Queer Punks Chew The Fat

Title: Queer Punks Chew The Fat
Date(s) of creation: August 1996
Creator / author / publisher: Candida Albicans Royale, FaT GiRL
Physical description: 2 zine pages, text in 3 columns and a black and white photo.
Reference #: FG6-006-007-QueerPunks 
Links: [ PDF ]

Queer Punks Chew the Fat

by Candida Albicans Royale

From FaT GiRL #6, August, 1996

A number of fat activists recently converged at the Dirtybird Queercore Fest here in San Francisco (organized by Outpunk – thanks Matt!). Dirtybird drew a predominantly, though not exclusively, young (18-24) crowd, especially at its four workshops: Fat, Queerzines, Race, and Young-and-on-your-own. It was a pleasure to have finally met some of the starlet writers and artists whose zines I’ve been following from afar.

[Image description: Black and white photo of a group of ~35 young adults crowded together, posing for a group photo in a large room. The group appears mostly white. Many are wearing nametags on their chests. People are smiling and the mood is fun.The front row includes Max, Candida, Nomy, Nevada, Charlotte and Sondra. Caption says “The Dirtybird Fat Oppression Workshop Crowd.”]

43 riot grrls, fag geeks, punk dykes and bi-activists – fat and thin – turned up for the Fat Workshop, which was facilitated by Sondra Solo (of FaT GiRL) and Nomy Lamm (I’m So Fucking Beautiful.) A number of participants brought up the subjects of eating disorders and body image problems, and Nomy was quick to differentiate between issues of “fat oppression” and “body image.” As she put it: what girl *doesn’t* learn to hate her body, regardless of size?

But fat people get a lot of shit and discrimination specifically related to being fat in a fat-hating world, even if they have a great self-image. As Nomy (recently featured in Ms. magazine, by the way) is often invited to lead workshops on fat at predominantly thin riot grrl conventions, she wasted no time in making this distinction.

Personally, I’m sickened and enraged by the lip-service that “body image problems” are getting in the media nowadays, as it’s usually thrown out there as a trendy catch-phrase devoid of sincerity or concern for the root- a hatred and fear of fat- let alone the problem, much like oil companies touting their environmental “friendliness.” Oh, we are so concerned that girls are growing up idolizing anorexic models, poor body image is a terrible problem! So we will use skinny models instead of extremely bony models (since of course we still have “palatable” standards of beauty to live up to), and remember, girls, anorexia is bad! Everything in moderation! And meanwhile, here’s a helpful, SENSIBLE diet you can follow to stay “sensibly” thin, since you’re better off dead or anorexic or bulimic than FAT. (I especially love how Omega watches pulled their advertising from Vogue for a brief 3-day stint claiming that they didn’t want to contribute to rampant anorexia-only to change their decision claiming that as advertisers, they couldn’t drive editorial content. Since when?! Who do most beauty mags cater to? And by the way, LOVE that Omega watch ad that depicts a bony model wearing a wristwatch around her waist.)

But how I digress!

So yes, I do indeed believe that every girl and woman has to contend with not hating her body so goddamned much, including myself still-but in the meantime, I found it refreshing that Nomy made the differentiation and kept the workshop geared on issues that fat people specifically face, and not about the complex issues behind (thin) women’s fear of becoming fat. I do wish there were more forums for girls dealing with this, but hey, I’m selfish-and was so excited that a FAT WORKSHOP was organized at a punk gathering in the first place! So thanks, Nomy, for keeping it on track. Then Sondra horrified everyone with her true-case scenarios of discrimination against fat people in U.S. courtrooms. That fat people are incarcerated in state custody (i.e. mental hospitals and jails) because of their “obesity,” and over such unrelated legal matters as child custody and parole was news to many, and managed to raise the level of already rampant disgust and distrust a roomful of young anarchists have with the legal system. Congratulations to Sondra for finishing and surviving law school, by the way! I always look for her news briefs and statistics both here in FaT GiRL and in Fat!So?.

The discussion soon led to the horrors of the so-called health care industry… And in fact, there were too many issues to cover in 3 1/2 hours, so the group split off into smaller groups of 6 to have more personal discussions. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to sit around and shoot the shit with people I hardly knew about the fat-hatred in punk communities (and how some people absurdly equate veganism with a commitment to having low body fat because “thin=healthy”), fat-positive leatherdykes, postponing coming out as a fag because being a fat guy was hard enough to deal with, lock-gluing, and much more.

I also got to meet out-of-town zinester Charlotte Cooper (who graces the pages of FG and Girlfrenzy and puts out the zine Alright with her lover), who had plenty of incisive and right-on-the-money comments to throw in the fray. She’s looking to inspire more organized fat-activism in London, as there seem to be more isolated actions from fringe communities, but little holding them together; and she’s tired of looking to the states for organized, networked queer-positive fat activism!

If you live in London and want to brew some changes, write her up. And while you’re at it, drop a note to Rachel House, also from London, who illustrates the fat and bi-positive zine, Red Hanky Panky. When asked about the scene in London, she said that fat-activism used to be more prevalent in the bi-communities-that there are some really great bi freaks in general- but that it seems to have tapered off.

Sound familiar?

Please encourage fat freaks to come out wherever you live, and sponsor your own local or regional fat chat/workshop. Thanks to the organizers of Dirtybird for getting my panties in a wad again.

To get a hold of these, and other fine zines, check out the reviews in the Resources Section.