Open Letter to North Style

Dear NorthStyle folks:

About once or twice a year I receive a catalog from your fine establishment. I’m a big mail-order shopper, so it’s very appropriate that you would send me one. Each time I receive it, I think “hmmmm… stylish, understated, affordable.” I mark off a few items. And then I notice that you insist on a $5 surcharge for me to order your clothes in my size.

Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but fat ladies all across the world are getting fed up with this kind of treatment. Countless times every day, I get messages — covert and overt — that there’s something wrong with me because of the size of my hips and the number on a label inside my clothes. These messages persist in spite of assurances from my doctor, my boyfriend, and my loved ones that I am healthy, lovable, and actually pretty attractive.

North Style, if you really want my business — and you should, considering what I spent on new clothes last year — then you’ve got to get with the program. I don’t hang out with people who make me feel ugly. And I’m certainly not going to hand over my hard-won dollars for the as-yet-unproven privilege of purchasing your merchandise. Take a number from retailers like Simply Be, Woman Within, and Ulla Popken, who treat me with the same courtesy and respect as a lady who wears a size 10. Then maybe I’ll take the next step and actually place an order with you.

Sincerely,

Me

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The main focus of this website is not fat politics, fashion, or online shopping reviews. Comments on this post have been closed. If you would like to discuss haiku, poetry, spiritual practice, gender, sexuality, or social justice, please feel free to follow me. If you would like to debate the pros and cons of fat acceptance and American’s obesity epidemic, please troll someone else’s blog. There are lots of people being wrong on the Internet. You can’t fix them all.

Oh, and for the record, I never ordered from North Style. And I never will. They sound like a company with a lot of customer service problems. ]

Dear Neighbor I Offended this Saturday While Disposing of My Trash at the Communal Dumpster

When you and your wife/girlfriend/mistress/love slave started yelling at me for putting my plastic bag full of plastic bags into the mostly-empty paper bag that you had deposited at the steps of the mostly-full dumpster near our dwellings, I thought perhaps that you had recycling in it.

So I asked if I had mistakenly mixed my garbage with your recycling. But no, it appears that you were in fact offended by the promiscuous mingling of our household detritus.

I still think this is crazy, which is why I said things like “What’s the big deal? Trash is trash!”

I don’t really know what you started shouting back at me, because I was in fact carrying on a conversation with my mother via cell phone at the same time. Upon reflection, this is probably what really upset you: not my cavalier attitude toward the mingling of household garbage, but the fact that I never stopped to give you my undivided attention. Or maybe you were mad because you thought I expected you to throw my trash into the dumpster with your trash. Or maybe you have some kind of garbage fetish that requires you and your love slave to personally handle all trash before it goes in the dumpster. Like I said, I really wasn’t paying attention.

I’m not sure if you heard me say (and later — as your own voice rose in volume — shout) things like “I’m so sorry for having offended you, sir,” because you were going on about something or another. Like I said, I really wasn’t listening. I could tell you were angry, though, and apparently because of something I had done. In my humble opinion, you and your love slave are both wound a little too tight about how your trash is disposed of.

Do you not understand the concept of trash? Do you not know where trash goes? Have you never been to a dump or a landfill? Did you think the sanitation workers took each little bag of trash and gave it a decent burial, with maybe a headstone and a prayer? Do you think there is a trash embalming center somewhere? Or were you really just offended because I never bothered to put down my cell phone and treat you like a human being instead of an animated speed bump?

I know how annoying multitasking cell-phone users can be. So, for demeaning your inherent worth and dignity by shouting nice things I clearly didn’t mean and walking off before you could explain yourself, I do apologize. Perhaps we’ll meet again at the dumpster and I will have the opportunity to amend my behavior.

In the meantime I suggest you take a deep, cleansing breath, and try not to get too worked up about what happens to your garbage once you put it down in front of the dumpster. It’s only garbage, after all — one thing that we Americans have in abundance.

Sincerely,

Me

Open Letter to Get in Shape for Women

Dear Get In Shape for Women:

Thank you so much for your congratulations on my new house! Nothing says “welcome to the neighborhood” like a postcard from a company that found me via an automated report from the United States Postal Service. I’m also touched and gratified that you care enough about my health to offer me an affordable, convenient option for losing weight so close to home.

Here’s the thing:

I don’t want to lose any weight.

I have no interest in losing any weight.

And if I decided I *did* want to lose some weight or join a gym, your marketing approach has completely ruined any chance of your getting my business. I’ll spare you the diatribe about the way constant media messages and images screw with women’s perceptions of what constitutes a normal, healthy body. I’ll refrain from quoting the statistics that show how much money the weight loss industry collects from women in their vain attempts to lose weight and keep it off.

I will even take a deep breath and avoid getting hot and bothered as I explain to you the way doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the Surgeon General’s office manufactured the so-called obesity epidemic overnight — simply by changing how obesity is defined. I will not be getting up on my soap box to rail against the arbitrary, sexist, and scientifically questionable charts and indexes that our society uses to define whether a woman is “healthy” or “overweight.” I won’t be sending you to the Flickr photostream that shows photographs of real people alongside their weight definition on the BMI charts.

Nor will I be getting on my high horse to tell you that companies who try to market their products to women by playing on their insecurities should be rounded up and forced to watch MTV and the Fashion Network for 48 hours straight.

I will simply tell you that I am a healthy, active woman with no need or desire to “lose 10-15 pounds in three weeks.” And I will ask you to immediately remove me from you mailing list. If I continue to receive your mailings, you can expect to hear more from me and from the FCC.

Sincerely,

Me

Open Letter to Senator Scott Brown Regarding SOPA

Dear Senator Brown:

I’ve been watching your first term in office with interest. I’ve also been a web developer since the early days of the web. The entire course of my life has been affected by its tides. So I have a personal stake in the passage of the SOPA bill.

This new piece of legislation promoted by powerful industry groups like the RIAA and the MPAA would stifle the free exchange and flow of ideas that has allowed many people — myself included — to change the course of their lives. It is essentially unenforceable and flies in the face of the spirit of collaboration that allowed nerds, geeks, hackers, designers, writers, and artists to make the Internet the thriving, global, decentralized entity that it is today.

There’s a lot of talk in the media these days about how large corporations are using their money to shape policy and legislation to benefit themselves instead of the American people as a whole. In your newsletters, you often talk about bringing jobs to Massachusetts. As you well know, the Boston metro is a hub for innovation in technology. Its residents even helped to develop the technology that made the Internet as we know it today. SOPA would kill the ability for thousands of small companies and individuals to express themselves freely and even make their fortunes on the web — all so that a few greedy corporations could keep even more money for themselves.

I know that you receive a great deal of funding from the lobbying groups promoting this bill. I and people like me — and there are a great many people like me in the state of Massachusetts — will be watching closely to see how you vote on this issue.

Sincerely,

Me

Open letter to my representative about the current budget debate in Congress

In case your attention has been elsewhere, there’s been some major drama on Capitol Hill about the Federal Budget. Worst case scenario is worse than the government shutdown of the 1990s. It would actually give the U.S. government the same kind of credit rating I had a year after my layoff back in 2002.

To sum up the debate, Democrats think we should raise taxes and cut some social programs. Republicans think we should just cut social programs. Because, you know, rich people create jobs. It’s magic!

Some background from more objective sources here:
New York Times: Federal Budget 2011 and 2012

Boehner and Obama Nearing Budget Deal, Leaders Told (New York Times, July 21, 2011)

Did Obama Walk out on Republicans? (Gawker)

Income Gap Between Rich, Poor the Widest Ever (CBS)

The Great Overpaid CEO Debate (CNET)

Dear Rep. Markey:

I wanted to thank you for signing the letter from the Progressive Caucus saying you will vote NO on any bill that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.

I’ve seen the pie charts of the federal budget and realize that entitlements make up a substantial chunk. I’m more realistic than some folks and doubt that we will be able to get through the current economic crisis without at least some cuts to social programs. But doing so while the richest among us continue to enjoy tax cuts given to them during the Bush administration isn’t just unfair or unjust: it’s downright disgusting.

As a native of Boston, I’m sure you’re familiar with the statues erected in honor of the Irish who suffered through the potato famine of 1847 — you may even have ancestors who arrived on these shores as a result of it. The memorial on the Cambridge Common includes the inscription, “Never again should a people starve in a land of plenty.” Recently I noticed a piece of graffiti written under it saying “and yet they still do.” And it’s true — there are people going hungry right here in the Boston metro area, in spite of our exemplary social programs.

I thank you for standing up to the interests of the large corporations and rich individuals who find it so easy to access our country’s leaders. Your recent speech about the GOP’s “Deficit Attention Disorder” made me particularly proud to have you as my representative in Congress.

Sincerely,

Frances Donovan

Dear Apple

Dear Apple:

Yes, your products are sexy and nicely designed and I lust after them with all my heart, especially after being inundated with ads in which comely young people dance around and smile and socialize with them. But your UI quotient is not as high as you think it is. After one week with a new iPod touch, I’m remembering the other reason I went over to The Dark Side back in 1998. I’ve been walking around for the past 10 years thinking it was because of your major strategy FAIL in forcing people to shell out huge amounts of cash for your platforms and hardware, only to discover that none of the software they needed would work on them.

The other reason, Apple, that I left you for your eveel cousin PC/Windows back in 1998 can be summed up in one work: CLUNKe.

As in, your shit is CLUNKY, Apple. Now that I’ve had a decade or two to appreciate the joys of tweaking settings and whatnot (“fiddling”, as Army Guy would call it), I can see that your sexy, cleanly designed UI isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s clunky because in order for a design to be spare it can’t have as many dials to twiddle and buttons to click. It’s clunky because, unless someone is paying close attention, she can lose $12 worth of apps while updating the OS of their hardware. It’s clunky because it’s resource-intensive and resistant to intermittent fix-ups. It’s clunky because it’s not customizable. And it’s clunky because it doesn’t play nicely with any kind of hardware but yours.

Not everyone in the world can afford to pay through the nose for upgrades every two to three years, Apple. And not everyone has hours and hours to lose on your support forums, or upgrading their entire operating systems.

Once upon a time I thought I was an Apple person. But since then, I’ve learned I’m not an Apple person, a Microsoft person, or a Linux person. I’m a pragmatist. I want what’s inexpensive and easy to use. I suppose I’ll just have to suffer through the indignities of not being the first girl on the block with the new shiny white toy, and wait for the 3G version of your products. Preferably as a Christmas/birthday present from my favorite Silicon Valley techie.

Sincerely,

Me

Dear NOW: This Is Why I’m Not Giving You Any Money

Dear NOW:

I wanted to explain to you why I am not sending a contribution in response to your recent U.S. mail solicitation to me. I have three primary reasons for not wishing to send you my dollars:

1) As a queer woman, I am uneasy about supporting an organization that has a history of marginalizing “the lavendar menace” from the feminist movement.

2) The overt fear-mongering tone of your letter (“Do you want animals and clowns teaching your children about sex?) bore a marked resemblance to the emails I get from the Family Research Council. I believe strongly that hope and compassion conquer fear and loathing. Nixon’s campaign back in the middle of the last century appears to have had far-reaching consequences in the realm of national and local politics. One of the reasons Obama was so refreshing as a candidate, and why people rejoiced in his election, was because he ran on a platform of positive change rather than the fear and paranoia that marked the Bush administration. I expect the organizations I support to deliver the same sort of message.

3) I find that other organizations seem to be doing a better job of working for goals that I care about.

That being said, I am glad to see that you have joined the Web 2.0 revolution (hahaha) and will be following your actions via Facebook, Twitter, and email. I’m open to persuasion. So persuade me that your organization is still relevant and working toward the type of change that is in line with my own values.