men_in_full: (sun couple m/f)
Go read "The Giant Overalls" over on [livejournal.com profile] snousle's LJ. It will make your day, I *promise.* I'm still smiling from it.





I'm also still pondering what courage it took for that garment-sewer to leave that note in the pocket of the overalls as she did. For all she knew, the wearer of those huge garments might have already been married, or otherwise unavailable. But she took the risk, and reaped the rewards. That's a good pattern for life, I think.

men_in_full: (Default)
Today is "Marriage Equality Day" for the state of California, the day when civil courts will issue gender-neutral marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

As a long-married straight woman, it would seem at first that I wouldn't care that much whether or not the social advantages of marriage were extended to gay men and lesbians who choose to partake of them. But I do, and this is why.

I like being married. It's been one of "the high signs of [my] lifetime," to paraphrase the David LaFlamme song. At the same time, I recognize that marriage - living in a committed relationship with another person on a long-term, day-to-day basis - is hard. So hard that some marriages don't navigate the rocks, and become shipwrecked. So hard that it requires not just the support of the couple for each other, but the support of the wider community as well. But when marriage does "work," and when the people around you are committed to helping you make your pairing work, and you likewise are committed to others, it can bring not only great joy, but reinforce the bedrock of society as well.

There's an old, mystical idea of "soulmates" which goes beyond the romance-novel concept. In Howard Schwartz's Jewish folklore compendium, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, he talks about a more traditional view. Soulmates, when they find each other, don't only experience the deep personal joy and satisfaction which comes from full unity with someone you love. The union of soulmates also changes the world in some way for the better.

The same-sex couples marrying today in California will have for an anniversary a highly significant day. It's one that we can only hope will engrave itself in American history as the day those soulmates publicly acknowledged their union, and openly built up the great common good with their passion, energy, and commitment.

So today California, and hopefully same time next year, the rest of the United States. So for this day, here are some more of [livejournal.com profile] wooferstl's photographs, this time of "the man in full, paired."

Woofer and Matt, picture-heavy and safe for work )

ETA: Earlier [livejournal.com profile] wooferstl photos: The man in full, alone

men_in_full: (pensive)
Jean-Michele Gregory's essay, Enormous, starts out, "I am in love with an enormous man." It's brief, but worth reading. Her imagery is lovely:

Enormous, NSFW image )

ETA: LJ cut added.
men_in_full: (Default)

Lasse Hallström's film Casanova is a patchwork of plot twists, humorous deceptions, and mistaken identities as Casanova (Heath Ledger) weasels his way through Venice in pursuit of the lovely but skittish Francesca (Sienna Miller.) This brilliant girl, who writes philosophy and proto-feminist texts under an assumed male name, rejects him because she fears he cannot commit himself to just one woman - even though Casanova is determined to convince her otherwise.

But there's a secondary story in this movie too, one in some ways almost more romantically warming than the sometimes literal back-and-forth sparring between Casanova and Francesca. For Francesca has been betrothed to her late father's friend, the ample-bodied lard merchant Paprizzio (Oliver Platt enhanced with a fat suit) whom neither Francesca's mother Andrea (Lena Olin) nor her daughter have ever seen.

Paprizzio has come to Venice to claim his bride, docking in a ship festooned with Bacchanalian carvings of big-bellied men. Shrewd and aggressive in business but shy and insecure when it comes to women, Paprizzio feels abashed and inadequate because he knows he's not "handsome," and he begs Casanova for "help."

Hallström pulls a "bait and switch" with this character. At first we see Paprizzio as a clown, and his nadir comes when Inquisitor Pucci (Jeremy Irons) finds him undergoing a humiliating "treatment" in Casanova's apartment, where he's stretched out, rack-like, on a table and slathered with noxious goo. Pucci thinks he's Casanova, and before arresting him, sneers at his mostly-naked form, "Somehow I find it difficult to believe that ... this ... is what women want." We take the bait - obviously Paprizzio is simply a "fat fool."

The switch comes during the Masked Ball scene, the apex of the story where all hidden is revealed. Ironically, a window for happiness opens up for Paprizzio because of the very attribute which initially made him ashamed - because Francesca's mother likes big men. (As she tells Casanova while he's pretending to be Paprizzio, "I don't like thin men - Francesca's father was enormous.")

An angry Paprizzio stalks into the Ball with the cold controlled fury of the phlegmatic man. He walks slowly, ponderously, towering over many of the revellers. Whatever happens, we know it isn't going to be good for anyone who gets in his way. Then Andrea sees him, and it's wonderfully filmed. She stares unabashedly. He stops, hesitant. He can sense someone's watching him, but whom? Then he sees her, and she instinctively puts her fan in front of her mouth, that "veiling" expression to hide the well of overflowing emotion. Suddenly we see him as she does - he moves from fat and awkward to strong, powerful - and desirable.

In sweet confusion, Paprizzio thinks that Andrea is really Francesca, his fiancee. "I never imagined you would be so beautiful," he breathes. Andrea tells him that Francesca is in love with someone else, and the change in tone is palpable. You can almost see Paprizzio's heart swell with hope. When Pucci interrupts them, Paprizzio casually lifts him by the neck and in an almost-whisper says, "Why don't you stop interfering, thank you?" and so Pucci scurries off, ratlike.

For Paprizzio has escaped both racks - the rack of the Inquisition, and the rack of the desire to appear as he is not, according to some ideal of beauty which does not fit him, and which (confirmed by Andrea's love) he does not need.
men_in_full: (de vos bacchus)
Jennie in the comments below brought up the following:
People who are extremely fat frighten me. When their obesity is so great that they cannot get around on their own, and their health is seriously endangered... that worries me. It's so tragic to hear of a young man of 38 dying because of respiratory problems that were probably due to his size. So while I don't agree with the obsession that you can never be too thin, I don't agree with the opposite either. ... I feel that if someone cannot move around freely on their own because of their weight, then that doesn't feel very healthy.


I think any kind of limitation is frightening when one is healthy and mobile. Things like paraplegia, paralysis from strokes, head injuries are frightening to a lot of people too. Years ago I remember seeing in a bookstore some drawings by a quadriplegic woman named Joni Eareckson Tada. All I could see was her paralysis, and all I could imagine was how "I couldn't live like that." And there really even wasn't the same social stigma about paralysis as there is about large body size.

Many years ago I saw a Vietnam War-era movie called Coming Home, about a paralyzed veteran who falls in love with a woman whose husband is away at war. What was singular about the film was how the paraplegic Luke (Jon Voigt) wasn't treated in the story as a medical case, or worse, as a "saintly cripple," but as a man, with faults, anger, failings, and also as a lover.

Someone who is very large should be offered appropriate and compassionate medical care to avoid losing their mobility and dying early. But the key words are "appropriate" and "compassionate." The key concept is "first, do no harm" - the fundamental principle of Western medicine from the Greeks onward. It may be that our whole conception of fatness and health issues is totally "off." It's conceivable that a century from now, people will look at our medical ideas in this area and shake their heads, wondering how we could have gotten it all so wrong. So there's always room for medical humility.

I take a very holistic approach to health and thus wonder if some of the moral stigma surrounding fatness works against very large people keeping their health. We have wheelchair curb cuts on the sidewalks and handicapped parking spaces, but as long as even the slightest degree of overweight is considered "disgusting," the very large person with limited mobility *is* going to appear frightening at first - or some kind of symbol for "sloth," "gluttony," etc., rather than even minimally as a person, much less someone with dignity, beauty, desirability, a lover or spouse.

There's more to an extremely large person than the limitation, though, and that's why I love the photograph of IZ with his wife's hand on his hair.
men_in_full: (love)
Recently I've been listening to a lot of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's music, and I'm entranced.

"Braddah IZ" (as he was known) was a Hawai'ian native, a singer and ukelele player who died in 1997 of respiratory failure at the young age of 38. At the time of his death he weighed about 700 lbs. His coffin sat in state in the Hawai'ian capital, where thousands came by to pay their respects to the "gentle giant."

He had a fine tenor, tender and smooth as cream. IZ's lyrics ranged from Hawai'ian liberation and restoration of the monarchy, through covers of popular tunes like "Over the Rainbow" and "Wind Beneath My Wings," original material, to traditional Hawai'ian songs. He was firm and committed without being shrill or preachy.


I love this photograph, from his biography IZ: Voice of the People by Rick Carroll and IZ's widow Marlene. It's probably his wife's hand, brushing or stroking his hair. Looking at it, you're reminded how rare it is to see a sensual, affectionate photograph of a fat man being loved.

He also had a sensual side. In "Ahi Wela" (from Alone in IZ World), the translation offered here goes like this:

Ahi wela mai nei loko (Fire (is) hot hither here inside)
I ka hana a ke aloha (In the act of love)
E lalawe nei ku'u kino (Overwhelms here my body)
Konikoni lua i ka pu'uwai (Throbbing doubly much in the heart)


Or take "Kamalani," from the album E Ale E. Kamalani roughly means "princess," and the translator tells us that literally, pûkani nui means a "large sounding horn," but figuratively signifies "large fine soft sleeping mats made of fine white leaves in the center of a cluster of pandanus leaves." In other words, on one level it means perhaps a love call, one beloved calling to another, and on another level it means the soft bed in which the lovers nestle.
Where is my love, Kamalani?
Please answer me, Kamalani
Pûkani Nui, Pûkani Nui.

Oh here I am, Kamalani,
Here in this paradise
Kamalani, Kamalani
Is this the fullness of heaven,
Here in this paradise?


He wrote an almost-wistful song called "Thunder of Heaven" (on the E Ale E album), honoring the Hawaiian sumitori who attained fame in Japan, Hawai'ian men whose size was not seen as a disability, but as a source of strength and pride.

Later, while re-reading James Michener's Hawai'i, I learned that traditionally to die was to set one's foot on the rainbow. It makes this image even more poignant, as well as his signature cover of "Over the Rainbow." IZ - husband, father, lover, man with a mountainous heart.

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