susanstinson: (trike)
The Fat Girl Fleamarket is today in New York City. Open until 8.

In honor of such a mighty moment, I give you:

  • Charlotte Cooper's account of the Invasion of the Chubsters event at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. That's in her rich blog, Obesity Timebomb.

  • youtube video of a closing song and spontaneous dance at the event that made my eyes well up. Honor also to [ profile] jasonelvis for curating and all.

  • Deb Malkin of Re/DressNYC interviewed in Plus Model Magazine. As Deb talks about in the interview, she is one of the founders of the Fat Girl Flea and, although she can't be there this year, she has poured a lot of work and love into it over the years.

  • The lineage of what I was wearing yesterday when I was videoed reading excerpts from my novel for the Jonathan Edwards Center website. I had been thinking that we were just doing audio, so I hadn't picked out my clothes to be on camera, but what I had on was:

    • the black linen jacket that I got at the Re/DressNYC opening. I would have succumbed to being overwhelmed with options at that event, if not for the intensity and focus of [ profile] beccawrites, and I'm really loving that jacket. We were thinking job-hunting clothes, but I'm wanting to wear it all the time.

    • a gold and black sleeveless silk top with calla lilies, hand-me-down from my beloved friend, Lynne.

    • The black skirt I got for Christmas that my mama hemmed to the perfect length for me. She's making me a top out of some blue checked fabric out of her fabric stash right now. I never appreciated these arts as much as I should have when I was a girl. They are highly charged with complicated feelings and practical advantages. How lucky am I that my mother can and is still willing to pick up a needle and thread on my behalf?

    • black leggings

    • marled ankle socks from Sock Dreams, which I learned about via [ profile] theoryofgravity.

    • my sturdy, new balance black shoes, because those are pretty much always the shoes.

    • I had on the vintage pearls that my friend gave me after she heard I had lost the other string!

    Can you see it? The beautiful way that varied relationships and communities are threaded into the clothes I had on? The power that the histories of those articles of clothing drape me with when I go somewhere like Yale Divinity School (where another community of people has been consistently wonderful to me)? The ways that the clothing that has been given to me or made or altered for me or made available to me has expanded the vocabulary I have with which to address the world?

And how events like the Fat Girl Flea and the Invasion of the Chubsters keep doing that -- in cloth, in images, in experiences, within and outside of language -- for expanding circles of people who are able to find ways to get themselves there or to make such moments on their own?


Feb. 6th, 2009 01:29 pm
susanstinson: (Default)
The Re/Dress NYC opening reminded me of a reading at a women's bookstore in the eighties, except with an overwhelming amount of gorgeous, big-enough clothes and burlesque dancers instead of books and novelists. But the feeling, that feeling of an excited crowd pouring in and being welcomed in ways that they couldn't quite believe (except for those who know, for whom this is home, and those folks, in between eating strawberries, trying on hats and making Sputnik plans -- I asked, it's a monthly dance -- they were all pretty cheery and happy to say hi) and finding things that they might not have been able to say they wanted, that old time gonna-change-the-world-one-poem-at-a-time headiness totally translated into vintage linen and rhinestones.

That's surprising to me, but it's true. A lot of that's about Deb Malkin, the store's owner, who was resplendent on Wednesday in a corset and a plaid bustle skirt from Bertha at Size Queen. The store has a narrow, open space above the huge floor, and looking up at Deb with her decollatage and bustle while she leaned over the rail to talk to somebody below was the kind of vision of determined joy in action that can go a long way to get a person through a cold, tight February. I know Deb through fat activist circles, and, as so many of you do, here on livejournal, and I feel graced by that. And, for me, that was a huge part of the experience, getting there with Leah and Tony and Becca, abundance already, and then seeing so many folks who I respect or admire or feel slow affection for, and so many others who were in the midst of their community, having a party, and so many others blissed out by treasure hunting, dazzled by what they could find and wear and afford. I think I got the last glass of champagne, but I was long since high on the sheer, crackling plenty of it all.

As I'm writing here about clothes shopping, about plenty, I keep getting little scratching thoughts about my own money worries and about how it's a moment of economic change and fear for many (and nothing new in that for many more), but, for me, this strange, sudden abundance in the form of a vintage clothes store beyond a fat woman's dreams didn't feel out of balance. It felt like a palpably generous human endeavor, a beautiful risk in inviting the fat girls (self defined! a big range of folks! many genders, and plenty not girls, but this was my feeling, my experience of the moment) in to play.

The truth is, I didn't even begin, literally did not even begin, to scratch the surface of looking at the clothes. I don't know if I could have taken a fraction of it in if I were there on a quiet afternoon, and as it was, I was too excited by it all to have a chance. But I decided to look for work clothes, and Becca helped me try on jackets and gathered a whole bunch of possible pants for me, and gave advice and got feedback. I came home with a short black linen/polyester jacket, size16 (I'm telling you -- the whole world tilted), and I'm wearing it as I'm typing. It cost me $12. I'm kind of in love with it. It's a simple thing, but it's clearly a power object, and smells, ever so faintly, of a good, gone perfume. Becca made me swear that I'd iron it, but I haven't, just yet.

A tall woman at the back near the row of spectacular, glittery dresses held up a long brown item that swept low in the back and high in the front, and asked us, "What is this?" We decided that it had to be a dress, because it was so long, but eventually we talked someone else into to putting it on, and it was a ballgown skirt. It swept the floor and made a magnificent funnel tornado twirl when she spun. It zipped together in a v at the back. I was in line to check out before the dancing started behind a woman who was bought two elegant purple bags full of things, one of them with black boots sticking out of the top. Her voice shook with emotion when she said thanks. I think the neighborhood word is going to spread fast.

I didn't see into the dressing rooms with the zebra striped curtains because they were all occupied, but I saw the eponymous picture on the one named for Mama Cass. I just took off my leggings and tried on pants in my pink tights in the wide, wide spaces between racks. Deb showed me my own picture among all the others in the cozy lounge, with its gold couch (the woman sitting next to me explained that she was a graduate student in journalism liveblogging the event). Someone from the Mayor's office read a proclamation making it Re/Dress day in Brooklyn, so much better than trying again to put the whole borough on a diet. The dancers could do amazing things, and I was struck by their athleticism, the strength they used to move, along with everything else. Bertha literally made me cry by talking to me in an enormously present way about my novel, and the hard moment I'm in with its fate in the world. We didn't get a chance to talk much, but she went in so deep so fast and looked in my eyes. It almost makes me cry again, just thinking about it. I talked a little with Geleni (so many people there! so many faces shining among the clothes), who said that having online lives together was like being in touch through the collective unconscious. This trip to Re/Dress really did feel like a wade into that kind of common pool.

And the store is there, open, ready for other, quieter other days, ready for other explorations of what kinds of cuts and fabrics people have the means and the impulse to inhabit. I ran across a phrase recently in Netherland, a novel I loved: entrepreneurial wistfulness. It's been haunting me for various reasons: because I have that for my novel, I think, in that, separate from what it has in it as a book, as what I want (I always want this) to be art, I also want very much to have it make its way in the world. I can taste it, I can feel it, as a character in Netherland dreams of a cricket stadium. Re/Dress (that tiny poem of a name) is past wistfulness into the very tactile present, and it's a fabulous place to walk into. I'm going again, when I can.
susanstinson: (Default)
I haven't been posting about my trip to New York and all because I've been so busy and because so much great stuff happened that I wanted to get it together to write about it in a way that would do it all justice. But time's passing, and things are too wild, so I'm going to do it scattershot, starting with:

One of the other readers of at the Lambda finalist reading was Morty Diamond, editor of FROM THE INSIDE OUT: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM and Beyond from Manic D Press. I first heard about Morty from [ profile] charlottecooper because of his website, My Year In Pink, documenting a performance art project of a year of wearing pink from head to toe. We had a lovely conversation, and I just noticed that he posted about it the next day, with emphasis on my "very good looking beard" (thanks, Morty), and solidarity with all those who don't fit the norms.

It was great meeting [ profile] daharyn, there through the urging of [ profile] misia!, too. More on the reading, which was rich and varied and moving, later.

It was also lovely to have dinner with [ profile] eleanor on Friday.

The fat girl flea was intense and primal -- so so so so many clothes. Mountains of clothes, heaped high, high, high on tables, many of them in the 3x-4x section by yours truly (among many others -- there were more than 40 volunteers.) So so so so many people shopping. We generated a lot of heat, and one of my favorite moments of the flea was when Leah, who was central to organizing the Bluestockings reading for Venus of Chalk last year, stood up to her full height, raised her mighty, ringing voice, waved a stack of brown paper towels over her head and called out, "If anyone needs a schvitz rag, someone will be coming around the room to offer one to you." Everyone heard it, but it took the very small, warm smile on Bertha's face where she was helping me pick out my dress for the Lambda Literary awards from amongst her gorgeous, sassy Size Queen fashions -- I so love that the dress that I'm wearing to honor the character of Carline was made by a fat lesbian who clearly sews with deep passion -- that is so right for the book -- it wasn't until I saw Bertha's smile that I realized what a beautiful, gracious, body loving gesture that announcement and those sweat rags were. I heard women talking appreciatively about it on the elevator, too, just before someone offered to buy the shirt I was wearing...

And [ profile] beatgoddess looked stunning at the Northampton Pride march on Sunday, leopard-print bra to match leopard-print hat and all. There was an article about the book-signing that Judy Frank and I, among others, did at the Pride&Joy booth -- very fun doing that with Judy -- much more fun than alone.


susanstinson: (Default)

May 2009



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