Fat Activism: A History By and For Fat People

New post over at rabble.ca! I wrote a review of Charlotte Cooper’s Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement. Go read the review and then buy the book!

This review has been up for a few days. I’ve been sick the past while and dragged my coughing, spluttering self to the desk in order to link it for y’all. Enjoy!

Fat Activism cover
Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement jacket

Top 3 things that have happened this summer:

I know. I’ve been absent for, like, a gazillion years. That’s what moving country, falling in love and getting a full-time job all at the same time will do to ya. Plus, of course, a resurgence of the good ole writer’s block à la earlier this year. But not to worry, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes here at Diary of a Lipstick Terrorist.

Here’s a rundown of the top 3 blog-related things that have happened this summer:

3. My zine, Dressed Like That: Feminine Voices on Sexism in the Queer Communityand I were invited by the Lithuanian Gay League to Baltic Pride! Sadly, being all the way here in Canada and the land of the living, I couldn’t attend personally. But I did attend in spiritvia a one-off English-only edition of Dressed Like That. Thanks LGL!

2. My article Is ‘cupcake feminism’ all empty calories?’was featured in an art exhibition on cupcake feminism and craft  in San Francisco. This article formed part of the reading stall in the art exhibition, and was also quoted in Artlines, a journal published by the Women’s Caucus for Art.  I’m proud to be part of the small critical dialogue on this phenomenon.

Image courtesy www.WhatDykeLooksLike.com
Image courtesy http://www.WhatDykeLooksLike.com

1. Last, but not least, I have been invited to be a featured blogger on Rabble.ca!I’m so happy to be part of this progressive community, and hope I make worthy contributions to the conversation. I will be writing exclusive content for both Rabble.ca and Diary of a Lipstick Terrorist, so keep your eyes peeled on both sites!

I have a new Tumblr!

Now that I’m 30 I am being super adventurous and branching out into the world of Tumblr which fascinates and slightly confuses me. Am I slightly old for this? Will I ever get the hang of tagging? Why don’t you follow me and we can find out together…

Now That I’m 30 is on a completely different tangent from Diary of a Lipstick Terrorist. It’s a place for me to write witty one-liners that no one apart from me (and maybe you?) thinks is funny. It’s a place for me to admire and appreciate other people’s work by reposting it. It’s my attempt to become part of the community. So why don’t you follow me and find out about all the ridiculous assumptions I have about my thirties?

Now that I’m 30, I have to buy beige towels.

Now that I’m 30, I only drink wine that costs more than $10.

Now that I’m 30, I have both curtains and blinds. Do YOU know the difference?

How to get and un-get (yes, that’s a word) Writer’s Block

Part two of two on blocked creativity and learning to self-care. In which I share some of the skills I have learnt to combat writer’s block and forming good creative habits.

After living in Berlin for 2 years, it has been hard to move to such an expensive, capitalist city as Toronto. With the low cost of living in Berlin, I was able to just about survive working seasonally in summer camps and doing the occasional editing job. Each day I had the option of how to spend my time.

Granted, then, as now, I often misspent my time. Too afraid of my own power to spend each moment alive and listening. But I feel like I did a lot more listening (and, as a result, creating) then than I do now. This is OK I guess. It’s not OK that I am sad, frustrated with and hating on myself right now. But it’s OK because I know that, any moment, this situation can change. I can sit down, as I am now, and listen. This makes it OK because right now I am listening. Right now I am creating. And now is, of course, where we all live.

It’s amazing how much calmer I feel just writing this. How much more in control of my life I am. It’s this feeling that I am running from. Being present makes me realise I can take control. And if I control things, then I have the ultimate responsibility for my actions. I become responsible for the way I treat others and myself, how I spend my time. A fulfilling job, healthy relationships, a creative life. All of these things become – are – attainable.

This is how Toronto makes me feel. It used to be an ad in British Columbia before it was pulled. Thanks M.M. McGlynn
This is how Toronto makes me feel. It used to be an ad in British Columbia before it was pulled. Thanks M.M. McGlynn

The question of time and money becomes even more urgent in an expensive, capitalist city like Toronto. Like London, the struggle to pay rent, buy food – to survive – feels far more urgent than it did in Berlin. When my minimum income doesn’t cover my expenses, I easily stress out. Having low self-esteem when it comes to employment, I spend a lot of time panicking and very little applying to jobs. I feel like I deserve a good job and fair pay, yet find it hard to believe anyone in the media industry will ever see that potential in me unless I sell myself very aggressively. I put a lot of pressure on myself to work hard, which results in me freaking out and running away from my desires and responsibilities – in short, from myself.

I don’t like selling my skills. I do believe that I have a lot of talent, yet my experience in the middle-class world of media has scarred me. Afraid that employers will be scared off by my politics, I undermine myself at the same time as believing I am better than everyone else. It’s this toxic mixture of arrogance and insecurity that leads to a feeling of hopelessness.

In situations like these, where I feel the pressure of survival, being present becomes my most important task. And because of this immense pressure I put on myself, it is also the thing I find hardest to allow myself to do.

When I moved to Berlin in 2010 I was extremely depressed. I was suicidal, on-and-off, that whole year and leaving London felt like my only chance of escape. In London, I felt no opportunity to get better, to carve out a life for myself. Between the 2 rush hours it took me to get to work everyday, the expense of rent and transportation, and no time and money left over to do anything fun, I felt there was no space for me. London invaded all of me. I was lost in an unfriendly sea.

Berlin was never enticing for itself. Berlin was appealing because it was an escape. It was the place I learnt some essential survival techniques and finally began to confront myself.

In Berlin, I learnt that time spent by myself – in silence, nature and adventuring – is the most self-loving, scary and productive gift I can give myself. I learnt that I am infinitely creative – I love drawing, dancing, singing, photography – and I enjoy exploring that. I also learnt that I am, above all, committed to the art of writing. Writing is where I can truly realise my potential. Writing is where I belong.

Comic by Ben Claasen. Source: WashingtonCityPaper.com
Comic by Ben Claasen. Source: WashingtonCityPaper.com

Two years ago, I followed The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and started writing every morning for half an hour. This stream of consciousness helps me vent and gain perspective for the day. I also learnt the self-love that comes from taking myself on a date once a week. These two tools finally allowed me to start writing on a regular basis, for the first time in my life. It also led me to create a successful blog, zine and write controversial articles for online magazines. Heck, I even wrote some poetry!

Now, living in Toronto, I am once again resisting the revelations (revolution!) that come from using these self-love skills. I use dating and unemployment as an excuse for spending my days freaking out over nothing in particular, rather than engaging in the daily drudge and acute concentration that would actually lead me somewhere – to write, send articles out, submit job applications.

I am wary of making commitments to stop or start doing something forever. If I promise myself I will never binge eat again, the next time I do, I’ll just beat myself up even more. I really don’t need any more self-loathing in my life. So, for now, I’m not going to say I’m going to write my morning pages every day and do my artist’s date once a week. I’m not going to say I’m going to work on my creative writing for 2 hours every morning, or post on this blog once a week. Because I know that if I don’t keep that promise to myself, I’ll end up hating and blocking myself even more. Sometimes self-care is just letting myself be.

A good friend once said to me she had stopped promising herself she would never self-harm again. Because then, when she did self-harm, the compounded disappointment and guilt made her feel even worse about herself. Every night, when I go to sleep, I don’t say I will always be OK. I say, right now, in this moment, I am breathing, I am alive and I am OK.

YOU SHOULD BE WRITING

The greatest challenge of moving to Toronto has been keeping true to myself. Part one of two on underemployment, self-care and learning to create.

I have had the hardest time recently keeping on top of things. As you’ve probably noticed, this blog has been seriously affected. It’s been such a struggle to move to a new city and try to build a new life, find employment. As always, getting a job has been the hardest challenge. I have such low self-esteem when it comes to employment. I’ve never had a job that I both enjoyed and that paid me a fair, living wage. Some of my most fulfilling ‘jobs’ have been volunteer positions and I have only ever been paid a fair wage for the drudge of administration. In every other situation, I feel that I have been taken advantage of. And, of course, I co-operate in that.

Neeeiill! Stop looking at me like that! Source: mobiuskleinstein.tumblr.com
NEIIIIL! DON’T KILL ME! Source: mobiuskleinstein.tumblr.com

Recently, dating someone new has given me the perfect excuse to ignore myself. I thought that 2013 would be so easy. Now I’m 30 I will be so mature and sorted. I will approach every situation with diligence and a balanced mind. Turns out, keeping perspective has been the hardest challenge of the past 2 months.

I have a tendency to prioritise others over myself; the classic habit of a blocked artist. These days, I try to put myself first. The balance of doing this while acting responsibly towards others in my life is something I am constantly thinking about. Refusing to put myself second place, recently, hurt someone else who was vulnerable at the time.

In other ways I, every day, put myself second. I distract myself by messaging my lover instead of writing. I spend time with them outside of our allotted dates instead of job hunting. This leaves me feeling frustrated and angry with myself. I know I am using them as an excuse and that is neither fair to them nor me.  This is something I struggle with every time I date someone. I would really like to develop healthy relationships that support rather than undermine my creativity.

Writers Block
Inspired by http://revaxmedia.co.uk/20-ways-to-help-writer-s-block

My lover asked me recently if we could stop freaking out now and just spend time enjoying each other. And I was, like, I don’t know! Maybe I like the drama too much. I know I am using the drama as a distraction from myself; where would I be without it? Oh yeah, a responsible, calm adult; living (working and playing) in the present.

I am afraid of silence. I am afraid that if I sit, in silence, even for 15 minutes, all my pain will come bubbling up and I will have to act on it. What will this mean for me? Does it mean I will realise I need to be by myself more? Does it mean I’ll need to change a relationship, end a friendship? Responsibility to myself entails change.

Source: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com
Source: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron notes that some blocked artists are afraid to create because they are afraid they’ll be forced to undergo radical change. If gay, they’re afraid they’ll be struck straight; if straight, they’re afraid they’ll realise they’re gay. I also have this overwhelming fear. What will I be forced to realise when I sit, just for 15 minutes, by myself every day and listen to the sound of my heart?

Oh yeah, and my lover’s idea for a new Tumblr: ‘Now That I’m 30’ and all the ridiculous things I feel that I should do now I’m in a new decade.

Resources to help you feel safe being creative:

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron (this book changed my life, no joke)

Creating a Life Worth Living, Carol Lloyd (also a book-based course)

This:

5 Movies to Watch When You’re Unemployed (Laydeez)

The underemployment saga continues as I forage ahead in Torontonian society armed with a temporary work visa, an ever-changing resume and very few pennies. Brrrr, it’s cold out here! Writing cover letters and applications isn’t fun, which is why I’ve decided to distract myself by making a list of movies to watch instead of doing the aforementioned job applications. Pretty awesome, huh? Now I can procrastinate productively!

Here’s the top 5:

5) Working Girl (1988)

Don’t be put off  by the fact this movie is probably older than you are. This classic tale about impostor (Melanie Griffiths/me) who pretends she is really her boss (Sigourney Weaver) and in the meantime has an affair with Harrison Ford is great fun for any horny temp who dreams of grabbing her boss’ position and honey.

The hair has got to be one of the best things about this movie.
The hair has got to be one of the best things about this movie.

4) The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Meryl Streep is great as the boss from hell and we get some kind of fuck-the-fashion-industry validation at the end of the film when Anne Hathaway’s character rejects crazy working hours in favour of a good relationship with her bf. However, how is she going to afford the clothes now she’s unemployed? Oh yeah, she got some kind of writing breakthrough. Sigh. If only making it in this world as a journalist were that easy (my life).

Give us your best bitch face, Meryl.
Give us your best bitch face, Meryl.

3) High Fidelity (2000)

Why is this one in here? Isn’t this film more about break ups? Well, probably, yes. But this movie based on the book by Nick Hornby is a serenade to losers everywhere. Failed in relationships? Running a slow business? Have extensive but impractical knowledge of rock history? Then this film’s for you. I love it for hating the shittiness of the way the main character treats his girlfriends but then has some kind of mid-life epiphany and turns into a nice guy. It’s kind of the sad-case-turns-good story that I like. Now that shit I can identify with.

Joan Cusack is one of my favourite actresses. She's also in Working Girl and she's way cooler than her brother, John.
Joan Cusack is one of my favourite actresses. She’s also in Working Girl and she’s way cooler than her brother, John.

2) Girls (2012)

OK, not a movie, but this new TV series about a bunch of underemployed twenty-somethings trying to make it in the big city really speaks to my heart. (Like, duh!) I didn’t expect it to be any good, but I empathised with the main character’s Hannah’s low self-esteem, shitty employment situations and even shittier boyfriend. My life is like that ! Yaaaay! Cathartic for the Y-Generation with our few pennies and fuck load of cynicism, Girls is great for its fairly realistic portrayal of working life in 2012. Think Sex and the City but way more funny, realistic and oddly uplifting. Watch out for series 2 in January 2013.

The unemployment, the ennui, the loss of parental funding...
The ennui, the underemployment, the loss of parental funding…

1) Erin Brokovich (2000)

This old classic about a broke single-Mum sticking it to the Man is heart-warming. (Truly, I mean it! I’m not being cynical at all. No, really.) Julia Roberts stars as the stubborn woman who blackmails her way into a job at a law firm and proceeds to make a ground-breaking case against the environmental violations of a global pharmaceutical company. Yay, working-class undereducated women sticking it to the man! And it’s based on real life. Also,  did you know that her Hell’s Angels boyfriend is played by Aaron Eckhart of The Dark Knight Two-Face fame? Who knew he could grow all that hair?

Mmm, I love cute hairy bikers!
Mmm, I love hairy bikers!

Queer Zine Fest London 2012

This Saturday is Queer Zine Fest London, the best place to get queer zines in, like, London (and the UK). So attention all you UK fans, not only is this your opportunity to check out some hot people and eat something vegan, it’s also a way to get your mitts on the new pink edition of Dressed Like That, my community zine. My wonderful friend ‘riotmade with love’ with be hawking copies at their stall, so make sure you get there early to get yours.

The deets:

Queer Zine Fest London 2012

Saturday 8th December

373 Kennington road

London SE11 4PS

Excerpt from zine: street art photographed by riotmade with love
Excerpt from zine: street art photographed by riotmade with love