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Big Fat US Adventure

2011 April 10
by sizeoftheocean

So, I’m in the USA.  I’ve been here for 6 weeks now.  I meant to write about it sooner.  MUCH sooner.  I meant to write before I even left, but, as usual, study/planning/life/tv watching got in the way.  And then actual travel got in the way.  But it’s been amazing.  AMAZING.

I started in New York, where I met (and posed for) the incredible Substantia Jones of Adipositivity.  I went to the Breaking Boundaries: Body Politics and the Dynamics of Difference at Sarah Lawrence University, where I met the famous Marilyn Wann, the fabulous Zoe and Arun, and one of my all-time academic heroes, the fantastically brilliant Katie LeBesco, and too many others to mention.  I went to Re/Dress and found incredible vintage dresses (the amazing vintage Lane Bryant in this video).  I got to meet the ferocious Tauret, who is incredibly sweet and wonderful and took me shopping at Forever 21 (I have a whole other post I want to write about fat girl retail in the US).  I met Polianarchy and went to Rebel Cupcake and explored New York City and it was amazing.

I went to the University of Connecticuit in Storrs to look at the Mayer Collection of Fat Liberation in their archives.  It’s an incredible collection of letters and materials from the early fat liberation movement.  I also went to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard in Boston, where they have some more collections of early fat lib materials.  At both archives I met other researchers who were looking at the same collections – fat grad students are taking over the world!

I also got to meet my long-time blogging hero, Lesley Kinzel, and hang out with some other Boston Fats, who were some of the most generous and welcoming people in the world.  I went to Lafayette, Indianapolis and met Mychii, who is brilliant and driven and we had wonderful conversations about fat and fat studies and teaching and activism.

I went to Portland and got to meet Stacey Bias, who took me to a big fat queer cabaret.  I’m currently in San Francisco, where I’ve spent time looking through Judy Freespirit‘s papers at the GLBT Historical Society, and hanging out with Marilyn Wann.  I’m about to get ready to head over to Oakland to see the spectacular Ladymonster perform tonight, and tomorrow I’m off to Fatshion!…Turn to the left! before The Socialist arrives to spend my birthday week with me.

After that, I’m off to the PCA/ACA Conference, which has an awesome Fat Studies area.  I get to meet Abby Lentz who does amazing fat girl yoga. And I get to meet Hanne Blank, whose book Big Big Love changed my life (keep an eye out for the new edition, which I think is coming out later this year. I also highly recommend her erotic!). And finally, I head back to NYC for the Fat Girl Flea.

In short: This is truly the Fatty Dream Tour (TM).

I’m not writing this just to name-drop (although I am completely thrilled to have met so many amazing people!).

I’m writing this because I’ve always been scared of travelling as a fat person – of the physical inconveniences, yes, (and there have been some), but mostly the social isolation.  I didn’t do the youthful travel-as-right-of-passage for that reason (well, that and having no means to afford it).  I’ve always had the fear – the expectation – of social rejection, of not fitting in, because of my fatness (and it’s not an unfounded expectation; there’s a long history and plenty of evidence).  And while I’ve been friendly enough with my hostel roommates, I haven’t made any real connections that would be socially sustaining (which I’ve no doubt is partly a function of age and interest, as much as size and socialisation).

What has happened, though, is that I’ve found fat community on the other side of the world and felt  immediately welcome, understood, and connected.  I’ve had the audacity to ask people to spend time with me, and they have all, every single one of them, not only said yes, but gone out of their way to welcome and accomodate me.

What I find most remarkable is that this trip is happening – is motivated, enabled, and made so incredibly wonderful – not inspite of my being a fatty, but emphatically because of it.

To have grown up my whole life being bullied for my size, feeling isolated, unloveable, and unworthy because of my fat, to have never been able to fit in, it is truly remarkable to me that it’s the thing that has opened up whole new worlds of friendship, intellectual inquiry, love, and awesome adventure to me.  It’s especially remarkable given the efforts of an increasingly fat-phobic society to convince everyone that fat people can’t have love or joy or mobility or excitement.  This whole trip has been a big fuck you to that idea.

 

 

8 Responses leave one →
  1. HAEScoach permalink
    April 10, 2011

    Sounds like a fabulous trip, seeing amazing places and meeting amazing people. I think there is a great message for all of us. We let our fears stop us from doing things that truly do enrichen our lives. While I am not fat, I am overweight, and feeling like we don’t fit in can be soul destroying and something I can relate to. To be accepted and needed and valued is essential. So I am glad you got to go on this trip and more importantly find even more people that do love and accept you. THank for sharing

  2. Jenna permalink
    April 10, 2011

    That is wonderful! I live in Philadelphia should you care to swing by :) reading you makes me realize I need to get my ass to NYC and meet some people do some things!!! As far as I know there is not a significant FA BA presence here in my city. I’ve been wondering how I can reach out to like minded here… I’m not sure where to begin but you remind me that I need to.

    • sizeoftheocean
      April 12, 2011

      Philly is on my wish list, if only to hang out with Polianarchy again, but alas, there is no time :(

  3. April 12, 2011

    LOVED!! Meeting you at the Fatshion Swap with your lovely Aussie accent. The event was a blast and all the ladies were lovely. Not to mention yummy cupcakes and the bubbles. Have fun on the rest of your trip.

  4. April 12, 2011

    Oh! You have to come to my cafe before you go! It’s right by SFO! CarrotsCoffeeAndTea.com for the info. So glad you’re having a fabulous whirlwind of fat! Love it!

    • sizeoftheocean
      April 12, 2011

      Oh, excellent! Have added to my SFO googlemap and will do my darndest to drop by before we leave!

  5. May 10, 2011

    Sounds like a great trip – I’m truly inspired by your love of your research! Also jealous, but not in a mean/horrid way.

  6. July 25, 2011

    Dear Fatuosity,

    I recently came across your blog (gracias a voraciouseats.com) and I LOVED reading your last 10+ posts — the “dear fatshion retailers” one in particular was really entertaining/ informative — keep up the awesome work!! Also, glad to hear you had such a wonderful experience in the USA!!

    Best,
    Sam

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