Weighing in, as I do, at 300 lbs, it is a rarity for me to not be the biggest person in the room. Unusual to not be looked at, gawked at, giggled at, as I try to squish my fat ass into a super tiny chair in a restaurant, movie theatre or subway.
Despite the negativity I encounter in the world, which began at an early age from family, school and the community, I don’t dislike my body. I love my body.
I love the way the tattooed goddess on my stomach jiggles when I get fucked. I like the way my tits act as pillows for my lover’s head, and the way my ass wiggles when I walk. I like the folds of fat that help keep me warm, the expanse of my thighs – so good for gripping my girl between them – and even the stretch marks that remind me from where I came.
It wasn’t always this way.
I experienced a transformative experience in 1995, shortly after I went on-line, when I joined an e-mail list called Fatdykes. Though at the time I was dating a fat femme and found her hot, I couldn’t understand, couldn’t get, how she could think I was in any way sexy.
A hot San Francisco butch named Max was on the list and went on at length about the curves and rolls of her girlfriend, and how they turned her on. She expounded upon the beauty of fat women in her life and how they made her wet. She flirted with me on-line.
And suddenly it all clicked. I – me, the fat kid, fat girl, fat woman, fat dyke – could be hot, sexy, desirable, wanted and craved. This concept revolutionalized the way I thought about my body and other fat women.
This month I attended a conference for fat dykes and trans folk organized by the National Organization Of Lesbians Of Size (NOLOSE), an anti-diet, fat activist group. Held in New Jersey, this was my second time at NOLOSE and the event was a chance to reaffirm my desires for hot sexy fat women.
This year I even went so far as to join in a burlesque performance: stripping and lap dancing to screams and applause from those in the audience. I made $11 for the subsidy fund.
More than 100 women and trans folk from across the US, an Aussie, a transplanted Canadian and me, gathered in early July to build community, create fat art, perform, talk, love, play and get naked in the pool.
Any thoughts of body hatred go flying out the window when you see 30, 40 or 50 fat dykes stripping off their swimsuits (many bought especially for the conference since they never bare that much at home) and running and laughing around the pool. At 200 lbs. 250 lbs. 400 lbs. More.
What hit it home for me was the play, Fat Fuck, performed at the conference, when Joe Samson’s character relates the following experience:
“Watching the doctor point to a chart that illustrated the direction I was moving in. I was already in the overweight zone and if I were to keep at this steady accelerated pace, well, I could easily ruin my life, obviously. I was stuck between the doctor and my mother, being compared to a thin black line on a graph. I wasn’t unhappy about my weight, over or under or whatever else he wanted to diagnose. But I was unhappy about that moment about feeling stuck there in his judgment.”
Samson is a transgender transplanted Canadian finishing his BA at San Francisco State University. He’s small-sized and weights 220.
“This part of the play is important to me,” he tells me afterwards, “because it illustrates how the obsession with weight and food is passed on through the generations and how it is culturally sanctioned. I was proud to be up there saying the words, ‘I wasn’t unhappy about my weight.’ Those are powerful words to say for anybody but especially for a fat person.”
Yet, not everyone at the conference is as accepting of himself or herself. A workshop on Big Belly Love has many of the participants in tears as they explain the problems, loathing and dislike they feel for their stomachs. With some solid reinforcement from those who do like their tummies, everyone goes away feeling a little better, cradling their bellies in their hands, and promising to try to remember to compliment their reflections in the mirror.
I drive back to Canada with my Aussie companion and we discuss the prejudices and discrimination we each face in our respective countries. We find that while we encounter all sorts of problems in our day-to-day lives fitting in, the overall hatred towards fat people seems less intense than in the US and in many ways we feel luckier than many who attended the event.
“As a transplanted Canadian I have had the dubious pleasure of being both a participant and observer of this American culture,” says Samson, “and I have discovered the dark side of American pop culture. I can tell you that in the media culture being fat is definitely at the top of the list of things not to be. The anger and disgust that is generated towards fat people in this culture has been part of the reason why fat activism is happening here at all.
“But when I think about it I think that the American fat activist response has to be louder somehow because they are fighting against a tide of disgust and vitriolic hatred and scientific doublespeak and they are trying to speak to a culture that seems from the outside to be obsessed with food/weight. It just seems so much saner in Canada.”
Perhaps it’s saner here, but certainly not hate free. For me though, my self-confidence is rebuilt, solidified and I’m ready to fight back against those who perpetuate size discrimination. And after eight years, I finally met my hero Max face to face and explained how she transformed me those many years ago. I think I made her cry.