Fat Girl in a Little Shirt

The baggage about bodies that we bring into adulthood begins to accumulate in grade school. Little kids, just trying to do what kids do–learn, play, grow–are told they are too much. By classmates. By relatives. Even by parents. Most who write about fat positivity source their childhood as when they learned that the world expects proper bodies to restrain themselves. In the greater scheme of feminism, girls are told to be quieter, dumber, less opinionated, less than. In bodies, we’re convinced that we must fight them every day. The battle all women must take up in order to fit in. Diets. Aerobics. Shoes smaller than the feet being shoved into them. Grab your swords, girls–we’re going to war with nature! (Hopefully, your 800 calories a day will allow you to fit in the suit of armor…)

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when it was first recommended that I go on a diet. But I do remember my mom sweating to the oldies with Richard Simmons. Diet culture perpetuates in the most unintentional ways.

I also remember when it started to matter to me.

In 5th grade, I invested myself in pulling off one of those 80s movie plots by transforming myself from the nerdy girl who hung out with the smart guys and played Dungeons and Dragons to one of the popular girls. Everyone would see me appropriately attired and admired, proving I was worthy. I could do it.

I begged one of the mean girls to aid me in my plan. I don’t know why S decided I was a worthy project, but she actually agreed to share the secrets of the desired class with me. Most notably, she gave me a shopping list. Clothes I MUST wear in order to be socially acceptable. Essential to my very own Ugly Duckling metamorphosis.

My mom was less convinced that a 10-year-old who wore women’s size 6 should be squeezing into short skirts and crop tops, but she eventually humored me. And just as soon as the Bradlees layaway was paid off, they were all mine. That lavender skirt with the raw edge. That crop top with a duck. That collection of clothing proving that, while you can guide me on what I should buy, the real me will shine through with how I execute this advice. Ha.

The crop top? Never did make an appearance to dazzle the cool kids. They weren’t allowed in school. It was for the best, anyway, all things considered. My mom has some lovely photos of me pairing it with a long, ruffled skirt and a crepe paper flower parasol from Riverside Park, all while sporting headgear. I’m sure that’s exactly what S pictured when she took me under her wing. My life, surprisingly, was not a movie.

It became less and less acceptable, as I grew larger and larger, to wear crop tops in public. But in recent years, as I started to shed society’s rules for my body, I became more invested in the idea.

Somehow, bikinis were easier. Probably because people expect you to essentially be clad in underwear at the beach and pool. But what are the rules for shorter-than-usual tops? Are they okay for the coffee shop? What about theatre performances? Do you wear them at parent-teacher conferences? Work is probably a no… I could have used lessons on this. Where are you S?

It turns out that, like most other items of clothing, you wear crop tops wherever you damn well please. Fuck the rules.

I keep telling myself that, anyway.

I made a baby step, though. I wore a barely cropped cardigan to the coffee house a few months ago. If I moved just right, you could see centimeters of my flesh. I think 3 people might have witnessed it. At the theatre the other night, I also wore a long-sleeved black crop top. With a high-waisted skirt. So you couldn’t even tell, when I was sitting, that I was pushing back. A quiet kind of resistance, revealed when standing (and especially when raising my arms–oops). The world didn’t end.

I’m not sure that I’m quite there yet. But I’m dabbling. And you know what? If I want to walk around in a duck crop top with a long ruffled skirt and a crepe paper parasol, fuck it, I will. Because what anyone else thinks about it doesn’t really matter anyway.

(Side note: if you’re interested in that shirt in the Instagram post, you can find it in Mary Lambert‘s merch shop. I also highly recommend listening to her music and reading her poems, which feature fat positivity, queer love, being yourself, and just plain being awesome.)

Entertainment · LGBTQ

10 Years Later, Nothing Has Changed

Last night, I brought eldest kiddo to see The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later at The Warner Theatre‘s Nancy Marine Studio. I wish more parents had brought their teens and tweens. In fact, that room should have been overflowing with people, extra performances added to the schedule due to overwhelming demand. School field trips, with projects for school credit and conversations held about what this community chooses to also rewrite in its own history.

The Laramie Project Ten Years Later

I cried. A lot.

The cast consisted of members of The Warner Theatre Center for Arts Education Performance Lab, the eldest students in the arts education program. Teens, ranging from 15 to 18 years old, brought to life the series of interviews conducted by the Tectonic Theatre Project in 2008, 10 years after the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard. What they found was change…and not. A community willing to put the past behind them…and some demanding for change that should have happened.

Jake Asheim, who was tasked with playing the roles of Moises Kaufman (member of Tectonic Theatre Project), Jim Osbourne (friend of Matthew Shepard) and Russell Henderson (one of Matthew Shepard’s murderers) was spell-binding. His timing and patience with each of these roles shined. Conio Lopardo slipped seamlessly between Governor Freudenthal, Jim Osborne, and, most eerily of all, Aaron McKinney (Matthew Shepard’s murderer). Suspension of disbelief is essential in live theatre, and Lopardo successfully pulled this off. His version of flippant, remorseless McKinney brought out all the feels in me and I was astounded such could be pulled off by a 15-year-old. Emily Russell’s Reggie Fluty was passionate and full of life. This was a truly talented cast and they performed a very difficult piece in a very impressive manner.

I cried. A lot.

I cried because I’ve watched The Laramie Project on HBO, so I knew some of the back story. I cried because Matthew Shepard was around my age. I cried because the comments from the members of the community echo so much of what’s relevant today. I cried because, in spite of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, hate crimes persist. Every year, hate gains ground. It feels more and more hopeless, even with tools that were supposed to decrease these numbers. I cried because, even though in June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states of the United States, current administrations are trying to erode that right–are doing their best to take away what was already given. I cried because so much ground has already been lost.

I cried.

Please. There are two more performances of this important play. You can catch it Saturday, February 2, 2019, at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, February 3, 2019, at 2:00 PM. Bring your kids. Bring your parents. Bring tissues. Just go. 10 more years have passed since these interviews, and I fear what another update would bring to light. Laramie could be anywhere. Torrington could learn some lessons from this.

Tickets can be purchased on the Warner Theatre website or from their box office two hours before each performance.