Fat Art: Corwin Prescott

Fat people seldom get to see themselves represented positively.  “Fat Art” is a series of posts of art depicting fat people.  Fat people being active, fat people being beautiful, fat people just being.

Photography: Corwin Prescott,  Model: Faye Daniels

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Introducing: My Beach Body

First things first…

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Now, for my fatkini, which is the first bathing suit I wore in almost ten years.  The top is a size 18 from Target’s Ava&Viv line, and the bottom is an XL from Old Navy.  While I think this set is one of the cutest, most “me” things I own, it’s terrible for swimming in the ocean: the top flips completely upside-down, and the bottoms try to slide down to my knees.  I’m keeping it because my family sometimes goes to a pool, and I figure it can’t misbehave if there are no waves.  Size wise, you’ll definitely want to try on the swim tops from Target, because they run pretty small.  I’m pretty much a 14 across the board but needed to go up two sizes.

DSC00320Since I discovered last summer that my bikini is shit in the ocean, and swimming is most of the fun of the beach, I bought this tankini this year.  It’s from Swimsuits for All; the top is size 20 and the bottoms are an 18.  While the bottoms are highwaisted and so won’t fall down in the water, I’m not in love with the top: I wish the straps were set closer together to provide more support.  Still, I tend not to care so much about my clothes being flattering (fuck that noise) so the saggy-tits of it all isn’t a deal breaker.  I will say about buying from Suimsuits for All, definitely sign up for their emails.  I wouldn’t have been able to afford this full price, but I got an email about a sale with a coupon for free shipping and another 10% off, so the top and bottoms ended up being like 40% cheaper than usual.  And then I unsubscribed from the emails and was left to enjoy my pretty new tankini.  Also, it’s best if you can measure yourself and use that number to pick your size.  As I said, I’m almost always a 14 in tops, but in this the 20 fit perfectly.  (I didn’t actually measure myself, I just know that the band of my bra is a 40, so I estimated what size would fit best based on that number.)

As a bonus: Some more bathing suits on fat bodies!

 

 

 

Hours later and I can’t let it go

Today in class, the teacher asked how many students work in practice (I’m in a vet tech program).  Everyone raised their hands but me.  The teacher asked what I do and I answered honestly: I don’t have a job.  She said “How nice for you” and everyone laughed.  Now, she didn’t say it in a snide way, I didn’t feel at all like she was judging me.  But I know from telling people I don’t work that the students were judging me.

They know I don’t work, they don’t know I have an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and that for a year before I started this program I was severely agoraphobic, and struggled with that into my first semester.  I’m a pro at “acting normal,” at acting healthy and like my life is peachy keen.  I do that because 1) my personal business is just that, personal, and 2) if people knew I was dealing with three mental illnesses, I’d have to deal with their reactions, which I absolutely don’t believe would be positive.

When I was in undergrad, I was a full time student with an excellent GPA, worked three part time jobs, volunteered at Planned Parenthood, and was active with the campus feminist group.  I’ve experienced being as busy as the students in my program.  I enjoyed it, and it makes me sad that I can’t do that now.  But that sadness doesn’t diminish how proud I am of myself for doing what I’m doing now, because I consistently do my best.  My best doesn’t look like what it used to, but I’m still doing it.  I wanted to tell the people laughing at me what my life used to be, to prove that I wasn’t always like this, that I used to be deserving of respect.  I hate that I still have that level of internalized ableism.  I do not need to earn money to be valid, to be worthy of respect.

I went to hell and pulled myself out, and I live everyday knowing that I could go right back despite trying my hardest not to.  So, today in class I blushed furiously and thought I was going to throw up while twenty people who don’t know shit about my life laughed at me because I have it so easy.

Lupita Nyong’o is not here for your nonsense

In  a world where cornrows are considered “ghetto” until Kim Kardashian wears them, when they become high fashion, Lupito Nyong’o is not here for your whitewashing bull shit.  The amazing Nyong’o sported this dramatic hairstyle at this year’s Met Gala-lupita1-020f6ed7-d3cd-4e1f-8721-96dcb9398aeeDespite the actress telling Vogue that the inspiration for the style was “sculptural hairdos from all around the continent,” i.e. Africa, the magazine compared it to a style once worn by Audrey Hepburn.

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Now… I am all for saying Nyong’o is the Hepburn of this generation: intelligent, talented, classy, elegant, beautiful… But this is some nonsense.  Of course, being the amazing person she is, Nyong’o had the perfect response, this Intagram pic-

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The caption read, “Hair Inspiration. Check. @vernonfrancois @voguemagazine #metball2016

Lupita Nyong’o for president.

I AM FUCKING MENTALLY ILL

When I was little I loved spending time with my maternal grandmother.  As I aged, we started having conversations that didn’t revolve around fun, kid-centric things.  There’s a direct correlation between the frequency of our “serious” talks and how much I avoid her.  Still and all, when I told her I’m bisexual (I’m actually pan but no way in hell do I have the energy to explain that gender isn’t binary to an 80 year old conservative), her response was pretty much, “And what?  That changes nothing.”  So I’m while I minimize my time with her, I’m not planning to cut her out of my life all together.

When I had spring break this year I took the train up her way and took her to lunch.  She aired some truly disturbing political views, but that’s not what this post is about.  I want to talk about how the stigma of mental health is really fucking hard to combat.  I did my best, and I failed.

I don’t remember why we were talking about my mental health, but we were.  I used the words “mentally ill” and “mental illness” multiple times.  My grandmother said, “But I don’t consider you mentally ill.”  I laughed and said, “Bipolar is classified as a serious mental illness.”  To which she responded, “But I mean, you’re not mentally ill. Your brain is just sick.”  Like… She pretty much defined mental illness, while refuses to admit that she defined my condition as a mental illness.

What she (and others) meant by “But I don’t consider you mentally ill” is “But you’re not crazy.” I blame this on two things.

  1. The news media is quick to portray violent criminals as mentally ill.  Well, if they’re white.  But that’s a topic for another post.
  2. Representation of the mentally ill in pop culture is either nonexistent, or presents it as debilitating and scary.

Now, my mental illness is debilitating and scary, but the majority of the time I can hide my symptoms from the world.  My grandmother doesn’t know that I self mutilated for more than half my life, she doesn’t know I’ve tried to kill myself.  She knows I was agoraphobic, and she knows I’ve been in mental institutions twice.  But I don’t “act crazy” on a regular basis that she sees.  I don’t hurt other people.  I can carry on a conversation.  I smile and laugh.  So even though she can recognize that my brain is sick, she can’t equate that with her assumptions about what mental illness looks like.

I left lunch that day literally feeling dirty.  I needed multiple cigarettes and on the hour long train ride home I furiously texted my mom and brother, filling them in on how ridiculous and unfortunate my grandmother is.  For the next few days, I was so upset by what she said about my mental illness that it was keeping me up nights.  I talked to my mom about it, and I agreed with her that the frustration of my grandmother’s opinion was less than the frustration I would feel after trying to explain the truth to her and having her be dismissive.  We both knew that’s what would happen.

I want to be an ally to people who’s mental illnesses aren’t mostly invisible like mine, but I also need to pick my battles for the sake of my well being.  If I think there’s any chance I can change someone’s misinformed views, I’ll take it.  There’s no chance with my grandmother.

For the record, I am well aware that the invisible nature of my mental illness gives me tremendous privilege.  That’s why I need to speak up, but it’s also why people like my grandmother don’t listen to me.  Of course, they won’t listen to anyone.  Maybe a straight, cis, white, male doctor?  I dunno.  I’m so fucking tired.  Tired, and fucking mentally ill.

Buy This, Not That

Here are some products that didn’t work for me, and the products I recommend in their place.  For reference, I have dry, curly and frizzy hair, and dry, blemish prone skin with a bumpy texture and large pores.  All products are cruelty free.

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Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Scrub

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Sheamoisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Face Wash and Scrub

 

 

 

Now, this is a recommendation specific to my skin type.  I’ve only ever seen rave reviews for the Sheamoisture scrub from people with oily and/or acneic skin, but I saw zero improvement in my skin when using it.  The Nip+Fab scrub has helped a lot with my smaller blemishes and I enjoy the texture and smell.

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Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme

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Nip+Fab Dragon’s Blood Fix Pads

 

The Dragon’s Blood pads are another product that didn’t do anything for my skin.  The Glycolic pads have helped with blemishes but don’t dry out my skin.  I can actually get away with using a pad and not following up with a moisturizer for a night or two without getting dry patches, which is awesome because I am ultra lazy about my night time skin care.

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Freeman Feeling Beautiful Charcoal and Black Sugar Mask

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Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask

 

 

 

The Yes To mask was such a let down; once more a product that provided no results.  It’s a lot smaller than the Freeman mask, and more than twice the price.  The Freeman mask has drastically minimized those spots that everyone has one their nose and thinks are black heads but are actually… sebaceous filaments?  Pretty sure that’s what they’re called.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  Anyway, I have a lot less of them and they’re now so small that I have to get up close to my mirror to see them.  It’s also almost completely eliminated actual black heads, as well as helping with the unfortunate texture of my skin.  I only use it once a week, but when I skip a week I have more breakouts.  This stuff is amazing.

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Freeman Feeling Beautiful Banana Oat Smoothing Mask

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Nip+Fab Dragon’s Blood Fix Plumping Mask

After having such good luck with other Nip+Fab products, this mask was a huge let down.  Plus, once again, it costs more than twice as much as the Freeman mask for a lot less product.  I even tried using the Nip+Fab mask overnight several nights in a row… Did nada.  I’m getting cranky just thinking about all those mornings I woke up with a sticky, fuzzy face that was no smoother or softer than the day before.  When I first used the Freeman mask I was disappointed because it’s a gel and I wanted a cream.  Then I was annoyed because it took longer to wash off than I wanted.  (Seriously.  I’m so lazy that this is something I complain about.)  But after letting it sit on my skin for no more than ten minutes my skin was softer than it’s ever fucking been.  You guys… I sat around, watching tv and stroking my face for the rest of the night.  I was creeping myself out but couldn’t stop.  My skin felt so nice!  I don’t like the banana smell, but it’s not super strong and maybe you like bananas.  I don’t know your life.

I hope this was helpful!