Last week, Jen wrote about her first moves towards prioritizing writing in the middle of the frenetic life of a mother of young children and part-time teacher. She introduced our mutual friend, Shell, as an inspiration and a fellow mama-ex-academic-writer-kick-ass-person working very hard to get her own writing project off the ground.
Shell is raising money through IndieGoGo to finish and self-publish a memoir and manifesta for fat women. Shell writes, “Fat women are everywhere. And we are hungry for honest stories about what it’s like to be fat, for the truth about the conflicted feelings we have for our bodies, for funny empowering tales about body-image, and for the all-too-rare point of view that fat phobia—not just obesity–is an epidemic worth fighting… We need some experiences out there that share the truth of living fat, not the sob story of how we got there, or the success story of how we got out, but what we experienced from those around us while we were/are in it; the reality of living as a fat woman in America.”
Jen and I think this is a project worth funding. Let me tell you some things about Shell:
- She works in a full-time administration position and also teaches nights.
- She’s been a single mother, teen mother, welfare mother, working mother — and she is an amazing, feminist parent raising incredible young people.
- She finished a PhD and, while not a grad school quitta, is a total quitta empathizer.
- She taught in the same program for at-risk college students as me, and she worked miracles with young people who everyone believes can’t make it in college. No kid could resist Shell’s honesty and hilarity. I’ll never forget her story about teaching an article about homophobia in sports to a room full of football players. AWESOME. She is HARDCORE.
- She was my doula! She pressed on my lower back while I labored with Holly, and fed me spaghetti after the birth. Check it out.
Basically, Shell is an extraordinary person who deserves the satisfaction of publication! She’s raising 2k to upgrade her computer and pay for some dang summer camp so she can have some time (remember, she works two jobs) to write. Please consider supporting her campaign. Read an excerpt from a work-in-progress chapter about being fat and vegan (gasp! at the same time!).
From Pigs Are People, Too:
However, even during my best days, weeks, months, I am always suspect. There are the assumptions, “Oh, you’re vegan. Trying to lose weight?” The accusations, “Vegan? Can’t YOU gain even MORE weight on beans and rice?” and the assholes, “Vegan? Wouldn’t you be skinny?” I am simply not allowed to be health conscious AND obese. And that is because fat is still ugly. Fat is still bad. Fat is scary. Fat is irresponsible. Fat is a symbol of sloth and poverty and disgust. The list goes on.
So what am I to do? I take my fat ass to the farmers market in a halter dress (exposed arms always get them, preferably covered in tats), I get a big vegan burrito with lots of salsa spilling out and I enjoy my damn food. I shop for okra and zucchini and kale and corn and fresh apples and curry couscous. I ask about recipes and bitch when the cupcakes aren’t vegan at the bakery table.
Sure, I get down sometimes about my size. After all, I am a woman in a culture that simply doesn’t like women. And I get frustrated when I can’t find clothes to fit, especially t shirts with vegan friendly sayings. But, ultimately, on a daily basis, I have decided not to care about the taunts, the moo sound of the guy in the waiting room as I walk in, or the sideways glances of my sister/brother vegans. I simply want to eat the way I feel is healthiest, most peaceful and most important for me and my body. I have compassion, sure, but I also have just enough kiss-my-fat-ass to keep my sanity.
Shell has been published in Without a Net: The Female Experience Growing Up Working Class edited by Michelle Tea, HipMama, The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, and On The Fly: Stories in Eight Minutes or Less. She has guest blogged for many outlets, most recently Crazy Sexy Life. Shell grew up in Oakland, California, a foster kid and ultimately, a determined teen mama. She lives with her family in a little college town in the midwest.