Underneath gimpy fa(t)shion

I’m one of the blessed people (ha!) to be the owner of thighs that rub without some sort of clothing barrier to prevent what some fatshionistas call “chub rub.”  There are a lot of posts around the fatosphere (aka fat poz blog land…Leslie’s post on xoJane is one of my favorites regarding on this topic) about how to handle chub rub as it can be really painful.  Even when I was in high school and significantly smaller I dealt with it (I sometimes find photos of myself from that time period where it looks like my bum is trying to eat the inseam of my shorts, which is why I rarely wear shorts unless they are bermuda length).

After the National Women’s Studies Association conference last year when I roomed with two other awesome fat studies scholars (one of them the fabulous Amanda of FatBodyPolitics), I was told of the magic of Re/Dress and their teggings….a type of hybrid between leggings and footless tights made out of dancewear fabric.  I was dubious, partially because of price, but I got on their email list and found out about a sale they were having last winter (it was either black Friday or post-holiday).  I snagged a pair of kelly green teggings, figuring that the worst that would happen is that they would get worn in dance classes under my 25 yard skirt and would help make my legs visible in class or rehearsal.

A selfie in the work bathroom mirror as usual. The green, black, & white zebra dress is from Kiyonnna via Gwynnie Bee with visible black capri teggings & ballet flats.
A selfie in the work bathroom mirror as usual. The green, black, & white zebra dress is from Kiyonnna via Gwynnie Bee with visible black capri teggings & flip flops.

I fell in love with them!  So far they have been chub rub resistant, even when dancing (which is miraculous since my thighs touch from crotch to knee).  I ordered more this summer in a capri length that have become part of my usual skirt/dress wardrobe.  They’re usually visible in the OotD posts that I occasionally make here.  My only complaint is that since I look so young no matter how I dress (yay pituitary dwarfism!), having visible leggings under my skirt seems to relate to people treating me less seriously….which can be a problem when teaching first year university students!

Leslie’s post on xoJane got me thinking about some of the other clothing-based chub rub repellants.  Because of that post, I got on the email list for a kind of stretchy, silky boxer short things called Undersummers.  The ones that Leslie reviewed have lace on them that is there to be cute in case the hem of your skirt slips up your leg showing off your skivvies.  I got an email a couple weeks ago saying that they had a bargain bin sale, making them about 60% off but without any choice of color or lace option.  The first pair I got were a medium purple without lace and I was dubious looking at the cut of them….really dubious….

A picture of a pair of lace Undersummers peaking out from under a black skirt with a red cardigan visible. Photo is a body selfie with a pale fat leg visible
The Undersummers peeking from under my black skirt

Until I put them on.  Holy cats are these things comfortable!  I wouldn’t take them off that night and ended up sleeping in them instead of pajama bottoms.  I immediately got them in the wash so I could give them a real field test on a full day on campus.  These things didn’t slide up at all, even though they hit above my knee!  They didn’t move around, whether walking/limping/shuffling, or getting on or off my scooter, or up and down at my office…..these things went immediately back in the wash again to wear.  When I got paid at the end of that month, I snagged another bargain bin pair, which ended up being mauve with lace (the photo on the left shows the lace sticking out under my skirt at work). They also have a 24/7 style that I would love to try out to see how they differ.  As for the V-cut waist, I love it as a pear shaped person as it fits my hips and lower belly roll perfectly and keeps them in place without tight elastic.

I’ve also field tested them with jeans, using my manual wheelchair, under leggings (it was cold) and I’m completely in love.  The fact that there isn’t a seam right where the thighs meet the glutes means I don’t get indents or sores when I use my wheelchair…plus I don’t have to worry about my skirt flipping up from the wind when seated!  I also find them way easier to put on when I’m having a bad pain or balance day as it’s easier to aim my legs at shorts (plus the fabric is soft and silky…it makes rolling over in bed easier too!)

While the lace is much more femme than I normally would wear, I’m really thrilled with both styles and am slowly converting to all-shorts-all-the-time (unless I have reason to wear traditional underwear) as I can afford to get more.  They’re made in the US by a small business, so it’s even more awesome.  The owner frequently has coupon codes that can be easily found on the webpage (the December one is HOHOHO15)

For the record, I have not been paid for either of these recommendations nor have I been given review samples…although if anyone would like me to do reviews, I’m always up for it.  Right now I’m specifically hunting for activewear (yoga, general cardio, spinning, strength training) and sports bras since the scooter has successfully helped me up my physical activity level and my cheapo Target sports bras are slowly dying without viable replacements.

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CFP: National Women’s Studies Association Fat Studies Interest Group

Call For Proposals
National Women’s Studies Association 2015
Fat Studies Interest Group
November Nov 12-15th in Milwaukee, WI

Papers on any topic at the intersection of women’s studies/ feminism/ womanism/ gender/ sexuality and fat studies will be considered. This year’s conference theme is: Precarity.

Your submission should also fall under one of the following sub-themes for NWSA 2015:
• Debility/Vulnerability
• Institutions/Containments
• Affect/Eros
• Distortion/Dispossession

NWSA has not published detailed descriptions of the sub-themes as of early December, but the full CFP will come out at: http://www.nwsa.org/

While this is an open call, topic suggestions include, but are not limited to:
• Fatness & Institutions
• Fat & Containment
• Fat Feminist Vulnerability
• Fat Masculinities
• Fat Sexualities (including asexuality, hypersexuality, deviant sexualities)
• Defining and Refining Fat Studies
• Women of Color and Fatness/Body Size
• Fat Feminist Research Methods (including role of the researcher body)
• Transnational Fat Bodies (immigration, globalization)
• Fat Activism & Feminism

If you are interested in being a part of the 2015 Fat Studies panels at NWSA, please send the following info by Wednesday, February 11, 2014 to NWSA Fat Studies Interest Group. CC BOTH Co-Chairs Michaela A. Nowell and Candice Casas: (michaela.nowell@uwc.edu and cdbuss@uncg.edu). Please make sure one of us confirms receipt of your submission.

Your submission should include your:
*Name, Institutional Affiliation, Snail Mail, Email, Phone.
*NWSA Theme your paper fits under (and fat studies topic area/s if yours fits any of the above).
*Title for your talk
*A one-page, double-spaced abstract in which you lay out your topic AND its relevance to this session.
*a 100 word truncated abstract (NWSA requirement).
*rationale for A/V equipment, if needed

Each person will speak for around 15 minutes, and we will leave time for Q&A. In order to present with your name in the program, you must become a member of NWSA in addition to registering for the conference by NWSA’s summer 2015 deadline.
________________________________________________________

If you submit a fat studies related paper or panel, you can tag it with the keyword ‘fat feminisms,’ and likewise search the program for ‘fat feminisms’ to find relevant panels. If you submit a paper or panel on your own, we encourage you to use this keyword if your paper or panel fits the bill. We thank NWSA for adding a keyword that helps conference attendees locate fat studies panels.

Teaching and inspiration

I feel like I’m bragging a little bit when I say this, and it makes me feel a little slimy on several levels.  People tell me that what I do is inspiring.  There’s a lot that could be problematic about this (take a look at this fabulous TED Talk by Stella Young about inspiration porn and disabled people to see some of the reasons behind this).  There’s more to it though.  Even before I broke my spine, I had people tell me that my presence in physical spaces, like dance, triathlon, swimming, in the gym, made them feel comfortable to try to find a way to be in those spaces too.

Even though there’s an undercurrent of “Casey, your body doesn’t really belong in those spaces but you do what you want to anyhow,” I understand that these folks are saying that I’m giving them the courage or even permission to find joy in their bodies in whatever way they find it.  I’m uncomfortable by the attention and it’s why I never got to the point of being a professional belly dancer (one of my regrets honestly).  However, being an adjunct professor this semester has shown me that I need to get over these hurdles of shyness and introversion.

Doing tree pose on a rock in Lake Superior, 2006
Doing tree pose on a rock in Lake Superior, 2006

On Thursday, I went with R, a doctoral student friend who isn’t a kinesiologist (she’s a kick-ass education scholar and we guest-lecture for each other) to a yoga class downtown.  They were having a free class as a celebration of being open for two years and we’ve been wanting to find an off-campus yoga class to go to that we can afford.  I’ve been doing yoga off-and-on for about ten years now and she’s a beginner, so finding something that works for both of our needs has been a bit challenging (plus we’ve been busy).  As the room was packed with all levels of practitioners, the instructor reminded us to find where our bodies needed to be, even if that meant being in a restorative pose instead of holding a pose or going through a flow of movements (changing poses on the breath for Sun Salutations for instance).

Despite doing a lot of modifications, I ended up in a lot of pain part way through but I realized how much I learn from yoga practice.  Although I was crying towards the end of the class, I found myself slowly learning how to be inspired by my body and inspired by all bodies.  While my instructor that night had a body shape that people would associate with a “yoga body,” my body is also a yoga body.  My body’s limitations gave other people permission to find the sweet point between pushing one’s limits and honoring them.  I realized that perhaps this body ought to become a more formal yoga teaching body and fondly remembered my first yoga teacher and his not very limber body.

As I’ve been toying with taking personal trainer certification classes, this really isn’t preposterous….and is likely a better choice for my body anyhow.  As the TravelScoot has been opening so many fitness doors for me lately, I’m thinking that this might be a way to inspire people in a way that feels less slimy.  The same studio I went to on Thursday is offering a teacher training class next month and I’m thinking about fundraising for it.  I would love to be able to offer something akin to a Yoga for Queers and Misfits class that I used to attend…all levels, drop-in, all body types and abilities warmly welcomed and acknowledged.

What do you all think?  Would you all help spread the word on a fundraiser to get me certified to teach and show that even fat broken bodies can be yoga bodies?

From a t shirt that says "this is what a yogi looks like"
From a t shirt that says “this is what a yogi looks like

They see me rollin’, they hatin’….

Since I turned in one of my papers (the one for my traditional class, not the independent study), I’ve been on a bit of a kick of getting over to Campus Rec.  This scooter has seriously made a huge difference in my life!

Anyhow, on Wednesday after work I decided I wanted to hit a spin class.  A personal trainer friend was telling me that the Rec got new spin bikes fairly recently that were more adjustable (the old ones were too tall for my little legs), so I wanted to see if I could find an equivalent to a “runner’s high.”  For those of you that might not be familiar, spin is a group fitness class where everyone is on a stationary bike that is built like a road bike.  Some classes are different based on music, intensity, style, etc.  Here’s a short clip with an instructor that walks & dances around while teaching (most instructors in my experience stay on their own bike and I’ve never had a class do the arm thing they’re doing in the video).  One of the cool things about spin is that you personally have control of the tension on the bike, so if the instructor says to raise it, you can choose either to do it or not (in my more shy days, I would sometimes pretend to change it but most of the time the instructor isn’t going to comment whether you do or not).

I was running a bit late from work, so I changed into workout gear at the office (plus the locker room is faux accessible and obnoxiously narrow & hard to navigate with any wheeled device).  As it’s finals week, the Rec was pretty empty so I zipped into the dedicated spin room to find the instructor and two students on bikes.  I pull next to the closest bike (which was the furthest away from the instructor, but I needed parking space) and made eye contact with her.  She looked utterly baffled and I think was frozen in shock.  Thankfully I have a LOT of experience with spin bikes so I didn’t need any help getting the bike set up to fit me properly [if you have never done spin but want to try it, make sure to get the instructor to help you set the bike up…an ill-fitting setup is going to cause discomfort and can cause injury, plus will likely make you think that spin is awful].

Since this was an experiment, I decided to keep everything pretty low key.  I’m about 40 pounds heavier than I was the last time I was seriously into spin & cycling (it was my year of triathlons, distance cycling, running, & a duathlon), so I had some biomechanics to work out.  I also wanted to give my body a fair shot at saying “yay” or “nay” to it without more injury, especially as I’m recovering from a sprained foot/ankle (hypermobility stinks).  I figured that I can always choose to go harder, faster, and/or with more resistance later…today was about whether or not the spin bike and I could be friends.

I was pleasantly surprised.  I had some issues related to keeping various body parts aligned properly (spine aligned so it didn’t put pressure on cyborg bits, knees slightly bent in the proper direction at all times), but mindfulness along with ignoring the instructor when necessary worked.  The main issues I had were things that were unrelated to my spine and all were fixable.  My tennis shoes were not the right style for the pedals (I’ve been using nursing shoes, but they don’t have the right padding for the bike pedal).  My hands kept going numb or tingly, but that can be dealt with using cycling gloves (cycling gloves are padded to keep pressure off the carpal tunnel & other major nerves).  My rear end was getting sore as well, so if I plan to make this a habit I really could use some new padded cycling shorts as the ones I own from my super athletic days are a size or two too small.

Because the issues I had with the class are mostly in the realm of “normal people adapting to spin class” problems, I’m going to consider it a win.  I’m not sure if I will ever be able to ride hard enough to get a cycling equivalent of a runner’s high, but I do know that I managed 14 miles in a 40 minute class and that I was able to get myself sweat soaked and happy.  I have a feeling that it will be amusing to look at the various instructors’ facial expressions as I pull into the room with my scooter (I can’t wait for a blatant “WTF is this crippled fat chick doing in here and if she needs a scooter, how the hell is she going to spin??”…if someone asks, I’ll sweetly tell them that the scooter lets me have the opportunity to workout because I’m not wasting upright-time ambulating).

I just picked up a new pair of gym shoes at Target (which was fun with the scooter…the shoe department employee seemed confused by the scooter-rider talking about which shoes would work for the gym better) and it looks like I can find shorts and gloves on Amazon for pretty cheap (anyone wanting to help me on this fitness adventure can use one of those Amazon links to purchase anything they want…I have an affiliate account now, so anything purchased through links on my blog will give me commission, not just the linked items).

My husband setting up my scooter at Target...first time using it for shopping.
My husband setting up my scooter at Target…first time using it for shopping.