ilaeria

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The Power of Community

Published October 3, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Yesterday, I found myself having a moment where it was keenly identifiable to me why the Fatosphere is so awesome.  Now when I say the Fatosphere, I don’t just mean active bloggers and activists, but to me it generally encompasses Fat Acceptance/Activism/Liberation bloggers and campaigners, as well as the readers, cheer squads, sharers of articles and photographs, allies, followers on Twitter and Tumblr… basically, anyone who believes in and supports the rights of fat people to live their lives with respect, dignity and without discrimination or vilification.  So by that definition, you dear readers, are to me what encompass the Fatosphere.

So yeah, yesterday.  I went to the home of the lovely Jen, aka Ilaeria, for a Thermomix demo with my friend Kerri.  Kez and I were driving down and I just had this moment when the awesomeness of the Fatosphere hit home for me.

I met Jen through the Fatosphere.  I think she started following me on Twitter first, is where I first “found” her.  It’s hard to remember, it seems like ages ago but it isn’t really.  Jen says she was my fan-girl at first though!  We met in real life (so to speak, I don’t believe that the internet is any less real life than in person) one day when she came to Brisbane with some friends, and we had lunch then went to see the Valentino Retrospective exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art.   I was delighted to meet another Fatosphere friend in person, and knew that I’d encountered someone really amazing when back in January and Brisbane was suffering the devastation of the floods,  Jen and her husband Dave came up to Brisbane bring me some home baked goodies after I’d been without electricity for almost a week.  Since then I have come to consider Jen as a friend, not just a fellow fab fatty.

Here we are together, I got Kez to take a photo of us yesterday just for this blog post:

Jen’s so lovely, I’ll even forgive the jersey she’s wearing.

Since I found the Fatosphere, and have become conscious of just how many ways fat people (in general, where I once believed it was just me) are bullied, disrespected, ridiculed and vilified in our culture, I’ve also come to realise that our power is in our community.  Unlike many of the very people who feel it is acceptable to hate on someone simply for their body size (and/or appearance), we Fab Fatties have an incredible community to belong to, with so much talent, kindness, humour, wisdom, style, compassion, support, intelligence… the list goes on… right around us.  Just by opting out of the mainstream attitude about fatness, health and human worth.  The more we explore this alternative paradigm, the more fabulous, interesting, wonderful people we are exposed to.

Of course, one doesn’t necessarily connect with every single person one encounters in the Fatosphere – we’re all as individual and varied as anyone else, so there will always be people who disagree with, don’t connect with or simply dislike.  Don’t feel like a failure if you find that happening.  However you will find lots of other fab folk that you do connect with and it’s AWESOME when that happens.

I’ve found that no matter what is going on, at any time of day, there’s always someone to celebrate with, vent to, discuss things with, lend support when you need it, listen, cheer you on and inspire you.  When we need to gather our forces to take on some fat hate somewhere, there’s always a FA community on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, you name it to send out the #fatsignal to. (Don’t you love that hashtag?  David of Axis of Fat coined it the other day on Twitter – make sure you use it Tweeps).  But best of all, being around people who are working on their self esteem, and who are finding their confidence rubs off on you.  Want to feel awesome?  Spend time with other people who are unapologetic about their bodies and their size.  It’s like an intense self esteem treatement.  And the amazing thing is that you’re giving the same back without even realising it.

And if you can, get along to any fat positive events you can.  Keep your eye on social media, follow locals, Google for events… you won’t regret it.  I find fat positive events give me such a boost and there’s always someone new to meet as well as those you already know to catch up with.

We are so lucky to have such a strong community.  You’re all fabulous, for whatever reason you’re here, part of the Fatosphere, and I thank you.

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