Monday, June 30, 2008


"Hey Mom, Look at that cow!"

"How dare y..." right. I am at a farm. I guess I still need to work on that over sensitivity thing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coupons, coupons, coupons

I just joined up with a new website where Etsy artists can offer coupons to their shops. It is quite small, but hopefully it will grow over time.

Etsy Secrets will have my first coupon up within a day or so.

As a sneak peak for readers here, I will tell you that for the next two weeks there will be free sterling silver pearls studs (available with long posts!) with purchase*... well, for those who have the coupon code anyway...

So yeah. go check it out. and if it is not there yet, please try again later.

*some restriction apply. Not valid for followers of the imperial dark lord or he who shall not be named. Limit one pair per customer unless you have two heads. Then I am happy to send to pairs. Not recommend for fetuses under 9 months. Do not use as a flotation device. In case of emergency, please do not expect your earrings to help you in any way.

My Entry to the Fat Experience Project

I will never be good enough for my family because I am fat. On the other hand I am learning to live with that.

It is not that anyone in my family is really a "skinny mini", it is just that they are mostly what they consider "normal" and always dieting to get closet to having the same profile as a stick. The fact that I am fat, and worse yes, not changing that fact, makes me an embarrassment.

I remember being six years old and my cousin and I got lollypop in the synagogue. My bubbie opened my cousin's for her then told me that "I really did not need that".

Their thinking coloured my own for a very long time. Growing up I thought it was okay to be a doormat- to be tormented by mean children in my school and I accepted that it was normal for other kids to hurt the fat ones. There was one boy in my class who would come up to me and grab my newly developing breasts and yell "squishi-boobs". I cried, but I told myself that I deserved it. Clearly my family thought it was okay because no matter how much I cried, no one stopped the torture.

In high school I made friends, but by then it was too late. I always tried to give 110%. I was the kid who invited everyone over. Who would organize everything. I figured if I stopped no one would have use for me anymore. I always felt like there was an invisible wall between us. I remember on our grad trip everyone standing with their arms around each other in a group hug and me standing on the side. I could not bring myself to break that wall and touch another person. They were "normal". I was fat. I always wondered what they said about me behind my back. I figured it did not matter so long as they pretended to like me when I was around.

I wore baggy clothes to try to hide as much as I could. No wait. I am lying. There were times where I tried something a little funkier. My parents told me it did not look good on someone my size and ridiculed me. They made me go change and "put on a sweater".

But I am learning.

Some of those people are still my friends and I have realized that it is not only because I organized the parties.

I have moved on with my life. I found a wonderful man who can see beyond the surface to what is in my soul. With him I am building a family and rebuilding a life with my family that has to do with who I am and not what I look like.

I look at my daughter and see the world in her face. I see undisguised love in her face when she kisses me goodnight. She knows I am fat. In her "my family" picture she made at school I am clearly twice the size of her father- but she loves me anyway.

2 years ago I went back to school. It is a school where merit and accomplishment mean a lot more than your Saturday night plans. I now have a business that I love. I have worked hard for it and it is growing nicely. At first I thought it was growing becuase people never needed to see me. You know what? I recently added a photo to my site and business did not stop short. In fact, if anything it has been better since I added the picture.

In fact I have found a bit of a niche market in designing for people like myself. Fat people who are tired of hiding in the shadows. Through their strength mine has continued to grow as well. I have moved from dark and drab to bright and vibrant in more areas than my wardrobe.

The invisible walls are crumbling and I am starting to walk away from the ruins. I can't get enough hugs from my husband or my daughter. I can walk arm and arm with a friend and not worry that everyone is staring at us. Ok, well, sometimes I do still worry, but I walk arm and arm and tell myself it is okay and I am not doing anything wrong.

It has taken a long, long time, but I am starting to learn that I am not the sum of the numbers on a scale. I deserve to be happy. To have friends, and a loving family, and nice clothes. I deserve to have dreams and to have them come true just like everyone else.

And those who are not going to be supportive can go to hell. I am sure there will be lots of "normal" people there to greet them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Fat Experience Projects

Good morning :)

I awoke this morning to find a notice and request in my inbox, and I am more than agreeable to share it with everyone here. I agree with the project, and if I a) had a video camera tat connected to my computer in some way, shape or form, b) feel way less comfortable speaking than I do writing, and c) were passed the "still working on it" stage of my "I am hideously ugly because I am fat" thing I would do it in a heartbeat.


Hi there -

I wanted to let you know, in hopes that you might let your audience know, that I've recently launched a new project that I'm very excited about!

The new project is called "The Fat Experience Project." and you can view it here:

The goal of the Fat Experience Project is to map the global experience of fat in a way that is human, has a face, a heart, a mind, a body and a voice. The Fat Experience Project is an oral, visual and written history project which seeks to be a humanizing force in body image activism. By collecting and sharing the many and varied stories of individuals of size, the Fat Experience Project seeks to engage with, educate, empower and enrich the lives of people of size, our allies and the world at large.

As the project grows, it will be filled with first-person, non-fiction narratives (in text, video or mp3 format) that speak to the many and varied aspects of the life lived large. Some of the content will come from interviews already gathered on an extensive 2-month road trip (with the lovely Val Garrison) in both audio and video format. Some content will come from trips on the horizon. Most content will be submitted via thewebsite by readers such as yourself.

It is my hope that the project will be a community tool to combat prejudice/stereotype/discrimination as well as to help externalize shame so it can discussed and dissipated. The things we keep silent about are the things that do us the most harm. Shared burden is lighter. I am hoping, as well, that the project may eventually be used as a humanizing resource for fat studies and social anthropology courses.

I am writing to ask for your help in both the promotion of and the participation in this project. It is my fondest hope that, ultimately, with time and resources, this project will grow beyond a specific and exclusive fat focus and move toward addressing the many intersections of shame.

In the meantime, I would love your help in the form of passing this along to your readers/mailing lists/friends/family/anyone you feel may benefit from hearing about this project.

I also welcome comments, constructive criticism and volunteers.

Thanks for your time and energy!
Big BIG love,

Stacy Bias

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bad Google Ads!

This does not fall under "stupid comments" so much as it falls under "stupid web programs", but as I do not want to create a new tag that I will likely never use again, this is where I am sticking it.

I keep a regular journal over at livejournal (not hiding anything, if anyone is a member there and wants to find me I am under the name happyduck1979). I have what they call a "plus" account. Basically, I get some of the perks that the paid members have, but in exchange I have to see a few adds on my page. It really does not bother me in the slightest because I use adblock (a firefox extension) so I never actually see them anyway.

On that journal I have a link to this blog.

Google adds are what's called "targeted advertizing" and brings up ads based on words and links on a page. For example, if you have an entry on toasters, you might get an add for a kitchen supply store. Have a link to the weather? you might get an add for umbrellas. you get the picture.

A friend just let me know that for those who do have to see the adds, because I have a link to this blog "Fat and Feminine in Toronto" that uses the word fat, I am getting adds for weight loss products and weight loss centres! So I logged in to my journal with another browser, and there was an add, right at the top of my own journal, telling me that I should eat better to lose weight!

Now I did what it told me to for objectionable adds and reported it, but I have my doubts that it is going to do anything.

Ok, logically I can certainly see the connection between the two things. I type "fat" I get "lose weight" as an add- but there has got to be a way to get my journal to stop insulting me behind my back!

If anyone knows how to get rid of a seriously unwanted add please let me know.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Me again

Another review :) Thanks!

Pedestrian Sunday at Kensington Market

Attention Ladies and Gentlemen in and around Toronto

Next week, on Sunday June 29th, I will be participating in Pedestrian Sunday at Kensington Market at the Anshei Minsk congregation. Pedestrian Sundays is a great event in a fun and historical area of Toronto, the original home to Toronto's Jewish community. In one of many attempts to revitalize the shul my cousin and her friends are trying to put "the Minsker" on the map with a sale, a family friendly kosher bbq, and some other fun stuff.

A percentage of all sales will go to the Anshei Minsk congregation.

Please come out to support a great cause and a nice, free event.

10 St. Andrew Street right at Spadina. Easy by bus, or parking available nearby.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

hats on for me

Ok, so although I have never actually gone in to it on this blog, I have mentioned a few times that I always wear a hat of scarf or something on my head. So someone finally called me on it. Why do I do it?

Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? "We Jews have been kicked out of many, many places. Forced to leave with not'ing but the clothes on our backs. Maybe that's why we always wear our hats!" Ok, so thats not really the real reason, but it is a good a jumping point as any.

I am a Modern Orthodox Jew. This is a huge part of who I am and does effect a lot of what I wear and what I do. Through various biblical reference we learn that a married woman should cover her hair. When and how much are questions that people more learned than I have been struggling with for a very long time, but the base fact, that according to traditional Judaism married women wear something on their heads is not really arguable.

From a modesty point of view it is something that becomes private. One of the parts of us that are designated for our husbands. Just as we teach children that "what is under a bathing suit is yours and yours alone, so to does our hair take on this status when we get married. (Why our hair and not, say, our nose or our pinky? I have no idea.) In essence, we cover our hair as a sign both to ourselves and those around us that we are married, and therefore unavailable. In the religious world it is as common a sign of being married as a wedding ring is to the rest of society (Although thankfully for jewelers like myself we also have wedding rings!)

There are a number of ideas of how this should happen. The more traditional streams of Judaism say that it all must be covered all of the time and often use wigs, snoods, scarves etc, that will cover every last strand of hair at all times. Many even sleep in thair coverings of choice. Less traditional streams believe that you should wear a hat or other headcovering for religious rituals (prayer, ceremonies, etc. Along the ideas of wearing a hat connotes respect).

There are also those who have chosen to leave this idea behind all together.

And then are those like me who fall somewhere in the middle. I am a firm believer that there is a God and he did give us the Torah (Bible), but I believe that over the last 2 thousand years it has been interpreted and reinterpreted by human beings. I try to learn what I can and make my own way in this world according to the precept set down in the Torah in harmony with a modern lifestyle and rational thought.

I used to cover it all with a wig or whatever all of the time, but as I figured out more and more who I was, I realized that doing so was not exactly who I wanted to be. I now cover some of my hair most of the time.

I wear something on my head whenever I leave the house, and most of the time when we have men at our place (family, often close friends from before I was married, etc. not included). Most of the time it is a beret, baseball cap, bandana, or scarf. I do still occasionally wear wigs where a hat would look funny our out of place (formal affairs, etc.), but even then I try to avoid it as it makes me feel hypocritical as it is not something I generally do.

(There is a 2nd type of headcoverings in Judaism. A Kippa (Yarmulka) is traditionally worn by men only, but is now being taken up amongst less traditional streams for both genders during prayer or ceremony. It is now being seen more and more in the form of headbands and baseball caps for those who believe that a headcover is a reminder that God is above us. But as I am not associated directly with any of those groups I am going to leave it aside for now).

Ok, now if anyone has any questions on how I reconcile traditional religion with modernity and feminism feel free to ask and I will try to take on any questions posed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

comiing from my closet... (no, not like that)

So, it has been about 2 years now since I looked in my closet and realized it was darker than the biblical plague of darkness in there. It seemed that pretty much every piece of clothing I owwned was either black, navy or grey, with a couple of white shirts here and there to wear under other things.

It was depressing.

I realized that I was dressing mostly so that I would just fade into the darkness and no one would notice me. On the other hand, as my esteem was in the toilet and my head was only 2 inches above ground level most of the time, that seemed to fit.

As I slowly broke ground with my therapist, I realized that I had no reason to be hiding behind my clothes. Ok, I am fat. Ok, I am not going to win any modeling contests anytime soon, but I am a good person. I am a nice person. I am not some hideous monster who should never show her face in public... and certainly never look to have anyone notice her at all. I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!

Yes ladies and gentlemen. I am a person who deserves to enjoy my life just as much as the next person. Maybe more than some.

But then came the problem. I had always been told that "people my size" should wear baggy clothing. Try to cover our "flaws". Dark colours were more "slimming". Patterns were too "overwhelming" when used in such large pieces. I realized that I only knew how to dress according to how others saw me. I did not know the first thing about dressing myself the way I wanted to be seen.

I had always been into the whole artsy-romantic-historical look. Did people actually wear stuff like that?

Funnily enough, I found they did. Yes, even fat people. And these were people who wanted to be noticed.

I started by not going to far outside my comfort zone. I had always worn broom stick skirts in the summer. Comfy, roomy, available in black- what more could I have asked for. So I bought one in bright royal blue with a slightly darker embroidered trim at the bottom. Wore it a few times, got used to wearing it with a pale blue shirt! (Pale blue is a colour that had never even entered my home before, let alone my closet!) Before I knew it, I had bought an vibrant haloween orange broomstick skirt with orange sequins and hunter green embroidered trim! I bought a headscarf to match, added a white shirt, and had my first "a whole new me" ensemble.

And I love it and I wear it all summer long.

Because I am an Orthodox Jew pants, shorts, sleeveless, backless etc. is just not an option for me. Totally not up for discussion. In some ways this makes life easier... no need to fight the inner "should I should my upper arms even though I hate the way they continue to wave hello after the rest of my arm has stopped" battle. On the other hand, it does give me a little less to work with as finding skirts that are nice, funky, washable, weather appropriate, and available in plus sizes is a bit of a tall order. Add to that the fact that I always wear a hat or head scarf of some sort (I do own a couple of wigs but hate wearing them so they get a lot of shelf time).

Over time I have managed to build up a set of "funner" clothing. I have a skirts in violet with beads and sequins, brown with velvet, a red white and blue paisley print and even in tie dye! I have an awesome ruffled poet shirt with a ribbon corset going down the front, some nice t shirts of varying sleave length in a number of different colours, and some really funky sweaters that I love for in the winter. I even own two turtlenecks... something I was told was an absolute "no-no".

Recently I even went so far as to start buying dresses. I picked up this amazing black jumper that has a front corset tied with a hot pink ribbon that I wear with a hot pink shirt. I have a wrap dress (ok, so that is black, but it has burgandy trim). I even looked at a dress with this bold, mod square pattern on it in black white and red (I decided though that I just could nto afford it right then so I had to walk away.

Even my footwear has gotten a little more exciting thanks to my sister. No more loafers 7 days a week. Now I have heels, ballet flats, boots, even a pair of fairly strappy sandals.

And today I was chatting with someone about a shirt I saw that I want really, really badly. She commented that she loved it, but would never have the courage to wear it. I realized that a year ago neither would I.

I also realized that overhauling my wardrobe is a big part of what has been happening to my overall self esteem. Sure there are still some bad days, but on the whole I am moving out of the "I am a terrible person because I am fat and should love a life of shame" to "I am a good person and that is independent of how I look and I deserve to live my life in the sun like everyone else".

I am not entirely sure if I am pulling my wardrobe or if it is pulling me, but either way it seems to be working for us both.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Zenni Optical

I just wanted to be sure that EVERYONE knows about Zenni Optical. They offer good quality glasses, including lenses, starting from just $8. Shipping to Canada is $6 no matter how many pairs you get.

I wear a really high prescription and generally spend a fortune on my glasses. Even when I bought $49 walmart frames I still ended up paying over $500 for my glasses. Here, I chose 2 different frames, one $49 and one slightly less, got two complete pairs of glasses (including high index lenses, anti-scratch, glares and reflectives coatings) 2 cases, 2 cleaning cloths, and 2 sets of sunshades for each, for $131 including shipping. Not $8 (did not like the $8 frames) but for less than 1/4 of what Iwould generally pay for one pair, I got 2.

I have always had trouble finding glasses I liked as store optitions are a royal pita most of the time. Frankly, I knew what I wanted, they told me it could not be done in my script. Here I did not have any of the nonsense that my scripts was "to strong" for rimless frames. I got exactly what I wanted with no questions asked.

All I did was measure my owl frames so that I knew basically what size I was looking for. Zenni has detailed measurements listed for every set of glasses on its site. Yes, for those with large heads they had had plenty to choose from.

Ok, so they did take longer than lenscrafters. But even so for an internet purchase it was not to bad. I got them in just under two weeks fro mthe day I placed the order.

They do sunglasses as well, and at less that $20 including the tinting, even as just a pair for the car they are more than worth checking out!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Tables are turned

I was in a large plus sized shop the other day and I got the laugh of my life. A woman, clearly to small to belong in the store was browsing through the store and getting more and more frustrated as she could not find pieces in her size. She finally went up to the counter and asked if they carried smaller sizes. The woman behind the counter answered that their clothing only started at a size 14.

The woman through a fit! It was discrimination that they did not carry all sizes. IT was unfair that she should not be able to purchase the clothing in the shop in the size she wanted. The cuts were all too big on here and how was she supposed to take advantage of the sale going on when they had nothing that fit her.

Did they know that "average" (yes she used that word) sized people needed clothing at affordable clothing too...

Ok, so it never really happened... but could you imagine what would happen if it did? Think about what it would mean if every person, regardless of size, shape or gender had equal access to inexpensive and stylish clothing and was not regulated to needing to through a fit in order to have their needs met (all the while everyone else thinking they should just go else ware because they "do not belong").