Friend of Marilyn


Fat Studies Conference 2016 October 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 1:30 pm

Call for Papers: Conference

Fat Studies: Identity, Agency, and Embodiment

Venue: Massey University, Palmerston North New Zealand

Date: 29-30 June, 2016

Abstract submission deadline: 1 Feb 2016

Contact: Cat Pausé, PhD

Fat Studies is a post-disciplinary field of study that confronts and critiques cultural constraints against notions of “fatness” and “the fat body”; explores fat bodies as they live in, are shaped by, and remake the world; and theorises how society conceptualises and pathologises fat bodies. Fat Studies scholars identify and discuss mainstream and alternative discourses on fatness, analyse size as a social justice issue at the intersection of oppression, and critically appraise size oppression as it is manifested in various societal institutions (medicine, media, education, etc).

All submissions are welcome, but please ensure your proposal fits within the academic framework of Fat Studies. Please also be mindful that Fat Studies is an academic discipline and not merely an umbrella term for all discussions of fat bodies. Additionally, we encourage submitters to rethink using words like “obesity” and “overweight” in their presentations unless they are used ironically, within quotes, or accompanied by a political analysis.

In your submission, please include the title of your paper/presentation, an abstract, and a short bio. We welcome papers and performances from academics, researchers, intellectuals, scholars, activists, and artists, in any field of study, and at any stage in their career. Topics may include, but are not limited to

  • Fat identity, fat agency, fat embodiment
  • Fat ethics
  • Biopolitics of fatness
  • Cross-cultural or global constructions of fatness and fat bodies
  • Geography and lived experience of fatness and fat bodies
  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding the construction, pathologisation, and/or representations, of fatness
  • Intersectional approaches to fat identity, fat agency, fat embodiment

Abstracts (limited to 300 words) should be submitted as an attachment to Files should be named with the author’s surname followed by _fs2016 (Jones_fs2016). Please include contact information in the body of the email, and ensure your submission includes the title of your paper/presentation, an abstract, and a short bio. The abstracts of all work presented at the conference will be published in the conference proceedings.

Informal enquiries concerning papers and topics are welcome before the deadlines.


On Fat Studies in tertiary education October 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 8:01 am

While the government is set to release their new plan to “combat obesity”, the first Fat Studies class offered in New Zealand is drawing to a close. The course, Critical Understandings of Fatness and Health, is being offered as a 300 level distance learning course within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University, and contributes to the college’s larger focus on exploring citizenship in the 21st century.

It has been offered as a special topic in 2015 as the university gauges demand for further interest in the course. And it’s timely too, with the second New Zealand Fat Studies conference being planned for 2016, four years after an inaugural conference was held. Scholars and activists from three continents are expected to attend to discuss issues related to the scientific study as well as the lived experiences of fat individuals.

I agreed to offer the Fat Studies course after a group of Bachelor of Health Science students approached me last year. They came and expressed an interest in learning more about Fat Studies; they wanted to learn about anti-fat attitudes and how they impact on the health and well-being of fat people, and how anti-fat attitudes result in barriers to fat people receiving healthcare.

This class isn’t about promoting a certain body size, or glorifying a certain lifestyle or health habits. However, I would suggest that what currently happens in our culture is that only one kind of body and only one kind of lifestyle is acceptable.

Instead, this course explores how fat bodies are viewed in our culture. It also examines the resulting anti-fat attitudes and structural oppression experienced by fat individuals. Fat people face discrimination in most settings in our world, including education, employment, housing, relationships, and in accessing healthcare. Anti-fat attitudes also impact on the health and well-being of non-fat people as well, as evidenced by children who diet, teenagers who develop eating disorders, and adults who struggle to engage with their lives fully because of weight anxiety.  Doctors are also less likely to speak about diet and exercise with non-fat patients; perhaps making assumptions about the individual’s lifestyle and health behaviours based solely on their size.

As a discipline, Fat Studies is similar to Women’s Studies, Māori Studies, Queer Studies and Disability Studies. These disciplines arose in response to negative debate around these identities. Scholars began engaging in research that looked critically at what was known about each group and began to provide an alternative story.

It has been argued by some that such qualifications have no place in tertiary institutions. I strongly disagree. These courses are a critical use of public investment, playing an important role in academia by asking questions, highlighting inequities in knowledge and developing ethical research practices. They are critical to scientific, historical, political, and historical debate. They should be central to our understanding of what it means to be a New Zealand citizen in the 21st Century.

Similar courses have been offered at Macquarie University in Australia and Dickinson College at Oregon State University and Lake Forest College at Chicago State University in the United States. The primary textbook for the course is the Fat Studies Reader (New York University Press) which defines the discipline as, “an interdisciplinary field of scholarship marked by an aggressive, consistent, rigorous critique of the negative assumptions, stereotypes, and stigma placed on fat and the fat body”.

The structure of the class has been largely guided by the interests of the students. Topics include the biopolitics of fatness, the pathologisation of fat bodies, anti-fat attitudes in healthcare and an alternative to traditional weight-based health models. Students completing the course are identifying and discussing mainstream and alternative debate on fatness, analysing size as a social justice issue and critically appraising size oppression in society including health, media, employment and education.

It is my hope that this course will contribute to the growing recognition in New Zealand that fat-shaming and weight-based health models fail in their efforts to make us a country with lower human biomass while contributing to the oppression of fat people.

The Government should work to ensure that all citizens, regardless of size, are protected from oppression (as opposed to embarking on a programme to combat obesity). One way the Government could fulfil their commitment to fat citizens is by updating employment and discrimination laws to include physical size alongside race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion. Maybe that’s part of the plan?

Cross posted from The Dominion Post



On promoting obesity October 4, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 1:12 pm

Back in May, I accepted an invitation to record a segment for Media Take, a show on Māori TV that looks critically at media and social issues in New Zealand. They invited me on to talk about representations of fatness in the media. They extended this invitation, even after I shared that I wouldn’t participate if there was to be an anti-fat person on the panel. They seemed a bit taken aback by this (as well as by my scoffing at their suggestion of balance; how many obesity stories do you EVER see that are balanced?!), but agreed.

The segment panel

The segment panel

I’m assumed we’d talk about how fat people are represented in the media (as either headless fatties, thank you Dr. Charlotte Cooper, or as people who hate themselves, fuck you The Biggest Loser, Embarrassing Fat Bodies, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, shall I go on?)


And I assumed the host and/or other panel member will drag out the standard, ‘But doesn’t showing fat people as anything other than hideous miserable bastards promote obesity?’


And I gotta say – I am so sick of that question.

I’m over the idea that not hating myself means that I’m glorifying or promoting anything except my right to live my life with dignity.

I’m tired of people failing to understand that my fat body tells them nothing about my lifestyle choices, my health status, my life. And that it’s all none of their business, anyway.

I’m bored by the notion that my fight for civil rights is perceived as dangerous by those who find my fat body displeasing or uncomfortable to look at.

And I’m done entertaining the illogical thinking that celebrating my life and who I am means I want everyone to be just like me.



The danger is in promoting only one kind of body. One type. One size. One colour. One shape. When we turn on the TV, or open a magazine, or watch a film, where are the fat bodies? The bodies of colour? The queer bodies? The trans bodies? The bodies in wheelchairs?

When the only way you see yourself  reflected back to you in the media is in negative ways, or tragic  circumstances, imagine what that does to a young child growing into themselves. Or a teenager, learning who they are. Or an adult, trying to make their way in the world. That’s the danger.


And listen- who here really believes that seeing me, enjoying life & not hiding in shame, is going to make others go, ‘Gosh, that looks awesome! I wanna be super fat too!?’

2015-04-14 22.58.49

If you’d like to watch, my segment starts around 10:40

(You’ll notice that we didn’t talk about fat people on TV at all; I was clued in while watching the package that opened the segment. Luckily, what we did talk about was in my comfort zone, and I was able to switch talking points quickly.)




On fat women in photographs June 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 5:01 pm


The steps of New York’s Public Library were graced with bellies and beauties this week.

The steps of New York’s Public Library were graced with bellies and beauties this week.

To celebrate the Adipositivity Project’s 8th bday, naked fat women joined Patience and Fortitude for an afternoon. Jealous? I know I am! I’ve watched the video and flipped through the thumbnails, and I’m giddy. I’m hoping one of these pics will end up in the 2016 calendar.

I’ve am HUGE fan of Substantia Jones’ The Adipositivity Project. As Substantia explains on the project site,

“The Adipositivity Project aims to promote the acceptance of benign human size variation and encourage discussion of body politics, not by listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence (these things are easily seen all around us), but rather through a visual display of fat physicality. The sort that’s normally unseen.”

Adipositivity Pic

Adipositivity is one of many projects that Jones’ helms (check out Smilesizeist and UppityFatty). She is amazing, and her work has received coverage across feminist and mainstream media.  The Project is unapologetically fat positive, and captures a range of fat bodies from different angles, perspectives, and states of nudity. Substantia’s image gallery has brown fats, front fats, queer fats, small fats, white fats, men fats, medium fats, straight fats, side fats, super fats, black fats, women fats, back fats, etc, and challenges many negative fat stereotypes (fat bodies don’t bend! fat bodies aren’t loved! fat bodies aren’t visually appealing!) She has photographed many well-known in the fat civil rights movement, and posing for The Adipositivity Project is a bucket list item for lots of rad fatties. Having her shots hang in your home brands your space as unapologetically fat positive. And really, who doesn’t love a naked fat ass in the kitchen? (Select prints from the Project have been made available to purchase – get yours here! Every time she has a print sale I grab a few more for my wall of fats!)

It’s great that the 8th bday celebrations brought attention from the MSM; it isn’t the first time that naked fat women in photographs have been in the news this year. The passing of Leonard Nimoy brought many new faces into the conversation around fat activism as it became known that he published an art book of fat women. Delightfully, his Full Body Project received a lot of press during the reflections and media eulogies. Setting aside the problematic nature of white male saviours, I enjoyed how MSM has almost seem to embrace this project of naked fat women (because, well, Spock!). And it’s was nice to read from fat activists how his work affected them (and surprising how many were unaware until his passing).

The Full Body Project

The Full Body Project

Whether Nimoy was fat positive isn’t for me to judge, but he did seem to have developed an understanding of how body shaming and cultural BS interferes with people’s well-being. From his artist statement,

“… I then asked them to play some music that they had brought with them, and they quickly responded to the rhythms, dancing in a free-form circular movement with in the space. It was clear that they were comfortable with the situation, with each other, and were enjoying themselves… In these pictures these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others.”

For all the attention that the Full Body Project received with Nimoy’s passing, I hope some of it spills over onto fat positive projects with similar subjects (if different objectives). Like the Adipositivity Project.  Or another lesser known project, the Fat Naked Art Project by Heather Kolaya-Spealman.

March Blog Pic3


Heather is a model and a photographer, and has been photographing fat bodies for years. The goal of the project is to “display fatness as beautiful and one type of many bodies.”  There’s also The Fatness Project from Serena Imani Korn. And Wait Watchers from Haley Morris-Cafiero (both of those projects involve clothes).

As fat women, Substantia and Heather work from a location that was inaccessible to Nimoy, and I believe you can see and hear the differences when each artist talks about their craft. As a fat woman, I’ll never forget the first time I saw a naked body like mine presented as art. It was odd. And gross. I grew up in this fat hating culture; I found fat bodies disgusting. I found my body disgusting.

It took a year of having a photograph of a naked fat body hanging on my wall before I learned to not be disgusted by the image; another couple of months to acknowledge the curves, and the softness. And another before I arrived at a place of appreciation for the beauty. Now I love fat bodies, including my own. And I believe that am important part of shifting our fat hating culture is encouraging others to retrain themselves and how they perceive fat bodies. The Adipositivity calendar is a gift I give to many each year. Some hang in closets, some never make it onto a wall at all. But some are given pride of place – in the kitchen, where it is seen every day; in the bedroom, where it can be observed in silent moments. And now many are eagerly received at the start of each year. And that’s pretty fatlicious.



On fitting in (t-shirts and stuff) March 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 2:40 pm

Throughout my life, I have loved music. I love listening to music, I love making music. I love live music especially. I love the energy of the crowd, and getting to see the performers in person; catching the occasional unguarded moment. In all my years attending concerts, however, I’ve been denied the opportunity to be the audience member sporting a tour T (or, Madonna forbid, a T from the last tour). Merchandise booths never carry sizes I can wear; they rarely go past a 2x. I still stand in line though, picking out a programme or a keychain – something tangible I can keep with me or gift to others. And I still ask, ‘What is the largest size you have?’ of the t-shirt or hoodie that catches my eye while I wait in the queue.

At one particular show in Dallas a few years back, an amazing thing happened. The concert hoodie went up to a 5x. I couldn’t believe it. It made my mind race – how have I missed this before? HAVE I missed this before? I decided that I hadn’t, because I’m always looking for clothes in my size. Even when I know it’s for naught, I keep looking (the result of an emerging adulthood devoid of fashion options). Perhaps as fat concert goers get louder about what we want, marketers are beginning to pay attention (it is one of the golden rules of capitalism, right? Sell the people what they want?) It may also be gendered – larger sizes are made with men in mind, and the hoodie I bought was definitely masculine. I didn’t wear it that night, but I do wear it often, and I experience a bit of glee each time. It makes me feel delightfully normal (but that’s another story for later).

Feeling like any other concert goer

Feeling like any other fan

Sometime later, I thought it might be worth seeing if this was a new trend or a one off thing. Could I find other promotional merchandise in my size? I launched into an online investigation, starting with my undergraduate alma mater. Shirts? Nope. Jackets? No. Hoodies? Nada. Not even the gear advertised as ‘athletic’ went above a 3x. Next stop were my San Francisco teams, but again, no luck. Nothing over 3x to be found.

I’m proud to be a Bobcat, but it makes me sad that I am relegated to cups and stickers to brand myself as one. And it doesn’t make me feel like less of fan to watch the 49ers play only wearing their logo on my hat. Does it make me less of a Giants fan to show team spirit only through a foam finger? Probably not. Does it anger me to be excluded from part of the experience because they don’t make merchandise in my size? Hell yes!

And this isn’t isolated to sporting events or concerts. My current University doesn’t manufacture apparel in sizes past a 2x. Anytime I’ve been involved with a group, a club at school, even my Union – when the T-shirts come out for people to wear, me and other super fats are always left to the side. Imagine being the only person at your family reunion who isn’t wearing the event t-shirt.

Organisers with the best of intentions deliver me a sheepish smile when I query if they have shirts that I might wear as well. I was once instructed to cut a shirt up the back so I could pretend to wear it along with everyone else for a group photo (I declined and refrained from suggesting something else that could be done with the scissors instead).

One of these things is not like the others...

One of these things is not like the others…

I later expressed that I was happy to be involved with the campaign, hell – I wanted to be involved – but they had to involve me. And if taking a group photo with matching T-shirts was the goal, then they needed to have T-shirts for my fat body as well.

This is just one of the ways that fat people are barred from full participation in life. One of the ways that we are excluded from engaging in social activities that make up the very fabric of fitting in and belonging to social groups, to society. And it may seem like a little thing – to not be able to wear a t-shirt along with your choir, your family, your church group. But it’s the little things like this that add up across a lifetime to make the message loud and clear: you’re not included. You’re not person worthy of the same consideration. You are probably unwanted. You are less than.

Because you are too much.

(Follow up – I did find this site, Fanatics, and they sell some items up to 6x in the Men’s Big & Tall section)


On fat in 2014: The year that was January 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 5:18 pm

As I consider my plans for 2015 and 2016, I also look back on the year that was 2014. In many ways, it was a great year for me. I was promoted, published my first academic edited text (Ashgate), and conducted a five month social media book tour. In many ways, it was an awful year for me. It seemed to be characterised by loss, as myself and many of my friends lost our beloved pets. If I narrow my focus to consider all things fat in 2014, I can point to a few key moments that resonate still. Below are five of those moments that held importance for me in 2014 as a fat woman, fat activist, and Fat Studies scholar (and one that didn’t).

The blog post: Selfies

2014-02-15 11.14.30

I love selfies. I know that for some taking selfies or OOTD pics seems a narcissistic act of a generation too consumed with itself. But I think there is a power in fat people putting forward images of themselves. If we relied on others, all we’d ever see are headless fatties. In a post about selfies, Sarah at Radically Visible writes about the value of visual representation. “What taking selfies and sharing them does is fill our immediate environment with a far more diverse visual language of bodies than we have access to otherwise.” Her piece was my most favourite blog piece of the year, and I will forever direct people its way whenever the topic of selfies arises.

The tag: #notyourgoodfatty

2014-04-05 17.00.122014-04-05 17.02.142014-04-05 17.00.49

Throughout the year, hashtags pop-up that allow us to engage in dialogue around shared experiences. Often, these dialogues promote collective conscious-raising for those within (and outside of) the group engaging. #notyourgoodfatty, created by @mazzie and @FatBodyPolitics, was one of those hashtags (Melissa at Shakesville gives a great explanation for those not well versed in the language of good/bad fatty). #notyourgoodfatty was a schema constructed to celebrate defiant resistance to the war on fat people. Reflecting on the use of the tag in social media, Amanda Levitt of Fat Body Politics, asserts that she is not interested in performing her fatness in socially acceptable ways. Those using the tag shared how they have refused to be fat in appropriate ways. They are, in short, doing fatness wrong.

The conference: Fat Activism Conference

Ragen Chastain (Dances with Fat) and Jeanette DePattie (Fat Chick Sings) hosted a three day Fat Activism Conference this year. 40 speakers covered a range of topics, including fatshion, starting your activism, health at every size, and more. There were lot of familiar faces in the line-up (like Marilyn Wann, Linda Bacon, Virgie Tovar, and Lynn McAfee), and lots of ones that were new to me. Being able to listen to recorded presentations was fantastic, as I’m outside the US on a very different time zone. I was disappointed to not see more men on the programme, and I wish there were more speakers from outside the US. It is my understanding that they intend this conference to happen annually, so I look forward to a wider group of people being invited as speakers for 2015.

The radio show: FOM 100th show

2014-08-18 10.28.00

A highlight for me this year was my fat positive radio show, Friend of Marilyn, recording its 100th show. FOM began in August of 2011, and has welcomed 62 guests, highlighted 100 blog posts, and played music from over 30 fabulous fat artists.

Fat radio and podcasts have a fatlicious history.  Judith Stein & Meredith Lawrence made some shows in Boston back in the 80s – ‘Plain Talk About Fat’ in 1984 and ’30 Big Minutes With Fat Liberation’ in 1985. According to a piece by Charlotte Cooper, these two shows aired on International Women’s Day on student radio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Listen here! Moving up two decades, we’ve got Marilyn Wann & Heather McCalister co-hosting a pirate radio show in San Francisco called “Fat-A-Tat-Tat — Soundtrack for A/The Fat Revolution” from 2004-2005. From 2008-2011, Dr. Peggy Elam and Pat Ballard co-hosted the Health at Every Size Radio Show on Radio Free Nashville. Other fat podcasts from the decade include the Two Whole Cakes Fatcast (2010-2011) by Lesley Kinzel & Marianne Kirby, the The Body Love Wellness Podcast(2010-) by Golda Poretsky, and the Femme Cast by Bevan Branlandingham.

The video: #everybodyisflawless

I love Beyonce. I love GabiFresh. Combine the two and this was one of the most exciting events of the year for me. GabiFresh gathers two other fatshionistas, Tess Munster and Nadia Aboulhosn, to produce their own version of Beyonce’s Flawless video. The fatshion is hot, the performances are fun, the video a treasure. GabiFresh writes on her blog, “you don’t have to be a certain size to claim your flawlessness. Fat is not a flaw. This video is dedicated to the mainstream media, to the fashion industry, to internet bullies, and to anyone else who thinks it’s their right to try to make us feel less than because of their insecurities. #everyBODYisflawless”. Bow down, bitches. Indeed.

The song: All About That Bass

For a lot of people this song, about relaxing beauty standards and embracing thickness, hits all the right notes. It’s an easy to understand, easy to digest, barely pushing back against the mainstream, message set to a decent bass line that makes it radio friendly. It may be what begins some people on their self-acceptance journey. And that’s great for them.

I, however, am so past that place in my own journey, that I can’t help but roll my eyes and search for earplugs. All I hear when that song invades my space is, “All the right junk in all the right places”; yet another beauty standard. Because, this embracing of thickness really only extends to “selective fatness, thickness in all the right places”, as Jillian Mapes argues. This isn’t an anthem to open up the world to fat girls like me. Oh no. I’m too fat. I’m supposed to remain out of sight. This isn’t the only song from 2014 that was argued to make the world a safer place for fat lovin (see Anshuman Iddamsetty’s The Year in Thickness for an overview), but it’s the one that came across my dash the most.


On fatlicious holiday gift giving 2014 December 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 4:16 pm

Want to make your life more fatlicious?

Maybe you have a rad fatty friend or family member you’d like to treat extra special this holiday season?

To help, I’ve comprised a list of my favourite fatlicious things from (mainly) 2014!

For the stocking

iPhone case

Love Fat iPhone case by incurablehippie

Fat Keyring

Fat Keyring by AdorableOutspoken

Fat stickers

Fat stickers by Natalie Perkins


For the reader

Politics of size

The Politics of Size edited by Ragen Chastain


SparkleFat by Melissa May


For the home


The 2015 Adipositivity calendar

Fat Fairy Throw Pillow

Fat Fairy Throw Pillow by CatAstrophe

Fat Cuties

Little Cuties poster by Natalie Perkins


For the scholar

Queering Fat Embodiment edited by Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes, Sam Murray

Fat Gay Men

Fat Gay Men: Girth, Mirth, and the Politics of Stigma by Jason Whitesel


For the fatshionista

Houndstooth Coat

Houndstooth Short Trench Coat from eShakti

Plaid body suit

The Plaid Girls Club Bodysuit from Chubby Cartwheels


For the activist

Fat Arse

Fat Arse hoodie by Natalie Perkins


Fat-tastic Zines 1, 2, 3, by sage


Faith Pennick’s documentary, Weightless


For the poet


Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly edited by Frannie Zellman

Fat Girl Finishing School

Fat Girl Finishing School by Rachel Wiley



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