On the year in fat: 2016

I’m not sure about you, but I’m not quite ready to face 2017. I’m hoping it will be a better year, for the world, than 2016. For many of us, 2016 was rough – Ali, Brexit, Trump, Ifill, Aleppo, #NoDAPL, the death of trade unionist Helen Kelly, Bowie,neo-Nazis, Prince, Flint, #whitefeminism… (I’m sure I’m forgetting lots of things that belong on this list!)….just, rough. If I allow myself to think back on what was great about 2016 – what was fatlicious – I can remember all the great things that were ushered in, in the year that might forever be known as the Year-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named.

Fat podcasts


One of the new fat podcasts available for your listening pleasure is The Fat Lip. Hosted by Ash, who identifies as “500+ pounds of scepticism and CocaCola”, this is a great show that provides transcriptions of most episodes. Episodes have explored the difference between fat and superfat, and body positivity and fat positivity. Guests have included Shane Brodie and Virgie Tovar. If you haven’t listened yet, all 12 episodes are available on the webpage. You can also subscribe on iTunes.


The other new fat kid on the block is Bad Fat Broads. This show, hosted by KC and Ariel, presents the bad fat broad’s perspective on all things important. Regular segments include dumpster fires on the Internet and who they no longer know; they brought the show live to the Allied Media Conference, and that was extra fatlicious. I love the work these bad fat broads are doing, and I was super excited to provide some financial support when the show first launched early in 2016.


My fat positive podcast, Friend of Marilyn, isn’t new – in fact, 2016 was the 5th year of the show. As I was reflecting back on the almost 200 episodes that had aired, I realised that most of my guests on the show were white Western women (just like me!) and I thought, GROSS. After considering how I could do better, I decided to take the show on the road – a global road trip! It started in New Zealand in early 2016, and I fully expected it to be finished by the end of the year. But my mad Googling skills – and the lovely suggestions of guests I did find – led to the year ending with the show in Israel. I’ve already done some interviews across Africa, and that’s where the show will pick up in 2017. Looks like this tour is going to go through at least 2018, if not longer. If you are in Africa, Europe, or the Americas, and want to be on the show (or suggest someone who should be), please let me know!


Fat athletes

This was a great year for fat athletes. Looking across the fat athletes that competed in the Rio Olympics reinforced for me, and many across the world, that fat people can engage in fitness, and even be Olympians.

Fat athletes seem to be getting more attention these days, remember these great covers from the EPSN Body Issue of 2014 and 2015?

Unfortunately, this is probably because the idea of a fat athlete fits nicely into respectability politics. Sure, it’s okay to be fat, as long as you are also fit/healthy/physically active/fill in your favourite litmus test here for fat humanity. And of course, of course, fat athletes still have to deal with fat shaming and body shaming, even when they are Olympians.


FAC 2016 & FSNZ16

I was thrilled to be invited to speak at the 2016 Fat Activism Conference. I spoke on being fat in the workplace, and was joined by 30 other amazing speakers, including Gloria Lucas, Daniel Goldberg, and Caleb Luna. I love this conference – being online, and available on-demand afterwards, means that I can engage with it as suits me best in the Southern Hemisphere. I love that they have a pay-what-you-can-afford option. I’d like to see more cis and trans men as speakers in future years, and more people from outside of the Western and Northern Hemispheres; you can recommend a speaker here. And I’m really proud that Friend of Marilyn came on board as a sponsor this year; hoping to do this again for 2017 (dates for 2017 FAC have been announced: 6-8 October, 2017).

FSNZ16 Logo 2016

The other big FAT conference this year was Fat Studies New Zealand 2016: Identity, Agency, Embodiment. FNSZ16 provided a space for Fat Studies scholars and fat activists to come together and share pedagogy, scholarship, and activism. Over 100 people registered for the conference, with approx. 30 of those being in attendance in person. We had 22 presentations; 5 of them were done remotely (New Zealand; sick child on the day, Australia, Canada, United States, United Kingdom). Online attendees were able to live stream the two days, and submit Qs for presenters through Twitter. Live Tweeting of FSNZ16 took place by four individuals in attendance, along with the organiser. I loved that we had two keynotes this time – Substantia Jones and Katie LeBesco; having an academic and an activist as our keynotes allowed us to acknowledge that Fat Studies, as a discipline, is heavily integrated by scholars and activists. I also enjoyed the community events that tied into the conference, including Fat Out Loud (spoken word event at the Library) and the Adipositivity Project exhibit at Te Manawa. I’m very aware that hosting the conference in NZ means that many who would like to attend cannot, but I hope that the online options did allow for meangingful engagement. I’m already planning for FSNZ20 (2020), so let me know if you have any ideas!

Fat Colouring Books

Colouring books continued to be all the rage in 2106. We’ve had some great fat positive colouring books in the past, like Fat Ladies in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace and the FATSPO Colouring book on Tumblr; and there are other non-fat specific, but still awesome, feminist colouring books, like The Badass Feminist Colouring Book (V1 and V2). In 2016, we had several new fat positive colouring books hit the shelves and I couldn’t be more giddy about this! I don’t remember spending a lot of time colouring when I was a child, but I love what these represent, and I love that fat kids now have opportunities to see themselves, and colour themselves in, in books (although not all of these are child friendly!)


Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book by Allison Tunis


The Big Fat Little Colouring Zine by Natalie Perkins (this is available as a printed zine or a PDF)


Superfat Crop Top Girl Gang Colouring Book Zine by Rachele Cateyes (get all four!)