Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fat Sex Tip #9- Erogenous Zones

You've just put your kids to bed for the night.  The dishes are done.  The homework and schoolwork and projects are done.  You actually don't feel tired, for once.  Suddenly you understand that you and your partner are having sex, come hell or high-water--or hopefully--you.  So what do you do?  Make a mad dash for the genitals and hope none of the kids wake up before you both finish?

It happens to everyone.  We get to know a partner and we know what turns them on and how long we need to do it before we both have an orgasm and can go to sleep.  Sometimes there just isn't time for exploring.  Sometimes exploring can be frustrating when it doesn't work or embarrasses someone or takes precious minutes away from the act.

It can be important, therefore, to remember that the penis and the clitoris or vagina are not the only things that feel good when they are touched.  Even the so-called "erogenous zones" can be limiting.  Ears, feet, inner elbows and knees and necks are the more common areas associated with erotic touching.  However anywhere, when touched in a certain way (and depending on the person), can feel delightful, just as delightful as a nice blow job or eight minutes of intercourse.

Fat people have a special advantage, in that we have an even larger canvas for sexual expression.  Extra fat on arms, knobs on knees, thick, full thighs:  All of these can be erogenous for some people.  Spots under fat, such as under your belly roll or under breasts often have thinner, very sensitive skin that feels amazing when touched, stroked, tickled or licked.  Even fat rolls on a persons back can feel amazing when sucked, and can be a great experience for the person doing the sucking as well.  (As a side note, heads can also feel amazing when touched, especially recently shaved heads, wink wink.)

If a person loves you and/or is sexually interested in you, they are interested in all of you.  Pretending that your fat isn't there doesn't make it go away, so you might as well use it to your advantage.  When my husband and I first started sleeping together, we didn't talk about my belly because it made me uncomfortable; we mostly pretended it wasn't there.  What I didn't know was that it turned him on and he wanted to explore it in the same way that he explored the rest of my body.  Once I was able to let go of belly shame, it became another way that we could express our feelings for each other.

Sex shouldn't be about limiting yourself to one area or one position or one act.  It should be about safely exploring all the wonderful things your body can do for itself and for others.  So next time you are in bed, take a minute to try sucking on a fat roll or groping a belly bump.  Great fat sex can only be accomplished if you can learn to let go of your hang-ups and take hold of your fat.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Poem from NAAFA

(Dedicated to my mother, who has come a long way.  Her journey means so much. )


"Why don't you cover those up?"
My mother says.

She means my arms- a shawl
She means my scars- concealer
She means my chins- long hair
She means me.

She means her.

But I will not tack aluminum siding on my house.
I will not devalue my body.

Because this is my home.

This is the scar from the chicken warmer,
The scars from a thousand bug-bites,
The scars from knives and screws
     and yes, the scars from you, mom.

This is my fat from living
My fat from genetics
My fat from Dad and Grandpa
   and yes, this is my fat from you, mom.

This is my landscape:

My freshly cut lawn,
My patterns and shapes,
My additions over time.

New rooms, new room.

This is my home.

You laid my foundation, mom.  Yes, I know.
But you have to let me take it the rest of the way.
To let me build walls and paint and decorate.

Because this is my home, and I
like living here.

Because of my past renovations
and in hope of my future.

Monday, August 15, 2011

NAAFA Convention Day 3: Advocacy and Poetry

Thank you all for sticking with me through my journey to NAAFA and back!  Day three kicked off, for me, with a workshop about child advocacy.  NAAFA has created a Child Advocacy Toolkit (available here)  to help educators and other professionals shift from "fighting childhood obesity" to teaching HAES based principles including intuitive eating and joyful movement.  In the workshop, we heard from several presenters about how the so-called "war on childhood obesity" started and what is and isn't true about it.  The first part of the presentation was particularly well-executed in that it summarized the facts and fictions surrounding this war in a simple, non-threatening way that I think would be really useful for people who are new to fat acceptance and may have some reservations.  The panel also reviewed what the consequences are for a weight-based approach, both in terms of health and in terms of bullying.

Later in the day, I attended a poetry workshop called Fat Poets' Society.  I have to admit that I wrote a lot of poetry when I was in high school and as an undergraduate, but after I left Cornell, I pretty much stopped writing altogether.  There are a lot of reasons why (too busy trying to make ends meet, not angsty and love-lorn anymore, etc.) but I always wanted to keep writing, I just felt that blogging and creative non-fiction were more my strong suits.  But I decided to go anyway and I'm really glad that I did.  We talked about using poetry as a means of being an activist and how writing body-positive poetry can be a radical thing to do.  It is easy to forget that poetry isn't just about love and pretty-sounding words, but that it can also have political goals.  We read some poetry and then we had some time to sit down and write, and then share what we had written.  It was such a moving experience, getting to hear different women's experiences with their bodies and with each others' bodies.  And it made me realize that my relationship with poetry is not over yet, so somehow, I'm going to find the time to start writing again!*

That evening was the NAAFA Talent Show!  Before we could get up there and show off our various talents, we did some karaoke to get us all warmed up.  It was great seeing fat people up in the spotlight--willing to put themselves out there--because they felt so brave, confident and safe.  I don't think I've ever done karaoke before, but I couldn't resist with a crowd so accepting.  The talent show was just an extension of that safe feeling.  People sang, performed poetry and spoken word pieces, and of course, the classic fortuneteller act!  I was fortunate enough to be convinced by a friend to recite some of my own poetry, including a piece I had written that day at the workshop!  It was great seeing how talented all my new friends really are, and how comfortable they were sharing their work with us.

The talent show was followed by a film festival.  I only caught the first film, The Fat Body (In)Visible, but it was a great piece that followed two women who had met on the Livejournal Fatshionista community, so it was exciting to get to see the blogging community represented at the conference.  The movie also contained pictures from the Adipositivity Project, which was great to see put to music up on the big screen.

Monday morning, I had to head back to the real world (sadly) but several members of NAAFA stayed on to lobby on Capitol Hill for the inclusion of bullying based on weight to the current anti-bullying legislature going through Congress.  Members of the board gave a press conference that was covered by C-Span and the story was also picked up by CNN's website.  Please check out both links to see NAAFA in action trying to end weight-based bullying in our schools.

All in all, my first NAAFA conference was a huge success.  It was so empowering to be surrounded by smart, talented, dedicated fat people who want to make the same change in the world as I do.  I feel much stronger in my beliefs and much more confident as a blogger, activist and fat person than before I went.  Best of all, I made some great new friends to share the journey with me.  Thank you NAAFA, see you in San Francisco next year!

*You can purchase the first publication by the Fat Poets' Society at amazon.com. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

NAAFA Convention 2011: Day 2 Sex and Fashion

Day two of the NAAFA convention started, for me, with a workshop about fat admirers. One of my classmates was on a panel discussion about both men and women who find they are attracted to fat partners.  First, we talked in separate groups (all the males and all the females) and then came together to share what we had learned.  It was interesting to hear everyone's take on the concept of being an FA and to really talk about the elephant in the room for much of the conference: The thin, male FA's who mostly attended the evening social events.  There was enough in that workshop to generate an entire blog post, which I will do at some point but for the sake of telling you about NAAFA I will try to keep it short.

It seems to me that two types of FA's emerged.  One group were the men who attended the workshops, talked to the women and seem to support our cause.  The other group consisted of basically silent men, who did not attend the workshops and made a lot of the women feel uncomfortable when they were hanging around the dances.  It's a shame the second group didn't come to the FA workshop, I would really have liked to hear from them.  I think the same two categories can be applied to the so-called "normal" men who like thin women.  Some of the FA's were there because they really support our goals and maybe already have a fat partner or had one in the past and want to be a part of our culture.  The others were objectifying us and only wanted us for our bodies, or for sex.  Or maybe it is just that they are so shy from years of being told they were freaks by the other boys that they were too afraid to talk to us.  I hope if that is the case, that we can continue to have a workshop like this so that maybe they can feel brave enough to come and help us understand them.

It was also interesting to discuss the concept of a female FA, an idea that was new to me.  In our society, it is hard to imagine female FA's because being fat for a man and being fat for a woman is such a different experience.  Often the only time a fat character is on a TV show is the fat husband of a thin wife.  It is acceptable in a certain way so it doesn't have a name like FA's do (The "abnormal" thing is always named before the "normal."  Homosexual came before heterosexual, trans came before cis, etc.)  With women who like fat women, again, it is not seen as unusual because there is this idea of a different beauty standard among lesbians due to their (relative) freedom from the wants of men.  Finally, all of the women at the seminar were fat (not surprisingly due to the audience.)  so there is also this unspoken idea that a fat women couldn't be with a thin partner.  Of course fat women would be with fat men because "it's all they can get."  What would have happened if one of the women in the group said she exclusively liked thin men or women, I wonder.  Would she be a traitor, or just have her own taste like the FA's?  What do you guys think?

Following the FA/FFA workshop, I attended a diversity workshop focused on how to get other kinds of people to join NAAFA and participate in our events.  I liked the workshop because it was goal-oriented and involved us breaking into small groups and working together.  Being  randomly paired with some of the NAAFA members (including the chair of the board)  helped me get to know more people than my convention clique as it were, and get to throw some ideas out there.  Some of the material we discussed is already in the works!

Saturday night meant it was time for the fashion show.  It was a great experience getting to model!  What a thrill to do my big, fat turn on the catwalk, to the screaming NAAFA members, and in a VERY expensive dress by the designer Toula.  I also modeled for Ashaki Charles designs, a dress much closer to my own clothing budget.  It was so empowering to strut my stuff with all my new friends and help bring in some money for NAAFA by auctioning off some of the pieces.  I am hoping that SOMEONE took pictures so that I can post them here (850 dollar dress, how's that for an OOTD?!)

After the auction there was more dancing, including several men and women with limited mobility taking scooters and chairs up to the dance floor so they could join in on the fun!  I personally had used up all my moves during the fashion show so I had a nice, quiet talk with a new friend and then went to the pool party.

The last time I'd worn a two-piece bathing suit was probably my 4th birthday party so I knew it was time to get a bikini for the conference.  It was so much fun to wear what I wanted instead of what I was "supposed to."  And it was so nice to be surrounded by supportive people who all told me I looked amazing, instead of telling me how I can minimize myself.  It was also really inspiring to see other people, bigger than me, smaller than me, whatever, all wearing their bathing suits proudly and having a blast!

Talk about an empowering day:  Discussing sexuality, working with the NAAFA members on diversity ideas, strutting my stuff at a fashion show, watching everyone exercise their right to dance and sporting my two-piece with a bunch of rad fatties!  What a day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NAAFA Convention 2011: Day 1 Boundaries and Booties!

NAAFA's 2011 conference took place from August 4-8 at The Westin Hotel in Herndon, VA.  The 4th was just a day for registration and mingling, so I won't cover it in great detail here, but suffice it to say, by Thursday night, I could already tell that I was going to make lasting friendships and maybe even change my life.  

Friday morning started early with a session of Water Aerobics with Melissa.  I had never done Water Aerobics so I braved 8AM to give it a try.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by fat women of all ages, all active and enjoying the use of their bodies.  It was also very refreshing to be with an instructor who encouraged us to test our limits but also to know our limits and take it easy when we needed to.  There was none of that "no pain, no gain" mentality and it made the whole experience very positive.  Having a fat instructor was also helpful because she was sensitive to our concerns and had a lot of useful tips to adjust our workouts as necessary.  I just wish I could convince my apartment complex to do water aerobics classes so I can keep learning!

The next workshop I attended was called Tending Boundaries with the Fat Fitness guru, Kelly Bliss. Kelly taught us a basic three-step procedure for how to tend your boundaries with loved ones, doctors and other people who feel they need to make "suggestions" regarding your health.  The three steps are to say:

1.  I know you are concerned.
2.  I am already doing something to address your concern (HAES, self-esteem work, etc.)
3.  We can't talk about this or 
      you are not welcome to comment on ________.  

I found that it was a useful framework because it shows that you are listening to the person, it addresses their concerns (yes I am fat, thank you for noticing) and it stops the conversation from going any further, ie turning into a screaming match.  She also talked about how after an altercation you should speak out loud(even if it is only to yourself) all the things you wanted to say to the person.  Even if you only say it to yourself, it can be very helpful to get it out of your head and into your experiences.  We tried it with a few recent events in our lives and it really did make us feel better.  Kelly likened it to how when you watch a scary movie you still get scared even though you know it's not real.  You will still feel some closure by standing up for yourself even if the other person never hears it.  

The next workshop I attended was a social media workshop.  Mostly it was geared towards older people experimenting with social media for the first time so it wasn't especially useful to me but I am looking into Linkedin and Tweetdeck as a result so some good did come from it.  

Following the social media workshop was a quick meeting for the fashion show (more on that tomorrow) and then off to a lovely buffet dinner and dance party with all my new friends.  Friday night's dance was probably one of the most positive experiences of my life.  From small things, like getting back in the buffet line and not getting a glare from a single person at the table, to some bigger more life-changing events.  

When the dancing got underway, I was right there on the dance floor strutting my stuff.  I felt amazing, confident, happy and sexy.  As we were dancing, one of the women slipped on her shoe and fell.  We all stopped.  One of my good friends from the conference went over to make sure she was okay.  She said she was but that she couldn't get up without everyone seeing her underwear.  So B.  stood in front of her and spread her wide skirt out to block P. as she got back up.  

It may seem like a small thing, but I teared up on the dance floor.  In my mind, B. had committed a revolutionary act.  She used her size to protect someone else.  She didn't hide from it or try to minimize it or do it in a self-deprecating matter.  Her friend was in trouble and she used her size to help.  And no one judged either of them.  It was beautiful.  

After that I went to my first NAAFA pool party and then dragged my tired butt to bed, but there will be more to say about pool parties in the next installment!  Stay tuned for days 2 and 3! 

For more information about Melissa go to http://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/haes-expert.asp?id=97

For more information about Kelly Bliss go to http://www.kellybliss.com/main/index.php

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Hello Fat-O-Sphere!

I have recently been added to the Fat-O-Sphere feed, so I thought I should introduce myself again to any new readers out there.  My moniker here is Mrs. Sprat and I am a Human Sexuality Education student, a fat activist and a blogger.  To pay for those endeavors I am also a some-time retail grunt.  I have been married to Mr. Sprat for two years now and we live in the greater Philadelphia area where we are both in graduate school.

I discovered Fat Acceptance when I read an article by Kate Harding about fat women and rape for my work as a sexuality educator.  The material immediately clicked with what I think I had known on some level all along:  That there is nothing wrong with being fat, but a whole lot wrong with stigmatizing people for their body size.  Since then I have immersed myself in FA blogs, books and theory and most recently, attended my first fat conference, NAAFA's annual conference in DC this past weekend.

I try to cover lots of different issues on this blog, but certainly the intersection of sexuality and fat and body image is a favorite of mine.  I also have been known to cover fashion, food, sexism, current events and pretty much anything that tickles my fancy (or makes me very, very angry.)

Thank you all for reading and commenting, I look forward to working with all of you!

Mrs. Sprat

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dear Max and Erma's

I will be heading to the NAAFA conference on Thursday so I only have time for a quick post, but expect a lot of updates next week about the conference!

I was in Pittsburgh this weekend and we went to a chain restaurant called Max and Erma's.  I've been there three times before and had the best chicken parm of my life so I wanted to go while we were still in the area.  Their menu had changed a lot in a year and one of the things I noticed was the burgers.  Under each one it said "Max size (x price) or Erma size (y price).  The Erma size was cheaper so I can only imagine it was smaller.

Way to be sexist and sizeist all in one!  Like it isn't hard enough for a woman to order a burger in a restaurant?  Now if she wants the big one she has to ask for the "man's serving"?  And men who don't want as much (or are on a budget) have to order the girl one? This is exactly the kind of thing that keeps women (and especially fat women) down.  If a woman wants to eat (let alone enjoy) the same amount of food as a man she becomes too much like a man and is considered a threat.

Some people, regardless of size or sex, eat more than other people.  And some people are hungrier at a given moment than others.  It is utterly humiliating to gender hamburgers in order to offer two sizes.  Shame on you Max and Erma's, I'll be getting my chicken parm elsewhere from now on!