All posts in the zine category

Fatropolis – A Review

Published August 10, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

Hey all!  Been a while, hasn’t it?  Rest assured, I am still alive and kicking, still being fat all over the place.  In fact I’m being fat at you all right now.  But I am aware that I have been very quiet here on Fat Heffalump compared to in the past.  This is mostly because my paid job is so much more intense than it has ever been before, with so many projects going at once, that I just don’t have the free time outside of work that I used to have.  I was just lamenting yesterday that I really miss having a life outside of my job.  I need to get better at finding that work/life balance – it’s not good for anyone to lose their recreation time and the time they give over to the things that they are passionate about.

I am however, changing in my activism.  Don’t worry, I’m not going soft on fat hate, or misogyny, or racism or any other form of prejudice.  It’s just that I’m finding myself really over being expected to educate people in how to be decent human beings.  I’m tired of being expected to justify our existence, our validity as human beings.  I’m tired of the same 101 conversations over and over and over again.  Instead, I want to promote visibility of fat people as part of society, not for those who hate fat people, but to benefit US… we fat people ourselves.  I want to create and promote people who are living large so to speak, getting on with their lives and being fabulous, in whatever way.  Which means the way I engage with fat activism is changing.

Which leads me nicely to the next topic – the fab fatty zine.  It’s almost finished!  I have been picking away at it as best I can in limited time, and I’m just about to run off the first copies.  I am just finessing the last bits of it and writing up the credits etc  and I’m still not 100% happy with the cover, then I’ll be good to launch it.  I have enough  material for future editions already, it has been SO difficult to choose which ones to use this issue and which to hold off on.  Watch this space for further news.

But what I’m really here to do today is review a book!  A couple of months ago author Tracey L. Thompson contacted me asking if I would be willing to read her novel, Fatropolis.  A novel about a world where fat people are considered “normal”?  Bring it ON!  She arranged for a review copy to be sent to me and I got stuck into it as soon as it arrived.

Fatropolis is a fantasy/sci-fi story about a Jenny, fat woman from New York City, who falls through a portal into an alternate universe, one where fat is considered the norm for society, and thin people are pressured to gain weight to meet that norm.  An opposite world in fact, where fat is considered attractive/healthy/normal.  Jenny is used to the way our world treats fat people, and is suffering with her own low self esteem from internalised fat phobia, so Fatropolis (which is in fact New York City in the alternative universe) is a massive cultural shock for her.

She quickly makes friends and has a lot of questions about the portals, why this world is so radically different from her own, and about herself as a fat woman, questioning her assumptions and the dominant paradigm around fat and health and attractiveness.  Jenny goes on many adventures with her new friends, both in Fatropolis and back in our own world, and embarks on a relationship with an acquaintance who has his own connections to Fatropolis, while also dealing with a young man named Argus who makes it clear from the moment he sees her that he has feelings for her.

Fatropolis is about discovering that fat is not a dirty word, and asking questions of the dominant cultural paradigm we live in today.

I enjoyed Fatropolis.  I will have to admit, at the beginning I really didn’t like Jenny, but as I read further, I realised the reason I didn’t like Jenny was that I used to be Jenny.  Judgemental, fixated on being acceptable/attractive to men, jealous of anyone who she perceived as having something that she didn’t, and mostly just rock bottom self esteem.  It shows how far I have come that I no longer identify with a character like that, but find them really unpleasant.

The story is well paced, the characters identifiable and the descriptions of sights, sounds and smells are vivid.  The only thing I can really find to kind of criticise (or more that it made me uncomfortable rather than true criticism) is the fixation on food in Fatropolis because it did feel a little like the “fatties all eat lots” thing a bit much, which we know is patently not true.  But when I thought about it more, we are so obsessed with NOT eating here in our world, it makes sense for Fatropolis, which is the opposite world, to be fixated on eating.

Tracey Thompson manages to weave in a whole lot of fat activism 101 in to this story and does so without it being preachy or pushy.  Instead she has the knack of having her characters question things that the reader then questions themselves.

I say get out there and give it a read, regardless where you are on your fat liberation journey.  You can buy it direct from Pearlsong Press here, or Aussies can buy it via Bookworld.

Focusing on the Fabulousness

Published May 18, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

Folks, I am getting so excited about this zine.  I have had a few contributions submitted already, and I’ve written a couple of pieces myself, so it’s shaping up nicely.  Now don’t be shy, you can email me at fatheffalump at gmail dot com and for those of you who have already mailed me – send me your pieces!  I plan to put this all together while I am on leave (this coming Friday is my last day at work before holidays, woot!) and then have it ready to go out by the end of May/early June.

I am particularly looking for artwork (as I can’t even draw a stick figure!), and I particularly need a cover image.  Something that glorifies obesity all over the place!!  Send me your fatties!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m suffering a bit of activist fatigue at the moment.  I’m writing a couple of pieces (I’m participating in the University of Queensland Women’s Collective Diversity Week event on Tuesday and have another commissioned piece) which I am finding I have to work a lot harder at than I usually do.  Mostly because I’m really quite over being expected to justify our existence as human beings, and to explain why we “deserve” the right to live our lives in dignity and respect, without fear of vilification or ridicule.  I think I just need to keep reiterating the following:

  1. Fat people are human beings.
  2. ALL human beings have the right to live their lives in dignity and respect, without the fear of vilification or ridicule because of their bodies, health or appearance.

It’s really that simple, and I simply don’t understand why we keep having to argue this shit!

I’d like to focus much more on celebrating fat people.  I want to focus much more on appreciating who we are.  The richness of our lives.  Our diversity, our style, our talent, our passions, our creativity.  I want to get us out there into the world and let us see each other.  Not for the benefit of the haters, the doubters, the excuse-makers, but for US.  I want to see fabulous fat people like me represented everywhere.  And because I don’t see that everywhere, I’m going to have to be it myself, and maybe others will follow.

So here’s to fat visibility.  Here’s to prodigious bellies, voluminous bosoms, generous butts, thick thighs, round faces, multiple chins, luscious arms, chunky calves and bountiful backs.  Here’s to getting out there and being seen and seeing each other.

Make it a goal to smile warmly at other fatties you encounter in the world.  Signal boost fab fatties that you find online.  Reblog, share, and collate all the fab fatties you find online.  Tell a fatty they’re fabulous.  Believe me, we all need it from time to time, and it’s so much better to focus on that than the shitty attitudes that force us to continually justify our existence.

Now… share a fab fatty or three (in whatever format) with us in the comments.  Let’s link us all up!

Eeeeee! A Zine!

Published May 11, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

Hey hey!  Guess what I’m going to do?  I’m gonna make a fab fatty zine!  Now, before you ask, a zine is a hand-made, self published, (usually) paper-copy publication.  I used to make one in my early 20’s when I owned a music store, that had all kinds of stuff in it – poetry, artwork, music, book and movie reviews, jokes, an agony aunt, whatever came to mind.  If you would like to get your hands on an already published fab fatty zine, check out Two By Four by Michaela and Chris Nowell.

So yeah, I want to make one chock-full of fat positivity.  And I’m looking for contributions!  Would you like to be in a zine?  Cos you totally can, if you want to contribute something.

What am I looking for?  Well, here are some guidelines:

  1. It must be on the topic of fat/fatness and be fat positive.  This zine will be a celebration of all things fat.
  2. It must be able to be reproduced in black and white on no bigger than A4 paper.  This helps me keep the cost down for the actual zine when it is published.
  3. It must not marginalise, oppress, other or dismiss other under-privileged people.
  4. It must be your own work.

Otherwise, it’s pretty much up to you!

Just some suggestions:

  • Artwork
  • Poetry
  • Review (book, movie, tv show, music etc)
  • Photographs
  • Humour
  • Advice
  • Comic strips
  • Use your imagination!

For example at the moment I’m working on a tongue-in-cheek piece about fat fashion “rules” which I hope to have an awesome piece of art to accompany it.

What I’d really like to see is some radical stuff.  Stuff that is overwhelmingly celebratory of fat people and fat bodies.  I want to “glorify obesity”.

Now, I’m not planning to make a profit on this zine, I will only be charging enough to cover printing and postage (where needed).  So all contributions will be voluntary and of course you will get FULL credit for your work.  And I will send you a free copy of the zine if your work is published.

The other thing I’m looking for is an awesome name for this zine.  Something that is empowering and bold and radical and that says “We are fat and we are awesome!”  And that is FUN.  So if you can think of anything, let me know.

If you would like to contribute or have any questions that you would like me to answer privately, please email me at fatheffalump at gmail dot com.

Closing date for contributions is Friday 25th of May as I have two weeks “staycation” booked off work from the 27th which will give me time to put it all together and prep it for distribution.

If there is something in particular you would like to see in a fab fatty zine, do let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do.