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There’s no doubt that being the partner of Fat Girl Flow has brought on some really exciting opportunities. I’ve been able to attend interesting events I would have otherwise never known about. This week I saw the film Fattitude and y’all…it brought me to life.
Fattitude is a documentary about fat discrimination. It aims to bring awareness to the general public about the fat bias and prejudice that fat people endure in our culture thanks to social stigma and oppression.
As I watched the film (in theater seats that my fat ass definitely could not fit into fyi) I kept thinking one thing to myself. I’ve never seen anything like this.
It was more than the topic that I found to be so powerful. It’s the experience as a whole that I can’t get out of my mind.
Fattitude’s fat interviewees
I sat there watching the documentary and found myself counting all of the fat interviewees. Have you ever done that? I tend to clock every fat person in the room and in movies. Its both in solidarity as well as noting representation.
I counted 14. Out of maybe 25 interviews, (it’s an estimate, don’t quote me, I make mistakes sometimes but its definitely at least CLOSE to this number). 14, undeniably, fat humans being interviewed for their knowledge and expertise on a topic. Do you know how amazing that is? There’s rarely ever even just one fat person being interviewed as a reputable source in documentaries and the like. When there is, I notice. And let’s be real, it’s usually a portly, white, man. Not a woman. Certainly never a woman of color.
With people like Jes Baker, Virgie Tovar, Lindy West, and Sonye Renee Taylor, this documentary just kept getting better with every new interview I saw. It’s amazing, seeing fat people regarded as intelligent, reliable sources worth listening to on a topic. Have you ever realized this rarely happens? Even further, the majority of screen time was given to fat interviewees, without disrespect to them! This felt revolutionary in and of itself.
Thin folks came to work
The other portion of the interviewees were thin. Here’s what was compelling about that. They were speaking as experts in defense of fat people. In defense of me and my right to live life free of discrimination and self hatred. These thin folks were combatting anti-fat bias. They were enthusiastic. Hurt. They were passionate even, about how fat people are being mistreated and why we need to work harder to challenge our social constructs around fatness. It felt like they were just as committed to speaking to the toxicity of diet culture as their fat peers being interviewed for Fattitude.
I got teary, (not difficult for me – I cry at everything but that’s beside the point). I’d never felt so safe while listening to straight size folks talk about fatness. There are a couple of thin folks that I follow on Twitter who seem to be truly remarkable allies to the fat community. And, to be clear, I really do mean a couple of thin folks. Literally two. I’ve come across two allies who haven’t ended up posting a meme that disappoints me as it makes fun of bodies like mine. And yet, here in Fattitude were many medical professionals, writers, activists etc, doing the work. It was a relief to feel like I could trust them, even if just through this brief experience.
The unexpected crowd
When talking about attending this event, I think Corissa and I both thought it would be a theater packed full of fat babes. I suppose maybe I thought it would be more likely that folks would come watch the film in support of a cause they already cared about – thus strengthening the likelihood that they were fat activists themselves. So a bunch of fat babes watching a movie called Fattitude? Sounds like a perfect night to me!
Guess what? I was wrong. Amongst the crowd of an estimated 50 or so viewers, it felt like Corissa and I were the only fat people there. I’m sure there had to be a couple of other fatties in the audience but truly, the overwhelming majority were thin folks, excited to watch Fattitude with us.
At first I was a little bummed. Where my fatties at? Then I realized that this was actually powerful. A large group of people decided to spend their night watching this documentary because they cared enough to learn. I feel such hope when I think of that. They even asked questions afterwards during the discussion. They talked about having realizations of their privilege while seeing the film and being brought to tears by learning about the discrimination fat people face.
And while this does feel a bit like, “okay yeah this is human decency 101 how could y’all not know how badly we were suffering up until this point…” I still think its a beautiful thing. Its movement in the right direction! We want to educate, learn, and grow with people. We want to create allies.
The movement is happening. We are creating allies. All of the efforts of fat activists before me, alongside me, and the rising crew…it is working. We are on the cusp of a societal shift. I could feel it as I watched Fattitude. I heard my thin peers gasp at the injustices mentioned, laugh with Lindy West being well, fucking phenomenal, and nod in agreement at scientific facts. They were engaged and learning.
It can be discouraging to feel like its just us fatties fighting so hard against the mainstream world that hates us. And a lot of times I do feel like the world really does hates fat people. Especially when some asshole takes a picture of me stuffed into an airplane seat to mock me. But straight sized folks cared about us fatties in that moment. Some may have even left the Fattitude screening and talked about it with their friends.
I left the show and felt inspired. Inspired to keep creating. Motivated to push through my weird identity crisis and keep being the unapologetic fatty that I am. To keep having conversations, educating others, and getting educated myself.
And theres one more pretty stellar thing that came from Fattitude. You know how you can easily remember every single instance where you were fat shamed? Its like its burned into your brain, right? It becomes more and more difficult to remember moments of feeling good about your body. Safe. Seen. Because those memories serve as prime evidence that the world is against us. But now, I have a new memory to call upon. I have new evidence. An example of a time I was surrounded by thin folks who were actually invested in dismantling fatphobia. They saw me, and I felt safe.