"I am a fat girl. I'm also a hot girl, a clever girl, a sweet girl, an evil girl, and many other things." Thus begins Kitty Stryker's chapter, "Fat Sex Works," in Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion. In fact, Kitty and I will be reading from Hot & Heavy at TONIGHT's very special and very sexy event at Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk Street from 6:30-7:30pm. Kitty is a sex worker rights activist, writer and social media guru. I asked Kitty to share some of her wisdom and experience with the blogosphere.
Have activism and writing always gone together for you?
Absolutely. I think my first experience with this was when we had to write an essay for D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) on how we would tackle marijuana as a drug issue and I wrote a five page tirade on how I felt we needed to shift the focus away from a few people smoking it and onto the various ways we could use the fibers to replace cotton and paper as a more sustainable option. I ended up winning the contest, which made me realize that a well-written essay had the power to shift the discussion from black and white into the complicated intersections between, which is where many things exist. As I've grown older, I've learned that the world between the binary is valuable, but to also honor the voices that are on either extreme as valid, too- it's a struggle to embrace these intersections within my writing, and one I do sloppily a lot, but it's a challenge I continually strive towards.
What role does fatness play in your work/your life/your relationships?
I'm aware of it every day. Most days, I embrace it, I strut with it, I work it. On those days, my confidence bubbles over, I want to hug everyone, I kiss my lover naked with the covers off and want to lounge around all day without ever dressing, just basking in my body. But some days, my fishnet crotch rips, or I can't get any clothes at the store that fit right, or my breasts keep popping out of my bra in an awkward fashion, and I resent it, I resent living in a culture where my fat is considered a sign of my sloppiness, a sign of sin. Those days my lover has to hold my hand a little more, I throw myself into my work a little harder to prove my worth, I dress a little more high femme as if to prove to the universe I *can* be fat and femme and fucking sexy and they can all go to hell if they don't agree. It's a constant struggle to maintain high self esteem when everything around you tries to tell you that your fat is something wrong with you. It's something I don't necessarily notice day to day, but if I stop and consider it, it affects me and how I move through the world with every step I take.
Favorite parts of your work?
Currently my work is primarily social media marketing with some sex work. I think what's really rewarding for me is that I've been able to be defiant and unapologetic about my sex worker history in my tech job while also be really good at what I do- it's not relevant, and I shouldn't be gawked at nor reviled for it, and it's rewarding not to be. I've been able to move out of sex work almost entirely unless I want to dip back into it for fun, and into a job I'm both successful at and really enjoy using the skills I picked up by marketing myself as a sex worker. That's kind of awesome. I'm very aware, though, that I have a lot of privilege that helps with that- no arrest record, being white, a middle class family, being cisgendered. These things protect me a lot from judgment, and while I'm out and proud, I try to make sure that I also quantify that with the fact that I *can afford to be*.
What words of wisdom do you have for young fat queer writers?
The best thing I ever found for myself, personally, was to channel my rage and despair into writing political pieces through blogging and articles. Through that, I found an outlet, I found community, and I found a purpose. Eventually, I even found paying jobs, so- people will say your anger is something to calm down, but use it as fuel and set some fires. Be a phoenix.
Find out more about Kitty at her website www.KittyStryker.com and come out to Good Vibrations at 1620 Polk Street tonight from 6:30-7:30 to bask in some of Kitty's brilliance in person.
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.