Ashley Young is a contributing author to the fat positive anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion.
Being a contributor for Hot & Heavy made me embrace the word "fat" with pride. Not only have I learned to embrace the term in my everyday life, but I also embraced it as a writer.
Around the time of publication, I was embarking on a full time career as an author and an editor. I never imagined the first piece I would have anthologized would be on the topic of fat positivity. I had been writing a lot about my childhood struggles and coming to terms with my sexuality through queer love, but it wasn’t until I started my piece for Hot & Heavy that I fully began to understand how my plus-sized body has played a crucial role in my own self-discovery as a brown skinned woman.
Publishing with H&H also reinforced appreciating my body in the nude. In February of 2011, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, my partner and I had the opportunity to shoot with photographer Substantia Jones. When Substansia gave us the option of posing nude, we went for it. My partner, Sara Vibes, a sex educator and leather woman, has always encouraged my body with the presence of her own. She herself holds many stories of fat girl triumphs and blues so for the two of us, it was a lovely chance to capture our body dynamics on camera. Our photos not only appear on two months of Substansia’s Adiposivity 2014 calender, one of them was also published in this month’s nude issue of Diva Magazine.
My growing acceptance of my fat body has also appeared in some of my other writing projects. After publication in Hot & Heavy, with the support of my partner, I quit a job that I hated and started working full time on my first novel, “The Liberation of the Black Unicorn.” This project has become a wonderful healing tool for me. I am using Audre Lorde’s form of biomythography as well as her poem “The Black Unicorn” to write out my journey to Black Queer Womanhood. I discovered that much of body liberation came from disregarding the myth that my fat body cannot be desired and surrounding myself with people who fully embrace me. The people I surround myself with who re-affirm my body love are my queer, polyamorous, kink and leather family and friends, many of whom appeared as fictionalized characters in my novel.
If you’d like to read more about the process of my novel, check out Elixher.com for my piece on biomythography at http://elixher.com/a-liberation-story-redefining-myself-through-biomythography/
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.