Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My New Year's Outfit

Bra-less, hospital scrubs, ankle socks, a plate full of greasy grilled cheese and cookies resting on my belly and a glass of delicious wine in hand. I'm in bed with Netflix. My nonsexual spouse called me for the countdown from Illinois (I think) where he was stuck at a party hosted by and filled with breeders. We had a phone kiss (of the nonsexual sort of course). Best. Lesbian. NewYear's. Ever. No compromises. Totally queer. And I think this is a good look for me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taste More Gender: Death of a Dragking

Is it too much to ask for dragking troupes to examine their politics and check their misogyny and racism at the door? Dragkinging has been a tremendously influential and beloved cornerstone of my queer identity and so I’m writing this post from a place of love, longing, and heartbreak.

I used to learn so much from kinging and from watching the most amazing troupes and performers come together and craft radical politics into performance art through creative costuming, choreography, set design, and reappropriation of mainstream pop media and music. They were building off histories and traditions of drag culture, a lot of which originated in (dyke) bars and living rooms and cabarets… the margins, left banks, and fringes. But over the past two years I’ve felt hurt, offended, frustrated, and dismissed in the dragking world to which I once sincerely belonged. It seems like so many of the greatest troupes and performers have shut down operation and left the stage. What’s happened to dragkinging as I knew it? Has this aspect of LGBTQ culture and community regressed just as quickly and brightly as it once evolved?

One of the things I love most about my queer community is that we are comfortably willing to remain uncomfortable. Our language, ideas, politics, and sites from which we organize and act are in constant flux. So on one hand, I think so what if dragkinging as I knew it is over? Maybe we’ve moved on to other stuff (for me it’s art-making, blogging, and podcasting) but that won’t last long either. I can live with that and I welcome it. It’s how we grow and shift and change. But the thing is dragkinging is still around. And while there are still probably lots of fabulous troupes and performers out there, my heartbreak is confined to the kinging in my immediate world that has become something incredibly disappointing.

In my past experience, there was often debate and disagreement about whether to approach kinging as performance “art” or something with ARGUABLY less “elitist” connotations. (I want to be clear that I am NOT in the camp of people who see art as wholly, fixedly, and inevitably elite. To make this claim would deny all the grassroots, DIY, daily practiced, personal, indefinable, and outsider art people engage, make, produce, and consume.) But regardless of the diverse visions performers and audiences have held in terms of venue choices (theatre vs. dyke bar), audience interaction (dance on anyone who looks interested vs. maintain the “fourth” wall of the stage), isn’t it at least fair to ask for reflection on the kinds of politics represented in king shows?

I loved kinging for the ways in which it critiqued—NOT reproduced—stock versions of masculinity, misogyny, and racism. So, imagine my embarrassment and sorrow then when one of the kings in my troupe lip-synced the lyrics “she’s a crazy bitch but she fucks so good I’m on top of it” while thrusting his dick in audience members’ faces. His performance was not to critique these lyrics but rather to act them out… literally. I once confronted a king about the lyrics in their act, asking if/how they saw those lyrics as misogynist. The king laughed as said “oh I figured you’d be mad about that because you’re a feminist.” What? You aren’t? No, I guess you aren’t. I’ve likewise found it troubling that in a mostly white troupe kings with white skin privilege are unreflectively appropriating (sometimes in blackface!) the music of artists of colour. We need a dialogue about this! It doesn’t feel ok.

For two and a half years I belonged to a local gender performance troupe. This troupe was (in its heyday) somewhat unique in that performers worked from a variety of places on the gender spectrum. There was even a short time period during which those of us who performed mostly femmes roles outnumbered the dragkings, queens, andro, bois... It was during this time I felt our troupe was growing toward something highly political and subversive, mainly because the quality of the acts and the details we put into each show was (I believe) at its peak. But it was also during this “femme heavy” time that everything seemed to fall to pieces.

Particular femmes were called out as “intimidating” because our voices were loud, we were outspoken, and thus labeled “a force to be reckoned with.” What does that mean? We were ladies with opinions, holy shit. Call the cops. And somehow these critiques got anchored to our performances of femmeness, despite the diverse ways in which we each interpreted and enacted femme identity. It was a weird and upsetting turning point that (for me) underscored a reproduction of gender division and sexism in a community I once thought to be safer of sorts.

I didn’t know how to reconcile all this stuff at the time so after some email exchanges and breakdown meetings I made the decision to resign from the troupe. But as I write this blog I have to wonder if all of this stuff is deeply connected. A lot of the debates about venues and art and elitism were intertwined with discussions about how our troupe needed a balance between political acts and entertainment—as if these are mutually exclusive terms! But maybe that’s just it: my overwhelming enthusiasm for dragkinging was about queering (as a verb) our costumes, our genders and our sense of creativity itself in ways that COULD NOT be distilled or separated out. Queering, to me, IS political in a way that affects and alters the idea of performance itself—its venues, audiences, performers and their acts. And I guess not everyone welcomes that kind of change no matter how open or unspecified or nonlinear it is. Change is scary when it asks us to question how some people are unfairly privileged in a setting that claims to be collaborative.

So in my world, the carnival lights are off. My wigs, boas, chest hair, tutus, tiaras, and cop hats are in a drawer. And I’m looking for something queer to do on a Saturday night.

(A shout out to Rodney for this title!)

Friday, December 26, 2008


It’s “Hate Your Body” season again. We’re about to be barraged with ads, commercials, and general campaigns designed to make us fear fat and feel guilty and ugly. It’s amazing how swiftly fatphobic agendas get disguised as mandates for “healthier” living. Healthy does not universally equal thin. Fat does not universally equal unhealthy. “Love Your Body” movements don’t always align with fat acceptance work (props to Lady A. for pointing this one out).

Anchored in all this fatphobia and body hatred is a lot of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and overt anti-“disability” attitudes. This shit is part of a larger white supremacist, elite, capitalist, colonizing mission AND it can be so seductive and convincing. How can we arm ourselves against this stuff without feeling victimized? And as feminists, how can we acknowledge and admit the ways in which this fatphobic bullshit tests our sense of security, supporting (instead of reprimanding) each other through it?

I lost a shit-ton of weight last year and I was probably unhealthier then than I’ve ever been in my life. Likewise, you can work out and eat “well” on a regular basis and still be “fat.” *If you haven’t already, you should totally listen to episode #4 of FemmeCast, “Health at Every Size.” The idea of “fat” seems at once deterministic and undefined. It’s a contradiction. But it’s also a lived reality.

Some fat acceptance groups have been accused of so-called gate-keeping, for discerning who can and cannot be part of the group. Sure, a lot of people see themselves as fat but I really think we need to take stock of possible distinctions between fat-thinking and the experience of occupying a fat body in our totally sizeist society. I’m not suggesting that definitions of fat are fixed or easy to come by, I’m just saying that I’ve had to think a lot about what it means for me to be a fat acceptance ally, and to recognize the need for safer, separate spaces and community organizing.

Along similar lines, I’ve been questioning the “Love Your Body” projects that came out of feminist movements, wondering about where they overlap and diverge from fat acceptance. Love your body…YES! By all means, love the fuck out of it! But the simple act of encouraging body love will be received, enacted, and experienced differently depending on each individual. That seems like an obvious point to make but I think I’m talking specifically about the fact that it might be a lot easier to learn to love your body when your body more readily matches the dominant prototypes out there. There is a certain kind of politic to fat acceptance that seems to be overwritten in the “Love Your Body” stuff. What do you think?

Well I’m in total hibernation mode. (It took several rounds of debate last night just to decide whether my sweetbabies and I were going break tradition and stay home, all because we were feeling too cozy and tuckered to go out. We did go out but compromised on the location. It was totally worth it. I digress.) And as I hibernate, I’m bracing myself for all the post-holiday weight-loss crap I’m likely to be fed on the fucking TV. I suspect that the whole tradition of making New Year’s resolutions was created by someone working for Jenny Craig or “Dr.” Atkins or Bally’s or an ab-roller company. I feel like there’s something tragic about seeing food in terms of points, rather than something that is nourishing, sustaining, and pleasurable. But I also need to keep this judgment in check as part of my feminist perspective. This is complicated stuff and I can’t wait to hear what y’all think.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Your Daddy’s Middle-class and Your Mama’s the Ugly Duckling

(This blog entry is a continuation from “Your Daddy’s Rich and Your Mama’s Good-looking”)

It’s a challenge to work through the complexities of my parents’ immigration story. I suppose it fits somewhat neatly with dominant tales of desolate, impoverished beginnings, hard work and upward mobility, risks and opportunity, alienation from “home,” and diasporic settlement… But nothing seems clear-cut and for every value and lesson I inherited I find myself asking questions, trying to push at my politics toward (self) improvement. An unreachable goal?

I grew up wearing some hand-me-downs and inexpensive shoes from K-mart that were incessantly ridiculed at school and, on a rare occasion, a popular brand name item but only after its popularity was dying out. I was the odd, meek, brown kid who could never keep up with the Jones’ and perhaps because I wasn’t ever allowed to forget this fact I very quickly became hyper-aware of the cultural capital one could accumulate solely by their mode of dress. And it was because of this acute knowledge I had gained that I entered the boxing ring of castaway clothing with my mom.

“Vhy you von’t vear this perfectly good jean? You vanted it. Now you don’t vant.” Then there were my dad’s guilt trips: “Children in India vould be so happy to have just von shoe like this. You hawe two.” My parents were entirely unconcerned with my hyper-vigilant image-consciousness.

It was impressed upon me from a very young age that food and clothing were a privilege and many people were without either. And out of this came the “just-be-grateful” rhetoric, one that I’ve radically reexamined as an adult. If I allow myself to keep thinking of food and clothing as a privilege something very important gets lost. As a grownup I’ve decided, actually, that food and clothing are two (of many) basic human RIGHTS. To this day I tense up when people claim to “hate” certain foods. “Hating” and fearing food was never allowed in my upbringing, and every time I express my own dislike for certain tastes (in food and clothing) I compulsively trip over (and thus acknowledge) the privilege I have that enables this dislike in the first place. But what then?

I needed to replay all of this confused childhood stuff as a way to return to the third fragment of my previous post. The problem is that I still don’t know what I want to say. It’s x-mas today and I’m thinking about all the nauseating clothing and jewelry commercials I’ve being seeing on the TV for the last few weeks, and all the new clothing and jewelry people are probably receiving today, and I’m thinking about John and Yoko’s “War Is Over” earnest idealism, and the people that live and survive war, and the people occupying positions that determine who counts as “refugees,” and the choices we make about what we can afford to give and share, and the lullabies we sing to ourselves about charity and benevolence… I feel torn apart by my own cynicism but I’m not so far gone that I don’t believe there’s enough thread to sew myself back together.

I’m going to get dressed today, maybe something fancy, maybe sculpt out a rockabilly updo, and I’m going to a lesbian bar to get drunk with two of my sweetbabies who each have a deceased parent also. We’re going to be safe and fed and warm, and so help us jesus, we might even be pretty. But I will continue to think about this third unresolved, unconcluded, inconclusive fragment. Refuge is hard to find when you feel perpetually haunted.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Your Daddy's Rich and Your Mama's Good-looking

I’ve been avoiding writing this blog for weeks because it’s complicated and so, so long (sorry).

Again with the stories:

I think I read somewhere (was it in Venus Zine? online?) that M.I.A. has been admired for her badass fashion sense. If I remember correctly, her take on this is that she often mimics and reappropriates the sorts of clothing she wore as a kid—clothing that would have been castigated and belittled. Why, after all, would we expect acceptance from the racist, classist, anti-immigrant majority that surrounded her once her family moved to Britain? But funny (and typical) how the moment M.I.A. became “someone” her strategic clothing choices got characterized as style rather than trash.

I walked into a public library last week and had the strangest, most unexpected experience. It’s a small modern library with lots of windows, full sunlight, and mid-height shelves. Walking inside brought me right back to my childhood, to all the times my dad used to take me to the newly built library a mile or so from our house.

He spent hours at that library, perusing books on astronomy, nature, and travel. I used to find him standing between shelves with boring-looking hard cover books (the kind with the crinkly, transparent, protective covers). He would be wearing his giant brownish-grey parka—unzipped, wide-legged polyester pants belted far above his belly—the bottoms tucked haphazardly into bulky black snow boots. He had owned this parka, the pants, and snow boots for decades. They were, I thought, so markedly unfashionable and I wished he’d get rid of them.

I was embarrassed by him. I thought everyone saw him as THE eccentric, badly dressed brown guy with a thick, inappropriate accent and no social graces, pulling a tiny black comb out of his pants pocket to fix his hat hair the second he entered any building. I often felt mortified by the way he looked and talked but more so for the fact that our kinship implicated and crucified me as Other in our racist, classist, anti-immigrant surroundings.

I can’t really describe the overwhelming feeling I got walking into that public library last week. I was wearing a giant parka and bulky black snow boots. And I couldn’t decide if I felt like the child-me again, or if I felt like my dad. I felt a weird, consuming, and sad energy for the ten minutes I was in the library, and I’ve been thinking about it everyday since. I woke up the next day in tears just replaying it in my mind, but not really understanding why.

To my dad, the public library was an amazing place. It was kind of like magic. It’s such a small privilege that I’ve often taken for granted, but just thinking about his library-less childhood makes me so grateful and appreciative. How is it possible that such a place exists where you can borrow (free of charge!) books, music, movies and more, and request items to add to their collections? How has this system that seems so antithetical to capitalist consumerism been established and sustained? Maybe it IS the last bit of magic I have access to and maybe that’s the energy I was picking up on last week. Since that day, I’ve been thinking about my dad every time I put on my snow boots.

I grew up learning that when you grew out of clothes or simply didn’t want to wear them anymore they could be donated to refugees. So when the Bosnian refugees for whom my parents signed up to be the host family came over for dinner, I was surprised and charitably delighted to see the daughter wearing a “beautiful” sweater. It often crossed my child-mind to question why refugees would want to wear clothes that I had rejected, but this question collided with and dissipated amid the troubling rhetoric and assumptions of the “just grateful” refugee narratives as told by their hosts. What the fuck is up with charitable delight and gratefulness? I want to complicate and unpack these notions, which is probably going to be gross and painful.

The Cupcake shared an essay with me where he writes: “‘the very definition of ‘refugee’ is contested,’ even within the field of ‘Refugee Studies’ ([Lewellen] 172). While the question of ‘definition’ might seem a purely academic one, in the case of refugees, the ways in which refugees are defined ‘can have enormous consequences in the way refugees are treated by aid organizations and immigration authorities’ (173). In the case of refugees of settlement, resettlement, determining policy, providing aid, and repatriation, the definition of ‘refugee’ becomes a key factor in how refugees are or are not able to move, and how they are affected by the processes of globalization.”

What does it mean to seek “refuge” and to “host?” And how do these terms get caught up, tossed around, and dispersed amid the larger racist, classist, anti-foreigner contexts in which we live? Who wears the clothing we discard from our wardrobes…what makes clothing discardable in the first place?

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cowboy Brute, Uterine Loot

I just read the piece “Point/Counterpoint: Art or bloody shame?” in the LoveIt/ShoveIt section of Bitch magazine (Fall ’08 Issue No. 41). I was horribly disappointed by this write-up. I was actually astonished at the conservative stance these writers took re: the controversial senior art project created by a Yale student named Aliza Shvarts. Long and short (but you should really read the piece and google her to get more stories): Shvarts’ project entailed “the documentation of a nine-month process in which she artificially inseminated herself as often as possible, then took abortifacient herbs to cause miscarriages” (Bitch 18). It sounds like the project involved artifacts and video documenting this process. Shvarts was stopped from installing the piece and she instead submitted something else.

Both “point” and “counterpoint” sides of Bitch’s write-up seem to come at Shvarts’ work in ways that are to me totally antithetical to the idea of “choice.” One side decided to get into the boring old debate about whether or not this is “shock” art, the other side agonized over what this would do to the validity of the “pro-choice” movement… fucking spare me! There is nothing “pro-choice” about any “pro-choice” mission if it claims that IDEALLY women would only seek abortions as a last resort, or that education should be aimed at preventing abortions because this is actually what “we all” want. Excuse me? Check your ethnocentrism and personal mandates at the door please.

There are many women all over the world who see abortion as a completely legitimate and preferred method of terminating pregnancy and that perspective, my panty-twisted-sisters, is no less “moral” or more “grotesque” than the sweeping expectation that we ALL should be pro-choice BUT try to make abortion less “necessary.” Wait.. no “BUT.” Choice with stipulations isn’t choice, particularly when choice is being debated in a discourse of morality. Last time I checked, morals and measures for what counts as “grotesque” were pretty subjective and the cause of much disagreement.

Here’s a snippit of what I think Shvarts had to say:

From what I’ve gathered, Shvarts was asked to clarify if her project was real versus “just a hoax.” Seriously? So now in the art world, we shouldn’t blur the rigid dichotomization of “truth” and “fiction?” We are supposed to worry about the realness of Shvarts’ project? Kara Walker, one of the most inspiring and brilliant artists (in my opinionated opinion) has also frequently been criticized for a) unapologetically—or some have even said shamelessly—disrupting and retelling slave narratives and b) presenting a perspective that troubles, responds to, and calls into question so-called factual and historical renderings. You mean like there might be another story that can be imagined or revealed or shared? I get sarcastic in the face of this kind of opposition; can’t we please just move beyond these traditional, conservative debates?

I have been working on a multimedia art project since May 2007 that deals with the idea of “Indianness,” in particular, a post-colonial Indian subject. But more particularly even, it deals with intersections of national identity, costume, race, grief, gender, text, sexuality... One of the things I’ve spent time researching is the history of cowboy boots in exchanges and interactions between self-named “cowboys” and Native Americans. It doesn’t surprise me that that colonizers mistook Native Americans for Indians but don’t you think it’s “shocking” and “grotesque” that the latter term is still applied?

There is so much I just don’t know about this country-singer-turned-ironic-hipster fashion footwear. The transformations in cowboy boot design—the array of pointed toes, evolution of steel inserts, and varied shaft height—are all masked and narrated (especially if you look up cowboy boots on wikipedia) as practical accommodations for horseback riding and improving riding maneuvers in general. But what pop sources won’t tell you is that these shifts in design also had to do with facilitating the larger project of white supremacy and coercion, in essence making it easier to injure “Indians” through physical combat. This footwear has roots in something so unmistakably violent (not only toward the animals of which they’re made)… a real piece of Americana. And that’s a fact. Or a hoax. There can only be two “choices” right?

In news today, a pregnant woman’s water breaks ruining designer cowgirl boots. Witnesses say the woman was leaving work at abortion clinic, walking toward her parked Cherokee jeep when the incident took place.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Your Locks and Your Ladies Exposed

Story One: There was this kid in our neighbourhood who ran around topless every summer. For years my mom would proudly retell the story of how she “taught” the neighbour kid that girls should wear shirts and how from that day onward the kid always did.

Story Two: From patches of overheard conversations between my parents and their dinner guests, I very quickly learned that one effect of the spread of Islam in the African continent was that indigenous women who might have previously gone “bare-chested” drew a cloth across their breasts. How’s that for a confused history of colonization and conversion? I’m inclined to believe that the “cover yr knockers” mandate is one that cuts across religious lines, nationhood, race, and most certainly this elusive thing we call “culture.”

The version of Islam I grew up with is one that I have grappled with my entire life. Within my immediate family the hijab was always a contested issue. The same debates you hear in pop media would dominate dinner table conversation. Was it oppressive? Necessary? Primitive? Progressive? I felt a tension among the women in my family who claimed it was an archaic practice (outside the Mosque and during daily prayers, of course) but there was also, inevitably, a permeating defensiveness and judgment about their “choice” not to cover up.

Item of clothing. As a feminist, I’ve felt compelled to critique those who critique the hijab as an oppressive practice. I’ve often taken the stance “as long as it’s a personal choice it’s none of my business,” but I’ve felt a private smugness and righteous pride in being so “over” my own Muslim identity that I don’t even have to worry about this tired old debate. It wasn’t until I read Homa Hoodfar’s article, “The Veil in Their Minds and on Our Heads” where she suggests that her readers might see “difficulty [in] reducing [the veil] to simply an article of clothing” that I started really thinking about this again (270). I hate being challenged on my blind-sightedness. But once my bruised ego recovers I remember that learning new stuff is good for me.

What is the hijab if not “simply an article of clothing?” Of course it’s also deeply political and politicized and I don’t have any intention of diminishing that. And yes, it’s a gendered practice alright but so is “having” to wear a shirt. Our government (at least where I live in the US, this is not a nude beach and def not Ontario) legislates shirt-wearing practices for “women.” Legislates! It’s a law! At its root, how is this shirt issue any different, any “less” “oppressive” IF in fact we’re still stuck in the pathetic discourse of quantifying oppression (more, less, equal…vomit. it’s not a fucking contest.). It’s easy to attack and exoticize the hijab as a way to play out underlying racism, Islamophobia, chauvinism, and all kinds of colonizing missions. Wouldn’t it serve everyone to be just a little self-reflective? Oh that sounds hard.

Gendered practices… Ok, yes the hijab tends denote “womanness” and this may very problematically also be equated with “femaleness” and perhaps even “heteronormativity,” but aren’t there imaginable scenarios where people use the hijab toward subversive acts? What about self-identified women who are not female? Or people performing a spectrum of femininities and masculinities, some folks wearing it to “pass” as women. It might be strategically adorned by sex workers, or in order to obscure non-hetero networking, especially in instances where sex work and non-hetero stuff is illegal, punished, discouraged and/or shamed…

Sometimes runway models do not have a cloth “drawn across their breasts.” And this seems to be acceptable in the fashion world. I’m not advocating that we run out immediately and take off our tops in protest. It is way too fucking cold, baby. And I’m not saying people should cavalierly adorn the hijab to drive home that it’s “simply an article of clothing.” No, doing that could be so troubling, it could turn into yet another form of appropriation and disregard. I’m just asking this: Can we please stop writing the same fucking books over and over and over again about the hijab and all of it’s debates? Doesn’t anyone have anything new to say?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Family Ties

I think there are some interesting connections waiting to be made between fashion and grief. My grandma adhered to a custom for widows, wearing all white for decades following my grandfather's death. My mama chastised me throughout my teenhood for wearing all black. "Vhy you are mourning alvays?"

When my dad died I took on the painful task of going through his entire wardrobe, a narrow closet with tightly packed button-down shirts, sport coats, polyester pants, belts, ties, miscellaneous paperwork, slide carousels of my childhood, and a package of the teeny tiniest tape dispensers I've ever seen. (He would buy anything, no matter how useless, if it was on sale and blamed it on having grown up dirt poor during WWII in a dust cloud of rural colonial despair. An awesome strategy for shutting down opposition.) I went through every pocket of every item of clothing finding a neatly folded unused tissue in almost every pair of pants. It was intimate and sad until I found the drawer full of unworn "ladies" socks and my mom and I decided he was a "closeted" cross dresser. Our grief was momentarily interrupted with howls of delight. My mom made the decision to donate any clothing we weren't planning to save as keepsakes to relatives or organizations that offer aid to newly arriving refugees.

I brought several ties home with me, most of them still holding the knots my dad had made (he felt it was a waste to undo a perfectly decent knot for the sake of storage). And this summer, The Cupcake helped me screenprint the tie in the photograph above. I've often desired an occasion to wear a fiercely femme tie and now I create these occasions on a regular basis. I found the image online through a sex worker rights organization (I can't remember which one).

This tie is a recycled, reappropriated reminder.

Ties are so unapologetically standardized even though we're seduced into believing there are "risky" ones out there. What really changes? The width, the patterns, colour schemes, fabrics, the knots that we make...oh I guess that is kind of a lot. But what would it take to revolutionize our ties? To sensitize (not sanitize) ties. Oh puns or alliteration or rhyme or whatever the fuck. Let me know if it gets sickening and/or if you'd be willing to pay me to play with words all day. It's not like I'm getting any other work done right now.

Thigh Highs and Size Sighs

I think I’d welcome the chance to wear sweaters, wool coats, scarves, and toques if our winter season wasn’t so painfully long. Sometimes the challenge of dressing up for work while staying warm feels entirely defeating. I’m one of those people with inadequate circulation; I’m cold all the time, I avoid air conditioning as much as possible, and I’ve been known to shiver when even a light breeze blows my way. I don’t believe my intolerance to cold is a sign of “weakness” (in spite of people’s accusations). There’s something else going on. And I long for creative ideas about and greater access to “dressy” work clothing that will make Wisconsin winters a more manageable experience.

I know I’m privileged to be raising this “concern” in the first place. I do have means by which to stay warm in a range of inhospitable climate. But the very notion of people NOT having these means is fucked up. What options are out there? What sorts of efforts are being made to provide winter clothing to individuals without these provisions. It seems as though these sorts of efforts become more visible around the holiday season, when shit gets REALLY cold and Jesus encourages people to be a little more considerate and generous. But holy fuck, it starts to get cold early in this part of the hemisphere, and maybe this is something we can afford to think about year round... what can we do? How can we organize and distribute and support with or without the big J on our side? Let’s talk about this.

I also want to talk about animals. Like I do with humans, I form deep and indescribable bonds with some animals, share amicable rivalries with others, and avoid a few species as best as I can. One of my best friends in the entire world is a basset hound. And one of my most despised enemies happens to be the rabid, littering squirrel that stares me down from the neighbour’s yard. That said, I’m not going to make a coat out of zee. I’m so frustrated with the winter wear industry’s insistence on fur (the obvious), down (the seeming less publicized or have I just totally missed the outcries?), cashmere (oh don’t you mean Kashmir, the region of political strife and territorial dispute between India and Pakistan…um maybe we should be researching some historical lineage here), angora (pet bunny made Marxist factory worker alienated from zee’s labour), wool (mass production of farm animals)… What does that leave us with? Synthetic micro fibers stitched into winter wear by workers on the outsourced assembly line, sweatshop labourers, brown people “just grateful” to make their dollar a day? Let’s talk about this too.

Wearing long johns under pants cuts off circulation at my waist where I carry the most flesh on my body. (Let’s talk about this three.) I can wear pants, no problem. And long johns, also no worries. But long johns under pants equals too tight. My sweetbaby Meridith introduced me to the thigh high socks at American Apparel, which have proven to be the answer to my long john dilemma. As a short stack, these socks go high enough to cover my entire leg and thigh and they are truly warm. They have an aesthetically decent ribbed design (looks pretty good with skirts and boots) and they don’t roll down like nylon thigh highs often do. AND I’m so excited that I don’t have to waste ten minutes getting my pants and long johns on and off every time I pee. But holy fucking balls are they ever expensive. They run approximately $17.00 a pair, which breaks my heart and the bank. Nevertheless, I’ve shelled out the money and now I wish other people would/could have this option. I wonder if American Apparel would be willing to donate clothing to organizations helping those in need seeing as I’ve just given them a free promo.

But while we’re on the subject of American Apparel, would it kill them to be less sizeist? Their large sizes do not run across a sufficient spectrum of largeness, and at the risk of canceling out my request for them to donate clothing I want to say I’m deeply irritated by this. I WANT to support them for their claims to be sweatshop free and I sure am fucking thankful for this thigh high discovery but size, as this blog will proudly reveal, is a really important matter to me.

Next time: Why does Kate hate bow ties? Stay tuned for a tell-all interview with shocking details you won’t want to miss.