Queering Fat Embodiment

Published July 6, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

As part of the launch of the new anthology “Queering Fat Embodiment” edited by Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes and Samantha Murray, a social media book tour is travelling around the fatosphere and other key online spaces.  I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in the tour myself.

I was honoured to discover that I had been mentioned in the anthology, so Cat sent me an excerpt to share with you all here…


The Activist

Kath Read is an Australian fat activist who has a large presence in the Fat-o-sphere. Found on her blog The Fat Heffalump (and related Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter platforms), Kath writes about her own experiences as a fat woman living in a less than friendly environment (Read 2013a). The tagline for The Fat Heffalump is ‘Living with Fattitude’, and Kath invites others to be observers to her doing just that.

Kath writes about her fat identity, her fat embodiment, her fat fashion, and her fat life. She shares stories of triumph, and stories of harassment. She posts pictures of herself in her outfit of the day (otherwise known in cyberspace as OOTD), and often addresses the fat hate and fat shame she observes in the mainstream media, news, and her everyday life.

Occasionally Kath will write a piece like ‘You’re not the first person to tell a fat person’, in which she addresses common myths about fatness, and provides answers to some comments that she frequently receives when she has an influx of new readers (Read 2013b). In these posts, Kath is providing the opportunity for those who are reading to educate themselves a bit more about the assumptions they hold and beliefs they forget to unpack. She assumes the role of a teacher, answering the questions of her students in thoughtful and reflective ways.

Kath also speaks to her frustration about having to always educate the ignorant; it isn’t her job, she tells the readers, to highlight their bigotry, suggest they do their homework, or point out when they are being oppressive.

Simply through living her life online, Kath Read queers what it is to be fat. Her lack of shame, her love of fashion, and her brightly coloured hair, all contradict what fatness is supposed to be. She may invite others to join her, but it is the testimony of her life she is sharing with the web. She refuses to live her life according to other people’s standards, and she has long since forgotten that she is supposed to wait to live her dreams until she’s achieved the state of thinness.

Used by permission of the Publishers from ‘Causing a commotion: Queering fat in cyberspace’, in Queering Fat Embodiment eds. Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes and Samantha Murray (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), pp. 79-80.  Copyright © 2014


7 comments on “Queering Fat Embodiment

  • Congratulations! Well deserved recognition for the time and effort you’ve invested in fat activism. Queering Fat Embodiment looks like a fascinating read, I hope my local library system gets a copy of it soon (or that I stumble across buried treasure so I can justify dropping $100 on a book… oh, Academia…).

  • Just a note – while yes, books ARE expensive in Australia, this is an academic textbook, not a standard non-fiction title, so it is not a reflection of standard book prices anywhere.

    The reality is that academic text books are ridiculously expensive everywhere.

  • *Waah Waah you were mean to me once and now I’m going to leave a huge long screed about how horrible you are and how you only want people to agree with you. I don’t like you but I still sniff around here because I am actually very envious of you. You’re going to destroy fat acceptance with your horribleness, you awful mean, rude fatty.*

    • Ahh Elizabeth. This is where you learn that I am not nice and never claim to be.

      I do like that you think I’m so powerful that I’m ruining fat acceptance though. It’s so hard to keep that power from going to my head.

      If you don’t like it, leave. I think it’s very telling that you’re still here though you purport to find me so horrible. Your knickers are showing love.

  • Hey.
    I was searching on google images of turquoise/blue hair, and I found your post (made in 2012) and you wrote about your experience with that hair color. I just wanted to comment there, but I can’t, so I’ll comment here, I hope you don’t mind.
    (Unfortunately) at least 90% of the people will always judge others, with no reason or rights. They judge the differences, but they forget we are all different, and nobody is perfect, because perfection is just an illusion. I’ve been judged in the past and I still am right now. Few years ago I wasn’t skinny enough, or pretty enough, or good enough. (and more words that I refuse to remember) That was what I heard on school for years. I was just a little girl trying to understand why people was being so bad with me.I lost some weight |(hurting myself), and I was too skinny for other people. “You’re very shy” – “you need to smile more” even if I was completely happy inside. Recently I dyed my hair pink and everyone on the street looked at me, some people even laughed. Just because I had a different hair color. Same thing happened with the blue. And know I’m scared to get out with a rainbow hair. All the bad words that I heard definitely changed me.

    So, what I’m trying to say is that some people just can’t understand we are all different, and we have to be ourselves. The world is full of people trying to make part of a group, trying to hide what they really are. But doesn’t matter what other people say. We have to focus on the good things in our life.

    You’re awesome. I think you’re beautiful and you have a beautiful soul. And a beautiful hair too. (and I’m not saying this just for saying, I writing this for a few minutes. I hope you can understand everything I wrote, I’m not too good with english).

    Hope you have a beautiful day. Keep doing what you love.

    Bye ♥

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