I know! I know! I can't believe it's been an entire year since Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion was released either! It's been an amazing year unleashing the good word of #fatlife on the world, gurl!
It's been almost a year since I walked nervously, sequin-clad with my friend Kori (who helped me bring the requisite 12 bottles of freixenet) into the Booksmith for the book release party, and the action still hasn't managed to die down. Just last week we were reading from the pages of H&H at Beauty Bar by way of invitation from LitQuake (San Francisco's annual literary festival). I've read your letters and your reviews, seen the amazing H&H selfies you've posted on the tumblr and the facebooks and I've heard your cry for moremoremore!
So, we're going to give it to you.
Next week, starting November 6 keep your greedy little eyes glued to this here blog to get exclusive content and some juicy "one year later" stories from H&H's contributors (including a new foreword from me!).
Until then, like us on Facebook, order some copies for Christmas, send us happy birthday wishes and let us know how Hot & Heavy has impacted you!
Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion will be at LitCrawl!
This Saturday October 19 the babes of Hot & Heavy will be at Beauty Bar (2299 Mission Street) in SF's Mission district from 7:15-8:15pm. It's definitely public transit friendly, located 3 blocks from 16th Street BART, near the intersection of 19th and Mission.
Come here Margitte, Jessica, Tigress, Deah, Genne (maaaybe), and me!
More details here!
To me, fat liberation is understanding that is it not my fat body that has failed; it is the culture that has failed for oppressing this body. To me, fat liberation is knowing that my body is not wrong because it is fat; it is the culture that is wrong for discriminating against and stigmatizing my body.
To me, fat liberation is refusing to "fix" my body because nothing is wrong with it; what's wrong is a culture that encourages every single body to look exactly the same.
To me, fat liberation is seeing that fatphobia/body discrimination is not an individual issue that can be solved through compliance (e.g. dieting). It is a cultural problem that will only be solved through the radical re-envisioning of body diversity.
To me, fat liberation is refusing to obsess about losing weight in order to get love or dates (because all obsession does is give me heart burn; it doesn't give me a different body); losing weight will not heal a broken culture's obsession with subjugating women and commoditizing romance.
When I talk with people about why they have spent so much of their lives pursing weight loss, inevitably they tell me it's because they want to be loved, they want to be seen, they want to be treated with humanity. Everyone wants those things. Everyone deserves those things. I have never met someone who wants to lose weight because it's something they think is fun or interesting or inherently useful.
But we live in a culture in which things like love, happiness, power and success are highly connected to thinness.
The meaning of thinness and fatness are created within cultures. That meaning changes over time, and even right now there are varying cultural attitudes toward thinness and fatness all over the globe.
When I think of my life, there are so many things I wish I could change! I want to be taken seriously by potential partners - not just seen as someone who's fun to sleep with but not appropriate to date. I want to be taken seriously by potential employers - not seen as someone who will detract from the overall professionalism of the workspace. I want to have more access to clothes I love. I want to fit more comfortably in planes and on trains. I want to be treated respectfully by doctors. I want to go out without holding the worry that someone will comment on my body.
The culture tells me that if I comply with dieting I can have those things and if I comply with hiding and self-loathing then I can avoid some of the other things. But I know that's a BIG LIE! What's real is that my body isn't the problem here. And since it isn't the problem then why would I change it? Now the moments I used to spend on hating this body are moments I spend plotting the deeply rad and mega sexy overturn of this gnarly cultural institution.
What I'm saying is that the solution to a cultural problem like fatphobia isn't more fatphobia.
Food for thought: Teach a girl to comply and she'll be safe for a day. Teach a girl to deconstruct patriarchy and she'll be free forever.
I arrived in Philly on Thursday for the first ever Rebellious Nursing conference, dedicated to finding "inspiration, awareness, solidarity, and practical ways to impact health equity and health disparities among all living beings (from conference mission statement)."
I heard about the conference from my friend Asam over at It Gets Fatter. The conference founder, Sarah Lipkin, and I got together a few months ago over coffee and she told me about how truly heinous nursing education is around fat/phobia. She said the conference needed a workshop that addressed this. So, Brooklyn-based Geleni Fontaine (friend, acupuncturist, fat activist) and I developed "Fat Positive Possibilities for Rebellious Health Workers" over some phone calls and emails.
Honestly, despite having had fatphobic experiences with medical professionals myself, I must say I didn't know how bad things were until I started preparing for the conference.
I was really invested in sharing the results of the survey I conducted on fat patient medical care. See this Special Report for those results (trigger warning: this report includes narratives of fat shaming and medical neglect). Since I'm super nerdy, I was also interested in bringing an intersectional theoretical understanding of the issue of fatphobia to the conference goers.
Here are some of the slides from my presentation:
Many people think that fatphobia is just about fat stigma and may miss the ways that it intersects with and adds to other stigmas related to race, class and gender. "Stigma loading" is the phrase I use to describe the harmful cumulative effects of multiple stigmas interacting. The experience of stigma loading can be highly individualized.
Excitingly, the workshop was really well attended! Every seat was filled! Yay deconstructing fatphobia for large audiences!
Geleni and I offered a lot of answers and resources, among them:
And now gratuitous pictures from the trip:
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.