Excerpts from the 2021 thesis, “Building the FaT GiRL Table: Excavating Cultural Memory of Queer Fat Activism in the ‘90s” by Rose Gelfand.
(See full thesis for context, methodology and analysis).
How did Fat Girl come to be? What did its production process look like? Why did it end? In this project I co-construct an oral history of the FaT GiRL project by synthesizing and analyzing the testimonies of six of the collective members. I begin by documenting the origin story of the project. Next I recount a brief history of the zine’s production process and publication arc and the joyous queer fat embodiment it created for its participants. Finally, I will document how burnout, scarcity and gentrification brought the project to its end.
FaT GiRL was explicitly created out of frustration with existing queer, dyke & kink publications, which outright rejected fat people because they believed “nobody wanted to see” fat bodies (Barbarism). While my participants realized they were attracted to women at a variety of ages, four of the six shared that they started identifying as queer & came out in college. One of those was Barbarism who went to UC Santa Cruz, where she participated in a wide variety of queer and peace activism. In the summer of 1990, she attended the New Pacific Academy, an education and training program for young LGBTQ+ activists from all over North America founded by Cleve Jones, after which she moved back to Santa Cruz to an anarchist house. At the time, Santa Cruz boasted a vibrant punk community, which birthed a queer erotica zine (with some intellectual/political analysis of sexuality) called Inciting Desire. Barbarism and EQ, her partner at the time who was later a central collective member, decided they wanted to submit a series of photos. Barbarism recounted:
We wanted to submit something to the zine because we felt like Santa Cruz was our stomping grounds and we knew a lot of the people who were doing the zine, and we were just sort of exploring our sexuality and had another friend who did photography. So we did, like a pretty hot scene that she photographed for us and we submitted and then we were rejected, because we were fat. And they wrote us this kind of weird letter … but we got the inside scoop because we knew some of the people who were really upset about it and the photographer knew people and we were like, what the fuck? Excuse me. Like, I’m too fat for publication? What does that mean? You know, they were really, really sexy photos.
Sometime in late 1993 or early 1994, Heather MacAllister, an old friend of Max’s and a central person in queer fat community (who later started Big Burlesque and the Fat-Bottom Revue) visited the Bay Area. Barbarism and Max were dating at the time, and took Heather out with some friends to a rooftop bar in the Castro called The Cafe. Heather was looking for someone to cruise for the weekend and was disillusioned by the scene at the bar. As Barbarism shared they were “just talking about how skinny everybody is in the Castro and how white they are and how we’re so punk. And she was just like, ‘you gotta fix me up here.’” Barbarism racked her brain for who she could introduce Heather to, which led to her mentioning EQ and ultimately, recounting how they were rejected from Inciting Desire for being fat. Heather was outraged by the story, and collectively they began stewing on how not even the “radical kinky dyke media included fat people” (Max). As Barbarism put it:
We were just like, we gotta do something about this! … Why aren’t we just doing our own zine? Yeah, we should just publish! … and I was like “I want to call it Fat Girl, cause like, nobody wants to see pictures of a fat girl well, they’re gonna see pictures of a fat girl!” *laughs*
They began to spitball and brainstorm what the project could include, and from the beginning envisioned an interdisciplinary zine that reflected the richness of their lives. It had to include space for art and politics, their variety of personal interests, and they also wanted to create space where queer fat women could safely and effectively cruise. As Barbarism reflected, a primary motivator was to create a medium where you could “find somebody to hook up with that you know wants you and you know you want them.” Thus, FaT GiRL was born.
Collective World Building: Zine Production
Max and Barbarism first pitched the idea to their friends, including Candida and Bertha (who was introduced to this group of people by moving into the McAlister Street apartment that Max and several other fat queer people were sharing at the time) who were completely enthusiastic. They decided they wanted to do the zine as a collective and then entered a period of recruitment, flyering at events like Dyke March. There are conflicting memories about how many members came from this period versus how many were people they already knew, but one member who did come out of public outreach was April. April recalled that she didn’t know how the collective started but that she was working on other community zines and performing with Fat Lip Readers Theater, and someone told her about a Fat Girl meeting:
I went to a meeting, [and] was like *excited gasp*. … It was like, you need people, you’re making this zine. Yeah! Hell Yeah! I’ll do this. And I had been working with the Femme Collective and the Femme Show. And I’d been working with Fat Lip and, you know, writing a bit and working with the books and stuff. But I had a lot of time, I lived alone in an apartment in Oakland and I was like, yeah. I would love to do this. I’m an artist. So I just started helping.
The collective slowly took shape and they spent six months of 1994 gathering materials and envisioning the first issue. They drew inspiration from the environment around them like the murals in the Mission, the vibrant queer club scene, the work of John Waters and Foucault, as well as their community’s queer punk & BDSM culture. As Barbarism explained in the interview with the collective in the 1996 book Zines! Vol 1:
We spent a lot of that time talking. One of our first endeavors was to put together an ‘issue statement’ so that we had a clear idea of what we wanted to present. We discovered how diverse our interests were, what our heartfelt hopes were, and to incorporate a lot of diversity into our publication: sexuality, smut and sincere writing about being a fat dyke growing up in this culture and being alienated… talking about hard things as well as fun things. We spent a lot of time laying the groundwork, making sure we were inclusive about all of this. (McDonald 1996:131)
Part of this groundwork was conceptualizing the aesthetic and visual brand of the zine. Collective members had varied ideas on how the project should look, with some desiring a more punk, small scale Xerox traditional zine aesthetic, with others wanting more polish and a full size printed magazine. This period of time was the beginning of the explosion of tech companies in San Francisco, and Barbarism and Max both got jobs working for a high end computer systems administrator magazine downtown. The company paid them to learn Photoshop and Quark and as a marketer Barbarism was placed in several classes on magazine design. Barbarism applied the magazine cover design and marketing techniques she learned in these classes to help the zine reach as many people as possible via visual recognition and favorable placement at bookstores— a consistent color theme for each issue, FaT GiRL at the top so that if there were other magazines placed in front of them the name was visible, and strategic decisions about the masthead. The initial design choices she proposed were as much about brand recognition and distribution as they were about artistic preference. Max and Barbarism also utilized their work xerox machines and did much of the layout of the first couple issues at their work on their desktop computers, as no one had laptops at the time. As Max put it, “the .com boom helped FaT GiRL come to life because we had access to that training.”
The first issue came out in October 1994 with an initial run of 2000 copies. The content was a mix of media by forty eight different contributors (ten of which were the initial iteration of the collective). Many of these contributions came from individuals already in the collective’s existing social networks, but some presumably came from the flyering the collective did, to mixed results. As Max recounted:
“We made stickers about fat, you know, some were “Riots Not Diets,” some were like “Submit to Fat Girl.” I don’t remember what else. And so we all got armed with these stickers. And we went around like a little fat army, trying to recruit people. And so anytime we’d see a fat dyke, or someone we thought was a fat dyke, we would approach them. *laughs* And people did NOT like this strategy, like some of them did, but some of them really did not. We did it at a Dyke March, it was the first or the second Dyke March, ever. We went around with our stickers, and we’re handing them to people and trying to get people to send us submissions and join our collective and all this. And some people were really rude, really rude, like, you know, really did not want to be identified as fat. And we were there identifying them as fat like, totally out about it, like, ‘hey, fat person, we love you!” And they’re like, “Fuck you!” *laughs* But I think just it was revolutionary for a lot of people like, oh, “You’re calling me fat? You’re recruiting me for this fat thing?’ Wow.”
After the first round of submissions were received, the collective began to decide what they were going to accept and how they were going to lay it out. For the first issue and all issues following, the collective made very intentional design choices to vary the genre and emotional registers of the media throughout the zine. All my participants stressed how important it was to them for the work to “reflect round vibes” (April) because they wanted media which reflected every facet of their lives and appealed to all different kinds of fat dykes. As Sondra phrased it:
I feel like that’s what made sense to us at the time, and still does to me, that it’s all, like you can’t separate these things apart. That being represented and having your sexuality represented is important and having your politics represented is important and they go hand in hand. And having things that are funny and engaging to be with it, or you want to turn the page, like that kind of sort of sense of a variety show where it’s all there. That felt really important, as opposed to a zine that was just smut or was just academic, or just like, none of that would make sense. And also, like, it was the whole community. I think there was a sense of wanting enough variety to appeal to all different kinds of people, because we knew, even though it was a narrow readership in a sense, like, we were a very diverse community. The community of fat queers, or fat dykes is narrow compared to the world, but it’s a very diverse group, like racially and economically and spiritually, just a very diverse group. So you needed to have all of that stuff to appeal to everyone. And it was what was coming back from the community.
This variety show aesthetic allowed all collective members and contributors to contribute content which reflected their skillset and passions, from comics and visual art to photos to articles to creative writing and beyond. Several collective members picked up repeated columns on topics like health, news, advice, resource sharing and food, for example Bertha had a recurring column called “The Kitchen Slut” which celebrated and sexualized cooking in order to combat the way fat people are shamed for eating. They wanted the project to be a community forum for all fat dykes, so unless it was beyond redeemable (politically or artistically) they accepted any and all submissions from the community. In layout sessions they would search for balance and flow, sometimes saving submissions or contributions for future issues to balance the types of media or emotional registers.
The collective opened the first issue with a compilation of anonymous answers to the questions: “How do you feel fat women are represented in the media? How do you feel fat dykes are represented in the dyke media?” and “If you could, how would you change the media’s presentation of fat?” (FaT GiRL #1 1994:2). The page that follows is the original photoset of Barbarism and EQ which was rejected from Inciting Desire. In this way, the origin story of FaT GiRL and the intention behind the project are very clearly visible in the text. Later in the issue there is a roundtable with the collective where they discuss their experiences as fat dykes and their intentions for the zine, as well as photos of them feeding each other– a joyous and pleasurable refusal of food shame in which “seemingly impossible desires and bodily formations take shape, exhibiting the viability of such lives and practices” (Snider 2009: 228). For each issue that followed (except issue #6) the collective organized a roundtable on a different intersection of identity (Fat & Age, Racism & Fat Hatred, Class/Concious, Sexuality, and Butch Identity) which brought together a wide variety of fat dykes (many not in the collective) to discuss their experiences, which they transcribed and documented with participant portraits. The roundtables often sprouted organically out of collective meetings, but were very deliberately organized and transcribed, as the collective felt they were central to the project. As a medium, the roundtables built a space for fat dykes at various intersections to theorize their own identity in relationship to other members of their community; to celebrate multiplicitous subjectivities while creating solidarity.
When I asked my interviewees what the primary message of FaT GiRL was, they all gave a version of the same response. To honor their collective vision, I compiled their articulations into one answer which incorporates language from all six: So, what was the primary message of FaT GiRL? It was:
Fat is not only acceptable… but fat is cool! Fat is radical. Fat is punk. Fat is sexy and playful. Fat sex is hot sex. Fat people are brilliant and thoughtful and deserving of love and attention and health care and caring. Don’t be ashamed, live your life. “Don’t dream It, Be It.” Tell your truth. Just get out there. We want you! You are valued and you are wanted … in your entirety. Self worth is a revolutionary act. But self worth is not enough, and we have to change the system, and no one else is gonna change it for us, we have to change the world. Fat Girl was celebratory, and it was also confrontational.
This collective answer elucidates several important factors to highlight. For one, while media representation was a key motivator for the project, FaT GiRL resists traditional neoliberal discourses of visibility by arguing that while self worth is revolutionary, it on its own will not dismantle structures of bodily hierarchy. Its framework places visibility and desirability politics within their context of larger institutions of dominance (“love and attention and health care”) and seeks recognition without attempting to placate dominant narratives (i.e. the fat is okay/fat won’t kill you rhetoric). Furthermore, the celebratory and confrontational nature of FaT GiRL did not just coexist, they were often one and the same. As I outlined through Le’A Kent’s analysis in my literature review, the work encourages the reader to take direct action in mischievous manners which not only resist diet culture, but give the participant the opportunity to find pleasure in harming the dominant institutions/narrative (prank calling or throwing paint filled Christmas ornaments at diet centers, cutting inaccessible seating with a chainsaw, faking dramatic births if someone asks if you’re pregnant etc.). Similarly the visibilization of images which glorify fat queer people’s joy and pleasure (sexual and otherwise) was a central, and explicitly political/confrontational act. As Max explained, when you grow up as fat, “not only are you not seen as desirable, you’re also not really allowed to have desire,” and thus the celebration of embodied pleasure, especially in relationship to food and sex, is a direct refusal of the shame and silence imposed upon you. The expressions of explicit and unapologetic sexuality, especially that which depicted BDSM oriented sex, was the most contraversial element of the zine but that which was most visibly a new contribution to the lexicon of fat activism. As April explained:
Everybody was willing to talk politics. It’s easy to find somebody who’s willing to write an essay, or you know, a piece to perform, but, bodies are real. Sex is real. And it hits people in a place that’s really, really different than…. women who aren’t having sex are just women, you know, dykes who are having sex are dykes. *laughs* So that’s part of it. … Plus, you know, we thought it was hot *laughs* and we could publish whenever we wanted. It was actually hard later on, when our original publisher dropped us, and we had to find another publisher and they dropped us because of the sex, but we weren’t letting go. That was really, really, really important. Partially just because that’s not an image you get to see right? It’s hard enough, okay, dykes, or at least women with women who are doing it for themselves and not for a male gaze? Not about meeting society’s purchasing tendency was just what we wanted to do.
FaT GiRL catalyzed both its contributors and readers to engage in radically pleasurable lives, encouraging any and all to submit the sexual representation they wanted to see. All my participants repeatedly stressed just how much fun they had throughout the whole process; in FaT GiRL joy was political, infectious, abundant and unabashed.
FaT GiRL also functioned as a site for queer fat community to publicly work through discourse and critically engage in dialogue about media which portrayed fat bodies. One notable example of this was the back and forth with the author of the collection Women En Large, a 1994 fine art photography book of nude fat women photographed by Laurie Toby Edison, with text by Debbie Notkin. In the second issue of FaT GiRL, Candida wrote a review of the book, praising the beauty of the images while critiquing the way Notkin projects commentary onto the stories of the women photographed which make it clear she does “not get the main point behind what these women are saying” (FaT GiRL Issue #2 1995:31). The center of this critique is the way the book handled April, who was photographed and asked to write an essay for the project. After April wrote frankly about the process of accepting her body and claiming her sexuality Notkin wrote, “Most of us aren’t as outrageous as April, but one way or another we do find an accommodation that works for us” (Notkin qtd in FaT GiRL #2 1995:32). In FaT GiRL both Candida and April responded to the use of the term outrageous and the way that it was so heavily steeped in projections about April’s personality given her fat Black womanhood. Candida wrote, “yes, how very outrageous that such a woman should demand and expect people to treat her as powerful and desirable. Thanks for dismissing her self-respect as outrageous.” (FaT GiRL #2 1995:32). April noted that while she was still honored to be in the book, with one line “they tainted my experience and dismissed all the power of my words, my life,” declaring defiantly, “Outrageous. Courageous. Spot the difference” (a quote which also graced the back cover of the issue) (FaT GiRL #2 1995:32). The next issue the collective published the letter that Notkin wrote in response to the review, apologizing to April and responding to the other critiques Candida made. In our interviews April and Candida both noted how useful this textual medium was as a way to have these complex conversations with other activists and artists, as April described:
I responded, and then she responded *laughs* So to be able to have kind of conversations about where you are, politically and experientially that are surrounding this sort of fat experience with other people who are also trying to move forward was really, really good.
In this way FaT GiRL offered a location for dialogue amongst fat people working through not only their own identities, but also how they wanted to be portrayed in media.
FaT GiRL was distributed far and wide, despite only having a run of 2000 copies per issue. The team was given lists of alternatives bookstores by other zinemakers in their community and would send samples, packing and mailing sets of copies to the stories who returned interest, as far as cities like Berlin and Amsterdam. They sent issues directly to readers who mailed them money for subscriptions (each zine cost $5) and would also ride around San Francisco delivering the zines to local stores. These bookstores including A Different Light in the Castro, one of the biggest queer bookstores in the country at the time, where they were the highest selling zine they’d ever carried (V Vale 1996:135). FaT GiRL found its way to corners all around the world, passed through queer community from friend to friend and into many unexpected hands. Many collective members told me stories of the unexpected places they later discovered their work— from encountering pictures of their own butt on the wall of dressing room of a plus size thrift store in Brooklyn, to straight strangers on planes bringing up the work without any knowledge of their involvement, to hearing from a friend in Korea that they ran into someone who knew the work—FaT GiRL proliferated far and wide. As the publication continued and the internet became more widespread they began a website called FaT GiRL Online where they republished content, primarily the political material and articles to avoid providing the sexual content to trolls. Both the physical publication and the website received press attention from more traditional media outlets like Time Magazine, the Nation, and shoutouts in the more normative queer publications. The collective was also interviewed for a RESearch book called “Zines! Vol 1” which profiled eleven prominent zines to investigate the counterculture phenomenon. As Max stated in the Zines! Interview, “for a being such a fringe thing, we sure are popular! Weird!” (Airborne qtd in V Vale 1996:137)
While FaT GiRL was primarily a textual endeavor, it also manifested as in-person community by bringing collective members and readers together in physical space. Sometimes this took the form of throwing events, primarily zine readings as fundraisers or getting together to do photoshoots, but usually involved collective participation in established queer, fat and zine community events and spaces like Pride and Dyke March, the Michigan Womyn’s Festival, play parties, a punk conference called Dirty Bird, the NAAFA fat feminists conference, and OutWrite (a national queer writers conference). When I asked what kind of community spaces FaT GiRL birthed Candida explained:
I really don’t know if we brought about many of the spaces, like we threw some events. And we definitely participated in some events that were opened up to us to be more inclusive … I could be wrong, but I don’t feel like we necessarily opened up those physical spaces. I feel like our presence made room for a dialectic where people were just direct about being fat, and asking for what they wanted. And then it can be sexy and hot. … We took up space in queer culture in a way that I hadn’t seen before. I felt like we wanted that room and we made that room. And we were recognized, I felt that things really changed.
Barbarism echoed this sentiment, noting that the community’s reaction to their presence was also a product of the way the zine empowered them to unapologetically take up space together, which was surprisingly well received by the community at large:
It was more like we just took over, we just became really emboldened *laughs* it’s one thing to be out with your fat partner. It’s another thing to like, be out with, like this huge group of clearly, like, self possessed fat queer women and we just started going to places together. We just, we got a lot more positive reception. And I don’t know if it’s just from people who read the zine as much as it, I think it just really changed our confidence and self worth and all of that stuff that comes from being our authentic self and feeling empowered.
In this way, the zine transformed the lives of its creators as much as it did the lives of its audience.
While FaT GiRL created a lot of joy for both its creators and readers, it was also an incredible amount of work. Beyond creating their own content for the zine, the collective ran consensus based planning meetings, an editorial committee, coordinated photoshoots, and held all night layout sessions. They worked with printers, solicited local advertisers, transported the heavy boxes of zines, coordinated mail and in person distribution and threw events to raise enough money to print. Finding free space that could accommodate that many fat people proved to be a challenge, as Barbarism recalled:
All the queer people I know rent all their lives instead of owning, because they weren’t deemed worthy from their families, if their family had capital to be able to, like, you know, purchase their own homes. So we were always in some kind of semi squatting situation. And that’s where the zine you know, I lived in this old fashioned really big Victorian flat, with a lot of different roommates coming in and out most all of whom were identified as dykes at different points. But because it was one of those old fashioned flats, one of my sets of walls were those double doors. And so we were able to have zine meetings and do the zine, because I was able to fly those double doors open and there was enough physical space for all of us. You know it was hard to like, have a collective and then fit into a tiny apartment and have a meeting and have enough chairs that can support all of our weight. Like odd logistics, but that was like an issue for us. And it was hard because I was on a first floor walkup. But you know, there wasn’t anywhere else we could be.We tried meeting in some public spaces, like Red Dora’s and everything, but there was never enough room for us. And we didn’t have money to rent space.
While the collective all cared for each other, navigating the interpersonal dynamics of an established friend group which added complete strangers to attempt a consensus based, volunteer run collective process for something so laborious naturally proved to be quite difficult. FaT GiRL did not set out to make money (other than to pay for itself) or operate as a business, but inherently required enormous financial coordination which was extremely challenging given the conditions of economic scarcity. Navigating conditions of shared labor and creative control were also sometimes difficult, as all collective members navigated their own set of marginalizations, interpersonal relationships and participation level while working their paid jobs. This ultimately led to three of the founding members, Barbarism, Candida and Max leaving after issue #4, still participating by contributing materials but removing themselves from the collective process.
All my participants shared how lack of resources and access to capital proved to be the biggest challenge in publishing such a massive project. Raising the funds necessary to publish and mail sometimes required the collective to make difficult choices they did not want to, including one particular incident of unintentional ableism which was mentioned to me by multiple interviewees. One this particular occasion, FaT GiRL was in desperate need of funds for their next issue, and thus planned a fundraiser. The only space the group could get donated was a place where one of the collective members worked, which just so happened to be up a flight of stairs with no other accessible entrance. After the event, a community member in a wheelchair who had previously contributed to the zine wrote them a letter expressing their hurt and anger that they had been defined outside of the bounds of community by virtue of being unable to access the event, and how it was even more hurtful than normal because it came from fellow fat dykes. As Sondra recalled:
That was a very hard moment. I didn’t have the disability knowledge of politics at that time that I do now. … I feel bad for the scarcity in that moment, the scarcity of resources that we had. The scarcity of accessibility, the scarcity of skill that I had, at that time to, you know, I remember, like, feeling the desperation of trying to raise funds, and not having a good way to do it, and making this decision to take this free space, and not feeling great about it, but also not having the skills to understand better, like how important it was to make a different choice. And just that feeling of hurting and disappointing someone who is a member of the community. And then also just feeling helpless, resource wise, to not have better resources. I mean, now I look at that, and it’s terrible and it’s also terrible that we had someone who had to work in that space. It’s terrible to have inaccessible spaces. Not just the event, but the fact that like,we have fat people having to access these inaccessibles spaces too, but … I still feel bad about it to this day. I wish that we had made a different choice. And I really learned from that feeling of you know, defensiveness, and shame and scarcity, that horrible feeling of having messed up and not having known how to do better and that struggle, I try to learn from that every day.
The letter from this community member, Mary Frances Platt, was published in Issue #7, alongside a response from the collective apologizing and explaining how the choice was made out of economic scarcity, but that none the less it would not happen again and that they planned to study the anti-ableism collective discussion facilitator packet she mailed them. This story exemplifies the messiness which inevitably comes with a project like FaT GiRL; that trying to create inclusive community spaces under the stress of multiple compounding marginalizations and class struggle proves to be extremely difficult.
When I asked my interviewees why FaT GiRL ended, most felt they didn’t know the whole story. Piecing together everyone’s experience of the end, it’s clear that FaT GiRL ended because of labor burnout and financial strain. The collective members who left after issue #4 held much of the infrastructure and did a lot of labor, and once they left it fell on just a couple people who attempted to keep it going, but ultimately couldn’t sustain how much work it involved. The influx of tech workers into San Francisco by this point (1997) also meant that life in San Francisco became increasingly more expensive. As Sondra articulated:
It’s a big endeavor to sustain as volunteers who are facing our own discrimination and hurdles, … people who were on the collective were working very hard and just having to survive and doing this whole huge, unpaid job on the side was tough. So, I think that struggle of … how to raise the money to do it and keep it going and keep the energy going and to do it right. I think that was really the issue. … I remember trying to do more fundraisers to generate money, and then the whole challenge of like, space is so expensive in San Francisco, how do we do that? When you’re charging $5 and it’s donation based for a fundraiser, you really can’t afford to pay for space on that too. So I think it was as the people who were doing the collective had like fewer resources, it just became harder and harder. I think San Francisco was also going through its changes then where artists were getting kind of squeezed, Bay Area artists were getting squeezed. Spaces were becoming more expensive. It was just harder to do stuff like that.
In addition to the financial difficulty and the loss of steam, compounding marginalizations and experiences of trauma created intense burnout. As April, one of the last collective members trying to keep it alive, described it, it was “a terrible congruence of everybody running out of spoons.” She shared that she didn’t know the details of why other people’s spoons ran out, but that a major contributor to hers was her experience in proximity to the 101 California shooting at the law firm she was working at (she had gone out to lunch just before). As she recalled:
Burnout is a real thing. And it looks really different for different people. The other thing that I think that is different about my experience… is that back in the 90s, there was a shooting at the law firm that I worked with, 101 California in San Francisco, which is actually the reason there was that ban on big weaponry for a while, was because of the 101 California shooting. But that was traumatic. And over time, I have realized that I had serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I didn’t answer my mail or even open the mailbox for several years.… I stopped checking the [FaT GiRL] mailbox. There were a couple of us who were supposed to be doing it. And we had paid for it to go on for a while … [but] nobody else did it. So we could have published another episode. But I think that the other people who were still around, obviously didn’t have enough energy to do it, or get together with me to do it. And I wasn’t about to pull up enough energy to do it on my own. So I would say that, you know, we died, we didn’t lose interest, we burned out really, truly. We put out a couple episodes that were really only two of us.
As April articulates, compounding marginalization, trauma and burnout brought FaT GiRL to an unceremonious close, an end all too common outcome for ambitious activist projects. Several of the collective members stayed in touch, others lost contact over time as the cost of living and life circumstances pushed many of them out of the Bay Area. While FaT GiRL had a short four year run, its unabashed celebration, confrontation and vision irrevokably changed the landscape of queer San Francisco and the direction of fat liberation movements (the details of how I will outline in chapter 6).
As I close this oral history, I want to note that there are many more stories of FaT GiRL and the lives of my participants than I could possibly ever fit in one thesis; this is in no way could ever be comprehensive. However, I hope that by beginning to synthesize what my interviewees shared I am able to document and visibilize history that could otherwise easily go unrecorded and be lost to time.