role models

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Be Your Own Expert

Published June 1, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

You know what really shits me?

Every time I see an “opinion” piece on “obesity”, weight discrimination and stigma, weight and health or any other subject relating to fatness, it is almost always authored by someone who is not fat.  And more alarmingly, quite often authored by someone who has no expertise or experience in the fields of fat, health or stigma/discrimination.

Many of you will remember the piece written by Phil the Marketing Dude on The Hoopla a few months ago – an article published on a mainstream online magazine giving an opinion on weight and fat stigma by someone who works in marketing.  Someone who has no connection to fat studies or health studies or medicine and isn’t even fat himself, published as though he has the right to broadcast his opinion on a subject that he has absolutely no connection to.

I saw another one this week in The Conversation – another online journal, this one touting themselves as having “Academic rigour, journalistic flair” by a lecturer in politics of all things (no, I’m not going to link it, it’s the biggest pile of steaming crap I’ve ever read – plus it’s accompanied by a hateful photograph, ) giving his opinion about discrimination against fat people.  Of course, he starts by saying that he doesn’t believe that fat people should be stigmatised, and then goes on to do just that and to encourage other people to do it as well.

Over and over again, people who have absolutely no connection to weight or health get to spew their opinions in highly public forums, without regard to how their words affect the real lives of fat people.  It seems the only thing that makes one an authority on fatness in many publications is to be not-fat, and be vocal about it.  Or sometimes they will publish someone who was “successful” in weight loss, without examining just how long that “success” has been achieved (usually less than 2 years) or how that person’s life/resources or body may be at an advantage to those of long term fat people.

Even if it’s a positive bent to fatness – many publications will publish the opinions of thin people far before they will actually talk to fat people about their experiences, their history and their realities.  Not-fat authors are also more likely to be given a sympathetic/empathetic ear over those of us who are actually fat.  More often than not, fat people who speak up about stigmatisation and discrimination are accused of being angry, aggressive or too demanding.  As though if we just were “nice enough” we’d deserve to be treated like human beings.

This is why when mainstream media approach me for my input, I jump at the chance, even though I know the piece won’t be perfectly fat-positive, and is likely to contain the opinions of aforementioned “experts”.  Because so rarely do actual fat people, who live in fat bodies and face the realities of being fat in a society that openly loathes fatness actually get to be seen or heard.   Not to mention that when we are seen, we are portrayed as sad, lonely, depressed, dirty, lazy, gluttonous, smelly etc – almost always objects of ridicule.  For someone to open a magazine and click on a link and see a fat person who is happy and confident, and who is articulating the realities that fat people experience – it is a radical discovery.  I remember that it wasn’t too many years ago that I myself was completely blown away by a photograph of Kelli Jean Drinkwater being fat, powerful and confident.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was discovering writers like Lesley Kinzel, Bri King, Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby.

I think we need to call out publications that use people who have no connection or expertise to fatness for opinion pieces on fat.  We need to contact their editors, leave comments and ask questions as to why they’re publishing pieces by people who have no qualification to speak on the subject.  We need to keep telling our own stories and sharing our own experiences.  It’s bloody hard work – as well as having to find the time to do it, one has to have the sanity points to deal with those who think they know your body, your life better than you do, and those who believe that simply by measure of your body, they have the right to treat you as less than human.

That said, I don’t believe it has to be as political or even as wordy as the method I choose, which I think a lot of people assume that fat activism must be.  Being a fat person who lives their lives to the full is a radical, radical act in a culture that so openly loathes us.  Being a visible fat person – be it through fat fashion, art, prose and poetry, hobbies and sport, or generally just getting out there and enjoying life – your job, your family, your friends, etc.  If you can be a proud fat person living your life and sharing it online or anywhere else, without ever mentioning the more political side of fat activism.  When someone who has long believed that they are worthless because they have a fat body sees a picture of a fab fatty in a cute outfit, or a proud fatty talking about the job she loves, or her family, or a fatty having fun at the pool, in a dance class, at the park with her kids… their world is opened up to a whole new possibility.  It shows a completely different paradigm to the mainstream presentation of life as a fat person.

You are the expert on your life.  WE are the experts on life as fat people.

So get out there I say.  Live your life.  Have fun.  Love those in your life who are special to you.  Dress in ways that make you feel good.  Document your life – blog about your passions/share your photos/make videos/be artistic.

But most of all, in whatever way you can, tell your story.  YOU tell it – don’t let a fat loathing society tell it for you.

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More Barrel than Apple

Published February 5, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

So I’m being plagued by the black dog.  To be honest, I think it’s the heat, I never cope well with hot weather.  I’m happiest when I’m sitting steaming in two feet of snow.  Yeah I know, I’m on the wrong side of the planet.

One of my strategies when it comes to dealing with bouts of depression is to immerse myself in the Fatosphere, reading and viewing as many positive posts and images about fat people that I can.  It is just something that I know works to lift me out of that dark place, and get me back on to the road to my regular moods and ways of thinking.

I have been watching Fatshion February unfold on Tumblr, and the topic of representation of “death fatties” came up.  Now for any of you who are unaware, “death fatties” is a term coined for those of us who are classified as “morbidly obese” on the BMI scale, which is an arbitrary measurement of someone’s height to weight ratio, but is used by the medical field (and insurance industry)  to classify the fatness, and therefore health-by-their-measurement.  In reality, BMI does not at all give an accurate representation of someone’s health, only their height to weight ratio.

There was a mention of the scarcity of deathfatz posting Fatshion February photographs, and then a whole big discussion of whether or not “fat is fat” fired up, whether there should be any blogs or spaces that are dedicated just to deathfatz (there are) and whether this is excluding “smaller fats”.  I won’t get into that whole topic, and besides, Marianne Kirby has said it all beautifully on her Tumblr repeatedly, so it’s no use me rehashing it here.

But what I have got thinking about, is why I haven’t submitted any Fatshion February photographs.  What I’m struggling with is the fact that not only am I considerably bigger than most of the posters (it’s true, the deathfatz are under-represented), but regardless of the size of the posters, I see a whole lot of traditionally “beautiful” shaped women there.  All those hourglass figures, with breasts and hips that are bigger than their bellies.  Which in no way represents me.

There is a whole lot of celebration of “curvy” women.  Well I’m simply not curvy.  I am more… lumpy.  I do have big breasts, but my belly is clearly the largest part of my body.  I get it from my Grandma, she’s the same shape.  I look like I am heavily pregnant with triplets.  According to most plus-size fashion retailers, I don’t exist.  They’re all about the curves.  When they do actually use plus-size models, they’re flat bellied ones with small waists.  They’re women whose bodies stay the same shape when they sit down.  When I sit down, my belly shifts and becomes even bigger, resting on my lap.  Some plus size fashion even cut off before my size, despite my size being the usual top size of plus-size fashion.  City Chic?  Asos Curve?  I’m looking at you two in particular.  Not to mention all of the other lesser known brands that top out at Size 20, or 22.

Then there’s all this talk of apples, pears and hourglasses.  What about those women like me, who are shaped more like barrels?

Where are the true diversity of body types?

It becomes a spiral.  We don’t see bodies like ours represented anywhere, so we become too ashamed to share our own pictures.  Therefore, there are no bodies like ours being posted.

Just because my body shape isn’t considered “beautiful” or “fashionable”, doesn’t mean I don’t want to dress fashionably and enjoy dressing and styling myself.  Nor do I want to spend time finding things that “flatter” me and give an illusion of the shapes that are considered beautiful/fashionable.  My body is shaped like a barrel, and no amount of styling is going to change that.  I want to dress and adorn my body as it is, not disguise it as something else.

I’m thankful that there are those who put themselves out there.  I’m thankful that there are deathfatz like me who post their pictures and talk about their experiences.  Those of you who are at the top or beyond a standard plus-size range for your region.  Those of you who have big bellies, or any other body shape that doesn’t fit the predominant “curvy”.  Those of you who are extremely limited as to where you can get clothes to fit your bodies.  There aren’t many of you, but to those that are out there,  I admire you so much, and you make a difference to how I see myself, and what I am able to do with the limited fashion choices available to me.

Mini Review: Fat! So? by Marilyn Wann

Published January 24, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

So on my “un-post” the other day when I was feeling quite uninspired, I asked you what kind of subjects and posts you’d like to see.  I got some good suggestions (and if you have some more, please feel free to leave them) and I’ll start to have a go at some of them soon.

I thought that since Paponda suggested Marilyn Wann’s “Fat!  So?” to a new visitor to my blog, and I’ve not long finished reading it, I might give a bit of a mini review so that those of you who have yet to read it might feel inspired to do so.

I actually had a bit of trouble getting a copy of the book, because it’s a few years old now and my library service deemed it too old to add to the collection, and I couldn’t find it locally.  So I turned to The Book Depository and ordered a copy from there.

It’s taken me longer than it would normally take to read a book, mostly because life has been so chock full over the past few months, but I managed to finish it a few days ago and closed the book very happy that I’d read it.  I love the friendly, matter-of-fact tone, the anecdotes from fatties of all kinds, the little illustrations peppered throughout the book (I’ve picked one that I’d like to get tattooed on me one day in the future), and the poetry that pops up from time to time.

There is a lot of practical advice, from how to deal with medical professionals, family and strangers on the street, to how to find clothes and to rock them with confidence, how to face the dating world as a flabulous fatty, and how to negotiate your way through situations that generally just crop up for we fats that non-fats don’t really have to deal with.

One of my favourite things about the book is that at the bottom of each page there is a little tidbit of advice for the reader on a whole myriad of subjects relating to fat.  Plus in the top, right hand corner, there is one of those little flick cartoons of a very cute fat lady (the same as on the cover) dancing.

Plus the whole book is served up with a delicious sense of humour and fun, that makes it a breeze to read.

Fat! So?

Documentary: fat body (in)visible

Published December 14, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok my lovelies, I have something REALLY special for you.

Margitte of Riots Not Diets over on Tumblr has made this amazing documentary called fat body (in)visible, which is the most amazing piece of fat activism.

Featuring Jessica of Tangled Up In Lace (blog here, tumblr here) and Keena of Buttahlove (tumblr here), the film documents their fat activism, fatshion, and stories of both visibility and invisibility as fat women.

Do not miss this film.  I’m both deeply moved and absolutely delighted by the piece, and it’s a wonderful thing to see fat women putting their voice out there, as we’re always judged on our appearance and rarely given the opportunity to speak for ourselves.

So without further ado, here is fat body (in)visible:

Special Guest Post: Kerri aka Katagal

Published October 12, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well I have a very special guest post tonight, from a dear friend of mine, Kerri, who you will find over at Katagal Kapers.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about intersectionality, and how body policing extends across size, shape, colour and physical ability.  I’ve been talking to various friends of mine who identify as being bodily “different” to the imposed cultural norm in some way or another and wondering how their experiences of self esteem, confidence and the attitudes of others compare to mine, as a fat woman.

I decided that I would love for Kerri to share her story around confidence and self esteem first as a guest blogger here on Fat Heffalump, because in the years I’ve known Kerri (about 10 I think), I’ve seen her bloom and blossom from someone who was barely heard from in most situations to a confident, outgoing, strong woman.  I think in some ways our respective growth in confidence is what has brought us together as friends – we are close in age and have been colleagues for over a decade, but have grown to become good friends over the past few years.  I’m not sure that it’s a coincidence that we’ve also both grown more confident and stronger of self esteem at the same time our friendship has grown.

Kerri is a dear friend, valued colleague, cycling buddy (she wishes she had a bike as beautiful as mine), conversation partner, confidant, constant support and a bloody good cook that I am honoured to have in my life.  She is a true inflater in life – she always leaves you with your spine just that little bit longer, your head held just that notch higher.

Kerri has given me permission to share that she is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids (the most awesome little bitty items of technology my geeky self has seen that ISN’T made by Apple) in both ears.

When I originally asked her to post I had this in mind, and so I’ve also asked her a couple of “interview” questions to go with her post, since I think they not only give an insight into her feelings about her confidence and how others treat her, as well as leading into her story about confidence and self esteem, but also show Kerri’s phenomenally positive, optimistic personality, which is one of the things I love most about her.  She also challenges people’s perceptions and attitudes, which is to me, such a radical act of activism that she lives every day.  What a woman!

So let’s start with the mini-interview:

FH: Do you think your hearing impairment was ever behind your shyness or lack of confidence?

KB:  It probably contributed a little because I could never be sure that I was hearing conversations or general chat correctly so I didn’t participate for fear of looking silly – I still did on innumerable occasions within family gatherings or close friends but that never really mattered but looking daft in front of strangers did up until I started to do storytime and now I don’t care.

FH: Do you think you’ve ever faced any discrimination because of your hearing impairment?

KB: I don’t believe I have ever been discriminated against because of my hearing, well I can’t recall a situation there may have been but I don’t hold onto stuff and usually forget it ever happened if it has.  I rarely ever tick the box saying I am a “woman” or “hearing impaired” or anything of those exception boxes for conferences or anything like that.  I’ve never expected my work to pony up special equipment for me ie phones, although with the VOIP rollout I did ask Helen (a colleague) if they were going to have bluetooth capability and she then went to marvellous lengths for me to see if we could maximise the bluetooth component of my new aids but it wasn’t to be, but we sure gave it a good crack.

And now, without any further ado, Kerri shares her story on her own self esteem/confidence journey.

Curlicue

Well I think I’ve made it in the world of blogging for I have been asked to guest post in a dear friend’s blog around the issues of confidence, self esteem and body image.  Three things I was very late in life in obtaining but once I got them, my life changed radically for the better.

I never had any issues with my body per se.  I was raised in a standard nuclear family with a mum who was always dieting and eating low fat foods but I don’t remember absorbing that issue, its only recently that I have been reflecting on this that I realised that Mum was always on a diet of some kind when I was small.  I was an average kid and skinny pre-teen largely due to surgery I had that prevented me from eating for about ten days and I dropped kilo’s inadvertently, that only reappeared when puberty hit.

My Dad was always praising my body as strong and tough and it was, one classic moment was when Dad said “Jeez love you’re built like a brick shit house” and he meant it with love referring to how strong and sturdy my body was from wrestling obstreperous calves and horses and other large animals.  I have to admit when I was about 15 that statement gave me a few pangs of worry but commonsense eventually prevailed and I realised he meant it with love and pride that he had a strong daughter.

I don’t remember hating my body at any point or even parts of it.  I remember wishing that some parts would be bigger i.e.  My boobs and longer i.e. my legs occasionally but overall it was my body, this is what I was born with and therefore I live with it.  I have always been pragmatic about my body and will happily wander around naked in a safe environment (alone in my own home for now).  I have no issue being naked in front of a lover who commented about how relaxed I was standing and wandering around naked, but the body to me is a shell and not the true value of a person.  To me trusting someone enough to feel safe enough to have sex with them is the big one, so being naked is nothing by then.

However with issues of developing self confidence and self esteem, they came along with a lot of hard work on me.  I am reasonably reserved and more a wall flower than most people would realise when faced with unknown situations but I have pushed myself hard to get past that and had many internal debates between my shy self and my common sense self.

The huge turning point in my life came when I was 27 still living with my grandmother and I had NO social life, and I do mean NONE.  I was sitting home alone (my grandmother was 72 and had a male companion and was out) watching a program about dancing, it featured a company called Le Step and the director Mick French was being interviewed, he said 3 things – singles were welcome, two left feet were fine, and little to no co-ordination was required.

I was sold, I phoned up and found the next class and I went to the very next class.  I was shaking with nerves and sick with fear but something inside me just said this is it; this will make your life explode.  I made myself go to every class I could and it was about six weeks before I stopped feeling nauseous with fear and anxiety.  I would put my professional library mask on so that I could be civil and able to speak with people.  I went 3 times a week for about six years and it gave me great legs and excellent stamina.  I have made some awesome friends from it and have very fond memories of weekends away in “mixed” company and developed the confidence to talk to men and dance with them sometimes in a very close and personal way but I developed trust in them to do the right thing as Mick kept a tight rein on his dance school and men were expected to behave civilly or he would boot them out in a no nonsense way.

My instinct is something I trust in implicitly, when it tells me that yes this is right and to go for it I do because it has never failed me.  I have often done things way out of my comfort zone because the instinct has said ‘do it please, you won’t regret it”.

After dancing for about six years, I was starting to feel bored with it and was looking for a new challenge.  I live about a 3 minute walk from a Martial Arts Dojo.  I’ve always loved the philosophy of Martial Arts.  My Dad did Tae Kwon Do for years and enjoyed it immensely and other people I know did it at school and of course the original Karate Kid movie had me sold on the idea from the outset.  However, I’ve always been uncoordinated and clumsy, so I thought martial arts weren’t for me.  But after living so close to the dojo and checking it out as I walked my dog, I yearned to learn Karate, but thought it also to be too macho as well.  But talking with my friend Dawn who is a black belt from years past, she advised to check out the age range and if there were lots of kids, women and older folk then it was a good family dojo and to give them a go, so I did and I haven’t looked back.

I have been training for 3 years now and am at purple belt grade, the next grade will be brown and then the big one – Black Belt!

Karate has had a massive impact on my life, when I first started we had to complete these written modules as part of our early grading.  One of the modules dealt with fear, what do you fear and why?  So I had to really think about it, at the time, work was requiring all staff to undertake storytelling and I would have rather crawled naked over broken glass then read to a bunch of ankle biters.  So this was on my mind, the module required me to reflect on why I feared this thing and really gets to the guts of it.  Once I really thought about it and progressed my way through the module, I realised that I had no grounds in that fear and stunned the bejesus out of my colleagues and my boss by volunteering to do story time and I rocked it!

Since then the development of my self confidence has seen me progress steadily in my career, I was stagnating because I was scared about pushing myself out of my rut as a Band 3.  Karate made me look at that, I am now a Band 5 for the moment and have even acted as Band 7 successfully.  I have had the courage to allow a couple of men into my life personally and had short term relationships, they weren’t terribly successful but I have at least had the courage to give it a whirl and work out more clearly in my mind what I want out of a relationship and if indeed I actually want one.

I give Karate and dancing full credit in revealing me to the world.  Dancing gave me the confidence to wear sleeveless tops and tight fitting pants, when I realised that women of all shapes and sizes wore these things and no one howled them down for it.  Karate has given me the confidence to walk down the street and project myself as a strong “mess with me at your own peril” kind of woman.  However, I know the whole time that this confident strong chick has always been inside me, she just took a long time to reveal herself.

I look people dead in the eye now, it is empowering, and people find it confronting to be looked straight in the face.  I hold myself up high and square my shoulders and project my confidence out there, it works.  Someone gives me a hard time, it’s never for too long, as I turn and face them dead straight in the eye and stand tall.  I am a work in progress and I am always looking to improve myself and make the most of my given opportunities and live my life well!

Curlicue

Thank you to Kerri for her post and I hope you’ll leave her a comment below, as well as checking out her own blog at Katagal Kapers.

Sorting Out My Head

Published September 15, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

What a funny few days it’s been.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was processing a lot from the Australian Fat Studies conference.  It’s been a real mix of emotions.  Delight at meeting several of my favourite Aussie members of the fatosphere, as well as some of the women who have really influenced me since I came to Fat Acceptance.  Intellectual exhaustion from so much really stimulating and challenging discussion and ideas that came from the conference.  Physical tiredness from a trip to Sydney and right back to work the day after I got back.

Not to mention a whole host of emotional stuff stirred up.  Sharing my own story of the lowest point in my life with everyone both at the conference and here on my blog, a story that I’d never told anyone before this time, really meant a lot of thinking about how I felt about that time in my life, and how I felt about the world knowing of just how dire things got for me at one point.

Then there was hearing so many other stories from women who had suffered humiliation, shame, self loathing, bullying, desperation and so many other hurtful emotions and experiences before they found the positive messages of Fat Acceptance.

But mostly, I had a bit of a harrowing experience of my own self esteem taking a rather massive dip there for a few days.  I found myself surrounded by so many amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, talented, fierce, fashionable women (and a handful of fab men) that I started to feel really inadequate.  There were moments that I found myself thinking those old thoughts that I was not worthy of being there with these people, that not only was I the fattest in the room, but I was the ugliest, the least intelligent, the most annoying, the least fashionable, the least talented and so on.  I really had some big moments where I just felt like I was worthless and that my presence at the conference was a huge inconvenience on everyone.

It’s silly really.  I know it was just one of those things that comes with intense times in your life (and boy, was that an awesomely intense weekend!) that old emotions and things are churned up, but it crept up on me so stealthily, but so strongly, that it was very overwhelming to be taken back to that place.

I’ve had a few days to process, and have been able to talk to my counsellor about those feelings, just so that I could set them all out in front of me and look at them before putting them in their correct place.  I know those feelings are just old recordings from the days before I started to work on actually loving myself as a person, and can move forward from that place.

But that brings me to think about how I hear so many women worry that they won’t “fit in” to Fat Acceptance because they still struggle with low self esteem, disordered eating or exercise behaviours, a longing to change their bodies and self loathing.  I think that because most of the bloggers of the fatosphere write so much about the importance of strong self esteem, positive living and fat pride, among other positive topics, there is a perception that we’re all so together, that we really just love ourselves these days and don’t struggle with self esteem issues ourselves.

Please know that this is not true.  We struggle as much as anyone else.  Only we use our blogging, and the community of the fatosphere, to help mend those disordered thoughts and behaviours.  One of the best things I have ever done for my self esteem was take up a place in the fatosphere.  Every time I find myself in that place, the place where my brain sends me off into a spiral of self loathing and feelings of inadequacy, the best way to bring myself back to reality is to read the writing, see the photographs and art, admire the fashion, follow the tweets and Facebook updates, and generally just surround myself with the people of the fatosphere.  Even better still, to talk to them.  Whether it is through social media, or through my own blog here.

It doesn’t mean everything is rosy and perfect in the fatosphere, but I believe that there are so many good people there that you can just move on from those who you do not feel comfortable about.

I have found an incredibly supportive community, with plenty of good honest advice and common sense to share, some laughs, some tears, and some passionate debate.

If you’re like me, and you struggle with your self esteem, and yet you feel hesitant to become involved in the fatosphere, give it a go.  If you write, blog.  If you like to share pictures, post pictures (Tumblr is really good for that!)  If you love fashion, share your fatshion inspiration.  Whatever is your gig.  I don’t believe you’ll regret it.

I certainly haven’t.

Australian Fat Studies Conference: Thank You

Published September 12, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Here I sit, home from Sydney and the Australian Fat Studies conference, and there is just so much buzzing around in my head that I want to share with you all, but I’m still processing it all and dealing with some emotional stuff of my own that has been borne of thinking about all of this stuff in detail for a few days.  So I’ll let a lot of it burble until it’s ready to be shared with everyone.

What I want to do tonight is thank the amazing, incredible women who enrich my lives immensely, that I was able to meet this weekend.  So I’m going to thank you all individually right here.  Let’s try the order that I met each of you (except one I’m going to save until last).

Bri of Fat Lot of Good – Thank you Bri for being a strong, intelligent woman with a massive heart.  Thank you for standing up as a proud fat woman and speaking out against fat hate.  Thank you for sharing your story with us in your conference paper, for moving us all to tears as we ached for you, and ached for ourselves with the similarities in our own stories.  Thank you for welcoming me with a hug.   Thank you for making me laugh, for making me think, for making me strong.  You are such a beautiful person.

Dr Samantha Thomas (her blog, The Discourse) – Thank you for your empathy and your heart.  Thank you for caring about the quality of life of fat people.  Thank you for fighting for us in the face of so much opposition, so much aggression, so much bullshit.  Thank you for feeling as deeply as you do.  Thank you for your passion and energy.  Thank you for bringing a voice of reason and intelligence to a field so full of bias, disrespect and dehumanisation.  Thank you for envying my boobs.  Thank you for treating me as an equal even though I don’t have a jot of the education you have.  Thank you for your encouragement and support.  Thank you for just being the delightful person you are.

Frances of Corpulent – you are pure sunshine.  You are so full of joy that it radiates out of you and shines on everyone around you.  Thank you for that joy.  Thank you for your sweetness.  Thank you for being the first person to show me that bodies that looked like mine were beautiful.   Thank you for being bold and colourful and vibrant.  Thank you for your humour and magnificent smile.  Thank you for just being the joyous, beautiful woman you are.

Dr Cat Pausé of Massey University in New Zealand – we have only just met, but thank you for coming out as a proud, fat feminist, and giving me the courage to do the same.  Thank you for your warmth this weekend, I was drawn to your company immediately.

Scarlett O Claire – another woman I have just met – thank you so much for sharing your story, it hit so many common points for me.  Thank you for putting yourself out there as a beautiful performer, for bravely sharing things that still hit emotional buttons for you, and simply for being present in the world, just as you are.

Kelli Jean Drinkwater – we also just met, but thank you for being fucking amazing!  Thank you for being proud of your body, the first body that looks anything remotely like mine that I have seen portrayed positively.  Thank you for being visible as a fat woman.  Thank you for your sense of humour, your friendliness and your fabulous style.

Charlotte Cooper (view Charlotte’s blog, Obesity Timebomb here) – I know you are deeply embarrassed by the fangirl thing Charlotte, and it’s not really like that (we’re not the FA equivalent of Bieber Fever).  But what you do, your words, your art, your ideas, are so significant to me and I know many others.  What you do in fat activism is so very important to me, and has changed my life in so many positive ways, that I can’t help but be thrilled to have the opportunity to meet you and hear you speak.  Thank you so much for the work that you do, thank you for coming here to participate in this conference and thank you for kicking out the jams.

Finally, last but in no way least, thank you so much to the amazing, incredible, awesome Dr Sam Murray.  I do not have enough words to tell you what this conference, the space you created there and the dialogues that you are creating and encouraging mean to me.  I literally don’t have the words, I’m still processing!  This weekend has been a life changing event for me.  You did that.  With your dedication, with your passion and a whole lot of damn hard work.  And what a delightful soul you are.  You are utterly adorable in so many ways.  You have made me laugh, cry, think, and most of all, believe.  The only words I can find right now for you are simply: Thank you so very, very much.

And to all who attended and participated, thank all of you too, for being part of an event that has meant so much to me.  For those of you who couldn’t come, check out the companion site, Fat Dialogue