aimee Nichols (@wordsandsequins) tweeted “Why is there no fat burlesque in Melbourne? I can’t be the only one who wants to see fatties shake it”. Our other producer, Lisa-Skye (@thelisaskye) immediately thought of me, and Va Va Boombah was born.

Be we didn’t (just) start Va Va Boombah so we could perve on hot fatties. There are a lot of messages telling fat people that we don’t deserve to exist, let along to be on stage in front of an audience, so we really wanted to create a space where we could strut our stuff, and assert our right not only to be, but to be seen.

What drew you to burlesque over other forms of performance?

I’ve been interested in fat burlesque ever since I heard about Big Burlesque: The Original Fat Bottom Revue in the US. Burlesque has been a part of fat activism in the States for well over a decade now, but to the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been a troupe in Australia before us.

Burlesque shows in the mid-19th and early 20th century actually used to be variety shows with all sorts of different acts, and that’s what our show is. We have singers and acrobats as well as fat ladies getting nekkid.

I think the fat ladies getting nekkid aspect is actually really important. Dominant culture tends to desexualise fat bodies – it tells us we’re ugly and undesirable. So when we get on stage and perform in ways that are overtly sexual, we’re claiming that for ourselves, and for anyone in the audience who wants it. And importantly, we’re claiming it in a way that’s about our agency and creativity as performers and as people.

Do you see Va Va Boombah as a form of activism?

Absolutely! Heather MacAllister (aka Reva Lucian), who founded Big Burlesque, said “Any time there is a fat person on stage as anything besides the butt of a joke, it’s political. Add physical movement, then dance, then sexuality and you have a revolutionary act.”

Va Va Boombah is very much an activist project in that we’re trying to change perceptions, create new opportunities, and build community. And so far, we seem to be doing pretty well!

What feedback has Va Va Boombah received so far?

We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response so far. Our first show actually sold out – the venue had to put out extra seats on the night to accommodate the door sales!

There hasn’t really been a show like this in Melbourne before, and the audience was really enthusiastic. There were a lot of fatties there, and for some people it was the first time they’d seen people who looked like them on stage, which I think can be a very powerful experience. A lot of our new performers saw the first show and wanted to be part of it!

We also had people say that they hadn’t expected fat performers to be so talented, so that was pretty satisfying. As much as Va Va Boombah is about creating opportunities for fat performers, we’re also committed to putting on a really top show.

What kind of performances can people expect from your January show?

The upcoming show is circus themed, and very much a variety-style show. There’s singing, dancing, acrobatics, ukulele, and even opera, as well as the more classic burlesque acts.

After the show, there will be a body-positive dance party with Steampunk DJ Omega playing until the early hours. We hope everyone sticks around for a dance with us!

Va Va Boombah

Photo by Georgia Laughton of Logic Bunny Photography

Event details:
Va Va Boombah
Friday 18 January 2013 (opening 7.30pm)
Thornbury Theatre – Ballroom, 859 High St Thornbury
TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE HERE

VVB has many homes on the internet, including a website, a facebook, a twitter, and a tumblr.

Frances Lockie, published writer

Image

Check me out!

An exciting thing happened this week: Girlfriend, an Australian monthly magazine for teen girls aged 14 to 17 years of age, published a story on fat stigma. Even more exciting: I’m the one who wrote it!

Girlfriend has really cool, feminist editors; some of the stories they’ve featured in recent months include street harassment, transgenderism, and a critique of the idea of ‘real women’ (interspersed with posters of One Direction, naturally. SO GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT OF MY HEEEAAAAD AND FALL INTO MY ARMS INSTEEEAAAD…) They hold the young women of Australia in such high regard and I’m stoked to be published in their pages.

Click here to read the story.

Gisela Ramirez launch (the short version)

Tonight, I attended the launch of Gisela Ramirez‘s very first plus size collection. It was spectacular – the clothes and models were fab, the turn out was fantastic and I am so, so proud of her. My intention is to write a proper post on it (with pictures!) but I board plane tomorrow, so that will have to wait.

Gisela was sweet enough to invite me to introduce the show; here’s the transcript of my speech.

Good evening and welcome to the official launch of Gisela Ramirez’s first plus size collection.

I met Gisela on the internet almost a year ago. I liked her immediately – she’s a very cool chick and is seriously passionate about what she does. When I heard she was designing a line, it’s fair to say I was a wee bit excited. I knew that her line, however it turned out, would go some way to filling the sizeable gap in plus size fashion.

Despite how frivilous it may sometimes seem, I do think fashion is important and can be quite political. The way we present ourselves through our clothes sends a message about us before we even open our mouths.

The limited options available in plus sizes – especially in Australia – mean that the messages we are able to send with our fashion are, in a way, censored. It is much easier to think of fat women as homely and sexless when the fashion choices available are largely homely and sexless.

The bulk of plus size fashion caters to our insecurities. It assumes that we all must be ashamed of our arms, our bellies and our arses. That our sartorial goals only revolve around flattering our figure.

The idea of a ‘flattering’ outfit being one that highlights my good parts while minimising my flaws. Beyond the fact that no waist-cinching belt will transform me into a size 10, what the designers of ‘flattering’ garments fail to realise is that all my parts are good parts. I can’t minimise my flaws because I have no flaws.

When writing this speech, I was looking through the first emails Gisela and I sent to each other. All those months ago, she said to me that she designs for the “type of girl [who] isn’t hung up on her body, is confident enough to stand out in a crowd and wants to be the centre of attention.”

Now how amazing is that?

In an industry that tells fat girls ‘Don’t draw attention, don’t wear bright colours, don’t wear tight clothes but don’t wear shapeless sacks either’, Gisela Ramirez has created a line from superhero spandex and sheer silk chiffon.

That’s what’s so exciting about this new collection. She caters for the middle fingers. For those of us who wear our freak on the outside. Who don’t walk when we can strut.

Gisela is not flattering our figures with these clothes. She’s going one better. She is embracing our bodies. She knows that when our clothes send the world a message, we should be the ones dictating it. The main message for tonight? Fuck flattering.

The All Bodies Directory (Australia)

All Bodies Directory (Australia) logo

Not too long ago, the radiant Kath and the fab Bec spoke to Triple J’s Hack about their experiences, as fat people, with health care professionals (the story is ace, go listen). As part of their research, producer and host Tom Tilley called me to see if I had a list of body positive doctors. I didn’t.

I realised what a massive gap this is. Going to get a check-up, a consultation or a pap smear can be a hugely stressful event for a fat person. Finding a GP, a psychologist or an OB/GYN that won’t stigmatise your body is primarily down to luck.

So I’ve set up the All Bodies Directory (Australia)http://allbodies.wordpress.com. This is a site that will collate health care professionals from across Australia who treat all bodies carefully and respectfully. Listings will be organised by state, by regions and by specialisations. I want this to be a really valuable resource for the fat community.

The site will rely on user submissions, so if you know a body positive health care professional anywhere in Australia, please please please email me at corpulent.blog@gmail.com. Make sure you include the following information:

Name:
Area (e.g. GP, psychologist, OB/GYN):
Private or public:
Contact number:
Address:
Comments (optional):

The site is brand new (and I mean brand new; I thought of it this arvo), so if you have any suggestions or feedback please leave me a comment here or over at All Bodies.

Fat on the air

Yesterday, I was interviewed on Triple J’s Hack program. For those of you outside Australia, Triple J is the national youth radio station. It’s part of the government funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it plays a lot of alternative music not heard on commercial radio, it fosters unsigned Aussie talent and it’s generally very cool. Hack is their current affairs program.

For context: On Wednesday, the Heart Foundation and the Cancer Councils in Australia released the results of their National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity survey. The research surveyed 12,000 students in years eight to 11 across 237 schools to determine their dietary and physical activity behaviours. The research memos can be found here and they make for some interesting reading.

Unfortunately (unsurprisingly?), the conclusions the organisations drew from the research fixated on the inevitable, detrimental effects of obesity. Despite finding that adolescents across the board weren’t meeting the recommended amounts of fruit/veg intake or the recommended levels of physical activity, the organisations chose to recommend the implementation of a “comprehensive obesity strategy”. Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, even trotted out the tired old line “We may see today’s teenagers die at a younger age than their parents generation for the first time in history” (an unnecessarily alarmist statement that has never been supported by any evidence).

This story got a run on Hack and, being the enterprising young go-getter that I am, I wrote to host Tom Tilley in the hopes of getting on the show to present an alternative, fat positive view. It worked like a charm! I even dragged in the coolest academic on the block, Dr Samantha Thomas, to provide some academic rigour to the proceedings.

Click here to check out the story on Hack. (I bloody love that the title is ‘Fat Defenders’ as it makes me sound like a superhero.) I sound Very Serious in this interview because I was sweating bullets. (My nerves were not helped by the fact that Lindsay MacDougall, the object of my deep pubescent desire when I was 14, was recording in the booth next door.) It’s mainly Fat Acceptance 101 stuff, but it’s amazing how contentious the idea ‘fat people are people too’ can be.

This whole thing is a pretty big deal for me. Triple J is awesome and this was my first go at live radio. (Luckily, Tom and the Hack crew are ace. Thank you again, guys!)

As is my way, I spent the entire night after the interview thinking about all the things I should have said. Above all else, I wish I had said this:

Even if all fat people are the way they are due to their bad choices, even if every single fat person is unhealthy, that does not justify sub-standard treatment. How can the health of strangers possibly inspire such vitriol? If you remain convinced that others’ bodies are your business and that people must justify their existence to you, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are an arsehole.

By Ro Designs giveaway: TAKE TWO

You may remember that I ran a giveaway at the start of the southern hemisphere’s summer, sponsored by the delightful Ro of By Ro Designs. I received a massive 102 entries and the lucky winner was a woman by the name of Haley who lives in Detroit.

Ro would have rathered the winner not have to wait for the snow and ice to melt before wearing her fabulous cossie so, bless her heart, she suggested another giveaway… this time, only open to Aussies and Kiwis.

This calls for more sparkle text.

Wonderful.

Second verse, same as the first: You can win either the monokini in black – Ro’s most popular style – or the two piece ruffle bikini in red/white polka dots, both in size 1X to 5X.

SIZE CHART:
1X: Measurements (inches) 44-47/35-38/46-49
2X: Measurements (inches) 48-51/39-42/50-53
3X: Measurements (inches) 52-55/43-46/54-57
4X: Measurements (inches) 56-59/47-50/58-61
5X: Measurements (inches) 60-63/51-54/62-65

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If you live in Australia or New Zealand, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. I will choose a winner at random using Random.org. Make sure you include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you if you win. The competition is open for two weeks – until 12noon Thursday 3 February (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). This competition is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

This is in addition to the free shipping to Australia and New Zealand Ro’s given us all summer. This is available on her entire swimwear range, but if you need something quick, Ro has a number of ready to ship items.

Good luck!

We have a winner!

Last week, my By Ro Designs giveaway closed with an amazing 102 entries. According to the the infinite wisdom of Random.org, the winner of the giveaway is…

Winner

Congratulations, Haley (http://jungle-red.tumblr.com)! I’ll put you in touch with Ro to organise your brand new cossie. A big fat thank you to everyone who entered.

ATTN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND: Even though a yank won the giveaway, youse haven’t missed out completely. Don’t forget that Ro is offering free shipping to Australia and New Zealand all summer! This available on her entire swimwear range, but if you’re the impatient type, Ro has a(n ever increasing) number of ready to ship items.

By Ro Designs giveaway!

I received such an amazing response to my swimsuit post, Two Piece Swimsuit, Two Middle Fingers. It’s still being linked here and there and I’m still getting comments on it every so often. Who knew that my getting my kit off would make such an impact? (I did, because I’m lush.)

One very cool result of that post is that Ro of By Ro Designs saw I had linked to her shop and has kindly offered to sponsor a Corpulent giveaway! Sorry, that’s not quite enough fanfare.

GIVEAWAY!

That’s better. There ain’t no party like a sparkle text party.

You can win either the monokini in black - Ro’s most popular style - or the two piece ruffle bikini in red/white polka dots, both in size 1X to 5X.

SIZE CHART:
1X: Measurements (inches) 44-47/35-38/46-49
2X: Measurements (inches) 48-51/39-42/50-53
3X: Measurements (inches) 52-55/43-46/54-57
4X: Measurements (inches) 56-59/47-50/58-61
5X: Measurements (inches) 60-63/51-54/62-65

PhotobucketPhotobucket

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. I will choose a winner at random using Random.org. Make sure you include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you if you win. The competition is open for two weeks – until 12noon Wednesday 15 December (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). This competition is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

EVERYONE’S A WINNER (in the Antipodes): Ro is also offering free shipping to Australia and New Zealand all summer! This available on her entire swimwear range, but if you’re the impatient type, Ro has a(n ever increasing) number of ready to ship items.

Two Piece Swimsuit, Two Middle Fingers

I love the beach. I spend all summer there and spend the rest of the year pining for summer so I can park myself on the sand again. For most of my life, I’ve lived in the same house in a small coastal town with a beach literally down the road. When the Boyfriend and I move in together, we want to live in eastern Sydney so the Pacific isn’t too far away. I’m emotionally dependent on the ocean. I feel my whole body relax when I smell the sea air and I physically ache for a swim when I’ve gone a while without a dip. My love runs deep.

When I go for a swim, I wear a bikini. I’ve been wearing two piece cossies since I was about 10 years old. I find them more comfortable, it’s quick and easy to change out of my swimmer bottoms right there on the sand when I come out of the water (to avoid getting thrush) and – the Cancer Council will have me hanged for this – I like having an even tan.

I’ve been planning a bikini post for months. I was always going to show my half-naked self on Corpulent to tell everyone that I’m not ashamed of my body (and hopefully encourage you to not be ashamed of yours). I was going to wait until it was a little warmer and I had a bit more of a tan to take some photos and write this post. However, my schedule was pushed ahead by this gem of an article by Natasha Hughes.

Hughes’ article questions suitable beach attire; namely whether “overweight Australian women” should wear bikinis. The article itself is tiny – less than 250 words – but it made me furious. The most bilious section states, “I know there’s going to be two schools of thought on this but I’m with the Fat Should be Camouflaged College. Who wants to be exposed to someone’s rolls? Where is their sense of style, of decency?”

Decency? DECENCY?! How’s this for fucking decency:

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The article was published on Tuesday and, 6 days later, Hughes’ spiteful words still make me angry. I hate the sense of entitlement that comes with a question like, “Who wants to be exposed to someone’s rolls?” Hughes’ tone is reflected in many of the comments. According to them, displaying our bodies becomes a vicious action – we are “subjecting”, “inflicting” and “confronting” – because our fat is “disgusting”, “nauseating”, “gross” and my personal favourite “pollution for the eyes”.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I despise the idea that all fatties (and indeed, anyone with bodies outside the beauty ideal) must shield the eyes of the poor, unsuspecting public from the offensiveness of their bodies. Listen and repeat after me: Life is not a beauty pageant. We do not exist to be aesthetically pleasing to the judgemental eyes of strangers.

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As Lesley wrote on Fatshionista,

You do not have to be beautiful. It’s not your responsibility to be beautiful, for yourself or for anyone else, not for your family or your partner or your friends or some stranger on the street who finds your face unpleasant.

Similar sentiments were written by Erin on A Dress A Day,

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

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There is a fabulous quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh that states, “One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much. Clothes, first. Of course one needs less in the sun. But one needs less anyway, one finds suddenly … One finds one is shedding not only clothes – but vanity.”

That beautifully encapsulates what I love about the beach and what I hate hate hate about Hughes’ article. The beach necessitates freedom but Hughes is trying to apply bullshit sartorial decorum to it. True style and true decency is borne from a comfort in one’s skin and a confidence in the image one is presenting to the world. Fat hate masquerading as bland fashion advice? How terribly passé.

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Fancy “inflicting” your flesh on others?

  • By Ro Designs has cute bikinis and monokinis from size 1X (which equates to a US size 18/20) to 6X
  • noXceptions is an Australian online store that stocks a few two piece togs from an Australian size 16 to 40
  • Stacked on etsy has adorable custom retro two pieces
  • Midnight Black has adorable 40s and 50s style bikinis up to a 2X (more styles are available in their Newtown store)
  • Pin Up Girl Clothing also has retro bikinis, but their plus size stock is a bit low. I saw a couple of US size 18s and 20s, as well as a few 14s and 16s in their main range.
  • Big Girls Don’t Cry Anymore stocks bikinis up to an Australian size 20
  • Big Gals Lingerie has bikinis in a number of different styles in sizes 1X (US size 16/18) and 2X (US size 20/22)
  • Love Your Peaches has two pieces from 1X (US size 14/16) to 6X (US size 34/36). However, their website states that their clothing runs large and recommends ordering a size down.
  • Monif C sells saucy high waisted bikinis
  • If you’re on the smaller side of fat,  Asos sells bikinis up to a UK size 18 and Outdoor Girl sells bikinis up to a 2X (US size 18)
  • Smaller fats with smaller boobs: Don’t disregard straight size surf/swimwear shops. I found my bikini in a Rip Curl shop. That said, I found it after looking in many other stores, so if you’re going to hunt for a straight size bikini be prepared for some frustration.

Menfolk, I don’t mean to exclude you. I love seeing a man in a pair of swim briefs so please feel emboldened to “expose” your rolls too. I know that Speedo’s only go up to a 44”/110cm waist, so if anyone knows where to get plus size swimwear for men please leave it in the comments.


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