Road to the Conference – Jane Arlene Herman, Lindsay Marie, Ashleigh Shackelford, Friend of Marilyn

We are so very excited about the wondAffiliate Banner 300x250erful sponsors and amazing speakers we have lined up for The Fat Activism Conference this year that we can’t possibly wait until October to tell you all about them. So we’re continuing with our pre-conference interviews from a few  of them every week so you can see what an amazing team we’ve got lined up for The Fat Activism Conference to be held October 6-8 on a phone or a computer near you.  Don’t wait to sign up.

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 Keynote Spotlight

 Jane Arlene Herman 

I am old and I know a lot. I have been a lecturer, educator, organizer, and activist since (almost) the beginning of time. I know how to share, how to say what needs to be said (which is not necessarily that which people want to hear…), and how to create tiny shifts in the world. I am also a fat, disability, environmental health, LGBTQ, old, and Jewish activist. In my teaching, I encourage people to understand that if you’re oppressed, your life makes you a political activist; wherever I can, I teach that “the personal is political.” During the 1970s, I was a member of the Los Angeles Radical Feminist Therapy Collective. This group, whose members included the visionary and pioneering fat activists Vivian Mayer (a.k.a. Aldebaran) and Judy Freespirit, birthed the Fat Underground and helped shape the early fat feminist movement.

What does Fat Activism mean to you?

All oppressed people are activists, even if one never says a word in one’s own defense. Every time a cruel, harmful, or judgmental word, look, or action is thrown in our direction, our bodily, psychic, or emotional reaction is the reaction of an activist. Some of us, by luck or privilege, are more able to speak up or act. We activists need to claim responsibility for our privilege and speak up for those who are not living in the best circumstances to speak for themselves.

Why do you think Fat Activism is important?

Fat activism is a very special movement. Not many other activist groups or people are willing to do the necessary work to halt their own fatphobia, or to speak up for us. We fat folks are too often ridiculed and emotionally discarded by folks who are ashamed to even be seen with us. We must not wait for others to shine our light. We fat activists and our allies need to work together to keep our light bright and our words bellowing.

Can you give us a hint of what we’ll hear from you at the conference?

In this talk, I will discuss the problem of secret dieting, which is something that we all do. Secret dieting means that we restrict what, and how much, we eat, but we convince ourselves that we’re not really dieting—we’re just being careful about health, cholesterol, diabetes, the environment, the children, whatever. Pretty much everyone—fat, thin, and in-between—is doing some kind of secret dieting, and it hurts us in many ways. It makes us squash down our anger and act too “nice,” and this in turn causes our political activism to become watered down and timid. I’ll talk about how you can recognize secret dieting and put a stop to it. Then you can join together with other fat folks and get support in nurturing yourself by eating all the food that you want and need. Together, we’ll get in touch with our radical political anger and edge!

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 Speaker Spotlights

Lindsay Marie – When Was the Last Time You Called Yourself Fat

What does Fat Activism mean to you?

Body Positivity is to Fat Activism what Humanism is to Feminism. One is for “everyone” and the other recognizes that oppression exists. Yes, all bodies deserve to be loved by their owners but fat bodies, bodies with disabilities, queer and trans bodies, and bodies of colour are the ones lacking representation and facing oppression. Fat activism recognizes this and works to create a society where all bodies are accepted.

Why do you think Fat Activism is important?

The fat activism movement has always been about centering marginalized bodies and when the body positive community constantly puts thin, white, straight, able-bodied women on a pedestal to represent all of us, we are doing that history a disservice. I think we got a bit lost in the message of body positivity being for all bodies when it was actually created by a very specific group of individuals who have faced violence and hatred because of their oppression. There is always a historical context when we talk about oppression and we can’t ignore that. While I do want all people to love their bodies we need to be making space for those least allowed to do so, according to societal standards. That is what fat activists have always stood for and what I am all about because I am a queer, fat, femme. I am a fat activist and a fatshion blogger.

Can you give us a hint of what we’ll hear from you at the conference?

Selfies, selfies, and more selfies! Plus the word “fat.”

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Ashleigh Shackelford – I Wish a Nigga Would: Why You Don’t Have to Love Yourself to Defend Yourself

 What does Fat Activism mean to you?

F​at activism means Black lives mattering. Fat activism means Black fat bodies at the beginning, center, and end. Fat activism means shifting the narratives that fatphobia is a separate violence from antiblackness. Fat activism is challenging the narratives of ableism and classism to include the narratives around fat bodies. Fat activism is resistance in a world designed to shrink and kill me.

Why do you think Fat Activism is important?

Fat activism is imperative because fatphobia is inherently derivative of antiblack violence. In order to free fat bodies, it starts with the centering of Black resistance that has always included a narrative of anti-fatphobia and anti-body shaming but whiteness has always kept it fractured. Black history is fat history. My existence as a Black fat femme cannot be put into fractions. So fat activism is something inherently tied to my Blackness, my femmeness, my queerness, my disability, and my poorness. I’m always a fat nigga wherever I go, and my story will always be both/ and, never either/ or.

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Sponsor Spotlight

We are so happy to Friend of Marilyn as one of our Platinum Sponsors for 2017!

Friend of Marilyn (@FOMNZ) is a fat positive radio show on Access Manawatu 999AM. It provides counter programming to the normative discourses on fatness and obesity in our culture, hosting conversations in which accepted ideas and stereotypes about fatness are challenged. FOM believes that safe spaces for fat people are important, and the show is committed to providing a forum where fat people get to speak for themselves (not just have their lives thinsplained by others). FOM began in August of 2011, and is currently on a tour around the world – make sure your city is a spot today!

About Ragen Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be Iron-distance triathlete, Activist, Fat Person.
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