BlogHer07: Big Fat Mouth

There's so much to tell about going to BlogHer07 but I'm going to start first with a controversial item. (I know it's controversial because it makes my stomach hurt when I think about it.)

I attended the Our Bodies Our Selves session at BlogHer07. Based on both the description and the panel it made the session sound like an intelligent and well round discussion about BOTH weight loss and fat acceptance. Wendy McClure was also on the panel and I was excited to meet her and see what she would have to contribute to the discussion. Her book I'm Not The New Me was a funny, insightful and humorous look at her experience trying to do Weight Watchers. This is the session description;


"There are weight-loss blogs, and there are healthy eating blogs, and there are fat acceptance blogs. The one thing they have in common: a lot of them are written by women. While a lot of them get support and positive reinforcement and encouragement from their readers, a lot of them also get some really strong reactions from people who don't want to hear about women dealing with body image “ and don't want to worry about whether or not society is responsible, for everything from obesity to anorexia to the pressure to conform to some unattainable ideal. Can blogging be the perfect vehicle to expose and break unhealthy influences and build a healthy identity that isn't tied to how we look? Jenny Lauck moderates this conversation with Laurie Toby Edison, Wendy McClure and Yvonne Marie, who are tackling the touchy topic head-on." - BlogHer07 Schedule
Had I spent some time reading about the pre-show controversy surrounding this discussion I might have opted to sit and shut it. Some objected to having McClure on the panel because she seemed to advocate weight loss and Weight Watchers. This confused me since (again) the session promised a discourse on BOTH weight loss blogs and fat acceptance ones. To not include panelists from each end of the spectrum would not make for a balanced discussion.

At any rate, I stood up and introduced myself. Told the group how we had our Future MILF group and that yes, I knew the name was controversial but that we took it in a mocking tone. Making fun of the idea that we had to live up to the prescribed stereotype of a MILF. I went on to say that I found it liberating and helpful to be able to finally speak with honest language. To be able to call myself a fatass instead of using polite euphemism like "Womanly Wide". The group laughed and I sat down, nervous for having spoken first. Then the reactions came. I was fully prepared for objections to my comments, but not so much for the ganging up that occurred. The moderator overlooked my raised hand as I wanted to rebuttal the MANY women she called on that said that my perspective was anti-woman and terrible. Or that they felt sorry for me.

Finally, I got the moderator to call on me again. I stood up and said that "I think it's most important that we NOT attempt to tell women what they can and can not say about their own bodies. Personally, I'm fat because for years I shoved down feelings of shame and anxiety. So to be able to diminish those same words that made me once cringe is part of my journey." I think the idea that we shouldn't tell women what they could or could not say was an inarguable feminist statement. So instead the moderator cautioned me to be careful about not attempting to criticize myself before others could and then dismissed the session. Gah!

Coming to BlogHer was a lesson in managing nerves and insecurities. Would women look better than me (yes), be thinner (yes and yes) or be better dressed (of course). When I hurriedly got ready that morning I accidentally grabbed a tee shirt from my bigger days, then walked in the rain stretching out the top to three times the normal size. I later exploded a bottle of Pepsi on my soggy maternity like top. Then plunked my purse down in the AUTOMATIC SINK and looked down to see my Le Sac bag filled to the top with water. Ruined my camera and my business cards. So what did I do? Did I cry, freak out or run home. Hell no. I wanted to. But instead I made fun of myself, joked about how at least the top covered my big ass. Teasing and playing down the incidents so I could get on with the business of enjoying the event. This is exactly how I feel about body image. Respect yourself enough not to take yourself so seriously. Not to put so much weight on those harsh words others might have for you if you aren't body perfect. Not to speak those words to yourself in a shameful way, but in a humorous way. Laugh in the face of fear and shame so you can move on.

Also any extreme and inflexible position pisses me off. Right wing, left wing, Popeyes chicken wing, I don't care. Be open to other perspectives. I don't stand naked in front of the mirror and say three nice things about myself as one of the other bloggers said she did. But good for fucking her! Seriously, bravo. I'll not criticize her approach simply because it isn't mine. There's room enough for all of our viewpoints. Which to me is the epitome of feminism.

Amy Sedaris was a panelist in a different session and clearly had lots of affection for her fellow panel members. So when she made fun of CraftyChica and Natalie Zee Drieu by jokingly calling them Ching Chong and Some Mexicans in an interview I immediately took it for what it as. Sedaris mocking the stereotypes that others might assign to them. Diminishing the power of those words by laughing at them. Sort of a similar "If we take ourselves too seriously the terrorist win" approach.

Artist Laurie Toby Edison was part of the body image panel. She is a wonderful artist and publisher of body image photography books. At one point I wanted to ask her if she saw an art installation of a proud looking woman with words like "cunt", "lardass" and "fat" painted on a her body would she object to the art? In my imagination I think she would see it as a statement about the labels that others put on women and how the artist, by writing it on her body, was using those same words as a type of armor. That she would respect the artists need to process those words in her way. I dun know. We're not likely to meet up for coffee soon and discuss it but that's what I imagine anyways.

As the day wore on a trickle of people came up to me to say how much they appreciated what I said in the meeting. Which was nice. Though I wish they had spoken up in the session. I'll stop the rant here, with one last comment/question. Can you work towards weight loss and still support fat acceptance? Again, I say hell yes. To say that you need to be in one camp or the other is adolescent. When defending our Future MILF group once before I said that "If you feel like a hot sexy tamale at 220 or 120 then that is where you should be". I still believe that. It's a shame that this session wasn't able to occur without without setting up separate camps in the room.

53 comments:

sam said...

Good for you standing up and saying something. The thought of it makes me wanna shit, really. I couldn't do what you just did, and to have a negative reaction would have so had me packing my bags. Congratulations!

As for what you said. I wholeheartedly 110% agree. I don't think there is ANYTHING wrong with your group, and to pick sides in the weight loss issue is not fair, it's extremely childish and uncalled for.
If bigger women are able to laugh and poke fun at their size, I find that MUCH more comforting then sniveling in the corner crying about it. For us to admit that we're overweight, and say it with a SMILE is truly hard enough as it is, and made even harder by a skinny person telling you it's wrong. (I assume she was skinny, since I wasn't there.)

Sorry about your camera and your bag. I hope the rest of your trip was great and memorable!

Domestic Chicky said...

You're my hero, Lotta. Truly...

karrie said...

I'm so very glad I did not attend that session....

You are one hot tamale, right now, Lotta. :)

Girl con Queso said...

Great post, Lotta. I'm still shocked that happened to your purse. I would have kicked someone. Thanks for not kicking me. You rule. And I thought you looked great the whole weekend.

Jenifer said...

Amen sister...

I must admit I have fallen off the weight loss band wagon... but we are trying to get pregnant again. Even not dieting I have seemed to plateau at a hefty 189. And I'm OK with that. Sure I'm a size 14/16, but you know what.... I look pretty good in those 14/16's and I don't stress myself out over every little thing I eat anymore.

I love weight watchers. I will use it again after the next baby is born. I support it's members, but I also accept those that are happy where they are right now like me. You ABSOLUTELY can support both sides! Only closed minded people can't see that!

adymommy said...

Way to Go standing up for yourself and others. What is life like if you can't laugh it off? Seriousness causes wrinkles!

Sharon said...

You rock! You are my idol!

lildb said...

I'm as smitten with you as ever, as evidenced by my entirely juvenile 8-y.o.-boy crush-having behaviors whenever I was within shouting distance of you this weekend. and I wish I'd been there to cheer for your words at that seminar. because you're totally right.

you are.

also, really really really hot.

jakelliesmom said...

To this, I say, wow, and good for you for standing up for yourself and all of us who want to be okay with being whomever we feel like being. I am both surprised and not, and I am cheering you from my little desktop, saluting your courage.

It takes a big person to share your perspective and honesty, no matter what your size.

butterfly girl said...

First I gotta tell you, I was dreaming about Etsy this morning. Until you I didn't even know what it was. Wierd,huh?

Second, I think the whole mirror she-bang thing is just dumb. The only way I want to stand in front of a mirror naked is if I'm 20 and 130 lbs again. I have way better things to do.
Thirdly, congratulations. You kept putting one foot in front of the other. Had a great time. And made memories you won't forget. You are one hell of a hottie woman!!!!

I love the whole MILF thing, jeez people lighten up!

BoggyWoggy said...

I saw a picture of myself...I'm in the distance with a friend. I thought it was my mother in the photo, until I enlarged...and it was me! I think my mom is pretty, even though she is big, so I had to say to myself, "Well, if I think my mom is pretty and I thought the woman in the photo was her, then I must be pretty."

Laurie Ruettimann said...

Bah, I hated those automatic sinks, too! I'm sorry to hear about your camera. Glad you had a good time despite the inflexible positions & wet bag!

Anonymous said...

Good for you standing up that way.

I know what you mean about Amy Sedaris, but did you see another post on the Blogher web site--apparently she often signs her books with a caricature of an Asian man with buck teeth and also writes Ching Chong.

That's less Don Rickles to me, and more blatantly racist. Also there's a post about her comments on people who are deaf and retarded.

Lotta said...

Sam - The trip was amazingly wonderful. This was the only glitch (ok there was one more but I'll write about it later) snafu. I wish this had made me shit. I could use it.

Dm - Back at ya!

Karrie - Yea you are cause I would have demanded you help me start a fistycuff brawl if you were there.

Girlcon - Didn't you lose your luggage? That would have made me kick many passing people.

Jennifer - 14 is hot!

Ady, Sharon - Thanks!

Lil - You are forever my alpha you foxy bitch!

Jake - So why does my stomach hurt?

BF - The lady who said that was actually very sweet. If that's what it took for her to feel better about herself I applaud it. I just don't think a different approach needs to be dogged. Thanks for your nice comments!

Boggy - So very pretty!

Laura - I did! It was fantastic.

Anon - I'll have to think about that. Since I adore her I want to jump to her defense, but I get how that might be pushing it too far. Food for thought.

Marmite Breath said...

*sigh*

Drama, honesty, Lotta + Jenny + Girl Con Queso, Milf talks.....

You are my BlogherO.

jen said...

I would have liked to have a session just on the weight loss stuff because I think it might have been easier to have a good discussion on that topic without the people who wanted a broader discussion -- not that a broader discussion would have been a bad thing, but some people in the audience seemed interested in the weight loss topic and some were rolling their eyes at the weight loss stuff for various reasons.

I have to admit that I flinch when I hear the stuff like "lardass," but I respect your right to say it. I can see the "Taking it back" angle (like in Clerks 2). You are cute, though, I have to say. The entire panel discussion was painful to me too because so much talking and so little listening was going on. I really just wanted to get the hell out of there after the first 10 minutes or so.

I agree with you on the mirror/three things technique -- not for me, but hey, if it works for her. I look in the mirror at myself but I don't like bullshit compliments from other people, so why would I want them from myself?

Jen said...

If I had been there I would have been standing up right next to you...

WTG...

Tracy said...

Lotta....you are an inspiration to all who are in the same boat!!! You are my truly my hero!!!

For the Love... said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!LOVE IT!!!

Fidget said...

i'm glad you stood up.

yes you can fighter for both.. I dont care if someone is fat, it's just not for me. my body hurts when I am fat. Im battling to get my weight down so my legs dont hurt as much. Do I care that my sister in law weighs 500lbs? No, that is her body, her issues and her decision.

Lotta said...

Jen - I wish I had chosen another word, I do understand the flinch factor. Especially out of context. I don't berate myself. I would never say "You are such a lardass!". I would say, "Ok, I feel like a lardass today. So what - I'm working on it. Let it go." I think summing all that up in the few minutes I got to speak didn't happen. Nerves I guess?

Fidget - agreed.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh Lotta, you are so wonderful. You know how I feel (agree with you) about this issue. I respect your voice, and I agree: sometimes, it's gotta be less serious.

I wish I could have been there, but thanks for speaking up, and sharing the experience.

I think we absolutely can accept people as they are, and also be okay with losing weight and getting healthy.

I know I argued this time and again on my blog and critical blogs, so it doesn't surprise me that panel was so incendiary.

Again, though, thanks for representing so well that view.

(HUGS)

Karen Rani said...

I wish I had been there. It was awesome meeting you!

Jenny said...

Amen, amen, amen. Seriously I am shaking with agreement and I just want to high-five you and mail this to those close-minded panelist along with possible a big pie made with apples licked by lepers.

Esmerelda said...

My BLOOD is boiling. I wish I'd been there, because I would have sooo backed you up, sister.

The support that I've received over the last 7 months or so from this community is like nothing else.

I didn't lose a single pound as a Future MILF. I DID, however, get unconditional love and support from a group of women who understood me. You encouraged me and supported me. I finished a freakin' triathlon, and I carried the MILF's in my heart. I wear my MILF T-Shirt to workouts.

Today, I love my stretch marks and my scars and the me inside. It was a magnificent journey and I'll bite the head off of anyone who doesn't think I'm more empowered and in control and positive and healthy...mentally and physically.

So, you've helped change my life. Fuck them. Dumbasses.

Kelly said...

I'm glad I wasn't at that meeting as well. Those type of meetings are the type that cause me to lose sleep because I get so angry. I just don't understand why people demand that there way of doing anything is the only acceptable way. Insecurity I guess. It just drives me INSANE!

Slackermommy said...

I want to tell you again how proud I am of you for standing up and speaking from your heart. You know I'm 100% with you on extreme and inflexible positions pissing us off. I wish there was more tolerance in the world. Especially with women and body image. Women come in all shapes and sizes. For some their size is predetermined by genetics or a health issue. For most our size is due to life experiences. Some women became overweight due to physical or sexual abuse as a child. Becoming "bigger" offered them protection. Staying "bigger" makes them feel safe. Some thin women find staying thin is about control. For me I was stripped of all my self worth by my parents but it didn't take me long to figure out I had sex appeal. The one thing my parents couldn't take away. I learned that the only way I felt worthy was to be sexy. I fight those feelings to this day. My point is that we all have different reasons for the size we are and how we feel about our size. In a perfect world we would all accept our size and the size of others but this isn't a perfect world and expecting everyone to have a universal acceptance of weight is ridiculous. You have every right to call yourself whatever you like to help you cope with YOUR feelings about your weight. I also cover my pain with humor. I make fun of my situation with my mother who is mentally ill. I mean no disregard to anyone who is mentally ill. This is how I cope with the situation and I would hope people could see the pain under my humor. Everyone needs to lighten up. How about instead of all these labels of acceptance of a certain body type, religious beliefs, political stance, etc why don't we just accept each other? Oh I forgot, this isn't a perfect world.

BTW, I think you are absolutely beautiful. I can vaguely remember gushing over your beauty after a few drinks the first night we met. I meant every word of it. I'm no bullshitter. If I don't feel it I don't say it. I hope you can look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful. Your hubby better also be telling you everyday how beautiful you are and if he isn't I'll kick his ass.

mommiebear2 said...

I say three cheers for you!! I couldnt agree more with everything that you said, and I love me some Popeyes!! ;) Being big isnt always bad in my opinion. Did I love myself when I weighed 120?? Of course I did, but even though I am no where near that weight now, I still love myself just as much - if not more.

canape said...

Someone actually said they felt sorry for you? Out loud? What a pole licker.

I think you add humor to the weight issue. And adding humor gives much better results.

It was a pleasure to meet you. Even if the Whiskey Bar was the loudest place on the planet and I could really only see your lips move. At least it means that I've found your blog.

judi said...

Too bad for those ladies..... I feel sorry for them. How depressing of a life to be so dang serious. Get off the soap box and enjoy life and laugh. Good grief.

I for one can't wait to be a MILF instead of a FMILF. Be proud of how you handled yourself without judging others.

Power to the Future MILF's!

Katie J said...

Don't know you IRL, but very proud of you. I love your blog. Here's the thing, I think you can absolutely work towards weight loss and still support fat acceptance especially for other people. I think the really hard work is finally accepting yourself whatever weight you are. I think until that happens, losing weight and keeping it off is impossible. I've only tasted that a few times. I'd like to have the kind of acceptance for myself that I do for others.

And once again, bravo! It's not easy to stand alone in a crowd. In the words of my daughter, "you rock my socks!"

Lisa said...

It was wonderful meeting you. YOu are smart, well spoken, kind, funny, BEAUTIFUL. (Slackermommy and I talked about how georgous you are at few times over the weekend. We LOVE You.) I feel so lucky to have met you.

Y said...

I don't think it was one of us that said they stand in the mirror and say nice things about themselves. It was someone in the audience who said that and I commented on how I think it's cheesy to do that. How I tried it and felt stupid because I have nothing nice to say about my fat rolls. (Remember that? No?) I do think I said that it is good to be nice to yourself, but I don't remember because I was in pain and pumped on vicodin.

I actually COMPLETELY AGREED with what you said. Have you ever read my blog before? Because if you had, you'd know that I used to call myself "fat pig" "whale" "fat ass" on a daily basis. What I (think) I said on the panel was that I try not to do that anymore because in my journey, I've realized that the negative talk has been harmful for me. But that' MY STORY and I certainly never said that women shouldn't say those things about themselves because this journey is personal and for me, saying "I love my body" is not real and would make me a liar.

Also, I feel as though you may be lumping all three of us as the "soapbox, take themselves too seriously" type. I wish I had spoken up more, but I was someone intimidated by the activist on the panel and I wish I hadn't been.

Anyway, I hate to be lumped into a category that I do not fit into.

I'm glad you said what you said and wanted to tell you that after the panel, but had to run to the bathroom because I thought I was going to puke from the vicodin.

nakedjen said...

I was unable to attend Blogher this year though I very much intended to be there. And this was the very panel discussion I really wanted to attend since my blog is about body acceptance as much as it is about anything else.

I am now even more sorry that I missed it. And you! Go you!! Thank you for saying exactly what you said. It amazes me that it created such a polarized reaction, especially in a room full of women!

Gah.

We (women) still have a lot to learn about acceptance.

Y said...

But see, I don't think she did create a polarized reaction. Was I so out of it that I missed something? I feel so bad now.

I'd love to talk to you more about this through email, Lotta. (If you want to, of course.) joyunexpectedblog@gmail.com

Lotta said...

I actually was not mad at the panel, I think you are all very bright women and was eager to hear you. I do wish the moderator had encouraged the room towards a healthy debate. Instead I felt that it became finger wagging.

To my fault, I should have been more aware of what a hot topic body image is and started out a little softer. I'm a blurter for sure.

Y - I emailed you!

Lotta said...

Slackermommy - Right back at ya gorgeous. Thanks for letting me cop a feel, your new knockers came out fantastic!

Mamma said...

Okay Gorgeous! I had no idea that whole "incident" happened. I'm sorry. So sorry.

I was so excited to meet you! You are as wonderful in real life as you are online.

I'm still reeling from the whole conference. I'm still not sure how I felt about the whole thing.

Hope I didn't stalk you too much. I really enjoyed your company.

PS-I totally agree re: Slackermommy's boobs too.

IamSusie said...

Comments come out of the woodwork when your fans think you've been dissed!

I just discovered your blog last week and it sure is fun to read! I'm sorry about what happened to you at that conference. Although I wasn't there, it sounds like the moderator had a bit of a political agenda. Weight loss and body image are so controversial.

Good luck in your quest to write entertaining missives for us to read. "Don't take yourself too seriously" are words to live by.

*S* said...

Oh, it sounds like so much more fun than dealing with extended family issues, including underaged drunken driving, which was what my weekend is all about.

I'm sorry for you that we as women have to keep shaving the same ol' ideological strip - whatever happened to letting a thousand flowers bloom? I'm not a mom and don't want to be thought of as F'able by anyone other than DH, but I'm with you and your MILFs in spirit.

Good for you for going and having a great time. Drop me a line from my blog and I'll let you know when my mom is having her moving "sale" - she's leaving her house of 50 years outside Rockford, IL and she probably has stuff you want/can sell/etc.

*S*

Grim Reality Girl said...

Wish I could have been there to meet you and cheer you on!!!!! You inspire me and I am proud of you -- so sorry you were ganged up on. I hate it when females can't support each other. Why must we battle ourselves?

I agree -- you can work towards weight loss and still support fat acceptance. I want to lose weight. I don't need to be skinny. My hubby thinks I'm a MILF already.... Life is good.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

An incredibly great post, Lotta. I agree with every word. You know I in the very same boat as you with weight loss and body image and I am not as secure as you to be as comfortable in my own skin. But I am trying. And you are an inspiration. I wish I could have been there to try and support you in that panel session. But I say it here and now: YOU ROCK!

Paige said...

OK, hearing that you did this actually makes me regret missing the trip.

You rule, Lotta.

Little Monkies said...

I couldn't go to BlogHer b/c we are at a wedding, but I don't think I would have anyway. It feels all too highschool shit for me...women preening for each other, the cool blog girls and the b-list blog girls and then the chicks at the periphery like me. If it were *truly* about women bonding and empowerment you wouldn't have this kind of shitty smackdown. We women treat each other with subtle and not so subtle disrespect. I don't think men do this...nor do they obsess about how they physically show up against other men. I'm over it.

I think you rock and I am super proud of you. Big hugs, gorgeous.

Sam said...

Bravo! New reader. Agree, agree and agree some more.
I'm a WW junkie- I think I should join the future milfs.
Samantha

Adorable said...

I was one of the people who approached you to thank you for your comments. And I agree -- there should be room for everyone without passing judgment.

I hope you had fun at Blogher! I cannot wait to go again next year.

Lotta said...

Thanks for all your comments - you guys rock!

Lil monkies - Except for being frustrated with this session I was impressed at how un-highschool the scene was. I too was (am) social phobic. Jessica held my hand till I was ready to break out and meet people. Almost everyone was ready with a smile. The few folks that weren't into meeting others kept to themselves and frankly were in the minority. They missed out. But again, a cool mix of age and styles. I hope you go next year. If I can I will absolutely go!

Little Monkies said...

Lotta--

Sorry that was so grumpy. I'm glad you had fun. I think I just get bummed when women are shitty to each other. All about the sisterhood, not about the clique.

OTJ does look fab, doesn't she?

Lotta said...

LM - Puh-lease don't even think about it. No worries, we all have our moments of crab. God knows I have more than my share. Jessica is a smok'n hot pixie!

Dieter said...

I am sooooooo glad I didn't go to that particular forum now! But good for you for standing up & saying what you did.

I kind of stayed on my own the whole time, which I guess isn't too good, but I didn't really have time to bond with one particular person, that said, I am glad I was able to avoid some of this drama-like I heard there were major politics in the mommyblogger scene.

I'll go again, but after that weekend I want to hang out with a bunch of guys!

Ruth Dynamite said...

You ARE a hot sexy mama.

Sizzlin' hot and smokin'.

Brilliant, too.

Jenny said...

Hiya, Lotta -

I actually just left a comment on the copy of the post you added to BlogHer.org - I'm the moderator from the Our Bodies, Our Blogs panel. I actually agreed with much of what you had to say, and want you to know that my comments were directed at the group and the topic, not at you as an individual.

We were only able to scratch the surface of this really tough topic, and I regret not being able to give every woman in the room the opportunity to take the floor and really share - I also regret that you came away frustrated and feeling like you weren't able to finish your thoughts (and that I belittled your contributions to the discussion.)

With all the pre- and post-conference buzz around this topic, I'm sure that we'll see it again next year, in another forum. I'd love to see you enter the fray, and submit yourself as a panelist for next year. If you'd like to discuss any of this outside your comments, please feel free to email me.

Lotta said...

Jenny - Just replied back to you over there.

"Jenny,

Very gracious of you to reply, as I fear I was not so gracious in my post.

It was a short time period for such a loaded subject. And as I said in the post, had I done a little pre-research regarding the topic I would not have started the conversation with the "lardass" opener. The word seemed to eclipse the idea I was trying to talk about. (Turning fat words that used to shame you into something funny so you can brush them off and move on).

In general I think it's frustrating to try and put out a sticky opinion in a group discussion. There is no guarantee you will get to to contribute more or clarify as the conversation progresses. But it's difficult to be so zen about it when you are in the moment.

I think your self-deprecating comments were dead on as a general comment. I bristled because it felt like you were speaking to me directly and it just didn't apply. But as a blogger I'm a natural narcissist. (What do you mean it's not about me!) so that could have been my hotheaded perception.

At any rate, thanks for the discussion and your nice response."

I don't think I have the known presence that the other panelist have - so I don't know if that would fly with the BlogHer reps. But thanks for suggesting it.