Friday, May 29, 2009

SAAS (Sewing at Any Size): Making a Gored Skirt

In continuance of my rant about the lack/price of basic wardrobe elements, I’m starting a series on clothes that anyone can sew without buying a pattern or learning complicated techniques. My intention is not to turn anyone into a seamstress or master of haute couture, just to help us all collectively thumb our noses at anyone who expects us to pay $60 for a simple skirt in cheap, ugly fabric.

As I go along, you can access the entire series by selecting SAAS from the topic list on the left hand bar of my blog. Eventually this may become an E-book, so while you’re welcome to print this for your own use, please don’t re-print it or publish any part of it anywhere.

At this point I have plans to do entries on skirts (peasant, gored/paneled and wrap), very basic tops and simple dresses, plus a few accessories like sarongs and scrunchies. I might get into some costumes later in the series.

While I give instructions for a sewing machine you can hand-sew most of these if you don’t have one (it’ll just take longer). You can also buy one of those hand-held sewing machine for $20 that only does one or two stitches. You do have the option of using fabric glue to put these together, but it isn’t the best option. Fabric glue will not hang as well, last as long, or look as good as sewing the garment with thread. You can give it a try on test fabric to find out if you think it’ll work for your look.

The instructions may be irritatingly simplistic for more advanced sewers, but I’m catering to the readers who don’t already know how to sew, while trying to include variations for those who do. Instructions are also in non-metric. My apologies for those in countries with a more rational measurement system.
Test Fabric
Always make a rough draft! Use super-cheap fabric or even bedsheets and curtains from garage sales to make a trial version of something before you waste your good fabric. You want to be able to fit, adjust, clip, or replace bits to get the best possible fit, and some expensive fabrics are very unforgiving of this process. Believe me, it's worth making twice to get it right. Once you have a finished test garment you can pull it apart and use it as a pattern. You can trace the outline of the pieces onto any fabric and make several versions of the same skirt; always knowing it will fit because you fixed any fit problems in the rough draft. Always use long, loose stitches (basting stitches) on the rough draft so that it can be picked apart later. When you make your final skirt, use a basic straight stitch (--------).


Most of the skirts for sale are gored skirts, whether A-line, pencil or miniskirt. Gores are panels that are narrower and the top and wider at the bottom. The variation you see in fit, flippiness and patterns are all variations on a very basic model.

First you need four measurements. Your waist is wherever you normally wear the waistband of your skirt. Your hips are the widest point below that. The length from waist to hem is the length you want the finished skirt to be. Don't suck in your belly or stand at rigid attention for these measurements; just measure your actual body, relaxed. After all, fudging the numbers will only result in a poor fit!

Distance from Waist to Hip:
Length from Waist to Hem:

Next you need to decide how many panels you’d like. If they’re all going to be the same fabric I’d recommend 4-6 gores. If you want to make each panel a different color or fabric for a funky look, you can go with more gores, but remember they’re more work. You might count the number of sections between seams on a favorite skirt, or do a Google Image search for “gore skirt” to get an idea of how it looks.

I’m going to give instructions for a four-gore skirt, which is really the minimum for a good fit that follows the rounded shape of the body. More gores or gores that are wider at the bottom will produce an A-line skirt, while gores that are closer to a square will give you a pencil skirt. You can adjust the instructions below to any number of gores simply by substituting that number anywhere you see “four”.

Adjust your measurements:
Add two inches to your waist measurement and divide the total number by four (this number will be referred to as W for waist)

**Note that this allows 2 inches of "ease" to get the skirt on and off. If your hips are more than 2-3" larger than your waist you'll want to adjust this number wider. You can always take fabric off if you make it too large, but it's a PITA to add it ON if you make it too small.

Divide your hip measurement by four (this number will be referred to as H for hip)
Use your Waist to Hem number (this will be referred to as L for length)

Using your test fabric and a pencil or marker and straight edge, draw three lines onto the fabric:

Use the measurements above for the length/width of the lines. The distance between W and H should be your Waist to Hip measurement.

Now draw a trapezoid around the three lines, using W as the top of the shape and extending the bottom down to the end of L. If your hips are wider than your waist, make sure the sides of the trapezoid clear both ends of the H line. It should look something like this:
Now add ½ inch to every edge of the trapezoid. This is what’s called a “seam allowance” because it represents fabric that will be on the loose side of the seam when everything is stitched together.
Congratulations, you have a pattern! Still using your test fabric, cut out four copies of this, using the outermost (dashed) trapezoid for the line to cut.

Note: It may occur to you as a time saver to fold the fabric into quarters so that you can cut all four pieces at once. You can get away with this on the test fabric, but when you make the final project you want to cut every piece with the fabric facing the same direction. This is more obvious when you have a pattern (the pattern on half the pieces will be upside down if you cut on folded fabric) but even fabric without a color pattern has differences. The threads may be woven in a particular direction, resulting in a difference in the way the light hits it from each angle. This extra step of cutting out all the pieces with the fabric facing the same direction will result in a more professional-looking end result.

Pin the four gores together at the long end, ½ inch in from the edge (just like they’d be sewn). Step into the circle and hold the skirt about 1/2” below your waist. Does it fit well? Is it too tight or too roomy anywhere? Too long? (Remember the finished skirt will be ½" shorter when you hem it and the waistband will gather the top). Now is the time to adjust the size of the trapezoid. You can cut away more fabric from each gore (try to cut the same amount from each panel to avoid looking lopsided and remember to leave that half-inch seam allowance on all sides.) If it’s too small or short, you may have to cut new panels from your test fabric (which is why we use test fabric for the first try).

After adjusting the panels, fold the bottom of the skirt up ½”, iron it and pin or stitch the hem with long, loose stitches you can easily rip out later (this is called "basting"). Check the length again.


There are generally a few options for a skirt waistband without involving zippers or buttons. I’ll describe the basics of an elastic waistband and a drawstring waistband (we’ll address wrap skirts and ties in another entry).

Add three inches to your waist measurement. This should be the same as the circumference of the finished skirt plus one inch. Cut a two inch wide strip of fabric to this length.
Skip the next step (adding fusible interfacing) for your test fabric skirt if you'd like, but follow the directions in the final version. If you're only working with your test fabric, skip down to where you stitch the two ends of the waistband together. If you're using test fabric make sure you use the basting stitches (long, loose stitches that are easy to rip out later). When making your final skirt, use a standard straight stitch.

Lightweight fusible interfacing is available at any fabric store and many box stores that have a craft section. It is a layer of synthetic material that irons onto your fabric to make it stronger and help it hold it's shape. Cut a length of it to the same dimensions as the fabric (you can lay one on top of the other and cut both at once).

Follow the instructions on the fusible interfacing. Generally there’ll be a coated and plain side to the fusible fabric. One has heat-activated adhesive that melts onto your fabric. Place this side against the “backside” of your fabric (the side you don’t want to show, also known as the “wrong side”)

(Note: if you’re using synthetic fabric, place a square of test fabric (preferably cotton) or a square cut from a paper grocery bag between the iron and the fusible. This will protect your real fabric from melting or scorching).

Iron the fusible onto the wrong side of the fabric per the instructions on the package. You’re done when you cannot separate the two with gentle tugging.

Fold the raw edges of the waistband over the fusible (about ¼”) and stitch to create a clean edge.

Stitch the two ends of the waistband flat together like this, leaving 1/4” seam allowance:

Now take the loop of fabric and fold it lengthwise with the fusible on the inside so that you have a 1” wide loop of folded fabric. Iron this so that it has a nice crease (use the protective square of paper or fabric as needed, to keep your fabric from melting or getting shiny with the heat).

To attach the waistband to the skirt, you want to turn the skirt right-side out (so that the other seams are inside. You will be pinning the waistband upside down on the right side of the skirt, so that when it’s flipped up into position the seam will be on the inside. That’s easier to show than to explain, so here’s the step-by-step.

First you will turn the skirt right-side out (the way you’d wear it, with the seams on the inside).

Then you place the waistband like so (dashed line is the raw edge, solid line is the folded crease):

Pin the waistband where it is, with the raw edge matching up to the top edge of your skirt gores. When it is matched up, stitch it onto the skirt.

Flip the creased edge of the waistband up so that the seam is turned inwards like the seams between the skirt gores. Iron it so that it lies flat.


This can be a length of ribbon or string, or you can make it from the same fabric as the skirt. Simply cut a thin (1/2” to 1”) strip of fabric one and a half times the length of the waistband. Fold it in half lengthwise with the “right” side together (i.e. it’ll look inside out). Run it through the sewing machine to stitch down the long side, leaving both ends open (like a long tube.)

Attach a safety pin to one end of the fabric and tuck it inside the tube. You’ll be turning the fabric tube inside out. Feed fabric onto the safety pin and slip it over itself so that the safety pin moves down the tube. When you get to the other end you should be able to just pull on the safety pin and the whole tube will turn inside out. Once it does, tuck the ends under and stitch the tube closed (or knot it).


Depending on the size and stretch of the stretch of the elastic you choose, your length may vary. The absolute simplest way to cut the elastic to the proper length is to wrap it around your waist. It should fit comfortably without being so loose it falls off. Generally you’ll want it at about half it’s maximum stretch. When you determine that length, add ½” and cut.

Feeding Elastic or drawstring:

Find the seam where you sewed the two ends of the waistband together. Use a pin or seam-ripper to remove several stitches (just enough to fit the large safety pin through the opening).

Pin one end of the drawstring or elastic to the waistband. If it slips inside you’ll have to pull the whole thing out and start over. Pin the large safety pin to the other end and push it through the opening in the waistband seam. Continue to feed it through the waistband (if using elastic make sure it’s not twisting as you feed) until you come around and back through the original opening.

If you’re using a drawstring you need only even out the ends and you’re done!

If you’re using elastic, you need to make sure the elastic lies flat all the way around the waistband and hasn’t twisted anywhere. Pull a good length of elastic on both ends so that you can work with it without the skirt getting in the way. Lay one end flat across the other end, overlapping by ½”. Run through the machine several times, or hand stitch several lines across the overlap as so:

Tuck the elastic through the opening in the waistband and make a few small stitches (this is easiest to do by hand) to close the opening in the seam. You’re done!


Pick the skirt apart and use the gores you adjusted as a pattern piece to cut the fabric you’ve chosen for your final skirt. Follow the same directions as for making a test skirt and you should have a fabulous something that fits you just right.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A summer of clothes

So every now and then a co-worker will have something delivered to the office instead of their house for various reasons, and of course the address is immediately flogged to every retailer with a catalog. I save them up to flip through on my breaks and holy crap, can we say ugly clothes this summer?

A lot of stuff is made deliberately to look awkwardly homemade (i.e. the hippy look). I figure if they want to charge me $60 for a dress that looks like it was made from leftover quilting cotton, I might as well buy the fabric and make it myself. At least then I know it’ll fit I suppose it’s a perk since it means my homemade clothes might pass for store-bought.

Also, I know it’s a heartbreak for you short-waisted folks, but I’m ecstatic to see more tunics creeping in through the ubiquitous empire waists and babydolls. “But empire waists look good on everyone!” you cry? Well, no. Some of us are mostly torso and belly, so an empire waist makes me look like an overbalanced 9-month pregnant mushroom. Regular length shirts meant to hem at the hips look like belly shirts on me. I need tunics!

Anyway, despite the horror that is the clothing catalogs, I’ve found a few things I’m geeked about.

This Polka-dot surplice swing dress from Torrid is screaming my name. Can’t you hear it? It calls to me....

This short sleeve wrap blouse from Kiyonna is very much mine someday.

I love the return of halter tops...I have the shoulders for it, now I need the halter-strap bras.

Speaking of Bras, Fruit of the Loom is finally making inexpensive sports bras up to size 44 in a 3 pack for around $10. I bought them to take camping/hiking and they're marvelously comfortable. I don't think they'd fit very well for anyone over a D cup, but as a C (sometimes D) I can attest that they don't give me the "Uniboob" look most sports bras manage.

Beyond that I’m stuck with patterns, really. I’ve got boatloads of fabric in the attic waiting for something to be done. Basic gored and pleated skirts are a snap to put together so that might be my wardrobe focus for the summer. I’ve got a few good patterns for cute dresses and wrap-tops sitting around collecting dust. I think I’ll just take control of my look right out of the hands of retailers this year and especially out of the hands of retailers who think every fat woman needs to wear knit-look tents and shapeless drab, or layers of tacky ruffles in odd places and giant fabric flowers. (ahem..Roamans...ahem)...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MeMe Roth and Anorexia

Life on Fatz already covered MeMe Roth’s equating eating food with rape, which is on a level of F’d up I haven’t seen yet. I want to cover another problem that came up in the interview.

I have a hate-hate relationship with the article in general. The first hate is that they are giving this woman attention, despite her complete lack of credibility or expertise. (Fat parents and a job as an “image consultant” does not a health expert make). She portrays herself as a modern Jeanne D’arc leading the people from death, and the last thing you want to do with a hate-mongerer crazy for publicity is to give them publicity. For some reason the media seem to fawn on her, but I’m not sure if it’s because of body-envy or because she’s spewing the vitriol they’re secretly afraid to say because they know it’s nasty and bigoted. At least this reporter is careful to emphasize that she’s the only nut job in her particular bag ‘o trail mix. Second, of course, is that the reporter has to give the obligatory paragraph-long crunch on Death Fat, trotting out the same statistics that have been disproven for years but are still stacked somewhere in a fact-check file for reporters to reference.

Now for the reason why I even bothered to click over to it. This interview casts a light on MeMe’s disturbing intensity of fanaticism. First she refuses to meet the reporter anywhere that serves food. She shows up in a tightly belted coat she refuses to take off. She talks about shame trauma as a child which she centers on the weight of her relatives. She’s highly uncomfortable talking about her own eating. She says she doesn’t do breakfast, halfway admits to not often eating lunch, won’t or can’t name a food she does eat other than black beans, brags that she runs four miles a day, sometimes doesn’t allow herself to eat until after she’s run four miles a day, and as of the 3:30 interview had not eaten anything that day.

Now I’m not an expert either, but doesn’t this quack a whole helluva lot like anorexia?

I’ve spent as much time as anyone in disgust and sometimes anger over this woman and her unproductive bile, but is it possible that instead of just being a nasty, hateful human being she might also/instead be seriously ill? There’s also the risk that if she is anorexic as she comes across in this interview, that she’s passing dangerous behaviours on to others via her “private nutrition counselling business”.

There’s a point where sometimes an aversion becomes pathological. I can see where a lifetime associating fat with shame and pain could warp into disordered eating, which then would need to be self-justified. By encouraging disordered eating in others she would validate her own illness to herself. I wonder what she’s doing to her daughters, as an example? What would she do if one of her own children picked up a gene for fatness from their grandparents or great-grandparents? Would she be willing to watch or force her own daughters to run four miles a day on no food? Give the daughter her own childhood of shame and abuse (this time external instead of internal)? I would hate to think there’s that kind of evil in the world sitting in plain sight.

Book Review: Lessons From the Fatosphere

Book Review: "Lessons From the Fat-O-Sphere" by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby

I picked it up at Barnes and Nobles, in the Diet section (ironic, but perhaps good since someone might grab it by mistake while hunting for new ways to starve themselves). JD flipped through it in the store, read a couple of paragraphs at random, then bought his own copy so he didn’t have to wait for me to finish mine. Every now and then I hear him laughing in the other room when he hits something witty.

The book is definitely an ideal FA 101, covering almost every major concept a newbie would encounter in the fatosphere and explaining it clearly in everyday language. They address health (physical and mental), media criticism, self-acceptance and defense, diversity, clothes, relationships, etc. and give resources for further reading and/or surfing. This is the book I’m lending out to every dieter I can convince to read it.


Chapter 12: “Don’t believe that only sick freaks would want to date fat women.”
This really, really struck home for me. I’ve been in discussions of the pros and cons of the fetishization of fat, feederism, fat-fanciers, etc. and still carried around a part of me that said if someone’s attracted to me, there must be something wrong with them. I’m still doing some wrangling with that belief, but this chapter is definitely a win.

Particular love goes out to this: “But unless everyone involved is cheerfully polyamorous, do not date people who aren’t single.” Having been in both monogamous and poly relationships, and having some poly friends in a group marriage who encounter not a few blocks because of it, I really love that line. Even if it was meant to be sarcastic.

Chapter 24: “Get over yourself! They really, really aren’t all looking at you!”
This chapter hit me with a clue-by-four right where I needed it right now. My summer is devoted to incorporating this concept into my paradigm; that what other people do, say or think has nothing to do with me.

Some of the other ideas in the book may not strike everyone as important until they get put into effect. Not watching TV? Having unplugged my cable and begun only watching shows I can get commercial free on DVD, I can attest to the difference it makes. A surprising amount of mental energy gets used up in the battle against the social dogma of dieting. That energy could be better directed if you weren’t bombarded by the constant diet ads on TV. I would personally add the suggestion to listen to CD’s or MP3’s instead of the radio, or listen to a commercial free channel like public radio that may occasionally cover fat-prejudiced “news” or “research”, but is generally safe. The ads aren’t as bad on radio as TV but they’re there, and most disk jockeys lay on the fat jokes pretty heavy (no pun intended).


The one thing I noticed is that there’s not a lot about/for fat men in here. Granted the authors are women, but they’re also white and manage to at least touch on the unique struggles with body image for women of color (in a fantastic guest essay by Julia Starkey). Were Paul Campos, Paul McAleer, or any of the other big men in FA (pun intended) asked for contribution, or did they just not want to participate? Of course the grain of salt in that criticism is that not every book can be everything to everyone, and the writers were sharing their own experience as women.

I think the authors’ blogs are better written than the book. There’s a dynamic flow and immediacy to a blog post that’s hard to re-capture in the static of print, where one chapter has to transition into the next and the reader doesn’t have the options of clicking around to read background information. For instance, the chapter in the book on not putting things off until you’re thin was powerful and inspiring, but the original Fantasy of Being Thin post still moves me to tears whenever I read it. Let me also say that just because I thought the blog posts were better doesn’t mean that I don’t think the writing in the book isn’t damn good.


Forever part of my FA library.

I’ve already loaned it out once and bought a copy for my Tante’ in California. The moment I finished reading it, the office Weight Watchers junkie saw it on my desk and asked to borrow it. I lent it to her, but I don’t think she more than skimmed it and I think she was looking for a “boost your self esteem while dieting” sort of thing. Maybe it planted a seed of doubt in her head, maybe not. Maybe one day she’ll even stop bringing food scales to the office potluck to weigh her servings of potato salad. In the meantime, in the midst of the office “Biggest Loser” contest, I think I’ll continue to leave it conspicuously out on my desk to see who else may bite.

P.S. I’d love to see this translated into Spanish!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The death of "Acceptable Fat"

This weekend I wore a sleeveless shirt in public for maybe the third time as an adult (other than the beach or pool). I even *gasp* wore it with shorts. I even *double gasp* went out without brushing my hair. Despite the white-knuckled defiance and the evidence that no one noticed or cared what I, a total stranger, was wearing, the “Acceptable Fat” persona was still shrinking into a little terrified ball in my guts.

“Acceptable Fat” is that little part of me that believes every passing human being is just waiting for a chance to humiliate me and stomp on any show of non-conformity or self-confidence. It’s that part of myself that spends every public moment watching how I walk, gesture, dance, talk and dress so as to not draw attentionto my different-ness. If I don’t stand out, I’m less likely to be targeted by the same kind of person who goes out of their way to leave nasty messages on a total strangers' blog. But if someone hates me for being fat, they’re going to hate me whether I’m in sweat pants or a tailored skirt, whether I’m eating ice cream or a salad or nothing at all. That phobia has officially claimed enough of my life, so I have made a goal for this summer. If I can’t get rid of Acceptable Fat, I can at least bring it to heel.

So this summer, I vow to bring about the end of Acceptable Fat in my life. I will wear a sleeveless shirt in public. I will mow my lawn in same sleeveless shirt and anyone who doesn’t like it can mow the damn thing for me or STFU. I will go walking in my neighborhood without wondering if anyone’s silently laughing at me behind the windows. I will only care for the opinions of people whose opinions I have reason to respect. I will not fear walking past groups of teenagers. I will go to the beach and only care about how much fun I have. I will go hiking and rest when I need to. When I’m hungry I will eat what my body wants, even if other people can see me. I will wear shorts. I will not assume that person who smiled at me is mocking me. I will smile back. I will wear the low-cut corset to the Ren Faire and flirt shamelessly with the pirates*. I will not allow Acceptable Fat to validate the judgements of others. I will wear high-heeled sandals even if it makes me 6’4”. I will make up that groovy sun dress pattern in flame-print cotton and wear it with said high-heeled sandals. I will only wear clothes that make me feel good. I will run barefoot in the grass and play softball and not waste time brushing my hair and putting on nice clothes just to run to the store. I will focus on the person I am and the people I’m with and not the people passing by. This is my summer.

*Note to JD: I promise not to bring the pirates home.**

**Unless they agree to mow the lawn and/or tile the bathroom floor. Then I promise to feed them and change their litter and keep them from scratching up the furniture.
Meow :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Holding on to my Standards

After a very bad breakup a few years back, I settled into a determined singlehood. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find anyone; I simply wasn’t looking, except occasionally in a half-hearted way. It didn’t help that PCOS was wreaking havoc with my hormones and killing my sex drive.

During that time I got a lot of advice from friends on how to find someone, up to and including lowering my standards (usually after I’d rejected someone who just didn’t click). At the time if anyone asked me what I wanted in a partner, I could tell them I wanted a man who was intelligent, literary, spontaneous, witty, spiritually compatible and either taller or stronger than I am. Geekiness and love of camping/hiking were perks. I still don’t think those standards are high, except for maybe the taller/stronger issue. That comes from a lifetime of being a six-foot-two chick with the sturdy frame of a viking peasant farmer, and is an issue entirely in my own head.

Anyway, my point is that there is an expectation that people (especially women) need to be in a relationship to be fulfilled, and consequently that “settling” for an unfulfilling relationship is somehow more desirable than being single. I’m here to say that’s utter and complete bullshit. I wasn’t (and still aren’t) willing to settle for less than what I need to make me happy in a relationship. I also wasn’t so unhappy as a very active single woman that I was impatient to find a relationship at any cost. I didn’t want the purpose of my life to be finding someone else, because if I made that the purpose of my life it would invalidate who I am and what I am capable of accomplishing on my own.

This was definitely NOT a consistent headspace throughout this time. I spent a lot of time struggling with the question of what I deserved, or whether it was more “realistic” to settle for what I could “catch”, because of what I looked like. When someone I didn’t know approached me, I struggled to shut up the voice in my head that said, “He’s attracted to me? what’s wrong with him?” and the more insidious suspicion that HE was settling for ME because he didn’t think he could do any better. The periods of ups and downs in that phase of emotional transition so resembled rapid-cycling that I even became convinced that I was bipolar.

Last October my highly empathetic and intuitive best friend staged a sort of intervention to help me along. Three of us sat down, and the rule was that we had to go around in turn and admit something that we’d never shared, and would make us cry. We talked about expectations of ourselves, perceived expections of those we care about, uncertainties as to our goals or deservedness of happiness. It turns out that we shared a lot of these in common.

At the end of the ritual I cut a length of my hair as sacrifice (and you’d have to know me to know how much that hurt) and asked my ancestors and the universe to, when I was ready to accept it, to send me the partner who would make me happy. I even went so far as to give the “list” of standards, leaving it up to them whether any of those standards were unrealistic.

Less than a month later I found out that despite all the mental and emotional progress I’d made in FA, I still didn’t believe that mutual attraction or love at first sight could apply to fat chicks. I found out by being proved wrong.

Part of the reason for the long break in blogging has been the introduction of a very distracting man into my life who, by the way, fits every single one of my standards for a partner, including the perks and a few things I didn’t know to ask for (like empathy). Sure there are things about us that the other has to adapt to, but the things that are really important (wit, intelligence, empathy, reason, humor, strength) are all there and accounted for. It’s a damn good thing I didn’t “settle” for less than I wanted, or I might have missed out on the awesomeness that is the real thing.

Now he’s moved in with me, and we’ve finally worked out possible ways to fit two enormous collections of books into one tiny, tiny house. (There’s no reason for us both to have copies of all the Jane Austen novels on the shelves, or duplicate Shakespeare. I’ll see his Dumas and raise him Isak Dinesen, and it may still all come down to paper-rock-scissors and cruising garage sales for new bookcases, possibly building an addition to have walls to put them on.)

We’ve already bought matching hiking boots, although my friends will do the fake-retching-that’s-sickeningly-sweet thing. We really only bought the same kind because they were 75% off and we’re both cheap bastards, but after two years my friends can put up with a little cuteness and STFU. :-)

Maybe some people can compromise on some or all of what they want in a partner and be completely satisfied. I know that finding the right person is almost entirely luck (plus a big chunk of self-awareness) and those who are more “people person” than I am may actually need to be in a relationship to be happy. Just make sure that no matter how much you want a warm body next to you at night that you don’t compromise on the core essentials that will make you happy. Having no partner really isn’t as bad as having a partner who doesn’t make you happy, trust me on this! Never settle for a partner who isn’t crazy about you (ALL of you) and vice-versa.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fat will kill you with Swine Flu!?!?!

I caught this out of the corner of my ear on NPR and had to look it up to make sure I hadn't missed a massive concussion or fallen asleep at my desk. No, I actually had heard doctors blame a 22 year old kid's death from swine flu on "Obesity and other health problems."

Beginning my trip into 1984, I find this article that manages to sprinkle fat-hysteria throughout with this particular gem as to why they think fat people are more likely to die of the flu:

"Other studies have shown that pregnant women are at higher risk, especially in the third trimester when the fetus and womb compress the lower regions of the lungs. This makes it harder to breathe deeply and cough forcefully; it may also alter blood flow in the chest. A similar thing may occur in severely overweight people, some experts speculated."

Seriously!? All fat people carry crushing belly weight that keeps them from breathing? SERIOUSLY!?

After making my way down the google news feed, it seems every article on the 22 year old from Utah who just died from the flu mentions the potential complications with this or a similar quote:

"Authorities said the man was overweight and had chronic medical conditions, including respiratory problems and other health issues that put him at risk."

So the fact that he was fat is factored more heavily than the fact that he had a chronic respiratory illness?

Are they seriously this ignorant, or just trying to reassure the reading public that Swine Flu is only killing the fatties? Are news feeds so eager to get on the bandwagon that they'll find a way to slip weight into ANYTHING?

*Breaking news, Shark attack linked to victim's obesity....*

This head-banging-on-desk sort of logic. Unfortunately it offers a brand-new-trendy scare tactic for the media to fly. Instead of taking a breath and a pause (or even, I don't know, offering sympathy to the victim's family?) they capitalize on the double fear of flu and fat to grab readers and give them one more lash for non-conformity.

If this was an actual research study I'd give it a CDNEC award. As it is it's going to get the honorary cousin to the CDNEC, known as the "You're a complete dumbass" award.

Recipe Box: Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

There's a restaurant a friend of mine gravitates towards because of a dish called "The Bubbler". It's a hot spinach-artichoke dip served with pita, and last time I tasted it I thought to myself, "this can't be that hard to make, instead of paying eight bucks for it"...

So here is the Bubbler. This is a party-size recipe and can expect to cover a dozen or more people at the "dab on a plate with chips" size serving. These ingredients are all "to taste". Personally I like to overload it with spinach, but your mileage may vary.

16 oz cream cheese (or neufchatel)
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup coarse-chopped frozen or bottled artichoke hearts

Heat the cream cheese and milk in the microwave at one-minute intervals, stirring between, until softened.

Use a whisk or fork to whip the cream cheese and milk together until smooth

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together

Heat again at 1 minute intervals, stirring between, until hot.

Serve with pita triangles or corn chips.

(Note: you could jazz this up a bit with pine nuts, red peppers and/or sun-dried tomatoes)

There you are: probably the least complicated recipe I've ever posted here! :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Theory of Trolls

Why do trolls bother? After all, they have to come across the blog entry, whether on Google or through the fatosphere feed (which denotes a whole 'nother level of unhealthy stalking behaviour) read through an entry (theoretically) and then actually take the time to come up with a reply, type it out, go through the "hidden pictures" anti-spam rigmarole.....for what? Are they so pantingly desperate for a chance to be nasty?

Durkheim and the buzzword "morality" aside, a society develops rules of conduct (written or unwritten) which allows it to function. You'll see that in a close-knit society people are much less likely to be rude and/or violent towards each other (not that its impossible, especially in familial abuse). This is because there are clear repercussions which make the individual responsible for their actions. Misbehavior is more likely to reflect on them throughout their lives.

As our "society" expands to a larger community where you cannot possibly know everyone, you become less accountable for your behaviour. After all, the odds of you ever meeting that person you were rude to again are slim. You won't be reminded of your rude behavior or face social consequences such as ostracization.

As the internet expands our society to a global scale we find that both the chance of face to face accountability is reduced to almost nothing. The dehumanization of text-only communication reduces empathy and the wide mixture of cultures with different rules of conduct confuses the matter further. The mature, responsible person is able to adjust their interpersonal rules of conduct and apply them online as if they were face to face.

It's interesting. Most trolls, by their behavior, would fit many of the signs of a sociopathic personality if they were acting as they do to people outside the internet. Eliminating body language doesn't mean that behavior automatically goes from crazy to rude.

We can also gain insight into those who leave hate-comments by studying the Psychology of Hate. I do think that the profile and psychology of irrational haters is comparable regardless of the target. (NOT making a value judgment or comparison between fat-hate and racism!). Haters, and trolls, are unsure of their social identity. When social identity is threatened people often cling to irrational belief, willing to defend it violently rather than adapt to the new social reality.

Hate can simply be an immature device to achieve detachment. When a troll posts a nasty comment about my weight, they are simply trying to say "I don't want to identify with you" (without, of course, using their words like a grownup). If they really examined their motivations, they'd find that they don't have to be anything like me (and probably aren't.) They don't have to somehow violently separate themselves from me in order to avoid the social stigma they fear. They don't have to post a comment to convince themselves they're not just separated from me by the narrowest margin of social whim.

Or maybe they do, because they fear it might be so.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beauty and Government

Michigan’s state budget is crashing like a demented lemming at a cliff face. I mention this not only because it means I’m laid off for six days this summer, but because I’ve spent more time than usual before and after work searching google news for keywords like “Michigan Budget” and “Granholm” (the governor). Of course the comments section of any news article is a case for Sanity Watcher’s points, but I’ve noticed that the most virulent critics of Granholm almost inevitably end their criticism with a mention of the mole on her cheek.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. When dealing with a woman in power, a large part of the criticism is nearly always directed at her appearance. If they find her attractive they bandy around terms like “MILF” and “Babe,” and usually conclude that she is therefore less intelligent. If there is any physical “flaw” it is seized upon with relish as a reflection of her character. How often have we seen Michelle Obama judged by her clothes, height, build and face instead of her intelligence? In the current Supreme Court nomination process, how much of the cyberspace discussion surrounds the physical appearance of the female nominees? Are women held to a literal double standard of both skill and appearance? Is having a picturesque leader now more important than an intelligent one? Can a mole magically suck governing skills from a human brain?

Paul Campos summarizes it nicely on The Daily Beast. He also tops it with what may just be the perfect quote, which is what originally caught my eye on Shapely Prose:

"For some men, the only thing more intolerable than the sight of a powerful woman is the sight of a powerful woman they don’t want to sleep with."
- Paul Campos

Really..'nuff said.