Friend of Marilyn


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


On Bacon & Aphramor’s #BodyRespect October 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 3:30 pm


A few years ago, I was lucky to spend some time with Lucy Aphramor while she was visiting New Zealand. We had a delightful time, and some interesting conversations around health, weight, and her work on Heath at Every Size. As a fat activist, I reject that any consideration of health should be part of the conversations about what rights and dignities fat people should receive. As a Fat Studies scholar, my work explores how the spoiled identity of fatness impacts on health and well-being. I often find myself working through the tensions between the two – both internally, when crafting my narratives and designing my research, and externally, when others hear me talking about health and assume that I’m promoting a version of healthism. The responsibility is on me, as an scholar and an activist, to ensure that I am not buying into or promoting oppression in the many facets of my work.

The new book out from Lucy, and her co-author Linda Bacon, builds on both of their work to promote access to evidenced based healthcare for individuals of all sizes. It is a reader friendly text, designed for individuals who don’t have a background in science, or nutrition, or statistics, etc. It’s the kind of book that you can give your parent, or your friend, or anyone that you meet that might want to know more about divorcing ideas of about health from body weight. Many in my circle just might find themselves with a copy at Christmas.

It’s an interesting thing, to read a book about bodies and body respect, that is written by two white thin individuals. There are many spots in the book where the intersection of those qualities is apparent. But I appreciate that both authors also acknowledge the privileges that they have, and I do believe that what they bring to the conversation is important. I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the #BodyRespect tour, and I decided to ask Linda & Lucy some questions about their work and the text. If you are interested in learning more about HAES, this book is a good place to start.

  1. Why write this book?

We’d met up on several occasions and began to see that there was synergy in a joint book, one that would stem what we felt was a creeping tide of healthism through lack of awareness in HAES narratives. The book makes Lucy’s work more accessible and expands on what Linda covered in her HAES book presenting a short, accessible read that shows us how a new way of being in the world without shame, how to bring a ‘rights’ lens to wellbeing and how as health and social care practitioners we really can bridge self-care and social justice.

  1. Why do you think conventional books leave out this kind of information?

The lifestyle change agenda streamlines so effortlessly with neo-liberal policies that it’s hard to find a fault line within it to think differently.  So we’ve got this situation where dominant ideas across health, education, welfare, employment and so on, rely on and create the illusion of life as a level playing field where everyone can have it good if they only apply themselves and which totally disappears privilege and oppression. In the States, there is even an explicit name for this phenomenon, the “American Dream,” the idea being that everyone can achieve whatever they want, as long as they try hard enough. Then the individual gets blamed when they aren’t successful.  It’s a breeding ground for blaming individuals who get so-called lifestyle diseases, like type 2 diabetes.

In this way, high blood pressure in Black Americans and high prevalence of heart disease in UK South Asians get explained away through weight and diet without even a nod to the relevant research literature on racism. And when, as health practitioners, we’ve been taught not to question grand narratives for fear of being ostracized by our peers, threatened with reprisal by our professional organisations and so on, the culture doesn’t invite criticality. So too, an over-reliance on positivist science encourages us to ignore our emotional responses to patients’ distress as ‘not data’ and dismiss stories that don’t line up with what the science says as lies and non-compliance. How else could hundreds of thousands of weight loss appointments occur year in year out? The evidence is out there – but authors who have learnt to see ourselves and others as calorie burning machines and health as a function of weight and lifestyle are unlikely to think to look for it.

If you’re interested in seeing how this suppression of HAES knowledge is playing out right now in the UK, and adding your voice, you can read more here:

  1. What role does your own body size have in your work around body respect?

Lucy: Being a thin dietitian is a strong motivator for me in working to advance body respect: my profession is scaffolded on a fat phobia that itself has with deep roots in somatophobia, or body shame, and having seen this it’s not an option to be complicit. I’m thin, white and middle-class, I can talk the language of the oppressor very eloquently which gives me a credibility with audiences for whom I epitomize the hegemonic aesthetic of health.  I’ve found it very powerful to finish by asking folk how they would have heard me differently if I was fat. Say I’m presenting on critical weight science and most people seem on board with the intellectual arguments, there is a collective dawning of awareness of what’s really at stake when I ask the group to consider how far my embodiment has influenced their engagement.

On a more personal note, I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learnt about healing from body shame and disconnect because of how the journey transformed my life.

As everyone familiar with Linda’s work will know she is likewise committed to keeping thin privilege in view. It’s the topic she chose to highlight when invited to give a key note presentation to the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and you can read her speech here:

  1. How can people interested in public health reach across the aisle without reinforcing healthism? And how can health providers incorporate these lessons into their practice; where would they start?

Read the stories towards the end of book to see how our nurse practitioner Billie works with client Janet to support her in self-care while keeping a firm grasp on the lived realities of Janet’s life and the material and non-material impact this has on her health and opportunities to look after herself.  You’ll see a public health agenda in action that opens up a way for us to be together in relationships of mutual respect that support people living with oppression in moving towards self-care because they do not disappear either hardship or dignity.


On fat responsibility and activism September 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 11:34 pm

In August, I had the pleasure to attend two (very different) conferences. The first was the Competing Responsibilities conference held at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. This conference brought together scholars from across disciplines to explore the idea of responsibility. From the CFP,

Calls to ‘be responsible’ pervade public and private life. Notions of responsibility, for example, can powerfully underpin contemporary claims for political legitimacy, evident in President Obama’s (2009) hailing of his presidency as the start of a ‘new era of responsibility’. Demands for people to ‘act responsibly’ can also shape our most intimate relations, as in Australia where the ‘Family Responsibilities Commission’ in Cape York seeks to instill norms of ‘respect and responsibility’ in local aboriginal families through welfare regulations and education initiatives. Elsewhere, responsibility can be the marker of a good worker, as in Scotland where senior nurses have been called to take more ‘responsibility and accountability’ for their workplaces (BBC News 2012). ‘Responsibility’ and the ‘responsible citizen’ have become buzzwords for the adoption and internalization of some of the core ideals of contemporary governance…In the face of these diverse political and ethical claims to be responsible, there is increasing scholarly need to systematically interrogate the social and cultural assumptions driving contemporary claims and calls to responsibility. Recently, a number of scholars have explored the increasing ubiquity of responsibilization discourses across the domains of health, public policy, and economics…In this conference we seek to examine both neoliberal framings of responsibility and the variety of counter-currents to them.

I presented my paper, FAT resistance: How an online community constructs non-responsible and non-responsive discourses, during the ‘Norms and Resistance: The responsible and irresponsible body’ panel, chaired by Tayla Hancock, with Annemarie Jutel serving as the Discussant. My paper explored the idea that a good citizen of the 21st century is one who accepts responsibility for their own personal health, well-being, and success. Individuals then, who require structural support, or refuse to (re)produce white, cis, able-bodied, and heteronormative, systems, threaten the status quo and face marginalisation. I suggested that fat people are viewed as irresponsible citizens. They consume too many resources and fail to uphold the new social contract (the moral obligation to be healthy). In modern neoliberal contexts, this results in hostile environments and the development of spoiled identities. In turn, fat individuals are monitored by their governments, their families, and their workplaces. They are regulated by friends and strangers alike; fat bodies are public property to shame and scold for the betterment of the individual. I then argued that many individuals in the Fatosphere, an online community of people who have come out as fat, are engaging in anti-assimilationist activism. They queer fat embodiment, disrupting the normative obesity discourse and rejecting the demands of the neoliberal system. They are defiant resistors, constructing their own discourses for being non-responsible and non-responsive to the dominant systems. I shared specific examples like the work of the Fat Heffalump, Red No 3’s ‘Maggie’ series, and ‘Fuck Yeah! Fat PhDs’, to illustrate these non-responsible narratives.

The conference was a great experience for me. With the exception of the presentation by Tayla Hancock, none of the other presentations explored issues similar to my own, but I still found that the focus of the papers on responsibility – how it is defined, who benefits from it, how individuals embrace or reject it, etc, was very applicable to my work on fat identity. I’m very grateful to the organisers, Catherine Trundle and Susanna Trnka, for hosting this informative and challenging conference.


The following weekend, I attended the Fat Activism Conference via teleconference. This three day event was organised by Ragen Chastain (of Dances with Fat) and Jeanette DePattie (of Fat Chick Sings). As noted on the conference homepage,

This virtual conference, on August 22-24, 2014, is for people of all sizes who are interested in creating a world that respects the diversity of body sizes. It is for people of all sizes who are interested in fighting the bullying, stigmatizing, shaming, and oppression faced by fat people, and doing that work intersectionally.

Whether you are looking for help in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive so that nobody gets left behind.

There were about 40 speakers who presented across the three days of the conference. Hand-outs were provided by many of the speakers, and there was a goody bag too! One of the best parts though, is that everything was recorded, so everyone who registered had access to the presentations that they may have missed (slept through/bathed through/etc) the first time around. I found this especially handy as many of the live presentations happened between 2am-9am for me in New Zealand.

It was such a fun way to spend a weekend – surrounded by fat activists, sharing ideas and tricks and techniques for achieving social justice. I’m not in audio spaces like that very often; usually I get my sense of community from written and visual material in the Fatosphere. To hear the delightful voices of both the hosts (Ragen & Jeanette) and the speakers, added to the experience for me.


Over two different weekends, I was able to connect with many people in two different spaces. The hallowed halls of academe was first, and I’d like to think that my presentation urged the individuals in attendance to consider how the idea of responsibility is used to situate fat individuals as failed citizens, and how fat activists are fighting back against that oppression. The activist teleconference found me among kindred spirits, and I hope my presentation on using Web 2.0 provided ideas and techniques for those who are interested in bringing their activism to the borderless realm of the Internet.  While each conference was unique it its purpose and audience, both served as venues that were meaningful for me, both as a presenter, and as a participant. Attending both in a span of a month, also made me reflect on the intersections, and tensions, between being an academic and being an activist. This is something I have been thinking about a great deal, especially as I feel pressure from both sides to ensure that I keep a firm wall between the roles. I’d like to read more on how others negotiate and manage this space, and I plan to write more about it soon!





On fat activism in the Web 2.0 age August 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 1:47 pm

On 22 August, I’m hosting a workshop on how to use Web 2.0 to promote your activism. It’s a subject I am passionate about, and have been thinking about for years. (It dovetails nicely with my interest in how scholars may use Web 2.0 tools to disseminate their research and build a profile as a public intellectual). I’ve actually written about using Web 2.0 as a fat activist in a book chapter for the soon published, The Politics of Size: Perspectives from the Fat-Acceptance Movement (Praeger Publishing). If you’re interested in attending my workshop, it’s not too late to sign up! Register here

It is part of a larger Fat Activism Conference being hosted by Ragen Chastain (of Dances with Fat) and Jeanette DePattie (Fat Chick Sings). This conference is going to be an amazing three days with 40 speakers. (And it’s only $39USD) If you’re not able to participate in real time, registered participants will also have access to recorded materials. (And I heard there may be a virtual goody bag!)

You may check out a full schedule here. The variety in topics being covered is staggering, to be honest. There are lot of familiar faces in the line-up (like Marilyn Wann, Linda Bacon, Virgie Tovar, and Lynn McAfee), and lots of ones I’m not familiar with as well. I’m excited to ‘meet’ so many new people!

I’m most excited about the panels around intersectionality. They look fantastic, and I’m always keen to learn ways that I can do my fat activism in more inclusive ways. I’m a little disappointed to not see more men (cis or trans) on the programme, and I wish there were more speakers from outside the US. But I’m still uber excited about the three days and I hope you will all register to attend as well!



On living a fat life June 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 5:46 pm

Fat bodies are public bodies. They are open to comment, judgement, and ridicule.

Fat lives are public lives. They are described, proscribed, and prescribed.

“Fat people shouldn’t wear skinny jeans!” “Fat people aren’t athletic.” “Fat people can’t find true love.” “Fat people only eat fast food.” “Fat people don’t run marathons.” “Fat people shouldn’t take pride in their bodies.” “Fat people aren’t happy.” “Fat people can’t have hot sex.” “Fat people only drain society’s resources.” “Fat people don’t have the willpower to complete PhDs.”

Any fat person will be able to tell you a litany of the Dos and Don’ts of being fat. Anyone who steps outside of the list opens themselves up to shaming, hatred, and policing by self and others (let’s be honest, fat people who remain inside the list are regular recipients of the same). Whether it is being harassed on the street, concern trolled by friends or family, or simply the subject of whispers and stares – the public act of being fat is often exhausting.

Many fat people decide to shy away from being visible; some withdraw from society – others cloak themselves in the shadows of dark colours. Some actively apologise for their fatness, and spend years (often their entire lives) engaging with the weight cycle industrial complex. This may provide some protection from the shaming and hatred – at least others understand that they are trying to become someone else; someone acceptable.

Others, though, resist the pull to apologize or withdraw. They refuse to live their lives in a time-out zone; they want to do everything they want to do and they want to do it now. They don’t want to wait until they’ve lost five pounds. They don’t want to wait until someone says it’s okay for a fat person to wear a bikini, or run a marathon, or have hot sex. They want to live their fat life now. In living their lives the way they want, with little regard for how they are supposed to be living, these individuals are queering fatness. Queering fatness is a political act; an act of resistance.

My new co-edited text from Ashgate presents the perspectives of scholars from around the world on queering fat embodiment. The notion of fat as queer is not a new one; nor is the use of queering (as a method of thwarting the norm) new in considering novel ways of embodiment and performance among marginalised groups.

Sometimes groups of fat individuals come together to queer fatness. Consider those who swim in the fat synchronized group, Aquaporko. Or those who wear lingerie and dance for audiences as members of Va Va Boombah. These groups reject the accepted script of fat performance and present their own. Fat women in swimsuits; fat women in lingerie. Having fun. Enjoying their bodies being on display for others to see; scantily clad!

Within the Fatosphere there are many examples of queering fatness to be found. Sometimes groups of fat individuals come together to queer fatness using the ever awesome hastag. Take, for example, #notyourgoodfatty. Within my chapter in Queering Fat Embodiment, I consider a handful of Internet campaigns/activities that have helped reshape my own understanding of what it means to be fat; what fat may, and often does, look like. Rachele Cateyes’ “How to be a fat bitch” ecourse is a great example. It queers both fatness (as good and desirable) and femininity (bitchiness as awesome). A recent favourite of mine is Gabi Fresh’s video remake of #Flawless. Some actions of queering fatness are a direct response to a prescription or description of fatness by others (like Fuck yeah! Fat PhDs, Brian Stuart’s FATSPO Coloring Book, and Marilyn Wann’s I Stand campaign.) All of these offer a different way of understanding fatness – a way of queering fat performance and embodiment.

If you want to learn more about queering fat embodiment (both online and off), ask your library to order a copy of Queering Fat Embodiment today! Or check out the Introduction chapter, written by Jackie Wykes, that is free on the publisher page.


*I am very excited to share that this is the first stop on the social media for book for #QFE. Check back here to see other spots along the way!


On Queering Fat Embodiment & Social Media Book Tours June 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 12:10 am






On International No Diet Day 2014 May 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjpause @ 8:51 pm

These pictures were taken during #INDD14 celebration at the Wellington campus of Massey University (New Zealand)



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