Fatness Makes the Joke Funnier

By Katelyn Burns

 

My name is Katelyn and Hollywood thinks I’m a joke (or a murderer). I’m a transgender woman and I’m about thirty pounds overweight. I used to be much, much heavier, but we’ll get into that later. Back to Hollywood though, putting men in dresses for a laugh is just about the oldest joke in movie history. Man puts on dress, struggles to perform femininity, audience laughs because men can’t be women. What man would want to be a woman anyway? Women have to deal with so many things that men never do. “Oh look he’s struggling with that bra! Bahahaha!” “Oh my god he can’t even put those stockings on! Tee hee!” “Look at his body! He’s obviously not a woman, everybody laugh at him!” That last one is particularly dangerous and harmful. In our society, body shape rules passability when it comes to gender identity. It is reinforced in our movie culture as well. Fat men in dresses means we laugh at them, the fatter the funnier.

If you polled all of the trans women in the world, you’d find that a good portion of us went through a phase where we consumed every little tiny piece of trans media that we could get our hands on. From Rocky Horror Picture Show or Mrs. Doubtfire to THAT episode of NCIS. When I was young, my excitement in knowing I wasn’t alone outweighed the absolutely horrific portrayals of trans lives on screen. There’s only two allowable cross gender depictions on screen for us, it’s either serial killer or as the butt of the joke. Every. Single. Time. Time and time again, I saw murderous villains or deceptive sexual punchlines rolled out in the media and never even thought to question it. Can you believe I used to actually watch those Jerry Springer shows where trans women revealed to their boyfriends that they were trans, or “Guess which one is trans and which one is a ‘real’ woman?” Just knowing I wasn’t alone though was enough for me. After awhile however, a major revelation hit me, why was I always depicted as a monster or a joke? From Ace Ventura Pet Detective to Psycho to Pretty Little Liars, trans people are constantly shown as killers and monsters. Is it any wonder that a majority of Americans believe trans women are too dangerous to use the women’s room? We’ve been shown killing people on screen literally since screens were invented.

When cis men wear dresses on screen as a joke, it reinforces the notion that trans women are really just pretending. That our genders are literally laughable. When fatness is added to the mix, the joke gets even funnier. When a fat cis male actor puts on a dress, you see the disproportionately small chest, the large belly and the narrow hips. It’s the reverse of a feminine shape. Not only does it look like too much sausage stuffed into too little casing, but even the sausage bulges out in the wrong places. The worse the dress fits on screen, the funnier the joke gets, because the joke is that male bodies can never be female, fat bodies especially. I see this joke every time I put on a dress. It is this joke alone that told me that I was too fat to transition for over twenty years. This is the joke that had me telling myself that no one would love me as a fat trans woman, that no one would ever have sex with me as a fat trans woman. This is the joke that told me that I would have to lose over 100 pounds before even thinking about transitioning. It was this joke that had me eating a bowl of plain spinach for lunch every day for three months to start a major diet. This joke told me that despite losing 110 pounds, my body shape is still all wrong for a woman.

Growing up, I was rail-thin, but when I hit my teenage years, my body betrayed me in more ways than one. I was actually foolish enough to believe that I might have ovaries hidden inside of me that would develop me into the girl I always knew myself to be. Not only did I not magically turn into a girl, I was also overweight from the start of puberty onward. I’ve always loved food. Food was my comfort. Food never misgendered me. Food was my emotional outlet. Despite playing three sports in high school (and carrying my golf bag at least 18 holes a day in the summer time) my body has always been overweight. During track season my senior year, I remember stretching before practice while talking about how excited I was to play college soccer the following fall when my coach actually said to me, “I don’t think your new coach will like all those fat rolls under your shirt.” Oof, seriously coach? I’d go home at night and flip through the TV channels, thin woman after thin woman on screen. Even the serious cis male actors playing trans roles were thin. I mean, even Robin Williams wore a fat suit for Mrs. Doubtfire, because remember, fatness makes the joke funnier.

The trope of trans people as a joke on screen is just so dangerous. That trans women, especially fat trans women, are complete jokes; that we are invalid as our genders. This “joke” is especially insidious when you consider how many trans women are killed each year for “not being real women.” How many men have killed trans women out of embarrassment? So many men have watched movies their whole lives that depict trans women as a joke or have shown cis men in dresses pretending to seduce straight men as a gag. These men kill to save face because our existences as trans women are the oldest joke going. Nobody wants to be the joke.


The so called “trans tipping point” has been a celebrated event in media. They say it’s nice that so much attention is finally being paid to our needs as a group. They trumpet positive portrayals of trans lives like Laverne Cox’s role in “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix and the popularity of Amazon’s “Transparent”. Glee’s character Unique, played by Alex Newell was a step in the right direction, but her character was played by a cis man and her depiction was filled with issues. I agree it’s a good start, but representation and storytelling of trans lives and particularly fat trans lives are still found wanting. Transphobic tropes are still being produced. There’s still Pretty Little Liars and Zoolander 2. There’s still jokes and murderers.

So what needs to change? We’re slowly starting to see more serious trans characters pop up on screen, but they’ve almost all been thin and mostly played by cis actors and actresses. There’s still no one there that I could have looked at as a trans teenager and said “Yes she looks like me, I could be her.” I want that for the next generation of fat trans women. I want the next generation of bigger trans kids to not ever have to worry about losing 100 pounds to be able to transition. I want fat trans women characters played by fat trans actresses and I don’t want them to be a joke. These characters should be loved by committed partners. Let’s see them having sex on screen. Countless closeted trans women think that they’re too fat to transition to their true genders at this very moment. When trans women delay their own transitions, the results can be very deadly, as 41% of all trans people (myself included) will attempt suicide in their life times. How many have done so because they believed themselves to be too fat? How much of that belief stemmed from constantly being the butt of Hollywood jokes?

I can see the responses formulating already. That I should just learn to take a joke. That everybody gets made fun of. No. I have never seen my body on screen in a positive way. Not even once has it happened. Even now, after losing over a third of my body weight, I’ll need a serious waist cincher just to move from “Hollywood joke” to “Hollywood serial killer.” Those are my two categories in film to look up to, to find role models from. You have no idea how humiliating that is. It’s really no wonder that fat trans women are laughed at by cis men and feared by cis women when that has been our portrayal in movies and television since the two mediums have been invented. It needs to stop. The sooner the better.

50 Shades of White

(This piece was commissioned for #BigBodyPosi. It was written by @ChocCurvesModel.)

Woman: Where are you from?

Me: England

Woman: Yeah, but originally?

Me: Still England

Woman: Yeah, but y’know, where do you COME from?

It’s 2016 and yet I still get this. I still get stared at walking down the street too. Apparently I am a mythical creature, and not simply a woman of colour. There are so many beautiful blends of race these days, yet anything that deviates even slightly from white still seems to bring wonder and bewilderment to the faces of many.

I think media has a lot to answer for this. It’s like they know and love white bread, but they also know that brown bread is good for them, so every now and then they have a few slices of it. Then they pat themselves on the back for doing such a good deed, before scurrying back to comfort and safety.

But we have plus size models, so the fashion world is clearly starting to branch out, right? Wrong. Plus size in the modelling world in considered anything over a size 12, and, although there are models who wear a size 16 or 18, they do so only because of stature - when you look at them they simply look like a slightly fuller version of a size 12 model. In reality, plus size is just a term to make the fashion industry appear diverse and inclusive.

Fat women of colour in the fashion industry are even more of a novelty factor. We are used as pawns to stroke the egos of big brands and companies, and to enable them to tick off the diversity box.

I’ve been in the modelling game for a year or so now and people don’t know how to take me. They quite like the idea of having a plus size model, and they quite like the idea of having a mixed race model, but the two together seems to be a mountain they find almost impossible to climb. This seems to be the case across the board. When it comes to diversity in the modelling world, you can be fat, or a person of colour, or disabled, or anything else that deviates from the norm, but you can only be one of them.

It has been my experience that, on approaching photographers for shoots I’ve not been taken seriously because of my size. As far as they’re concerned I’m fat, and therefore invalid. It is impossible for them to even entertain the idea that a fat person could create something beautiful. The majority of photographers have instantly dismissed me on that basis.

Nine times out of ten when I have been selected by a photographer, it is because they have a fetish for fat and/or women of colour. Apparently I am meant to be grateful for this. I should be flattered that someone has been valiant enough to deem me suitable for satisfying their sexual desires. I can be a novelty factor or I can be a sex object, but I definitely can’t have beauty and worth in my own right.

Fat people and people of colour are not here for your whim and fancy. We are not ‘other’. We are not lesser or undeserving. We are allowed to love ourselves and celebrate ourselves without it meaning we are being racist or glorifying obesity. We simply want the same acknowledgement, respect as everyone else.

I am fat, I am mixed race, I have hidden disabilities, I am queer, and I am here to try and make a difference. I am here to try and shatter preconceptions of beauty. I am here to represent all the underrepresented.  I want brands to choose me, and others like me, and be proud of it. Not because they HAVE to, or think they SHOULD, but because they recognise that all forms of beauty need and deserve to be reflected in the modelling industry.

It should be that you can go online, or pick up a magazine, or watch a film, and for there to always be a mix of body types and races portrayed, and for that to be the norm; not a radical statement. I want people to be able to turn to media and be able to relate to the models and characters they see, not feel alienated and unworthy because of them.

Skin colour, size, gender, sexuality, they all come on a spectrum. In media and the modelling world they like to stick to a very definite safe section of that spectrum. Every once in a while they will widen those parameters by an inch or two and make it seem like they are doing something very bold and daring, whereas in reality it is just pushing mainstream to its limit.

In this day and age the entire spectrum should represented. The stereotypical model still has its place in media, but the rest of the spectrum needs to be represented too. We no longer live in an age where we only want to see somebody’s depiction of ‘The Ideal’; we want to see ourselves, our neighbours, our friends. We want to see flaws, imperfections, and wobbly bits. It is time for brands to redefine their portrayal of what it is to be beautiful. We are fat, we are of colour, and we are beautiful too. Hear our roar and realise that beauty comes in all forms, not just one.

Michelle Marie is a plus-sized model and writer. You can find her on twitter @ChocCurvesModel

Michelle Marie is a plus-sized model and writer. You can find her on twitter @ChocCurvesModel

Fat, Black, and Female: Invisible Shadows

By Dara Crawley

This is a guest piece commissioned for #BigBodyPosi

I like to tell my friends that being fat, black, and a woman is like being the Captain Planet of overused stereotypes, but without the neat rings. Laziness! Welfare queen! Anger! Mamie! Domineering! GO BLACKNESS!With your powers combined I am stereotype!” (Now if only I had a cool goddess to bum around with). Being a FBW is a pretty tough draw, and I realized pretty young that the media made it clear those traits had specific connotations when combined.

Finding well-rounded black female characters has always been hard though it has been getting easier in the last 30 years, but add “fat” and along comes stereotyping; we’re loud because all black women are loud; not feminine because if we were we wouldn’t be fat…and besides black women have never been allowed to be seen as feminine; unlovable not only because we’re fat, but because we’re dark; and un-educated because fat people and black people are intellectually inferior. At the same time we’re motherly invulnerable strong independent black women who don’t need no man! These generalizations don’t leave much wiggle room to be people. I graduated cum laude from college and collect Sailor Moon memorabilia. I have FBW friends who speak three languages and run track. Yet our media images are still based around these descriptions, ignoring our individuality. We are silent sisters visible only in misshapen shadows that deny our personhood, our varied humanity, in favor of stereotypes.

One of the first fat black leads in a television series that stood out to me was Monique on The Parkers, a spinoff of Brandy’s Moesha. Monique played Nikki the single mother of a community college student, who enrolled herself, and obsessively stalked her Professor to comedic effect. He loathed her not because she stalked him, but because she had the audacity to think he’d want her at her size. Frequently, he’d push her down for comedic effect, but she always forgave him. It’s like the writers said “Can you blame him look at her?” episode after episode until he/they changed his/their mind. Despite her confidence the jokes were about her being loud, bossy, and completely juxtaposed to the thin well-read women he dated. They embodied traditional upper-class femininity and disassociated from urban black culture, unlike Nikki who related to it and embodied the role of fat “angry black woman” and “mama”.  It’s not black people who’re uneducated and loud, the show says, its fat black women. Our own community dumps the stereotypes on us, so they can escape it.

Years later Monique co-starred in Precious, as an angry uneducated mother, with Gabourey Sidibe as her abused unloved teenage daughter with two children. The critically acclaimed film is about overcoming terrible circumstances. Personally I respect that, but those characters are riddled with stereotypes and remain the most prominent imagery of FBWs. That imagery helps define how people conceptualize our lives and identities, which is all story telling is at the end of the day. When nothing challenges stereotypes why should anyone think FBW are, at worst, not more than under-educated women to be condescended to, loathed, and disregarded;  and, at best, sassy mother figures? The narrative of blackness is already toxic, but fatness seems to confirm all those stereotypes, deepen them, and traps real and fictional people.

A few months ago a friend and I were discussing the fact that in interviews Sidibe is a smart, and, dare I say, quirky person playing almost exclusively sassy/troubled black women. My friend said “She’ll never play someone who’s just quirky,” and I sadly agreed. I can name chubby quirky white girls from the ultra-feminine titular Fat Princess to Sookie St.James(Melissa McCarthy) of Gilmore Girls. Yet society says Black Girls aren’t supposed to be different, and if you are you aren’t “really” black, or so I’ve repeatedly been told. Yet with Nicki Minaj and Janelle Monae being popular along with the rise of alternative black culture you’d think this would improve drastically. It hasn’t. Minaj’s fabulously curvy body still has a tiny waist and Monae’s afrofunk still comes in a size eight max. Their bodies, like McCarthy’s race, gives them more wiggle room to be seen like full-fledged people. They get to be soft. Women who look like them don’t carry the baggage of black fatness. Racist fatphobia has been reinforced by constantly showing FBWs as motherly, sexless, and angry.

Over time it seems like portrayals of FBW’s have improved though I cannot think of a recent non-comedic example, which is reflective of broader problems with fat people in media, but Post-Precious we seem more nuanced. My favorite example is Donna Meagle played by talented comedienne Retta on Parks and Recreation. Retta herself defies stereotypes as she’s versed in hip-hop, opera, and hockey. While she wasn’t a series lead Donna had a subtle complexity exceeding the portrayal of any other FBW I could think of. I related to her in a way I never expected. Heck, I want to be her when I grow up. She wasn’t perfect by any means, while she had the most active romantic life of any character it wasn’t a big plot point, and thus she was functionally de-sexed like many FBW. Still Donna was business savvy, quiet, adventurous, charitable, cultured, and worked as much as her co-workers. Did I say quiet? You have no clue how much her being quiet means to me as a fat black woman. Usually only thin and light skinned black women get to be quiet and they are still few and far between.

As a black person there are times you walk into a space and you feel the room inhale because everyone is expecting you to be the “loud black”. I have felt it many times, and admit I’ve done it myself, but there is a particularly potent version of it when you’re fat. I’ve watched my lighter thinner black female peers enter a room to fewer looks than any FBW.  Fatness and blackness in American society is equated with overlapping negative clichés and when they meet entire auras of rooms, particularly predominately white spaces, will change because the people in those rooms reference the welfare queens, the Nikki Parkers, and the Mammie’s from television, games, and film when they see us. They wonder how/why we’re at colleges, conventions, or jobs and find polite ways to ask (“Looking for a gift I see?” “So what do your parents do?”). They’ve been taught that we fit into narrow boxes, and simply don’t know or don’t expect us to exist outside clichés. I am not me. I am invisible to them until they can breathe a sigh of relief that I with my proper English and good manners am not one of those loud angry un-educated fat black women. Until they can say “You’re big, but you aren’t fat. You’re black but not really black.”

That all being said the world is changing and I’d like to think seeing the Retta’s and Donna’s on television have helped. The Help still exists, but Octavia Spencer got to take the motherly FBW role beyond invulnerability into badassery in Snowpiercer.  One of my favorite indie comics is a manga about a fat black/Korean woman with natural hair called Love, Love, Fighting. FatBat, a series of independent comics about goth FBW Dana is fairly plastered over tumblr. Not to mention that Valiant comics released Faith, a white geeky plus sized superhero who ultimately founds a resistance against a mad man with good intentions. Fat women and fat black women are getting better representation. It may be slow, but it can only get better. The biggest solution to speed this up is to demand better depictions of black people and saying “Yes that means fat black people too because we’re more than media molds”. We’re earthy hippies, fiery without being angry, gentle as the rolling winds, strong as tidal waters, but most of all that we have hearts and lives like any other human being. Basically we’re a lot more like Captain Planet than one might think. The power is ours to create and demand a world where no one is shocked a fat black girl is bubbly, and where we’re all seen as a complex human beings.

This piece was commissioned from Dara Crawley by Kiva Bay thanks to a generous anonymous donation. Dara Crawley can be found at @cocobean_darla on twitter.

I Make Games

It's probably the most exciting thing I've ever done. It's probably the most silly thing I've ever done. It's probably the most important thing I've ever done. I'm making games.

So far there is:

12hrs, a story of a homeless woman trying to survive the night without shelter. 

CeeDee, a calm-down bot who provides resources and calming techniques to people in crisis.

Third Eye, the big project, my impossible baby, the story I've wanted to tell forever.

This is all very exciting for me.

I Was A Teenage Terrorist

Kiva's Note: I was approached by an anonymous source and asked to run this very personal story for #IStandWithAhmed. Ahmed Mohamed was taken from school in handcuffs for the crime of practicing science while brown. This anonymous source wanted to share their experience as a white student by contrast.
 

In April 20th, 1999, 2 teenagers walked into their high school in Columbine, Colorado and opened fire, killing 13 people before taking their own lives. It was an event unlike anything we'd seen before, school shootings had not yet become a horrifyingly common occurrence. While the news talkers and pundits on TV discussed what was behind it, whether years of bullying had played a part or if violent video games were the cause; others were rightly concerned that this would spawn other copycats throughout the nation. I am one of those copycats, although you will have never heard of me nor my deeds.

 

A few weeks after Columbine, I was sitting in the auditorium of my new school. It was only my second day, but I got to witness the rehearsal of a play my peers had spent months working on. At one point during the play, a group of girls got up on stage dressed as the Backstreet Boys and began doing one of their songs. Afterwards, a group of boys got on stage dressed as The Spice Girls and began doing one of their songs. While everyone else was enjoying the fruits of their labor, all I could think of was how disgusted I was with how boys were dressed like girls. I made a viciously transphobic remark and was sent to the administrative office for the remainder of the rehearsal.

 

I sat in the administration office, fuming over being punished for expressing my hate. Not wanting to sit in that office all day, feeling morally justified with myself, and knowing that everyone was still thinking about Columbine, I worked out an idea. I would attach a sticky note to the bathroom mirror that said a bomb had been planted at school and at certain time would detonate. I then asked to go to the bathroom, and was escorted to the bathroom, where I left the note, and was escorted back. Five minutes later a younger student came in to report the note, and it took them all of two seconds to figure out who had left it.

 

The principle saw my gesture as an insincere threat with no intention of action and rather than alerting the authorities or even the school district, I was suspended from school for three days. My family had told me I was extremely lucky, but nowadays I know luck had little to do with it. The school district had no records on me, it was only my second day at school, a few weeks after Columbine; and yet I was white, Christian, living in an upper middle class family in a gated community. Layers of privilege kept me from going to jail and being charged with a crime.

 

Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to school. He did not threaten anyone with it; he did not make any attempts to suggest it was a bomb. He was suspended for the same three days I was; but was also led out of school in handcuffs, and charged with making a hoax bomb. His racial and ethnic background had everything to do with his mistreatment. I know this, because unlike Ahmed, I was a teenage terrorist.

Day 2: Healing Instead of Purging

CW Eating disorders

It is important for me to remember that the pain inside me isn't poison, despite what my brain tells me. It is an injury and it must be healed.

I told David about my eating disorder, about the way I put off eating until I'm dizzy, eat food, and then purge it. He looked concerned. This is not unusual. He has a handsome face that is constantly drawn into lines of worry, even when he swears he isn't. This time, I could tell he was.

We went shopping in the middle of the night, choosing quick and easy calories, things he knew he could make me eat three times a day. There was no worry about my body or what it would look like if I ate waffles for breakfast. 

Upon my confession that my body is a prison I punish with purging and comfort with food, the internet exploded. I forgot that I currently have over two thousand followers on Twitter. They are all very kind, but part of me wonders if the stress of being that Known is one of the reasons I have started this again after doing so well for so many months. What has triggered this relapse? Is it the number of responsibilities I have taken on? The sudden changes in my life? The realization that so many people are there and able to hear what I'm saying?

I don't know. I find myself strangely self-conscious, which I then push against with the same stubborn egotism I've always had. I'm not scared, I insist, shaking. I'm not scared that you'll see me, I whisper, hiding.

 

I received a comment that had quotes from Geneen Roth in it. I had never read them before, but something about the words rang true for me. "We refuse to take in what sustains us."

My life is about building walls between me and others. I offer kindness and support from behind those walls, and share glimpses into who I am, but there are depths of private shame that I keep hidden from all. 

I wonder sometimes if exposing those things will heal them. I don't know how to heal them. I do know that I cannot begin to heal the wounds without first examining what they are.

Today I ate waffles with syrup for breakfast. It's nine thirty in the morning. I will eat lunch and dinner as well, in the company of a man who cares about me and wants me to be successful and healthy and happy.

Today is my second day examining this scar. I hope the damage isn't irreversible. 

Let the walls come down, brick by brick.

On the Subject of Poison

CW: Eating disorders, drug abuse.

I threw up today. Felt the sick somewhere in the center of my stomach and stepped quietly into the bathroom. As always, I felt relief, and imagined poison pouring out of me as I did so. It had been a while. I went to sleep afterwards and twisted on a mattress under oppressive dreams.

I first discovered the comfort of vomiting when I was using heroin and cocaine. I would eat something, usually a bag of chips, or drink a soda, and then would sit patiently as I was tied off and my veins pricked with needles. Immediately afterwards, my stomach would roll and I would go into the bathroom to void it. The pure, clean sensation of vomiting made me feel like I was spitting out everything that was in the way of the drug. I felt higher or lower afterwards, depending on the chemical. I was as addicted to throwing up as I was to shooting up.

I'm fat and I've always had a weird relationship with food. As a child, I would sneak downstairs in the middle of the night for spoonfuls of sugar and peanut butter. The scarcity of food in my childhood, the uncertainty where the next meal was going to come from, my mother's shame and anger at getting food boxes and using food stamps, all these things infected me. I didn't like to leave leftovers, because what if I never saw them again? I had to eat all the food. I had to eat it now before it disappeared.

And I'm fat, so, you know, that just gets read as: Well, she's fat, of course she overeats with no question as to how I started overeating.

Fat women get judged for their eating disorders. No doctor would ever hear me say: "I binge eat and then vomit," and think anything other than "she has an eating disorder."

But regular people? Not doctors? The public? You all are terrible.

Do I understand that starving myself won't make me skinny? Of course I do, but the shame I feel when I eat is overwhelming. I feel like people are watching me in disgust, noticing how fat I am, noticing the way I eat, noticing what I'm eating, noticing my stomach, my double chin, noticing me, seeing me eat. Staring.

So I put off eating until I'm filled with a horrible, wonderful dizziness that reminds me of the drink and how good it used to feel to be someone other than Kiva. And then I eat.

And today, I threw up again.

God, there is something powerfully good feeling about purging your food. People who don't enjoy the sensation of throwing up may not be able to understand, but think of it this way: I am treated like every time I choose to eat, I am choosing to put poison in my body. When I purge it out, I feel clean and free.

But I also know that it's terribly unhealthy, that I shouldn't do it. I know I shouldn't, but that's the thing about doing it: I'm fat, so I feel like people think I should be doing it. Better that than eating, they think as they stare at me in disgust.

I know I cannot sustain myself on nothing. I know I have to one day get a better relationship with food. 

But I cannot help but wonder how much more support, care, and understanding I would receive if I were skinny.

Hiring A Background Artist

Hello, background artists. Would you like to make $15USD/hr drawing backgrounds for the Feminist Deck comic book? 

Here's how you apply:

Send a link to your porfolio and a little about yourself to feministdeck@gmail.com

 

Drunk and Mean

I used to drink. And then I played a videogame called Papo & Yo by Minority Media.

And it saved me.

 

Do play Papo & Yo. It might show you something you'd never seen before.

My Story vs. Women's Stories

I feel like I need to address something that came up recently: Sometimes I'm going to tell my story.

I put up a number of pictures recently, which you can see in Women's Bodies section, and a post that contained four of them, four of the bigger women, went a little viral. Not hugely, but it reached more people than I usually reach, and that was interesting and exciting to me. The thought that people were reading my words and thinking on my experience filled me with a hesitant hope.

There was so many wonderful comments that were very touching. Women shared their personal feelings of relating to the images and needing the message they presented. I felt very proud of my work.

However, there was a vocal minority who felt I had not included enough body types in the post that gained such attention. There was no attempt to look at my timeline and see what other pictures I had done, and in one case there was zero attempt to even contact me, but rather just a nasty set of careless subtweets.

I did my best to appease these people, but there was no appeasing them.

The women were not skinny enough. They were not dark enough. They were not fat enough. They were not fat in the right places. They were not old enough, or young enough, or obviously transgender enough (?), or, in one particularly galling case, male enough.

While I am happy to listen to solid criticism and do my best to respond to it, there is something I want to address here, an overreaching arc of treatment that my art receives that men's art does not receive.

Sometimes I am going to tell my story.

Sometimes I am not going to perfectly represent all women in a single picture.

First, because that's impossible. It is impossible in a four picture limit for me to include enough images that will please every single person who sees the one tweet of mine that gains that kind of attention. 

Secondly, because it's rude of you to demand it.

There is a certain entitlement that the socially conscious public feels towards the work of marginalized groups, that these things are examples of perfect representation, and must be. We are placed on pedestals and expected to speak for the whole of our gender.

But I can't speak for the whole of my gender.

I can't even speak for the whole of my gender who are overweight and bisexual.

I can only draw what is in my head, taking representation from mine and my friends' bodies, and say to them and to myself the kind words that I so think we need to here because they are words that I need to hear.

I can write to my experience. I can draw to my experience.

I can not make a picture that accurately represents every woman with a body on the planet.

However, there is an expectation that I should. Not only that, but this expectation never seems to apply to other mediums. If you search #bodyposi or #bodypositive on Twitter you will see a plethora of bathroom mirror selfies of bodies that are perfectly within what is considered "acceptable" for women. At no point do I see people asking why they didn't take a picture of a fat person and include that.

I was shocked and appalled at the level of ownership people felt they had over my message, my words. If you can't see the problem with trying to control what I draw and what comes out of my mouth, and if you can't see how your feeling of entitlement to demand that from me is linked to patriarchal ideas of ownership over women's creative property then please, the door, help yourself to it.

This does not mean that I don't want to hear criticism. I do.

I would just like that criticism to come from a place where I'm not expected to speak for the entirety of the gender.

Whitney was wrong. I am not every woman.