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So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, Shapely Prose

September 18, 2010

So, the inevitable has happened, and Shapely Prose is officially closed for business. The amazing Kate Harding is still alive and well and is leaving Shapely Prose up as an archive, which is lovely. She’s also blogging in a personal capacity here, but as you’ll see, she’s not wanting to deal with comments threads of doom, even nice ones, so this is my official “Thank You, Kate Harding” comment-turned-post.

Shapely Prose was feminism and fat acceptance, with a smattering of Health At Every Size and a fair few posts entitled “Why I Shouldn’t Breed”. I’m one of the lucky young women that avoided a teenage eating disorder, but I’d be lying if I said I’d never looked at myself and wished I was a different shape. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I’d never looked down at myself in the shower and thought to myself that I really looked quite like a supermarket chicken from that angle.

And Shapely Prose helped with that. Not with the looking-like-a-chicken thing, that’s just something that is, and actually it’s quite entertaining. A bit like the way watching the shower water drip off your breasts is entertaining. But it definitely helped with the wishing-I-were-a-different-shape thing. I suspect most of us have done it at some point – gone clothes shopping and come home empty-handed, with the feeling that our bodies must just be wrong, because nothing fits. But as Kirsten’s dad recently pointed out, and as the good folk at Shapely Prose said often, that just means that the clothes were wrong.

And you know, it’s actually helped me in my work. As I’ve mentioned, I’m working for a lingerie company. That means I get a hell of a lot of questions about sizing, shaping and so on, and if I hadn’t had the resources of Shapely Prose behind me, I don’t think I would’ve given the kind of customer service that I have. I also don’t think I would’ve been happy with taking the extra large size myself – but we make those sizes for a reason, and that reason is, some people are that size. And one of those people is me. What I’m trying to say is that Shapely Prose was all about being body-confident, or at least working towards it, and my job is a lot easier if I can absolutely believe that my body is awesome. (Guess what? My body is awesome!)

It’s also helped me deal with members of the medical profession. Had Shapely Prose’s BMI project not existed, and had they not devoted the time to ripping apart the concept of a BMI scale, the “news” that I’m officially “overweight” might’ve scared me. As it is, I couldn’t care less. And I’ll eat what I damned well want to. Because of Shapely Prose, I can recognise my own weight range, and if there’s ever any problem, I’ll be able to draw on that knowledge.

And lastly, Shapely Prose was nice. That’s what I liked. I even filched bits of their comments policy when I was moderating a group blog a while back – you know, the bit that said: “If you’re really worried because you don’t have any specific guidelines for not getting banned, try this: be good-natured and delightful.” Then, of course, Kirsten press-ganged me into writing with her instead, on a blog that’s all about niceness. We need more niceness in the world, and especially on the internet.

So, thank you, Kate Harding, for founding Shapely Prose, and for keeping it going for so long. With my baby flavoured doughnut, I salute you!

(Cross-posted at A Second Thought.)

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