The Camera on a Fat Face

My jaw literally dropped when I saw the dramatic difference in appearance in sets of photos taken by blogger Maria Southard Ospina in her March 11, 2016 article “27 Photos Of My Fat Face That Prove Camera Angle Is Everything” — and you will be blown away too. Her experiment was to take photos of her face in both flattering and unflattering angles, and then analyzed how and why the shots were so different just by adjusting things like the angle, and how lighting and even a scarf or collar can be the difference be a double-chin and a chiseled jawline. Her experiment did not include Photoshop; Maria could only use the camera itself and positioning her body in front of the camera.

“…with the help of my partner slash photographer, I began to see just how straightforward it is to make yourself look thinner or fatter.”

And that brought a reminder of a meme a photographer friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day, something about the constant request from clients to make them look good and thinner with post-editing and camera angles. People want to look their best when they have a photo that captures a specific moment in time and other people will see it. Why is that so bad? Is it because some people believe that doing so is deceiving? That image of a person (the selfie or whatever) can have the subject looking one way, and in real life they are say 50 or even 100 pounds heavier.

But appearing to be thinner in photos wasn’t Maria’s goal. What she was trying to achieve was to simply show honesty, and she strives to communicate in her article that the “imagery we consume and allow others to consume should be…as realistic as possible.” And it further proves that what you see in magazines isn’t real — it’s a deceptive mirage that is so convincing that we willingly believe that perfection is the norm.

In the age of online consumption of images, media and lots of other visual things, we set ourselves up to constantly accept that perfection is the norm. But perfection as a cultural norm is a lie, as humans are flawed and we lie. We lie all the time. And we lie because we don’t want to look fat even if we are fat, because as Maria pointed out that

“Fatness is among[st] the characteristics most stigmatized in contemporary culture.”

Bingo. Just appearing fat is scary — so much so that we will move our bodies, heads, arms, whatever around in front of the camera for the most flattering angle. Don’t tell me you don’t do it. We all do it. Inside each of us is a sliver of vain-ness that knows our Facebook profile picture needs to be crazy cute, sexy, etc. otherwise people might not like us, be impressed, or whatever idea we have of what that image of ourselves represents.

So next time you pick up a phone to take that next selfie, what do you do? Do you angle your face to look thinner? Or do you smile with no regards to the outcome, when a sliver of time is captured with your face in it with the simple sound of the camera shutter’s click? Will you hide your chins or embrace all that is you?

All About That Bass

Way overdue post (sorry) but I have to share my new found love in musical artist Meghan Trainor — ya know, that one chick’s hit “All About That Bass.”  She came out with a new hit this fall I adore as well and I discovered more of her music while at work using the free music Spotify player. If you want to enjoy some of her music:  click here.

MEGHAN TRAINOR at 93.3 FLZ jingle Ball

When her music hits got on the radio last year, I noticed the tunes were catchy but had no idea who she was or anything about her career. But last week I spent time listening to every song publicly published and googled the crap out of her songs and career.

On her website, I caught Meghan’s quote – “Love your body no matter what.” Dang right girl, get it!

Back to that bass baby, be proud of what you got.  I will leave you with my favorite part of the song “All About That Bass” here:

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that sh*t ain’t real, come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me “don’t worry about your size”
(Shoo wop wop, sha-ooh wop wop)
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night”
(That booty, uh, that booty booty)
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that what you’re into, then go ‘head and move along

Desire for More, Happy With What You Have

Leaf

Tuesday was honestly one of the fullest, most exhausting days I had in a while. A 13-hour day at work and I was depleted by the time I got home and had nothing left to give. Yesterday I did a 5.5-hour day at work and so took advantage of a small window that I could spend on myself. I luckily got a hair appointment at salon (ugh now battling the beginnings of covering gray) and had lunch on my own. No kids. No hubby. Just me, and it was nice. I even stopped by a boutique and although it was tempting to spend money in the very posh place, I made it back to my car empty-handed.

It was okay for me to desire the luxuries of $100 face cream, $26 one-use bath fizzies, or a $20 pair of lingerie undies (on 50% sale), but in the end I realized I didn’t need that stuff. I’m pretty happy with what I have when it comes to my life: a family, a home, transportation, a job, food on the table, clothes, etc. The basics are covered, I shouldn’t desire more when I’m already happy with what I already have. I say I’m happy, but am I really?

But I do desire more — more time with my family, vacations, and even though I am trying to embrace the current body I have, I often desire a different body shape, a lighter, thinner one. It’s a conflict of interest. At the same time I’m trying to learn to be a body love warrior, I slip into a train of thought that says I’d be better thinner. I’d look better and get cuter outfits if I just dropped 75 pounds. I want to be more like my sister: taller, thinner, more motivated to work out and watch what I eat.

I know deep down that I am who I am. Why would you want to be someone else because then you wouldn’t be you? I saw a post today by Fat Mom Writing that just hit me as the most relevant thing I could read about today — that being thin(ner) isn’t always about being healthy and happier. As my hubby always chimes from time to time, “The grass is not always greener on the other side.” What we think will make us happier isn’t always true. What if I could get myself to a place where I loved myself despite my dress size? Could I be strong enough to accept myself, embrace my curves, and not care what others think of me?

Can I smile in the camera like Toni did with her guitar, no shame of her own body? She was loving herself and her life, instead of damaging her body to fit the picture of what society expected her to be — and expects the rest of us women to be: thin (but not too thin), curvy (but not too curvy), great hair and make-up and “let’s be healthy not fat” attitude 24/7. That desire to fit our square selves into the round hole of what our culture says is beautiful is making our lives exhausting, and for some people like Toni with medical issues, it is also a dangerous way to live.

I love reading the journeys of so many plus size women struggling with the same body image complex as I am. There is encouragement, inspiration, and real choices shared every day. Revelation and appreciation are wonderfully common and I really enjoy each and every story. We all have a story, we all have something to say.

Loving Your Body, As-Is

Would you stand in the middle of crowd in a bikini, blindfold yourself, and ask others to critique you using markers?

What would you hope people would write on you? Follow the link to watch a mom bear it all in a brave experiment:

Self-Acceptance in a Bikini: Brave Plus Size Mom

What do you think? What did you learn? Would you try it? What would hold you back from doing this experiment?

The video posted a few weeks ago has gone viral and it’s because it hits to the heart of human-kind: INSECURITY. The experiment by Amy-Pence Brown explores the very depth of who we are, who we think we are to others and what value ourselves, our bodies have to society. Is a skinny body worth more than a plump one?

It’s a big enough story that USA Today, Huffington Post, People Magazine, BuzzFeed and television stations in the last week have shared this woman’s story of courage to bear her body in public. Brown shared:

“The hush in the crowd around me was instantaneous and I barely had time to tie on my blindfold, prop up my sign and grab my markers before the first woman rushed up to me, touched my hand with her shaky one, told me I was brave and powerful and asked if she could give me a hug and started to cry. And then I cried, too.”

I’m working on being brave. Soon I will have the courage too, to love myself unconditionally.

Fat Shamed So Many Times, I’ve Lost Count

I’ve been fat shamed so many times in my life, I’ve lost count. Whether it’s your own mother trying to get you to lose weight at 7 years old or that drunk boy during college spring break tell you at 19 there’s no way in hell he’d sleep with you because you’re fat, it hurts. Wishing every day that it would get easier somehow to not give in to cravings for whatever sounds good and then people telling you that it’s simple as will-power and exercising all day. The worse is when your own mother couldn’t tell you looked beautiful on your wedding day. Instead, she reminds you to keep your veil around your shoulders so that your fat arms are more covered.

And that’s just in my own life. There are literally groups of people and individuals devoted to fat shaming. There’s even one on Twitter with the name Fat Shamer declaring a war on bigger people, as if it is a great contribution to society. Here’s a gem he/she/it posted recently:

And celebrities are often the target of fat shaming, even when they’re pregnant!

And if that wasn’t enough, there are people dedicated to encourage larger people into self-hating, as to somehow drive people to lose weight and not be fat anymore. (Really?)

A Case for Shaming Obese People, Tastefully

So when the waves of negativity come, what options do you have? Do you succumb to society’s messages that you aren’t worthy of time, kindness, attention, etc. like a normal or skinny person? Do you embrace who you are but take it to the next level on an extreme spectrum to push an agenda that few will support? I think there’s a good balance, to fight the good fight and be respectful while standing your ground. It’s not okay for people to rip others apart.

I love this article by XOJANE on how she deals with fat-shaming comments and “haters” on her blog. Here are a few snippets I want to share:

Fighting body shame can be intimidating and exhausting…While I know it’s not my job to explain my perspective to every troll, I think it’s a mistake to allow cruel people to invade any space that’s meant for positivity and support and to then spread poop and vitriol wherever they please. I think it’s important to be loud, to push back, and to show solidarity with other body love warriors, even though trolls can be vicious.

When it comes to speaking up online, I am very picky about my battles, but I continue to engage because I refuse to be silenced. I do it because of all the times I thought I was worthless and disgusting. I do it because of the emails I get from people thanking me for raising my voice and helping them find a new perspective.

Amen, amen, amen! I also really really like her use of the phrase “body love warriors” because women of all sizes are so subjectively negative about their own body image, it’s a downfall of being female, we are our own worst critics. That inner voice that reminds us that we can wear this or that, because we don’t have the “right figure” is an epidemic in our society.

There is hope for us, in people like XOJane, to show us that fat shaming is not helpful, not wanted and not productive for our society. To tell people to hate themselves and to strive to be someone else, to have a different body, does nothing but show those struggling with body image that bullies are alive and well, and winning. But to have strong, confident women stand up and encourage their peers is a big start. To tell each other we were never meant to be airbrush perfect and just as the world is full of different colors and textures, so are people. Variety is the spice of life; if we were all the same, how boring would that be?

So the words for myself today: be bold, be brave, be kind and fight the shame.

Fall Fashion Covers Leave Larger Ladies Out

No Plus Size on Glossy Covers This Fall

Thanks fashion world, again, for failing to recognize that there are women of all sizes and the larger ones are being disproportionately represented in fashion and print media. So frustrating to be excluded, like being the last one on the playground to be picked on a team sport.

And at some point, it’s getting a little ridiculous that in 2015, with more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese (see CDC on Adulthood Overweight/Obesity). In my age group of 20-39, it’s at 30.3%. In my state, according to this map by the CDC, 25%-30% in my state have extra chub on their frame. So if about a third of us are plus size, why does the fashion industry ignore us? Are they putting us on the back burner, hoping that we’ll accept the fact that we shouldn’t — or gasp — couldn’t care about fashion? Really?

Don’t even get me started on what the fashion industry thinks of us larger ladies wanting leggings.

But I really, on a more honest note, I applaud all the women bloggers I have met here so far. Those who are showing glamour in each their own way, forging a unique path to enjoy and explore their love for fashion despite the lack of effort from the overall fashion industry. I can only hope that some company, some designer will notice the innovation and the passion so many of you women have, no matter what your size, to be bold, be creative and have fun with whatever you wear, head to toe.

May they realize there are dollar signs for those that see the bigger picture, with plus size ladies in the frame, thank you very much.

What Other People Think Of Me Is NONE Of MY Business

Give it up to alexxxcastro for her slam-dunk of a post on her blog!
Since I couldn’t leave a comment on her post, I wanted to give her a shout-out by re-blogging her and so glad to share her story and inspiration today!

alex castro

  • “She’s too fat to play with the girls.  She’ll probably break the trampoline.” 
  • “I just don’t see myself dating a girl your size…But I really do like you and wish we could date.” 
  • “Your outfit is supposed to be for skinny girls, not big girls.” 
  • “You want to be an actress?  I hate to say, but they don’t look for girls your size.” 
  • “We only carry sizes 1, 3, and 5.  You could try Sears.” 

All of these things have been said to my face at one point in my life.  Well, except the last one.  That was said to Regina George.

I was only 8 years old, at my friend’s birthday party, when I heard that first phrase from my friend’s mother.  I remember thinking, “She’s right.  I might break the trampoline and ruin the birthday party.  I just don’t deserve to have fun with my friends.”  Many of these…

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Having a Fat Girl Moment – Wait, Did She Just Say That?

Was scrolling through my Facebook feed last night and I came across this gem by someone I thought was a bit above this type of thing.  I saved the post on my phone and decided not to post a comment there but just vent my shock on here. I know this person professionally and also know she had gastric bypass surgery to lose a lot of weight a number of years ago. Logic would follow that if you struggled through it, you shouldn’t be making fun of it in a negative way, right?

Maybe I haven’t thickened my skin enough, but does this bother anyone else? Did she really have to caption giving into her candy corn craving as a “fat girl moment”?

IMG_1545

So the second someone binge-eats candy corn, it is all of the sudden a fat girl moment? So the only moments fat girls can have are eating sugary, fatty foods? What about the OTHER moments we have 99.99999% of the time: playing with our kids, enjoying a movie, doing the laundry, spending time with our spouse, or cuddling up with a good book? We are so much more than shoving candy corn down our throats. Come on.

I don’t even like candy corn.

Rant over.

Ideal Body Type in 18 Countries

If you haven’t seen the article from the Huffington Post on What The ‘Ideal’ Woman Looks in 18 Countries, you need to seriously take a look! What an eye opener, and frankly, a little creepy in the photoshopped images, but hey, the general idea of asking designers to create what they think is the ideal form of a woman’s body in various cultures around the world was there.

Some images and their corresponding country/culture surprised me while others I wasn’t surprised. China was spot-on with the heavy influence of Asian femininity and anime-like features. Italy’s woman looks exactly like what Western women are subjected to see on every cover of every magazine. Ugh.

But Peru, Columbia and Spain really surprised me. They look like real bodies, shapes and textures I recognize. No airbrushing or twiggy arms or a large gap between crotch and thighs. These images of women tell me they have cellulite, their thighs rub together and they are curvy, but REAL.

It made me feel better about myself today, knowing that I’m not crazy for thinking I’m the abnormal one.

And throughout history, it’s been more normal to be “plus size” than not. It’s the last 40 years of American (western) culture that tells women to be a certain type that very few can actually be — take a look:

Bam. Take that fashion world.