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I had the honor of attending a beautiful marriage celebration this past weekend in Minneapolis. My husband and I are deeply driving-averse, and although I am not a big fan of air travel, especially in these modern days of nickel-and-diming, fat-hating, slut-shaming, desperately grasping, unregulated air lines, we decided that one hour in an uncomfortable plane seat would be preferable to eight hours in a car. Since it was only an overnight trip, we packed light, and I wore the bra that I planned to wear under my dress.

It’s this bra, in case you are curious. It’s a GREAT bra for the large-bosomed, particularly if your sweet chariots swing low. This is not the bra for someone who prefers stylish underthings over a utilitarian brassiere, but since I am the sort of person who walks into the bra department of my local department store once a year like clockwork and says, “Do you have this utilitarian brassiere in beige? Great, I will take four. And a twelve-pack of those beige, cotton, granny pants while you’re at it,” it is the perfect bra for me. Wearing it is also similar to wearing scaffolding, and there is enough metal in this thing to make a staid, tight-laced, Victorian matron pale.

So it was no surprise to anyone except me, and only then because I just wasn’t thinking about it, when my bra set off the metal detector at O’Hare. I responded to the TSA officer’s troubleshooting questions about the contents of my pockets or the possibility of implants with a good natured, “I’m pretty sure it’s the underwire in my bra,” hoping that he would wave his wand toward my boobs (oh hush) and let me go on and get some coffee. But instead he herded me into a little glass booth where I was subjected to a desultory yet unpleasantly thorough screening from a “female screener” who paid extra special attention to my underwire area, much to my mental discomfort.*

Eventually, the TSA officer, satisfied that the underwire shaped metal located under my boobs was, in fact, an integral part of the support mechanism of my underwire bra, let me go, and I scampered off, chagrined, to get some coffee.

This being a United flight, I was a little apprehensive about Flying While Fat.** I’m not death fat, and can fit within the confines of one seat belt with room to spare. Lowering the arm rest isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but it hurts my elbows more than my hips. Still, I definitely visually register as fat (and often end up sitting solo on buses and trains as a result, which as far as I am concerned is the best side affect of FA since that whole “putting half and half in my coffee” thing) and you know, just knowing that I might get the side eye from other passengers or gate agents had me a little uneasy.

I kind of hate to say it, since being furious at various airlines is one of my favorite parts of air travel, but everything went fine. Nobody pointed and called the Fat Police on me or any of the numerous other fat passengers, and nobody even really looked at me twice. Not only that, but the flight was short enough–an hour and change–that I didn’t even have time to get all squirmy and uncomfortable in the 17-inch wide seat.

The wedding celebration was delightful, with an amazing view and much exuberant dancing, for which I would like to thank the happy couple, who picked the music, The Most Enthusiastic Hotel-employed DJ Ever, and Elomi, for creating a bra that will hold my boobs in check even during “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.”***

I woke up the next morning without a hangover**** miraculously enough, but with one nagging thought: How the shit am I going to get through security in this bra without subjecting myself to another public groping? Not wearing a bra at all was out of the question; being 36 years old and having worn a bra since I was ten (aside from a Hippy Year in college when I declared bras to be untenable to my political beliefs), I would no sooner spend a significant amount of time outside without a bra than I would without pants. I hoped for a more lax attitude towards security at this smallish airport in a Midwestern city populated by eerily nice people, but as I waited in the interminable line for an excessively vigilant woman to perform the initial boarding-pass-and-ID-check, while a rogue TSA officer poked some sort of bomb or drug or liquids-in-containers-larger-than-3-ounces sniffer contraption into random bags, I knew that was folly.

Then it hit me.

I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “You might want to go through a different security line than me.”

“Why?” he asked, a little alarmed.

“Because I’m going to take my bra off before I go through the metal detector.”

And I did. And my husband, bless his heart, went right through the same security line behind me, which was probably for the best because if he hadn’t, I was going to plop my big old 40G right into a bin to send it through the metal detector. Out of deference for his more introverted and nonconfrontational nature, however, I stuck it in my purse instead, and walked through the metal detector metal- and support-free, without a hitch.

And so that I may serve, if not as a good example, as a horrible warning, let me impart the following wisdom:

  • If you are roughly 5’6″, 250-ish pounds, and an average US size 20, you’ll probably be okay on a United flight, even a short commuter flight on a smaller plane with 17″-wide seats.
  • If you are planning on flying any time soon and don’t already own one no-underwire bra, consider picking one up. I reservedly recommend this Cacique cotton no wire bra, which is not going to win any awards for lifting, separating, supporting, or shaping, and is also sold by a company that touts itself as a premier retailer of plus-sized undergarments yet refuses to carry anything above a DDD cup in its stores (while offering “bra fittings,” and if anybody here is over a proper DDD cup, and has been fitted by an LB sales associate who did not then attempt to stuff you into an ill-fitting, too-small bra, please tell me in the comments), but is pretty handy for Saturday mornings when you really want pancakes but are inexplicably out of baking soda and need to run out to the store or when you are planning on going through a hyper-sensitive metal detector. I’m a 40G and I think the one I have is a 42DDD, which works fine for its purposes.

*She did offer, a few times, to let me undergo a private screening, but I mostly just wanted to get it over with so I declined. I would have accepted if she wanted me to actually remove any additional clothing, and I want to remind my modest or religious readers, that you have the right to request a private screening by a TSA officer of the same gender if you are asked to remove a veil, head covering, or any other garment that you do not wish to remove publicly.

**Bought the ticket just before they announced their anti-fat policy.

***Peace to you and your family, MJ.

****Dear Colleen, Ha ha. XO, OTM

I read somewhere (maybe Fatshionista, or Fatshionista, I can’t remember – ETA: It was in the comments of this great post by my pal the Pretty Pear) that a number of mail-order purveyors of women’s plus size clothing, such as The Catalogs, insist on using straight-size models, despite the fact that doing so often makes their clothes look ridiculous, out of some misinformed notion that fat women won’t buy clothes that other fat women are wearing. And, you know what? Fine. Whatever. Go ahead, pin those 12Ws to hell and back on a size 6 model. These retailers are usually so fashion tone deaf anyway that getting them to jump on the Fat Pride bandwagon by using fat women to model their plus-sized clothes is akin to teaching a puppy to drive a car before you even train it to stop peeing in the house.

So it’s not the fact that Chadwick’s is using a straight-sized model to display its plus-sized dresses that bothers me. It’s the fact that they are manipulating the photos of these straight-sized women to turn them into impossibly spindly, spaghetti-shaped, wire hangers, like so:

No wire hangers! Another example of a manipulated image.

If either of those two models are naturally that shape and size, I will not only buy that dress, I will also eat it.

Employment Law Tip of the Day: Want to create a company policy that will ensure all your personnel decisions are fraught with racism, sexism, ablism, ageism, gender normativity, and size discrimination? Try rating your employee’s looks on a scale of zero to five, and put the ones who don’t conform to an “all-American, clean, wholesome, or the girl or boy next door” look in the back room folding clothes where they are unable to disgust customers and dilute your brand image with their nonconforming presentations.

Just like Abercrombie & Fitch did!

Make sure that you claim, loudly and often, that you are working on diversity, by providing managers with a “look book” of appropriate faces that include Black, white, and Latino/as. You know, all the races! When somebody points out that you have no Asian faces in your look book or in your marketing campaigns, just point out that for some reason, Asians just don’t like A&F so hiring and marketing to that demographic just doesn’t make good business sense.

I came across this gallery of USA First Ladies and I’m just totally fascinated with it. First of all, Dolley Madison was the Chubby Hotness. And there is something about Louisa Adams that makes me want to sit up all night drinking and playing cards with her. Also take a peek into her hat closet. I swear Hannah Van Buren looks like somebody I know. It shouldn’t, because people are people (so why should it be???), but it always kind of throws me when people in old photos look like modern people, just dressed up in dusty clothes from the Old Time Photo booth on the boardwalk.

I also find it interesting to see how, around the time of Sarah Polk, so the mid-1800s and right before the Civil War, women’s fashion got really dowdy and intense. Mary Todd bucked that trend, but the Washington wives and the press really tore her a new one for it. Things didn’t really seem to lighten up much until Frances Folsom Cleveland, who was 21 when she married Grover in the Whitehouse and was considered to be pretty saucy for her day.

I also like to see how beauty standards have changed over the years. We went from the crazy frizziness of Helen Taft’s hair, to Lou Hoover’s considerable eyebrows to Lady Bird’s immaculately symmetrical brows and immobile hair helmet. And we never looked back.

So we’ve learned that sexxx appeal is paramount for female Olympic athletes, and that they are totally inconsiderate for not considering how their preference for breast compression might be really bumming out hetero dudes in the audience.

ETA some more things we’ve learned: women athletes are gold diggers, not gold medalists; our president is a complete fucking creep.

But did you also know that while male Olympic athletes should eat lots of calories in the form of a wide variety of delicious food, such as pancakes and sausage and delicious cheesy bean things and big old sandwiches on white bread, women should be sure to eat only “clean” foods? And that it is totally adorable when a man doesn’t cook at all, but women should always make their own food and never order pizza? And that eating junk food like oatmeal or cereal is very bad for you? And that an appropriate amount of “extra protein” after an Olympic caliber swimming workout consists of two eggs and two slices of toast?

Well, now you know.

So I was reading a post on Pound yesterday, in which Wendy linked to one of her old posts about Bad Times retail locations, which incidentally is hilarious and totally articulates something that I have always found disconcerting yet totally inarticulable and also I totally used to live near the Andersonville Bad Times Jewel and would go out of my way to hit up the Good Times Dominick’s on Broadway and Thorndale instead, that is how sensitive to Bad Times I am, and then she linked to another post about Hair Question Men.

I like to fancy myself a generally nice person. I smile, make eye contact, and politely say, “No thank you,” to people who want to save the children, people who want to know about my feelings on the environment, people who want to sell me a copy of Streetwise, give me menus, or give me literature on any number of social justice causes, whether well founded or totally fucking paranoid. But those awful, douchey, shitbag Hair Question Men really, really, really piss me off.

My first HQM encounter was actually with an Hair Question Woman. I had just moved to the city and was in the middle of my first year of law school. As I scurried along to class in the loop, exhausted, stressed out, wind blown, unkempt, make-up free and sans accoutrement and probably about eight months out from my last haircut, a nice lady stopped me at a light and said, “Can I ask you a question about your hair?” My ego, which law school had been systematically destroying, jumped up and said, “Really? My hair? Sure! Sure! Do you like it? Are you going to say something nice to me? Can you validate my existence as a human being? Please! Please ask me about my hair! ASK ME ABOUT MY HAIR!!!”

The HQW started in on her sales patter and, this is a genius move, really, extended the coupon book she was trying to sell toward me. I, being a total idiot plus also really not wanting to hurt this nice lady’s feelings, accepted it. And then? The HQW put her hands in her pockets, leaving me holding the item she was attempting to sell me in my hot little hands, with nowhere to put it. BRILLIANT. I forget how I extricated myself from the situation, but once I realized she wasn’t my new best friend but was actually selling me a product in which I had zero interest (not to mention zero time or money to use it), I started rambling about being late for class and being broke and haircuts being against my personal religious beliefs and being legally prohibited from being within thirty feet of all the stylists at the salon for which she worked and then I tucked the coupon between her arm and her coat and ran ran away as fast as my little legs could carry me.

And I’ve held a grudge against the whole endeavor ever since. But it’s not just a personal grudge. The enterprise feels eely and dishonest and really rankles me from a feminist standpoint, too. My first HQW was also the only woman I’ve ever seen working that particular gig. In ever other case, it’s opportunistic men exploiting gender hierarchy to sell a basically worthless coupon book by using women’s socially inculcated insecurities about their looks to get their foot in the door and employing a really distasteful “no means yes” hard sell, plus guilt, plus emotional manipulation, plus sometimes straight up physical intimidation to part women from their hard-earned 76 cents on the god damn dollar. And it makes me just furious.

I’ve basically made it my life’s work, or at least a hobby of mine, to be as unpleasant to HQM as humanly possible. Once, after a woman had declined to discuss her hair, I watched one of these slimy jerks flick a lit cigarette butt after her retreating form and call her a bitch. I asked the name of his employer, intending to call and report his actions and probably report the salon to the Better Business Bureau for putting assholes like him out on the street but can you believe it? He would not tell me unless I bought a coupon book. Another time I called building security on a HQM making the rounds in the food court of a public building where I was trying to eat lunch and read in peace. A few days ago, I responded to some shitheel’s entreaty to question me about my hair with an unimaginative but heartfelt, “No! Go fuck yourself!” Lately, perhaps because of the increased foot traffic in the summer, or because times are tough and the HQMs have been downsized from their regular douchebag day jobs, the HQMs, like summer’s ubiquitous piles of abandoned dog shit, are just everywhere.

I don’t know if it was the heat, or the fact that I was both hungry yet, due to the heat, disgusted by the thought of food, or because last night’s crazy mother fucking weather forced me to put on a bra after seven p.m. (in case I had to leave the house in a hurry; didn’t want to be running in a panic down the street with my melons a’bobbling) AND literally scared the pee out of our smallest cat (all over our bed), but today when I got hassled by a HQM, I totally lost my shit. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those stories where I talk about how awesomely witty and cutting I am, because I was really neither, but I think it does show exactly the kind of men who think accosting women on the street with a bullshit sales pitch would make a really rewarding career:

HQM: Can I ask you a question about your hair?

OTM wheels around to face the HQM, who launches immediately into his sales pitch.

HQM: I work for one of Chicago’s premiere salon’s and we are offering a fantastic deal on–

OTM: Shut up! Shut up! What is wrong with you? You have the most annoying job in this entire city, do you know that? Why don’t you quit this and do something that doesn’t totally fucking suck? (See? Not witty.)

HQM: This job is annoying? I bet I make more money than you do.

OTM: Seriously, you have the most bullshit job ever.

HQM: Well, I bet I make more money than you do.

OTM: You probably do, but you are still the most irritating person on this street right now. (walks away, throws her hands up in a gesture of frustration.) You all make me nuts with shit. Can I ask you about your hair. What a bunch of (yells over her shoulder) HORSESHIT!

HQM (yelling after me): You’d be surprised at how many girls I lay!

So there you have it. A little insight into the psyche of hair question men: they are better than me because they make more money than I do and they “lay” a lot of “girls.”

Shorter MSN.com: LOL women drivers amirite?????

So which is the most offensive assumption in this article? That only mothers driver the kids around? Or that fathers are such innately superior operators behind the wheel that they never get distracted by screaming kids or bagels? Or that the majority of women drivers only drive to ferry around their offspring? There’s just much to chose from. It’s like a bullshit buffet!

In case you don’t feel like wading through the article, here is the abridged version:

1. Women are always flapping their gums and they can’t stay off their cell phones! It must be because women speak so many more words than men every day.

2. When women get cocky, BABIES DIE.

3. Mothers of small children should get nine hours of sleep every night or else BABIES WILL DIE. And don’t talk to us about not having time to get enough rest, okay? THAT IS NOT OUR PROBLEM.

4. NEVER BE IN A HURRY OR BABIES WILL DIE.

5. Never eat.

6. Ignore your children. Be on the lookout for next week’s MSN profile: Why Driving Mothers Who Ignore Their Children Are Terrible, Terrible People.

7. Never, ever slack on car maintenance. We don’t care if you’re dying to connect with other adult humans, exhausted, busy, and starving. MAKE TIME FOR ANOTHER CHORE OR BABIES WILL DIE.

I am in SUCH a bad mood today. It’s 90 degrees and so humid, walking outside is like walking into somebody’s mouth. Autumn cannot come quickly enough.

Why mainstream magazines are bullshit:

NO JEANS FOR YOU.

NO JEANS FOR YOU.

Here’s a close-up of the bottom row:

Sorry!

Sorry!

Nothing says, “YOU ARE A GIANT FREAK AND YOU WILL NEVER FIT IN” like a grid full of super fashionable jeans that don’t come in your size. Sorry!

via Sociological Images via Jezebel.

Riots Not Diets
Riots Not Diets, originally uploaded by gaelx.

Michelle Obama Watch

Gina at What About Our Daughters has taken Michelle Obama Watch life, and she’s looking for contributors!

If you use WordPress, you can add the RSS feed to Michelle Obama Watch on your side bar. It’s in the Dashboard under “Design” and then “Widgets.”

RSS Notes from the Fatosphere

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