Category Archives: bra

gift guide for cranky fat feminists!

Gift ideas for the holidays, for all of the cranky feminists in your life (fat or slim)! This is a gift guide in progress, so don’t forget to check back for more great finds!

books I recommend!

Fatropolis will take you away to an alternate world where big is beautiful. Hiding your body is unnecessary. Shopping for clothes is easy. Eating your fill isn’t embarrassing. If you’re a fat woman (or man!) this is a book you don’t want to miss! (age appropriate for high schoolers as well)

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a book to not read lightly. It’s important work, it’s an important read, but it comes with a giant trigger warning. Amazon says “…a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. One chapter at a time, this is an important read.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a graphic novel depicting Alison Bechdel’s childhood, adolescence, and discovery of her sexuality. She shows us her vulnerabilities, her family problems, and her journey to adulthood. I’ve read this several times, and highly recommend!

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is a graphic novel depicting Marjane Satrapi’s coming of age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Don’t miss this! (also age appropriate for high schoolers)

buying books instead of drinks

my wishlist!

On my personal wishlist is Sex Object: a Memoir, by Jessica Valenti. Amazon says “Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women’s lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Object reveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City.”

Fresh off the press, Feminist Fight Club: an Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace, by Jessica Bennett is also on my wishlist. Here’s why: “Part manual, part manifesto, Feminist Fight Club is a hilarious yet incisive guide to navigating subtle sexism at work, providing real-life career advice and humorous reinforcement for a new generation of professional women… Hard-hitting and entertaining, Feminist Fight Club blends personal stories with research, statistics, and no-bullsh*t expert advice. Bennett offers a new vocabulary for the sexist workplace archetypes women encounter everyday.”

Fight Like a Girl introduces readers to the history of feminist activism in the U.S. in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the feminist cause today.” How could this not be on my list of books to read and give?!

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History features 40 women from 31 countries around the world. There’s also a list of 250 additional rad women to check out on your own. Get inspired, or inspire others with this awesome collection!

strong women

 

coloring books on my wishlist!

The Yoni Coloring Book is an awesome gift for anyone you know that loves to color, or would enjoy creating crazy colored vulvas! The illustrator is part of our CFF community.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Coloring Book: A Tribute to the Always Colorful and Often Inspiring Life of the Supreme Court Justice Known as RBG. Need I say more than “notorious RBG coloring book!”? <3

 

 

**disclaimer! I may receive a commission from purchases made via these links**

[cranky] CFF manifesto (in progress)

CFF became a place for me to understand that there is more than fat shaming — there is skinny shaming too, and that I’ve participated in it. Today, I do post mostly about fat shaming, but I make a point of never skinny shaming.

gabourey sidibe

I’ve also reflected a lot on how I’ve felt fat since probably the age of 9 or 10. I hit puberty early (period came at age 10) so I was extra tall and hairy early. I’ve always had wide shoulders, and by 6th grade I was a 36C. I was always bigger than every other girl, and most of the guys. I told myself constantly that I was fat. Middle school (the years of self hate, mean girls, exploring make up, leg shaving, girl on girl hate…) only made my fat feel fatter.
Since then I’ve realized that almost all of us felt fat (regardless of how little we may have weighed). I want this page to be a community in which everyone who has ever felt fat — ever — to feel safe and realize that we must love our bodies. Even if you want to change your body (weight, gender, tattoos, clothes) you have to start by loving your body.

You only get one body.

strong women

Every day when I check CFF I’m reminded that I MUST love my wonderfully imperfect body. I am reminded the true meaning and importance of intersectionality, looking through comments and looking at all of the countries and cities the “likes” originate from.

This then reminds me that all over the world fat means different things. When I was in Ghana fat was a good thing (although personally traumatic for the first six weeks). We must accept our bodies, love our bodies, and remember that maybe it’s your society that does not “approve” of your body — but it’s not the world that does not approve.
she dares to take up space

I love messages from other CFFs, and posts shared on the wall. It helps open my eyes more to the world outside of my little ass-backwards southern city.

I somehow was incredibly sheltered from the fact that men have body image issues as well. Having CFF really opened my eyes to this, and I’ve worked my hardest to include all genders in body image conversations. My own father’s body image problems have also been eye opening. He weighs much less than me, but is desperate to lose 20 pounds. His doctor hasn’t asked him to lose weight, it’s just for him and the man he sees in the mirror. While I don’t understand it, I still have to respect him.

pretty

Always a work in progress, respect and choice are essential to feminism.

[cranky] periods and porta potties, and bullshit at work, oh, and cleavage

A month ago, four hours from home, I arrive at this new work site, 6:45am, bleary-eyed and desperately clutching my nearly empty coffee cup. Turns out we were called in early just for the sake of being early and sorting paperwork, which really only took 20 minutes. By 7:45 my bladder is full of coffee and I have to ask where the restrooms are… only to find out that we had access to porta potties. Perhaps if I walked half a mile up the road to this fancy arena people would be there and let me in to use a real restroom. But that was perhaps. After tucking a just in case tampon into the shorts I’m wearing (which are really my new boyfriend’s extra pair of work shorts) I hand my helmet to one of my female coworkers and head to the row of porta potties. My hands have already touched the gross “community box” of hard hats, borrowed someone’s pen to sign paperwork, and had just touched the door of the porta potty. While trying to keep the bottoms of my shorts from touching the pool of water around my boots, I discover that I have indeed started my period. And I have no where to wash my hands before I use the tampon. Surely comical if anyone had been watching, I managed to keep the shorts out of the puddle and put in the tampon. About to walk out I remember, I still have no where to wash my hands. I clean my hands to the best of my ability with the one-ply, but have no choice but to walk out, grab my hard hat, and get ready to work.
dont dumb yourself down

It’s a male-dominated field and we’re in the south. Essentially, if you aren’t a badass feminist with a point to prove you won’t last more than a few months. As a general trend around here, the women have a larger skill set and a better work ethic. The men can get by as long as they’re very muscular or tall, or if they’re funny and love to kiss boss-ass. A large number of the guys will flat out tell you that they would rather have only guys working with them. More and more are getting smart enough to keep their mouths shut and just look down on you. As long as they don’t grope and don’t name call, they can’t be called out for being sexist, so they can’t get in any trouble.

If the work community doesn’t want women around, all they have to do is keep providing porta potties– no one wants to feel dehumanized, which is exactly how I felt using dirty hands to put in a tampon while making sure my shorts didn’t get wet. Maybe if cargo shorts were made for women and not nearly-exclusively for men I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bottom two inches of fabric getting pee on them. Maybe if there was just a jug of water nearby for hand washing I would have felt much cleaner.

Besides the panties and bra, my clothes were asexual. No, actually, that’s not true. Asexual would be fine. I was wearing men’s shorts, and men’s steel toed boots (what? women wear steel toes? never. hope they made a small enough men’s pair for you). I was wearing a t-shirt that I got after a show, which meant that others there had the same shirt too. And because of my big boobs, I can’t get away with a tank top or a cut-neck t-shirt to provide the twin heaters with some ventilation. The fastest way to be sent home is to have any sort of cleavage. (The fastest way to be sent home SHOULD be not wearing steel toes, or not wearing your hard hat.)

cleavage-12

Indecent and distracting, boobs are definitely evil and always dangerous for men. Before and after every show the lights are on. During the show, the lights are off. When the lights are off the men can stare at anything and anyone without being caught– they can watch dancers change backstage, they can watch singers strip down and redress with so few seconds that modesty has no time. We are all human, and the understanding is that no one is watching because no one cares, because we are all people, with variations on the same parts. But the problem is that some of these guys are watching. And their bosses know, and don’t care. Some of these guys are watching the private dance studio 14 year olds change clothes, they’re staring at the bouncing boobs of a 19 year old college dance major. But it’s dark, and no one can see where they stare. Until the lights come on, and then suddenly they’re in deep shit for staring at the tiny bit of a coworker’s cleavage. So in an effort to save the good old boys from any embarrassment, cleavage goes home immediately so that guys don’t have to be reprimanded.

 

YENKO NKOAA, by Eduwoji

 

This is my absolute favorite song from studying abroad in Ghana. I spent the month of April 2011 doing dance research in a small village near where this was filmed, Klikor-Agbozume. (You have to drive through Sogakope where this was filmed to get to Agbozume.) I spent the evenings of my research time drinking Star, a local beer, and dancing in the village “spot” (bar) whenever we had electricity for music. Yenko Nkoaa was on every night that we had electricity, usually several times during the night. I always wore handmade bright new dresses with African prints to go dancing with my translator, and never once wore a bra– just like every other woman in the village. Klikor will always remain in my heart, and shape the way that I feel about my body.

[feminist] mass produced bras and my breast reduction surgery

In response to:
Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. “Breast Buds and the ‘Training’ Bra.” 1977. Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings, 4th edition. 249-254.
Before reading this I had no idea that the first bra was created in 1913, “designed simply to flatten,” and that the more current/modern bra came about in the 1930’s (Brumberg 250). The concept of the bra is so new yet so universal now. Mass production and mass media are so influential in society, and the bra is a prime example. With mass production came sizing—A, B, C, D, the infamous DD, and the realm of un-tamed breasts even larger. (As a person who once wore the “more than a DD,” I know firsthand the impossibility of buying a bra in a department store that will be the correct size.) I was still in middle school when I made the transition to “larger than my mother” and up to DD, and had to face the realization that I wasn’t just larger than normal, larger than my peers, but I was freakishly, abnormally larger than society as a whole. For years I wore two minimizer bras at a time in an effort to “tame” my breasts even more, as they continued to grow. I was known as “jugs” for years in high school before I had breast reduction surgery, after which I spent my final year in baggy shirts so that no one would I know that I had “gotten my tits cut off.”  (which to this day people perceive as a “tragedy” despite the fact that it was practically a medical necessity)
The physical pain I had from wearing underwire bras aimed at “taming” my breasts has always led me to wonder why anyone would wear a AAA or AA (or even an A) bra when to me they so obviously don’t need one. But with stores and brands like Victoria’s Secret a AAA girl can wear a bra that makes her look like she has real B-size breasts. (I’ve always wondered how disappointed the boyfriend is once the bra comes off?) 

The concept of “teenage breast management” developed in the 1950’s by male doctors (I would also like to call them pedophiles) is absolutely sick and totally bullshit (Brumberg 251). The medical world has been cutting people open and examining them for hundreds of years, and obviously know that breasts are held up by more than skin, and are going to sag no matter how great your bra is, and how often you wear it. These doctors were either funded by the bra-industry or had lots of sons looking for perky-breasted women to marry. And the “boob check” sounds horrifying. No one’s breasts are perfectly symmetrical , proportional, with mirror-image nipples. No one should chart your “breast development” to promote the idea that you need huge boobs to breast feed the children you make with your perfect husband. (Were they doing “penis development checkups”? NOPE. I’d personally be a bit more concerned with whether or not my son was becoming a man than if my daughter had the perfectly-growing boobs to go with her period.)
Junior figure control? (Brumberg 251) Great, if you want to wear spanx at the age of 40, I’m all for it. If you want your 14 year old daughter to wear some spanx to make her look slimmer, you’ve clearly not questioned your daughter’s pediatrician properly. Through the mass-marketing of spanx (and knock off spanx) I’ve managed to buy a few pairs myself in my efforts to look slimmer and “fit in” better. (PS- fail.)Through the media and my own lovely mother I managed to spend middle and high school larger than most of my peers and desperate to find solutions to fit in to the stereotypical  image of the ideal high schooler. In the 1950’s junior figure control companies provided “free purse-size booklets on calorie counting”—way to go making the world feel fat by the age of twelve (253). 
In the back of magazines there are always sketchy ads for dating sites, making your long hair more beautiful (you know, the white girl hair that you can flip), and making your tiny boobs bigger. There were never any creams or exercising for making your breasts smaller. The song “I must, I must, I must develop my bust” (Brumberg 253) I learned in 5th grade, as the song “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” Way to make the mosquito-bite girls feel like crap about themselves. 
I did not wear a B bra until after my surgery—my mother refused to let me wear more than a tank top until I was clearly, desperately in need of something more to cover my breasts in order to fit in at school… she waited until I was a full C. This was how she grew up (a conservative Southern Baptist). This also meant that I was not allowed to have colored, polka dotted, or lacy bras. Not that they made those in 36DD, 36DDD, 38DDD, 38-“hm. Big…” The very first bra that I bought for myself was light blue with a tiny peephole between my breasts. It cost me $20, and had no underwire and held my breasts perfectly. It didn’t cost me $50, squish me until I couldn’t breathe, and come in an ugly nude grandma style. (I know, I’m perpetuating age-ism, but that’s the only way I can put it…) FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE AGE OF NINE I FELT LIKE I FIT IN; I WORE A BRA THAT DIDN’T RESTRICT MY BREATHING; AND I WORE A BRA THAT I FELT BEAUTIFUL IN.