I am so excited about the series of blog posts I am starting for you all tonight. I was talking to a friend recently about the amazing women that inspire me to do what I do and I had this moment where I just wanted to share them with you all. Then I realised… what’s to stop me doing just that? I put together a mini interview, sent it out to just a few of the inspiring women I’ve been lucky enough to encounter, and delightfully, every one of them has responded that they’d love to be featured here on Fat Heffalump. I intend to send the request out further and further afield as time goes on, so that I can share more and more of the inspirational women that I’ve been lucky enough to find.
So without any further ado, let us begin with our first installment in my new “Inspirational Women” series.
By way of introduction, Bri King of Fat Lot of Good was the first Australian fat activist I ever encountered. I forget who introduced me to her blog, back in my early forays into the Fatosphere, but someone linked to one of her pieces, and I remember reading through all her back posts in a couple of days, just eating up her words. I was blessed to be able to meet Bri last year at the inaugural Australian Fat Studies Conference in Sydney and she is one of the loveliest people I have ever met. I deeply admire her fire and passion, her ability to articulate complicated subjects, and her kindness.
1. Was there a defining moment for you as a person that made you decide that fat activism was for you? What was it?
I can’t recall there being a defining moment, which is kind of disappointing in way! There was no pivotal moment as such, it was more of a process. I was already into goth and rockabilly fashion and I had searched for communities on Livejournal.com that were about those topics but that focused on BBW. I found the Fatshionista LJ community. I hung out there for a while and that was where I read something that Marianne Kirby (The Rotund) wrote and I went to her blog to read more. That was where I discovered the Notes from the Fatosphere feed. After a short time I realised I had something to say about living fat and so I started my blog, Fat Lot Of Good in mid 2007. It was at that point that I began to refer to myself as a fat activist.
2. What projects or achievements are you most proud of in your fat activism?
There are three things I am most proud of. I was interviewed for an article that appeared in The Age newspaper and this led to being contacted by Today/Tonight, a daily ‘current affairs’ show that screens on Channel 7 in Australia. T/T is known for sensationalist journalism and while I was wary about appearing on the show I felt that if my appearance let one person know about Fat Acceptance who didn’t previously know about it, then it was worth any flack I might cop in the process. The interview went well and I was happy with the final outcome. The other two achievements are making my first presentation at an academic conference (being the Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference held at Macquarie University in Sydney in Sept ’10) and also my ‘coming out’ as a ‘failed’ WLS patient. I was really worried about how the FA community might react to the knowledge that I had WLS some years ago but I was pleasantly surprised by the support I received when I wrote about my experience on my blog.
3. Is there a song that defines you or that you particularly identify with? Will you share it with us?
Oh wow… that’s a hard one. I think Alannis Morrisette’s ‘You Oughta Know’ and Meredith Brooks ‘Bitch’ sum me up pretty well. ‘You Oughta Know’ because I am a firm believe in sharing knowledge, experience and emotions. Morrisette is singing about being betrayed by a guy. While I relate to that I also feel the song can be about betrayal in general and I feel that fat people are generally betrayed by society. There is a certain anger contained in that song and that’s ok. It is ok to be angry. Sometimes we need to be angry. It is how we deal with that anger that matters. As for ‘Bitch’, well it is a song about the contradictions we are as individuals. All the facets we each have to our character. I am a lot of things, a fat activities, a writer, a student, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a pagan, a feminist, a photographer and much more. This song reflects all that.
4. Many fat activists refer to having a “coming out as fat” moment in their lives, where they take their fab fat life to the people in their lives (friends, family, colleagues etc). Did you have one of these? How did it happen for you?
I think my appearance on national TV pretty much did that! Interestingly enough I received very little negative feedback (virtually none actually) and metric tons of encouragement and support. I still, three years later, have people mention that interview to me and tell me they thought it was very cool.
5. If you could have someone make you the ultimate outfit for your body, what would it be? Tell us that dream outfit/garment you’d love to see in plus-sizes.
I love goth and rockabilly stylings. I was actually lucky enough to have my dream outfit made for me for my hand fasting (wedding). The outfit was made up of a full ball gown skirt with petticoats and bustle, a corset and a bell sleeved bolero jacket. It was all red satin, black organza and black lace with beaded detail and was just stunning. I felt so beautiful that day. In general I would love to see more goth and rockabilly/pin up styles in plus sizes. There are a few places that go up to an XL or 2XL but they tend to run small and not go any bigger than that. I certainly wish they did!
6. Who has been your biggest “real life” support in your activism?
My husband J has been a huge support to me. He has always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and do things (like the TV interview!) that I might not have done otherwise. He also constantly links me to things he finds online that he thinks I might want to blog about. He is a fat guy himself so he gets where I am coming from with my activism.
7. Who has inspired you in your activism?
So many people… Marianne Kirby has taught me so much via her blog The Rotund. Not just about Fat Acceptance but about so many things. Regan Chastain is someone else who really inspires me. She writes some amazing stuff. And you too, Kath. You have no idea how inspiring I find your writing. You always have your finger on the pulse and seem to know exactly what to say about issues at exactly the right time. (Thank you Bri!) Other people that inspire me are my friends who I have been able to clue into the ideas of Fat Acceptance and HAES. Seeing how far they have come in their body acceptance journeys really inspires me to keep doing what I do.
8. Do you have any tattoos?
Oooh ink! One of my favourite topics! lol
I have 7 tattoos. I have a butterfly on the left of my chest; a rose on the right of my chest; a Latin phrase ‘Amor Fati’ (love your fate) on my inner left arm; a symbol that incorporates my first initial and my husband’s first initial on my outer left wrist; a symbol incorporating my two kids first initials on my outer right wrist; a pentagram in a wreath of flowers on the small of my back and then my back piece, a heart shaped locket with two roses. (have attached a pic of that one) I am planning on more ink in the near future, something on my outer upper arm this time.
I have a bit of a motto that I live by, that weight based self loathing causes more problems for people and society than fat in itself ever has or ever will. I really believe that. I know from personal and professional experience (as a social worker and counsellor) just how much damage self hatred at cause individuals and the wider community, it is toxic and it is something we need to move beyond. Hopefully I can contribute to that effort in some small way.