Reflecting on the queerness of fat activism in Toronto

Jen took this picture of me trying to
look suitably authoritative
in my light-up epidemic tiara
I am on the road and struggling to find mental space to gather my thoughts at the moment, but I don't want this to pass without comment from me.

I just wanted to say that The Queerness of Fat Activism presentation and panel in Toronto this week was a really fantastic experience, I'm so proud to have been a part of it and feel very hopeful about it too. Here are five reasons why:

1. I don't know how many people came, I tried to count and estimate, maybe around 200? Anyway, we packed the ballroom at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. I'm sorry that people had to stand, but you know you're onto a good thing when people decide to stay and listen to what is basically a lecture despite not having a place to sit.

2. I have heard many people in Toronto say that there isn't much fat activism there. Yet this is a city that can pack out a ballroom to hear someone from out of town talk about fat. This proves that there is a constituency and an appetite for fat activism in the city. It means that if people want to do stuff around fat, other people will support it. This is very exciting.

3. I thought it was really great to speak and have a panel of diverse local fat activists talk about my work and make the space their own. They were: Onyii Udegbe, Gigi Basanta, Chelsey Lichtman, Michelle Allison, Nik Red, Jennifer DePoe, Alina Cubas and Tracy Tidgwell. I have become so irritable about activists who talk at communities that are not their own and start making demands without really understanding the local picture. Anyway, it felt like a really great dialogue and it gave me a lot of things to think about, especially Onyii's questions about what fat activism might look like for people who have experienced genocide. It made me hunger for more deep and thoughtful engagement with intersectionality.

4. It wasn't just the panel that made this a community event, there were many people supporting it, including an organising committee, volunteers, performers and party-makers, inter-departmental academics at Ryerson University, artists, and so on. It's really great when people in different worlds come together to make something. I love a good mixture of things. Many people at the event were very new to fat stuff, and others had much more experience, seeing them benefit from each other's presence was a total thrill.

5. I really love getting a giant cheer when I speak. I'm facing a big and scary personal transition at the moment, and need all the encouragement I can get. It will be a long time until I forget the sound of the fat activists of Toronto cheering me on. Thanks everyone.

By the way:

Why do the same headless fatties keep popping up?

Very briefly, I've noticed how the same headless fatties turn up again and again in fat panic news stories.

I see these two pictures all the time: golddigga and big-arse-small-chair. Today golddigga accompanied a story about The Food and Drug Administration's approval of a new diet drug, Belviq, in the US. I've seen that picture illustrate other obesity epidemicTM stories too.

I'm interested in what makes them so alluring to picture editors. My gut reaction is that big-arse-small-chair freaks the normals out because, faced with a big bum, all they can do is identify with the chair. Golddigga isn't particularly fat, in my opinion, but it’s the intersection of implied unrepentant chavviness and single motherdom that makes the use of the image so full of hate. I appreciate it's also about how pictures get sold and used in news media, for example there is probably a pool of images available to editors, and this is based on the deals that news providers have with picture agencies.

Thoughts? Share 'em!

Fattylympics latest

Here's the latest Fattylympics news, straight from the horse's mouth:

We have torches plural.

Isha will be representing, and so will The Fat Geography Massive.

Please come.


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