Jobs, Summer, and Jeans

I have not had much to blog about lately since I have been doing absolutely nothing for the past month.  That may sound wonderful to those working adults who have working adult responsibilities, but for a recent college grad wanting to get her life started it was kind of torture.  See, the thing is that I have a summer job that I had already signed a contract for that did not start until last Monday.  So while many of my classmates have been hitting the pavement hunting for jobs, I’ve been in this weird in between place where I wouldn’t be able to start a real grownup job until September (and most job openings seem to be for immediate hire).  So I’ve put some feelers out with some contacts that I have in Philadelphia (where I’d like to live come the fall) but other than that my life has been at a bit of a standstill as I’ve waited for my summer job to start.

So now I am here, working as a housekeeper/ waitress at an inn in New York state.  This will be my third summer working here and I’ve absolutely loved the job in past years.  I come here because it’s beautiful, pays really well, my bosses are really nice, and I’ve made some of my best friends here. But it’s difficult now that many of my friends who have worked here with me in the past have not returned this summer and I am the oldest on what they call the “junior staff”.  I am so grateful for the great job, don’t get me wrong, but I almost feel like I’ve outgrown it in some ways.  And while I would not be stupid enough to say anything bad about my place of employment on the internet, I will say that I have a problem with how they use/rely on extremely gendered dichotomies here.  For example, for me (a girl) it is assumed that I cannot lift heavy things on a regular basis or powerwash a sidewalk or things like that.  For the boys it is assumed that they are incapable of scrubbing a toilet or making a bed or things like that.  And the jobs are divided as such.  Or here is an even more specific example:  My bosses like to sugarcoat some parts of the job to show enthusiasm and keep up morale.  Like they give a special cheesy title to a  specific job description that is a bit different from other members of the staff in that on the day we turn over the rooms and clean the house for new guests, this person has special tasks assigned to them that nobody else does.  Last year they like to call this person the “Hero” when it was one of the boys on staff.  This year they have decided to assign a girl to the position and have renamed it the “Princess”.  As if a girl cannot be a hero.  And as if every girl would want to be a princess.  Vomit.  Such things are hell for someone with a degree in women’s studies (case in point: me).  In the past I’ve taken it for what it is and just been grateful for the job (which I still am).  However, this year it is starting to grate on me.

Also, this is a religious place where I’m working and, though I’m used to a ton of church and religion, growing up as the daughter of two ministers, I have not had religion shoved down my throat in the way that it is here.  I am not going to clean a room imagining that Jesus is going to be the guest staying in this room.  To me that is a cheesy and weird way for my boss to get us to make the rooms as clean as possible.  Rather, I’m going to do a good job because you hired me for this job and I am one who takes pride in her work.  Simple as that.

But other than those qualms, I’m happy to be back in this beautiful place as well as to have something to keep me occupied and with some cash money in my pocket.  So life is pretty good right now.  And I’m working on keeping an eye on job postings while I’m here.  I’m looking for something in the non-profit sector.  My ideal job right now would be to work for an organization that does programming to foster the empowerment of girls.  But I am extremely open minded and would be grateful for almost anything that comes along that is not in food service or retail (not that I feel I’m above those jobs, just that I’m hoping for something different that can put me closer to a track I’d like to be on career-wise).

On an unrelated note…-this place where I’m working, it’s like an entire artsy vacation community and the inn I work at is only one tiny place in the larger community.  However, I don’t know anyone outside my little inn staff.  One of my former professors/mentors/confidants has instructed me to have a summer fling while I’m here.  He is someone who I have talked a lot to about my personal life and lack thereof in the romantic sense and I believe his specific instructions were “You need to go out there and meet someone this summer.  Have a fling!  You deserve something like that, you’re such a lovely girl.”  And, the thing is, that I would love to be able to follow through on these instructions, but I have no idea how to meet people.  I’m not someone who just walks up to strangers and introduces myself (as with those kinds of outgoing people I find there to be a fine line between friendly and desperate/creepy when interpretation is concerned).  I’m definitely not that stereotype of the self-conscious, pity-worthy, sad lonely fat girl who thinks no man will love her.  I am an extremely competent, somewhat confident, adequately social young woman—and I’m certain that I’m quite a catch!  I just don’t know how to meet eligible, date-worthy men (the boys that I work with are definitely not in the realm of possibility on account of their immaturity and slight douchebaggery).  I’m sure if I did find such a man, the problem I would be blogging about would be a lack of confidence in my desirability in the eyes of said man, but I am taking things one step at a time.

This post is already too long, but I also wanted to put out there that I have had much frustration in shopping lately (not one of my passions or talents).  I am looking for jeans that fit and are decent quality.  My problem is that I am plus size AND tall.  I like flares or wide-leg trouser-ish styles because tapered legs look absolutely laughable on me.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  I was so happy last year to find the Right Fit jeans sold at Lane Bryant because the red-tagged ones were a great fit for me and they came in tall sizes too (the ones at Fashion Bug haven’t been quite as good for me).  But alas they are not really selling them anymore it seems.  Any guidance would be extremely appreciated.

A Call for Participants

As someone who recently completed an undergrad thesis on fat acceptance, of course I would like to pass on that positive academic energy through supporting other research efforts.  So naturally I am passing on this call for participants from a doctoral candidate at Purdue University.  Please consider participating.  I’m all about legitimizing fat acceptance in academics.

Call for Participants

Hi, my name is Michaela A. Null, and I am a doctoral student in Sociology at
Purdue University. I am doing a study about the embodiment of size-accepting fat
women, with attention to the ways in which gender, race, sexual orientation, and
body size intersect.

I am currently looking for individuals who are interested in volunteering to
participate in my study. If you are interested in volunteering to participate in
an interview, I ask that take an electronic informational survey, which will
take approximately 5 minutes. Please go here
[] and complete the
informational survey. After all survey data has been collected, participants
will be selected for interviews, which will be conducted in-person, by phone, or
via internet chat, and will last between an hour and an hour and a half.

Participation is voluntary and participants must be at least 18 years old.

This project has been approved by my university’s Institutional Review Board,
which protects human subjects of research. I will provide confidentiality to all
volunteers and participants will be referred to by a pseudonym in all research

If you have any questions regarding this study, you can contact me at For more information on me, you can access my university
profile here [].
You can also contact Professor Eugene Jackson, Assistant Professor of Sociology
at Purdue University, at


Michaela A. Null, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, Purdue University

Fat=Dumb? Disproving via counterexample…

This is for those researchers who have linked fat with stupidity/lower IQs (i.e. the homer simpson effect)…

Graduated from a very respected college summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, departmental honors, Turner Prize recipient, and Phi Alpha Theta.

…I like to think that makes me one counterexample that thereby disproves the fat=dumb hypothesis.

Yes graduation was Monday.  I am finished with college.  It’s a bit surreal.  It was a great commencement (gorgeous weather) and it all went by in a blur.  And now I am back home with a slight case of the post-grad blues.  I miss school, my friends, my dorm room, my campus, and everything else that makes college great.  I’m in this weird in-between place right now.  I’m home for a month until I go back to my regular summer job on a lake in NY state.  After that I’m hoping to move to Philadelphia since I spent a semester of off-campus study there and loved it.  I need to find a job, though.  And it’s hard to go looking for one when I’m not sure exactly what I want to do and whatever it is I wouldn’t be able to start until late August.  So that all is a bit frustrating.

And I’m a bit terrified to be going out into the real world.  I know most college graduates feel the same way right away (especially those with liberal arts degrees like mine).  The thing is, though, that I’m going to miss the gratification and pats on the back that I’ve received my whole life in school.  That might sound a bit privileged, and I recognize that, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a valid feeling.  I’ve excelled in school my whole life.  That has been my element.  I was never “pretty”, or good at sports, or super creative.  I got A’s.  Sometimes I was even unhealthily obsessed with school.  I think part of that comes from feeling a lack of self-worth as a fat girl which caused me to immerse myself in schoolwork to show that I actually did have value and I actually wasn’t a failure.

Anyway, I’ve spent my whole life getting praised by teachers and professors for my work in school and I’m worried that without that, I won’t be able to find that same sense of self-worth that I was able to find in school.  I’ve used academics to boost myself up so many times.  What’s going to happen now that that’s been taken away?  That’s one of the main reasons I’m terrified.

Some news during my week of finals…

I apologize to those who are waiting to receive a copy of my thesis from me.  I have been swamped with end of year/ end of college wrap up stuff and there are still a few minor edits I want to make before I give it to people to read.  I am not ignoring your requests =)

I’m really only writing this post because I have absolutely no motivation to work on my finals.  And to let you all know some very exciting news I received today!  My school has a prize (which they call the Turner Prize in honor of a past professor at the college) for the “most distinguished Senior Thesis relating to women and women’s concerns.”  And today I received a letter telling me that my thesis has won the prize this year!!  That news has absolutely made my day and it is such an honor.  It is especially exciting because I feel like it is not only a win for me, but also for fat acceptance (as much of a win that it can be at a school as small as mine).  Here’s an excerpt from the letter I received from the prize committee:

Our decision to honor your Senior Thesis, “Re-Heading the Headless Fatty: A Look at Fat Positive Feminism in Blogs,” was based on our appreciation of the following:  the quality of your writing and the command of the language, the seriousness with which you analyzed your subject matter, the breadth of your research, your willingness to extend academic research into areas outside our typical purview, and your ability to successfully weave your theoretical tools throughout the discussion.  Your research enriched our understanding of the complex realities of self-identity, body weight, the blogosphere, and feminism’s importance to Fat Positive movements.  Please accept our warmest congratulations on your outstanding scholarship, and thank you for the opportunity to read your thesis.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! I’m so HAPPY!!  Although I am still waiting to officially hear my grade on the thesis, but this is such wonderful news.  And I think it shows validation of fat acceptance in academic scholarship (at least on a small, unpublished  scale).

Thank you, Fat-O-Sphere, for giving me the voices to use in this project!  Congratulations to us all =)

Life’s not worth a damn till you can say…

I was listening to Linda Eder last night while I was writing a paper.  She’s a jazzy/showtuney singer (The original female lead in Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway).  She is fabulous and I kind of want to be her.  Anyway, she sings a cover from  La Cage aux Folles called “I Am What I Am” and I’ve decided I want it to be my new theme song.  I haven’t seen the play…I’m guessing a gay male lead sings this song in the show.  But I was listening to it and it gave me a nice self love moment (during which I proceeded to over-the-top-lipsync-peform it to myself in the mirror).  It’s perfect for FA in my opinion.  It’s especially effective with the way Linda belts it out.  Here are the lyrics…

I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation
It’s my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world, and it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a damn ’til you can say
“Hey world, I am what I am!”
I am what I am
I don’t want praise
I don’t want pity
I bang my own
drum Some think it’s noise I think it’s pretty
And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle?
Why not try to see things from a different angle?
Your life is a sham ’til you can shout out loud: “I am what I am!”
I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces
There’s one life and it’s no return and no deposit
One life, so it’s time to open up your
Life’s not worth a damn ’til you shout hey world “I am what I am!”

I’m still alive, I swear

I have been absent from the blogosphere for a bit now.  I turned in my senior independent study thesis a little less than a month ago!!!  WOOOOO!  Although I will say that right after I turned it in I found 4 typos that I proceeded to obsess over for the next couple of weeks.  But I’m over it now.  Anyway, I ended up titling it Re-Heading the Headless Fatty: A Look at Fat Positive Feminism in Blogs and it turned out to be 129 pages!  yikes.  Although, when I went to have it officially printed and bound, I forgot to ask the nice lady at the printing office to print it double sided.  And I printed 5 copies!  I’m such a tree-murderer.

Anyway…to commemorate this milestone of turning in my thesis, I decided to post a picture promoting me from faceless fatty blogger to proud undergraduate scholar blogger (face and all).  Here you go…

There I am in my dorm room holding my thesis.  And Rosie in the background, who cheered me on during the whole process.  haha.

So since I’ve turned it in life has been pretty great!! Our school had a big celebration for the seniors the Monday after spring break, to celebrate everyone turning in their projects.  Tradition:  Everyone in the senior class gets completely drunk throughout the day and then participates in a drunken parade led by bagpipes.  The drunken part was not the most appealing part of the day for me (and not really how I spent my day).  I really like the part where lots of students get together with their friends and get custom t-shirts made.  Usually they are something like “We did it!” or something witty using the letters I and S.  My dear friend and I decided to go in a different direction.  We had taken to watching old episodes of The Vicar of Dibley as study breaks when we were working on our theses and so we decided to just get Dibley-themed shirts that were completely random and most people did not understand.  The fronts say “Save Dibley” and here are the backs.

Aren’t we just a delightful pair?  That was a fun day.  And I’ve worn the shirt since then and had the opportunity to bond with a complete stranger on 2 separate occasions because they asked if my shirt was a Vicar of Dibley reference.  So that’s fun.

So just because my paper is turned in does not mean I am done with it.  I still have to complete the oral defense part of the process.  Whenever I ask professors in my department what to expect for this they just ambiguously reply “Oh it’s just a delightful conversation where you get to be the expert on your study” which I don’t find to be very helpful.  I’m also presenting my project at our campus-wide senior IS research symposium on the 23rd.  I’m giving a 15 minute long oral presentation on my study.  I was kind of excited to do it and not nervous at all until I went to a public speaking workshop for symposium presenters that freaked me out and made me realize how little public speaking experience I really have.  And to be honest, I’m also nervous because I know fat acceptance is a controversial topic.  But I’m sure I can rock it.  Or at least that is what I’m telling myself.

I know that some of you were interested in reading my study when it was all said and done.  I know that if I were a really good researcher, I would have offered this before I turned it in so I could tweek things if there were anything my participants (bloggers) wanted to tweek.  But I think time constraints would have made this difficult.  And also I think the fact that this is just and undergrad thesis that won’t really be published makes that part of the research process a little less consequential.  So I apologize for not doing that.  But if you would like for me to send you a copy, leave me your email address or some internet way to get in touch with you and I will make it happen.

I’m pretty nervous to have anyone in the Fat-O-Sphere read it because I worry that I may have mistakenly misrepresented someone.  I also offered some critiques that might not be very well received.  For example, I argue for a stronger relationship between fat acceptance and feminism (and I think this is happening), especially as fat studies works its way into academia.  I also call for critical discussions of fat and race, class, and sexuality, pointing out that the narratives portrayed in my blogging sample were those of white heterosexual (and presumably middle class) women (and some men).  I have come across some great blogs in the fatosphere that do not fit this mold, but I found it interesting that the evidence in my sample (posts from the fat-o-sphere every 3 days for 2 months) fit pretty neatly in this this mold.  Also, the history of fat acceptance as I tell it in my study is a history of US fat acceptance (even though there is great representations from bloggers and activists outside the US).  So anyway, I didn’t mean to get into all that here.  I just wanted to show some points where my study might be critiqued or argued against, and why I am apprehensive about you all reading it.  But such apprehensions are just things I need to get over if I ever decide to become a real academic who actually has things published.  So like I said let me know in the comments if you want to read it.

and that’s all for now!  Although I am still planning on keeping this blog up now that I’ve turned in my thesis, even though I created it for the thesis.  I’m just starting to get into blogging.

And on a completely unrelated note.  Here is a picture of me as a turkey just because I like it and it makes me laugh.  (The Greek groups at my school put together a greek calendar and my sorority was November. as you can see, I got to be the star character).

A facebook bumper sticker from a friend…