Because it's not fat that kills, but fear of fat. Fat-assed girls kick it.
When I was in high school, I was part of the problem. I didn't join in the chorus of guffaws when classmates teased the fat girl, but I didn't say anything in her defense. I tried to pretend I didn't care as she shrank against the puke green locker-room walls. When I ran into her at the bus stop, I was friendly, but not too friendly. Meanwhile, I drank coffee for breakfast and ate green apples for lunch, but made giant tofu stews or heaping plates of spaghetti when I got home, away from the audience of my peers.
Eventually, I became a feminist and an activist. I read The Beauty Myth and talked about body image. But I was always secretly happy to still fit into something with an S or M tag, even if I was a little curvier than most. When I looked for dates, I didn't consider the fat girls or boys. They were my friends, but for some reason, I just wasn't into them that way. I didn't recognize that this was no accident, but part of the way I was raised to see what a beautiful body is.
When I gained weight, I was lucky to have a group of cool, smart, fat-assed chicks to rewire my brain and inspire me to look at the world as it was: a serious fat-girl hating place. They were a fantastic group of activists and performance artists called Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off who were breakdancing, crafting, baking, publishing, tap dancing and speaking out for the hot fat girl revolution. They invited me to work with them and it completely changed my life.
Now that we are no longer a group, I often run into people who tell me they miss having fat activists around. My answer? Start your own group. It's easier than it sounds. Organize a potluck or a clothing swap and invite your local fatties. Just sitting with a group of other chubs, eating and sharing experiences, can be very empowering. How many fat girls hate eating in groups? Throw a group dinner with only fat girls and take the power back.
If you live in an isolated area, or are too shy to reach out to someone who may or may not consider themselves fat, join an online community. Sites like LiveJournal connect fat activists or just plain old frustrated fat girls.
As a teenager, I had always been eager to fight for abortion rights and against police brutality and queer-bashing. I didn't see fat as a serious political issue. But it is. To illustrate my point, I've written the "Hot Fat Girl Manifesto" (see below). If you like it, print it on stickers and put it on lockers, bus seats and bathroom walls.
The Hot Fat Girl Manifesto
Because being a hot fat girl is a lot of work and is undervalued or unrecognized. Because a fat girl still has to pay more money for uglier clothes or spend 11 hours at the thrift store to find anything hot to wear. Because if you take the elevator, people think you're lazy but if you're on the treadmill, people laugh.
Because men like John Goodman and Bernie Mac get to have careers on television but sitcom-moms-of-three still have size-two waists. Because even feminist magazines publish fat-phobic articles under the guise of it being a "health issue." Because anti-capitalist activists still use expressions like "fat capitalist pig."
Because girls are dieting at the age of nine. Because side effects of the most popular diet drugs are seizures, heart failure, fecal urgency, breast cancer, lung disease, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, dangerously high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, psychosis, strokes, hallucinations and sudden death.
Because the Cooper Institute's ongoing study of 30,000 people has found that those who are fittest live the longest, no matter what they weigh. Because the doctor who said that there were 30,000 "obesity-related" deaths each year received over $2 million in research funding from Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. Because that study prompted the FDA to approve Phen-Phen and Redux. Because fat-hatred is a money-making industry. Because fat people who exercise live longer than thin people who don't.
Because if you lose weight 'cause you're sick, people telling you how great you look. Because hatred is so ingrained in every single one of us, especially inside the heart of even the hottest fat girl. Because even the most progressive people don't talk or write about it.
Because I am tired of being ignored, invisible, de-sexualized and told that I have such a pretty face.
Because it's not fat that kills, it's fear of fat. For all that and more I am a part of the HOT FAT GIRL REVOLUTION!
This piece first ran in Shameless Magazine.
Zoe Whittall's writing appears in Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets; Red Light: Superheroes, Saints & Sluts; and Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers and Freaks. She is the author of The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life and editor of Geeks, Misfits & Outlaws.