Dear Dan Fogelman…

**WARNING: This post may contain spoilers for “This is Us”.

I have a request of Dan Fogelman and all the writers of the hit show “This is Us”. Viewers have seen the flash-forward that reveals that Rebecca is not well, and the family is gathering around her to prepare for her end. Kate has been absent, strategically we assume, from that flash-forward. There is plenty of viewer speculation all over the internet about what has become of Kate and, while I don’t have any speculation as to her fate, I do have that request I mentioned in my opening sentence. Please, let Kate remain fat.

Let Kate remain fat so that we can see a ground-breaking example that reminds us to stop romanticizing thinness or weight-loss as though it’s the only worthwhile outcome.  Maybe future Kate is happy, maybe she’s not, but that isn’t really the point because people who are fat have complex lives too. We are more than just the stereotypes and tropes that exist about us. Sure, for a lot of people who are fat, focusing on diet and lifestyle changes are an on-going part of life, but also we are dynamic people. We’re educated, we have careers, we have relationships of all types, we raise families, we battle illnesses the same way people who are not labelled as obese do. We have bad days, and good days, and everything in between.

I know that you and the writers understand this, because Kate is more than just a fat woman on your show. She’s complex, she’s talented, she’s sweet, and sometimes she’s naive and she struggles, because we’re meant to believe that this character, Kate, is a real person. The reality is that people who are fat often never become thin. Sure, some people become less fat, and some even do become thin, but most people who are fat will continue to be considered overweight by the medical community and by society for their whole lives. Everyone needs to get over this notion that weight is simply about will power, or exercise, or any other single thing. It is so very complicated and many people could only ever be thin through illness or other detrimental means that should never be promoted.

While I’m asking for things, I have a second request. Some of the speculation around Kate is that people wonder if she’s even still alive. I suspect (hope) you’re not going to kill off Kate, and I’m asking that you don’t, for many of the same reasons as above. Please don’t make Kate a cautionary tale about dying of obesity. So many people live with obesity, and they often live to old age. Let Kate be fat and let Kate be alive. Don’t do it because I asked you to. Do it because it’s the most likely reality for Kate. Having body fat is not a death sentence. Help those who don’t already understand to realize that obesity isn’t a word that defines a person, the same way any other single aspect of a person doesn’t have to define them. I know that you understand the complexity of people and their lives. I see it when you address addictions on the show, I watch it when you explore PTSD. I see it in the ways you portray family members who fall out and then forgive.

I know that it’s not your job to take a stand against misinformation, social stigma, or negative stereotypes, but I’m asking you to do it anyway, because representation matters. Body positivity and/or neutrality is not about promoting obesity; it’s about recognizing that all bodies are worthy, but also coming to the realization that outer beauty should not be the feature that defines us. No one owes it to anyone else to look a certain way, but I do think we owe it to each other to be kind when we can, to influence positive change when we have the power to do so, and to help create dialogue that changes the negative narrative about specific groups of people in society.

Kate’s fate matters, not just to the show but to people who are fat, because This is Us.

Checking Our Blind Spots

Warning: there will be swearing.

A few weeks ago I was driving along listening to a song by The Waifs (shout out to my sister, Jenny, who introduced me to them…I love you! <3) called Fisherman’s Daughter, that I’ve been listening to for about a year now.  I only recently realised that I’d been misinterpreting one of the lines. It’s not that I didn’t understand the words because I did, but I didn’t interpret them correctly because you don’t know something until you know it (until it’s on your radar).

The line in question goes “I’m living in the left-hand lane of my city” and then goes on to say “slow down so I can walk this highway with you, slow down, let me walk it with you”. In my head, the singer is saying she lives in the fast-lane but she’s suggesting that her and this person she’s interested in should slow down together. Then, BAM, it dawned on me after a whole year that the left-hand lane IS the slow lane because The Waifs are from Australia. She’s asking the person she is interested in to slow down and join her. She’s asking someone else to change rather than suggesting that they both make a change together. It’s maybe a subtle difference, but it’s a big difference in terms of how one goes into a relationship and it made me laugh out loud in the car to realise that I’ve been misinterpreting the lyrics of this song because I hadn’t recognised the context in which they exist! Context, or lack of it, creates all kinds of blind spots and I want to explore that in terms of some recent experiences I’ve had.

To back up just a wee bit, I haven’t been posting much lately for a couple of reasons. The first is that the Okanagan has been severely affected by the fires and smoke in the region (and the entire province) so being outdoors is ill-advised, especially while I’m overcoming a cold that has settled into my chest and I’m trying to remain well enough for a surgery that is scheduled  for next week. The other reason is that I’ve been dealing with some medical trips that have been a long time in the making. I don’t feel like going into all the details right now but it has meant a lot of travelling, completing various tests, and attending appointments with a number of health professionals.

The trips have involved visits to two hospitals and it’s those experiences I want to share. The first trip was to Richmond General Hospital and the second was to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria (if you’re reading from anywhere outside of Canada, both hospitals are located in southern British Columbia). I want to write about something I noticed in both of those hospitals, but also about things that go unnoticed when we’re not checking for context.

If you’ve read any of my review posts you probably know by now that I’m fat, I’m wide in the hips,  and that chairs with arms are often a source of dread and pain for me and for plenty of other fat people. When the arms of the chair are not wide enough the effects can range from moderate discomfort to severe pain/numbness resulting in bruises from where the chair digs into my hips or thighs. When you’re already dealing with mobility and pain issues from a chronic illness, standing for the long periods of time that one sometimes has to wait in a medical facility (or just about anywhere) is not an option, either. So, pain is the constant companion that reminds me that sitting and standing both suck in a way that leave me struggling to come to terms with the fact that, in its current state, my body is disabled.

If you can relate to any of that, or even if you’re just able to empathise about it, you’ll have some inkling of the joy I felt when I realised that at every different waiting area (Imaging, Pharmacy, Diagnostics, etc.) of both hospitals there was a wide seating option! It made me feel hopeful. It made me feel welcome, maybe even accepted and that meant a whole lot, especially because I was already feeling unwell and nervous about the medical testing. Seeing seating that was actually meant for me and other people like me made me feel like a fucking human being. What a concept.

My new-found hopes were quickly dashed when I realised that the wide chair in the area where I needed to wait was occupied by an *average-sized * teenager who had enough space on the chair for her body alongside her iced coffee and a muffin, while she sprawled in a sideways sort-of position in the chair. She was having a damn picnic all up in that chair as though it was Roman times and we were casually hanging out in a triclinium. Public service announcement: Those extra-wide seats are for extra-wide people, or people who require attached devices, or any other number of things, none of which include giving your coffee and snacks a comfortable place to sit.

I need to be really honest with myself and everyone else and own up to the fact that I am shit at speaking up about my needs with people I don’t know well (or total strangers). I wedged myself into a regular-sized chair (my hips were zinging with pain) and tried to distract myself from the pain by reading while I waited the 45 minutes until the medical staff was ready for me. During that wait, I kept willing myself to just ask this young woman if she would mind if I sat in that chair because of my physical needs. I suspect she probably would have moved and I have no doubt that she wasn’t even really aware that the wide seat is meant for those who are, well, wide. But, I totally chickened out. What if she refused? What if she gave me a dirty look or said something rude to me? I was already feeling some anxiety about the tests that were about to take place, and I would rather face the pain I was familiar (pinchy chair, physical exhaustion) with than risk dealing with an unknown reaction.

Again, it’s likely that this young woman didn’t even comprehend the real purpose of the only wide chair in the area, and so my intention isn’t to shame her; rather, it made me think about how aware any of us are about our surroundings and how that affects others, based on context. If there had been no fat people in the waiting area (or people who needed the extra space for a medical device, etc.), then it wouldn’t have mattered to anyone if this young woman sat in the chair. In fact, it was only me that it mattered to at all on this particular afternoon, but it DID matter to me.

I try very hard to be aware of how I affect others. I’m a big person, I take up space, and I’m constantly trying to fold myself up and hold my body in ways that will affect others as little possible when I’m on a plane, or in a restaurant, or seated at a venue, or whatever. I try to look out for the needs of others as best I can and, in general, people tend to be fairly courteous to me (don’t get me wrong, I’ve encountered some real bullshit with people over my weight in my lifetime, but certainly the positive experiences I have with people outweigh—haha– the negative). For all that I do to try to be aware, I’m sure that sometimes things still end up in my blind spot.

The Royal Jubilee Hospital also had one wide seat per waiting area and it just so happened that the one in the area where I needed to be was taken up by another woman when I got there, but she was a large woman and I don’t begrudge her that seat one bit. It made me so happy that she got to wait in comfort! It’s the context that mattered. My needs weren’t being fully met but I didn’t feel so crappy about it because, even though the chair wasn’t available to me, it was being used by someone who needed it rather than being occupied by someone who had a blind spot about the fact that the wider chair existed for a specific reason and that they could fit, without pain, into a regular-sized chair.

As body and ability movements/activists become more vocal and visible there are certainly changes that I see happening, and I’m heartened by those changes. Hell, I’m motivated and grateful to all of the brave people who are putting themselves out there so that others, including myself, can have better quality of life. I have spent much of my career actively and successfully advocating for others and I’m only just really learning how to be okay with telling others that my needs are real, that they are important, and that I matter.

Thank goodness for Samantha Irby, Roxane Gay, Hannah Gasby, Lindy West, Alison Malee, Glori B, Candy Palmater, Joy Nash, Michelle Elman, Rachel Wiley, Sarah Sapora, and so, SO many more. Those women are fucking slaying it! They are challenging where people who have traditionally been marginalized (women, people of different sizes, people with different abilities, POC , LGTBQ2IA people, people with mental health issues, etc.) fit into this world and they are helping to shape a better, more inclusive one. I am personally grateful to each and every one of them, and so many others, because without their voices I don’t think I would be on the path to learning just how worthy I am.

As inclusion increases, it’s important that we recognise the privilege and abilities that we DO have so that we don’t use misuse resources that are required by others in ways that hinder their access (for example, I don’t physically require a wheelchair accessible bathroom so I don’t use that stall so that it IS available for someone who actually needs it). I’m hoping that as more awareness is raised, that we will all practice checking our blind spots more frequently and try to understand our surroundings through the perspective of someone who experiences the world differently that we do.

Pull up a wide chair, or a mobility device, or whatever makes you comfortable and let me know in the comments what blind spots you’ve witnessed in others or what you could pay more attention to, yourself. Maybe there is something that is negatively impacting your life on a regular basis that people don’t seem aware of. If so, please tell me about; I’m always looking for ways to be more aware.




Mug & More (reducing plastic use)

Lately, we’ve all been hearing about how bad plastics are for the environment, especially single-use plastic. While it would be silly, even from an environmental standpoint, to throw out all the plastic items I already own, what I can do is try to buy items that I need now and in the future made from materials that have less negative impact on the environment or that have lifetime-use potential.

One of the things that has been appealing to me about plastic items in the past is that they are light in weight compared to dishes made of ceramic materials. It is common for me to have pain and inflammation in my hands and arms that sometimes leads to difficulty holding heavier items (“heavier” being a relative term in this case, but I do tend to drop things or have things slip from my hands more frequently than most people because of nerve and inflammation issues).

Recently, I saw some beautiful bamboo bowls in a gift shop but when I touched them I knew I could not use them. I have synesthesia  and most of my experiences of it are very pleasant (or at least neutral) but touching anything that feels papery (newpapers, cardboard, etc.) causes a reaction in my body that is like fingernails running down a chalkboard. The hairs on my arms stand up, my shoulders get tight–it’s very unpleasant. Touching those bamboo bowls caused that reaction.

I decided to look into other products and that’s when I found this wooden mug on Amazon. I absolutely love it! It’s beautiful and it’s so incredibly light that I still feel suprised when I pick it up because I expect it to have greater weight based on appearance but it’s a relief to my hands to find that it’s not at all heavy. I can hold it by its handle or cup my hand under or around it, depending what is comfortable on any given day.

If you like, you can order your own mug, pictured below, here:

In addition, I decided to order some wooden spoons that are also light as can be. I opted for teaspoons as they suited my preference for smaller spoons very well. I am enjoying both of these products so much!

You will find a set of these spoons, pictured below, here:

Above: My wooden mug and spoon with non-fat greek yogurt and PB2.

I’ve also been working with a Registered Dietician in order to meet some personal health and wellness goals. She has advised me to increase my protein intake and one of the ways I’ve been doing that is by eating non-fat greek yogurt. I’ve been adding protein powder to it for an extra boost and I’m completely hooked on PB2. It has all the flavour of peanut butter without all the fat and fillers, plus it’s in a powder form so it travels easily and can be added to all kinds of things with ease because it blends very smoothly without leaving clumps or grit. Adding it to greek yogurt makes a snack or dessert that tastes like peanut butter pie filling (you can add sweetener of whatever kind suits your dietary needs, if you desire)! It comes in some different flavours but I’ve only tried the regular peanut butter version, so far.

You can check it out here:

Now, back to utensils and such…I realise that the wooden bowl and spoon require a bit of extra care in that they’re not meant for the dishwasher and the spoons are smaller so they won’t work for all foods you might be eating.

One way to reduce the use of plastic utensils is to carry your own in your purse, backpack, glove box, etc. so that you can skip the plastic next time you’re eating on the go. Here is a handy option in a couple of colours:



They also make a version that includes chopsticks (green):

I’m always looking for new ways to be a “greener” consumer so if you have some ideas or favourite products, please share them in the comments section!







Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” (Netflix)

Have you watched Hannah Gadsby’s special on Netflix titled, “Nanette”? I cannot stress enough the importance of what she has to say. It’s time that we start holding people accountable, that we stop separating people’s art (be it what we typically think of as art to business and leadership practices) from their actions, and that we quit taking shit from people who abuse their power. Enough is enough! You don’t have to take my word for it; instead, let Hannah tell it like it is.

I had never heard of Hannah Gadsby before a dear friend recommended her Netfilx special to me. Thank you to my friend, and thank you to Hannah. Hannah is exactly the hero I need right now and, once you’ve listened to her truth, you might find she’s exactly the hero you need, too. Hannah Gadsby, you are one gorgeous, courageous, brilliant human being and you have blown parts of me wide open in a way that is shocking and raw. Thank you.

Dietland (AMC, Monday nights)

I have so many thoughts about Dietland and I need more time (and more episodes) for them to come together more completely but I want to find a place to start because, while there are plenty of shows I enjoy or even love, this is one that has made me excited that it’s Monday just so that I can watch the latest episode!

Dietland isn’t perfect but I don’t think it has to be.  In the past, I might have called out some of its stereotypes or use of exaggerations, but the marvelous Roxane Gay has convinced me that I’m not a perfect feminist and that’s okay.

It’s stylized, it creates its own little world of quirks, and I recently described it to others by saying it was like if Bryan Fuller, Wes Anderson, and Tim Burton had a baby…and that baby is Dietland. It is atmospheric; sometimes it has vibrant, rich visuals, other times it uses an understated palette, and sometimes it’s just downright dark and comical.

What is consistently does is make me feel and think. If you are a woman, and especially if you are a fat woman, you will probably find relatable moments in this show. Certainly, I can’t relate to everything that Plum, the main character, experiences but I can relate to the feelings she goes through.

If you haven’t watched Dietland, the premise is that Plum is a 30-something fat woman who writes for a teen magazine but she is a ghost writer for the editor who is a middle-aged, power-hungry woman who cares more about her image than the well-being of anyone else. I confess that when I first read the description I was NOT going to watch the show. But then I happened to be up at strange hour with a toothache after some recent dental work and decided to give it a shot. I am so glad I did, because it’s nothing like I expected it to be. It’s not a soap opera-type show at all. This show is filled with hard truths, with heart, with hatred, and with murderous mystery and intrigue.

I’ve seen some less-than-glowing reviews of Dietland, including an article for Jezebel that said the show is exhausting and dated (specifically, it was said that “it feels like 2008”). You can find the full article here: 

At first, I was disheartened and annoyed, and then I read the comments. Normally, I know that can be a very dangerous undertaking but in this case it perked me up. Maybe Dietland seems dated to a younger generation, one that considers themselves #woke, but for those of us who very much grew up in a generation where teen and women’s magazines were full of sexist, misogynistic bullshit this show is relatable. Sure, times have changed in that there are now body positivity and fat acceptance movements but it’s still common for fat people to face stigma (and worse), and it was even more acceptable to shame fat people a couple decades ago. For middle-aged women, fat shaming was the reality during some of the most formative years of body image and self-discovery. We’ve come a long way, but not so far that you won’t easily find all kinds of fat-hater websites, Instagram accounts, and more. The thing is, this show is relevant in 2008 and in 2018.