Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Singapore and FatLand

Interestingly, one of the remarks made by many OtherSiders/Americans visiting FatLand is that it reminds them of Singapore. Or that FatLand is a fatter version of Singapore.

This is a compliment in a way. Singapore is one of the wealthiest states in the world.

What it is not:  a democracy. FatLand is.

Singapore is attached by footbridge to Johor, a Malaysian state. FatLand is attached to the Other Side and surrounded by it. Singapore's culture and language usage are similar to those of Malaysia in a few ways, but it is still predominantly Chinese and Christian, as opposed to Malaysia, which is predominantly Malay and Muslim. FatLand's culture and language usage are similar to those of the Other Side in many ways, but FatLand is fat-positive.

 Malaysians slaughtered thousands of Chinese during the 1969 riots. The Other Side imprisoned, harassed and tortured thousands of fat people during the Health and Diet regime of 2010-2044.

So the two states do share a heritage of providing refuge to those who share their ethnicity or shape during times of persecution.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why couldn't they leave her alone?

I wish FatLand had been around when my mom was young and was already being pushed to lose weight.

I saw the pictures. She was so beautiful. I still think of her as the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. (Prejudice there? Some. But not a lot.)

Why couldn't they have just honored the fire and dash in her hypnotically lovely hazel eyes instead of telling her that she needed to lose weight? Why couldn't they have just honored her long, dark hair, beautifully shaped mouth and smile?

And then finally, when she was much older and slim, why did the doctor have to go on and on about cholesterol, especially since it turned out that she had very high amounts of both "good" and "bad" cholesterol anyway? Her body made it. She did not eat it. Most European doctors believe that measuring cholesterol basically doesn't prove anything anyway.

So the doctor put her on a low-cholesterol regime, with very little dairy. She developed osteoporosis. Can you say..iatrogenic? The amount of harm doctors do cannot be measured.. She then ended up fracturing her hip and could only walk with a walker. Now she cannot even do that.

We will be taking her to the orthopedist tomorrow to receive the report on the MRI she underwent last Friday.

And I keep on thinking, through all this:  Why couldn't they have just left her alone?

I don't know how much time is left for us to have her with us. Something tells me not a lot. And I don't know how I will manage when she is gone.

But she will live forever, and forever beautiful, in my heart.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Not pushing women to lose weight

Yet another way in which FatLand is wonderful for women:  They will not meet men who tell them they should lose weight.

Women gain weight as they get older - a majority of them. According to certain studies this weight gain may even have a salutary effect and decrease their likelihood of dying from heart attacks, cancer and certain other illnesses (Analogy: pubic hair helps to filter out bacteria and keep skin in sensitive areas from being exposed to them. Kind of amazing, how ready fashion is to rob women of their natural defenses against illness).

What is truly amazing, though, is that at a certain point in their relationship with a guy, and whether or not they have actually gained any weight recently, women on the Other Side/USA are all too likely to hear their significant guy other say, "You might want to lose a little weight." (I would truly like to think that lesbian women do *not* hear as much of this, but I am not sure.)

This is one of the most devastating things a woman can hear. Ever. See, up until this point, you thought he liked you, liked your body, liked almost everything, and he rather acted as if he did. Then, seemingly out of the clear blue sky, he asks you to lose weight.

Of course most of the time it is about his being afraid of not being able to "perform" (another word I hate because it makes men sound like circus acts), and he somehow connects this with a certain weight, whether or not the claim has any basis in reality. In a way he might just as well ask you to dress up in different costumes (and that would be a whole lot more fun and not offensive). But what he hears a lot of around him is that women should be below x weight. So, with men often not being very analytical or discerning about the miasma of weight loss ads jumping onto the screen between WWW fights, he will connect the dots rather erroneously. And this lack of thorough comprehension on the part of men leaks out as, "You could stand to lose a few pounds."  (And interestingly, this is voiced even when he himself weighs more than he did a few years ago, or has been fat since his youth.)

Now, for the women who hear this. They are flabbergasted. They've probably been on at least five diets in their lives, and they were feeling happy at not having to go on others. They haven't seen any telltale signs of dissatisfaction with their bodies or lovemaking or cooking or...

It is very very hard work to lose weight, probably even harder to keep it off. The hardest thing of all, however, is being able to trust your husband, to believe that you know how he feels. About you. About anything. And this volatility has its basis in confusion. Even if you did/do lose weight, then he might ask you to change your hair color. Or your bras. Once it starts, there's no telling where his efforts to rebuild you will end.

So the request itself isn't only to change your body. It is to enforce his control over your body and what you do with it.

And since in FatLand, such efforts to get someone to change her weight is forbidden, women in FatLand don't have to worry about getting sucked into the control vortex.

This in itself is probably the powerful factor in feeling good about one's body - not hearing or having to react to requests to change its appearance.

No wonder FatLand women are so happy about where they live...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


There's a game I play sometimes.

I try to identify who among my former professors and/or scholarly acquaintances would most approve of both FatLand and Fat Poets Speak. Then I figure out who among them would least approve.

One former professor and one scholarly friend, I think, would most approve of FatLand and Fat Poets Speak. The professor, Dr. Gordon Fellman, taught Sociology at Brandeis. He is the one who augmented my early belief in Fat Liberation with what I would call Liberation Sociology, the Sociology of the Oppressed. He is the one who supplied the scholarly underpinnings for my linking oppression Sociology with intersectionality, although I didn't realize that this was what he was doing or that it would provide and buttress my own writing with scholarship on theories of oppression and change. I sent him a copy of FatLand and a letter telling him how much I appreciated his teaching and that it had eventually inspired me to understand the pattern of oppression of fat people that I later accessed and elaborated in FatLand.

Another scholarly friend who would highly approve of FatLand is Dr. Shelby Shapiro, whose studies of journals and magazines published for Jewish women and earlier articles about anarchism broadened my knowledge of tacit narratives of oppression and liberation. His sensitivity to irony and hidden markers of oppression and liberation, as well as his tolerance of people of different sizes and shapes, and his determination to consider fat people as experiencing the kind of discrimination and harassment that render them an oppressed group, would definitely indicate his approval of FatLand and Fat Poets Speak.

The person who would least approve of FatLand and Fat Poets Speak is a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania who was so horrified by the possibility of my doing my class project on the oppression of fat people that she became almost hysterical when I mentioned it in class. I will not give her name. She mentioned in every class how she had or had not had time to visit the gym that day. She never did understand that being fat and going to a gym or exercising are not mutually exclusive. I feel sorry for any fat person who happens to take her class for credit (I quickly switched to auditing it when she made her anti-fat feelings known). It still disgusts me that there are professors at every level of higher education who feel this way and do not bother to understand or revise their beliefs.

And it thrills me that there are professors like my former sociology professor who inspire students to understand oppression and discrimination in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Scathingly Brilliant Idea

I got the most "scathingly brilliant" idea (the phrase is from the movie "The Trouble with Angels") from a poster on Ragen's blog yesterday.. In FatLand 3: To Live Proud and Free, I would like to have someone on the Other Side/USA start a rumor that people in FatLand are trying to make everyone fat :) This of course would only be objectionable if people were forcibly being made fat or slim, not if they were getting fat naturally, as a result of their happening to gain weight. And this idea would not even be applicable in FatLand because people there do not discuss diets or weight, so they wouldn't really know or care if x or y people were getting fatter or slimmer,  especially people who are not from FatLand anyway. But of course, from the reference point of the rumor monger, this is a good rumor with which to frighten people on the Other Side who still remember what it was like when their friends and relatives were being shipped off to Re-education Centers because they were over the weight limit/BMI, a  horrific decree which was enforced until quite recently (book time).  He thinks in terms of control.

It is also a good rumor because until very recently, people on the Other Side were not allowed to visit FatLand. So they have no clue anyway as to what goes on there and what does not, or what it is like to live there, and what people do or do not do there, and what they think or don't think.

The rumor will be started by your favorite villain and mine, but not directly. He will get someone/some few to do it for him, of course. And he will do it because at this point, even on the Other Side, the Health and Diet Laws are no longer valid. They were nullified "last year" (that is, "last year" in book time, around 2044-2045). So there is no reason for people to visit his CompleteFitness centers. Boo hoo :)

But he will also do it  a) to get back at his former sweetie Marge  b) to get back at his adversary Angela  c) because he likes to cause trouble and had nothing about which to cause it for a while  d) because he has a moral case of "shpilkes"  (pin and needles/ants in the pants).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

trans character in FatLand III

Teasing little hint:  In FatLand III: To Live Fat and Free, there will be a character who changes gender. Watch for it!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Full moon in FatLand

Full moon in FatLand - dancing, chocolate, campfires.

Besides affording a non-discriminatory fat positive experience, FatLand is extremely tolerant in other ways. FatLanders of no particular religious bent started dancing during the full moon in small groups. The fire was permissible with a permit, obtained through the local Fire Safety Board. The chocolate seemed a good idea. S'mores followed.

Sometimes music is played. Sometimes people sing on their own. Different groups share different dances - folk dances, belly dancing, rock, neo-pagan, happy dances. There are at least two groups which dance naked. Most of the groups, however, favor clothes.

Locations favored are woods, the river and the lake.

Monday, January 13, 2014

FatLand and Belly Dancing

FatLand and Belly Dancing

A beautiful (and fat) belly dancer from Egypt, Amiyah, delighted FatLanders with her skill, her sensuality and her beauty. Ava Brier, reporter for the biggest FatLand paper, fell in love with her after losing her partner, Marcy, years before, and after years of not wanting to become involved with anyone.

Unfortunately, Amiyah's car was firebombed with her in it.

Bellydance in FatLand is accorded a special status because most belly dancers have bellies, and thus in most places they are not stigmatized, but admired. FatLanders feel a special connection between FatLand and belly dancing, as if it is in a way a matter of national pride that they are known both for their belly dancers and for training belly dancers. People from the Other Side would try to sneak into FatLand for the night life because FatLand was known for featuring belly dancers -and in different kinds of establishments, strippers- in its floor shows.

The appearance of a belly dance troupe in town furnished and continued to furnish excuses for getting off work early and generally treating people -and oneself- to a good time and an appreciation of the skills of these gifted, graceful, lusciously bellied and fat women. (Unfortunately there had/have heretofore been no troupes of male belly dancers. I sincerely hope that changes, because I adore them.)

FatLand and Folk Dancing

One of the first communal activities FatLanders took part in was folk dancing.

Folk dancing has/had been a much more tolerant, egalitarian venue for fat people than many other kinds of dance  since its inception (different times in different places). Its origins are often in shaman-centered activity and contacting forces and deities. It is not considered an activity for the rich or super-fashionable. It honors many ethnicities and peoples. One need not be a particular shape to do it well. Dancers of all ability levels are welcomed.

Some FatLanders started to dance in the evenings after working. Some started to dance at particular times of the moon's course. Many joined because the atmosphere was welcoming, with no unmeetable expectations. The groups welcome/d all sexes and gender orientation, as well.

Now there are around ten formally organized folk dancing groups/associations in FatLand, with others organized less formally, but happily thriving.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


In the first two years or so of FatLand, there was no continuous source of electricity. A few people rigged up generators, and the one house that was "grandfathered" in continued to use electricity from the town listed on its tax forms for the Other Side/USA.

Paul, the genius who used a wheelchair and later was coopted by Winston Stark into running internet resources for his huge fortress-type complex, had actually gotten as far as designing an infrastructure for FatLand. Stark actually ended up bankrolling it in the hopes that it would make his tempestuous, beautiful, fat and bright on-again-off-again gf view him more favorably. What he mostly ended up doing by funding the infrastructure was confuse most FatLanders because he was also trying to do away with their emigration rights to the Other Side/USA at the same time.

He also ended up funding the two most beautiful bridges in FatLand, as well as their lights.

Some people have two selves constantly at odds with each other..

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why Frannie?

So why another name? Why a nom de plume, a writing name?

Not a pseudonym. I don't like that word. It implies a falseness, an imitation. Frannie Zellman is neither of those. She has come to be as real as, perhaps more real than, the name she was chosen to subsume.
She probably existed all the time in me, but I didn't know.

I think Frannie is a lot more fun than the person who goes by the other name. She is probably more brash and more courageous, too. More willing to kid around. But also more fierce. More sensitive, too. There are more things she can't abide, most of them to do with social justice and mistreated animals. The person who goes by the other name certainly cares about these things, as well, but she won't become fiery about them.

Frannie smiles more.  She also makes more faces and rolls her eyes more. She disapproves more.

She was chosen for a few reasons some years ago, but those have ceased to be important. Frannie feels much happier, freer as Frannie. And well, if there are people who wouldn't know her by that name, perhaps those people are best out of her life, for now.

Trying to get banks to accept you as your nom de plume is daunting. I tried. Maybe I will try again at some point.

Meanwhile, time for Frannie to drink more tea and write..

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cross dressing in FatLand

In the early years of FatLand, there were no cross dressers. The reason given for this by FatLand sociologists and sexologists was that most fat cross dressers had not wished to call attention to themselves on the Other Side during the Health and Diet administrations, and did not wish to call attention to themselves in FatLand because they were not sure of how their lifetstyle would be accepted. However, once the Health and Diet Laws were repealed, not only did cross dressers start showing themselves more on the Other Side/USA, but they also started cross dressing in FatLand. As in other countries and territories, a few FatLanders objected. Most, however, enjoyed the presence of cross dressers as another group adding to the diversity and fun of FatLand life.

As in other lands, the cross dressers were overwhelmingly male at first. A few women, mostly but not only lesbians, began to participate in cross dressing when the Health and Diet Laws were repealed on the Other Side/USA, and they felt secure enough in their status as citizens of FatLand to risk any disapproval that might ensue. There was very little. FatLand continued its tradition of tolerance and adaptability.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

FatLand Lotharios

Some of the people who entered FatLand as refugees from the Other Side/USA had the strong support of families and friends who were anxious that they settle in with ease and comfort. Some entered alone, after their families and friends on the Other Side had stopped talking to them.

A little-known or reported phenomenon occurred, especially in the early years of FatLand. Angela knew about it and hinted at it in FatLand: The Early Days, but didn't even name it. This was the attempt of certain men in FatLand to seduce recent female emigres who were feeling uncertain about their attractiveness. A study done a little later showed that women who entered FatLand with the support of family and friends experienced fewer doubts about their attractiveness than those who were thrown out  by their families and friends or were denied such support.

There were no similar efforts by women to seduce male emigres who felt unsure of their attractiveness. Nor were there efforts by gay men to seduce insecure male emigres. No attempts by gay women to seduce insecure female emigres were reported.

Actually the seduction attempts of the FatLand Lotharios/Don Juans seemed to have mostly beneficial effects on the insecure female emigres. The attempts, both successful and unsuccessful, made these women angry, but the attempts motivated them to start to talk with and make friends with other women who had been similarly approached, and then both women and men in general.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fat Heffalump nails it

I saw this on Facebook. It was written so well and said exactly what I wish to say so much of the time. And it expresses exactly what doctors in FatLand know, understand and practice.

From Fat Heffalump:

Anyone who truly cares about the wellbeing of fat people cannot possibly feel the need to wage war on fat.  That level of aggression and loathing negates any care that may have once been there.  There is never any care or compassion from someone who enacts violence on another.  It is no different in its effect on us than the open hate and bigotry we receive from the likes of bullies and trolls.  It is all trauma enacted on us.
Look at what happens to fat people when they are given compassion, care and support by those who truly want to help in our wellbeing.  When we are taught to value our bodies, and treat them with kindness and compassion, suddenly our quality of life gets vastly better.  When we find supportive doctors, our health gets better.  If we need help with eating and nutrition, those in the field who genuinely care help us heal the damage done by diet culture and fat loathing.  When we find an environment that we can enjoy physical activity without shaming or stigma, we learn to enjoy things like dancing, swimming and other activities.  When our families and friends love us and support us as we are – we are able to heal from the trauma of shame and stigma.
When we are treated with respect and dignity, our wellbeing and quality of life improves.  Regardless of what weight we happen to be.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

FatLand and snow

FatLand is magic in snow. Since it has a lot of valleys and a lot of mountains, the mountains get snow before the valleys. When night has settled on the valleys, occasionally a last ray of sun glances off one of the mountains.

A popular FatLand winter activity, besides skiing and skating - yes, fat people can skate, too!- is making ice sculptures, especially out of icicles. There are even ice sculpture contests.

And of course FatLanders run to create snow men and snow women when there is enough snow. They are strong, round and happy. Occasionally an adventurous FatLander or two will build a snow person so strong and so wide that it is possible to sleep inside. He or she will hasten to show friends how roomy the enclosure is, and will waste no time in getting hold of the FatLand news organs and other media. "Man/Woman sleeps inside snowman" will blaze happily from at least a minor headline. Somewhere.

And oh, let us not forget snowball fights!