To my complete and total delight, Natalie has been blogging more frequently lately. Natalie is a fat activist & artist and much more, too. Though we’ve never met in person (yet!) I feel a special sort of fondness for Natalie, because I just KNOW that if we lived down the street from each other, we would hang out all the damn time. You know. Eating elaborate donuts, making shit, creating a blog empire, going on double dates with our awesome partners named Nick. Kicking ass. Doing our nails.
For a very long time fance was a concept that I especially identified with. I usually will say “femme” these days when I am describing a queered version of fance, but exploring fance as a means of expression means something special in my life. I used to feel that I wasn’t allowed to claim “femme” because the queer community here treated me like I wasn’t gay enough. Now I am proudly femme AND fance, though, and that’s pretty awesome.
One of my favourite uses for fance is to apply it to very visual things – the ornate, elaborate, overblown and intemperate. I am quite obviously drawn to hedonism and enjoyment of life, you might be noting at this stage, but fanciness need not strictly apply to extravagant things. A fancy thing need only be just a little bit better than average, and the mark of betterness is most personal indeed!
I loved seeing Natalie investigate the role that ugliness can play in being femme, especially in the fashion blogosphere:
As a blogger posting photos of their outfits it feels like ugliness still holds me back – because when I look at the most popular bloggers, they all embody and uphold traditional beauty standards and practices. I do not. The other day I was thinking about this, and trying not to blame myself for not being a beautiful and successful blogger, and I realised that maybe embracing ugliness was an answer. … Yet I still identify as femme, because it’s important to me to embrace a femmeness that challenges my culture’s screwed up notions of femininity and beauty.
The resulting conversation about the way that “ugly” as a word and concept is applied differently for white femmes and POC was really important, also.
Natalie’s decision to post about her mental health on her very, very popular fatshion blog is a brave as fuck thing to do, considering the haters out there. Natalie’s straight-up posts about what it can be like to have depression or anxiety and refusal to be quiet about it has helped me normalize and build solidarity when similar shit happened in my own life. She doesn’t try to teach meaningful lessons or be inspiring or a total optimist or whatever, and that’s precisely what makes her refreshing and revolutionary. I mean, listen to this babe:
I guess this is me extending my middle finger to that culture of positivity as it effects the bloggersphere. Sometimes I am so immobilised by worry I can’t move. Sometimes I am so sad I can’t brush my hair. Most of the time I am so fearful of how people will respond to my experience with mental illness that I do not talk about it. I want to shrug off that shame because it does nothing for my health.
When I was trying to conceptualize what Bossy Femme could be, I very much had Definatalie in mind. I love that Natalie refuses to post only about one topic – I know this goes against the traditional blogging advice, but fuck that. Natalie posts about fashion & her artwork & her life. She’s multifaceted, just like her readers, and that’s something I can really appreciate. Now someone get us some transcontinental plane tickets so we can finally meet.
You Sound Fat: Fat Embodiment Online, Natalie’s presentation at the Fat Studies conference.