On fat in 2015: The year that was

This was the year…

Of jiggly wobbly bits on stage

From Nothing to Lose in Australia to SWAGGA in the UK, fat bodies across the world were dancing (there was also Sean, ‘Dancing Man’, O’Brien who received worldwide attention after trolls posted a video of him minding his own business dancing). Seeing all of these fat bodies moving to music was really inspiring to me. I love to dance; I took classes as a small child, and had a dance party to celebrate my 35th bday. I’ve been side eyeing adult dance drop-in classes since I moved to New Zealand nine years ago. Inspired by Charlotte, Kelli Jean, Ally, and others, I decided to give it a go.

Me (middle) with my dance buddies      
I’m not a very good dancer. Hell, I’m a pretty bad dancer. But I do enjoy it. I love how Nothing to Lose wasn’t about teaching fat bodies to dance straight, but about exploring what dancing looks like for fat bodies. Dancing as a fat woman feels subversive; hell, it is. As Charlotte Cooper writes,

Fat people are not supposed to be able to dance. The approach of those promoting a global obesity epidemic would suggest that binging away shamefully on a settee until we die prematurely, or are ‘rescued’ through weight loss, is all we are capable of.

But dance is a transformative medium; it changes the relationship fat people have with our own bodies and each other, and it transforms social ideas about what fat can be or mean. It is exciting to see fat people dancing.

Dancing is a creative way of experiencing your own body. When you dance with or for other people you are inviting them to share this experience, this creativity. Where anti-obesity policy seeks to make fat people not exist, dancing asserts our presence in the world. It shows that we have value.


Fat shaming recognition went mainstream

In the August 2015 issue of O magazine, readers were advised that if they had a flat stomach, they should give the crop top a go. Unsurprisingly, the fat community pushed back against the fat shaming message, including bloggers like Sarah over at Style It and Bevan The Queer Fat Femme. In addition to responses in the Fatosphere, many mainstream outlets, like Refinery29, E, Cosmo, and US magazine, called out (or, at least reported on) the fat shaming (although many called it body shaming). Closer to home, I damn near fell out of my chair when 3News in New Zealand used the phrase fat shaming appropriately in a story.


Many people saw a photograph of a naked fat woman


The Adipositivity Project celebrated its’ 8th bday with naked fat women on the steps of the New York Public Library. The event (and project) received worldwide media attention, and many people found that their default homepage featured a nude fat woman. For some, it wasn’t the first time in the year – as Leonard Nimoy’s passing brought his Full Body Project to the attention of the MSM as well.

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. (If you’d more thoughts on fat women in photos, you can read my full post here.)


The fat club got emblems

Okay, in fairness, the fat community has had emblems in the past (thinking about the “Fat” necklace from Fancy Lady Industries especially), but this was the year it was everywhere. From Rachele Cateyes’ Glorifying Obesity line at Red Bubble,

Can I have this on ALL the things?!
Can I have this on ALL the things?!

Stacy Bias’ Rad Fatty Merit Badges

Merit Badges





to the Girth Guides by Natalie Perkins, it was a good year to wear your fat pride. I love this stuff. ALL the fat stuff. I love wearing a brooch or a badge that makes people do a double take. I enjoy the incredulous looks I receive when I display fat positive images on my person or things.

How I roll

We got a survival guide for being fat online

Being fat online is tough. Being a woman online is tough. Being a fat woman online? Forget about it. Many have written about the hate that targets fat women online. And some have provided suggestions for how to deal with trolls and other forms of harassment. Others have taken a slightly different approach to the problem. My favourite post of 2015 came from Fat Girl Food Squad. It’s a post about how to be a fat woman online, and it outlines very clearly the rules of survival. As noted by the author Kirthan,

These helpful tips will remind you of the best way to present your fat body on social media, blog posts and wherever else you may end up on the internet.

Briefly, these rules are as follows:

  • Only document yourself eating veggies
  • Always document yourself exercising
  • Never enjoy yourself
  • Don’t show your whole body in photos
  • Don’t have any style

Easy peasy, right? (Seriously, do yourself a favour and read the post)