I’m Fat! So?

A review of the book Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann

Monday night I felt pretty down. Especially after a day at the office, full of things that should’ve been working (but weren’t) and people I wanted to respond to me (but weren’t) and the people I didn’t want to hear from were being, well, vocal.

I also was feeling guilty because I’ve been putting off doing more book reviews. I glanced over the Fat shelf.

I hadn’t re-read FAT!SO? : Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size in years, but I remembered it was fun, and fun sounded good.

The first page of the introduction surprised me with 2 features I’d forgotten. On the top right-hand corner is a lovely fat lady. In fact, it’s a flip book – the lovely fat lady takes off her outer dress and dances happily in her a strapless minidress. I spent a fun minute smiling as she danced.

The second feature is the small taglines in the footer of most pages, such as “Flirt with a vengeance. Do it like you mean it!” and “Go sleeveless on a hot day.” Some are things I wouldn’t do, like “Print some fat-positive slogans on mailing labels and stick them to diet products at the grocery store,” but even those made me think. This is good.

Most of the book is structured into article-length chapters, which makes sense since I would gather much of the content came from the Fat! So? ‘zine.

A lot of it is basic fat acceptance:

  • People are worthy of respect.
  • Fat people are people.
  • Fit fat people are usually healthier than sedentary thin people.
  • Dieting doesn’t work, not even if you call it a “lifestyle change”.
  • Exercise can be about fun – dancing, swimming, walking, running.  It’s for everyone, not just thin people.
  • Height-weight charts were based on dubious science, and the “frame size” was made up.

But what kept me up until midnight reading, and made me late for work this morning, was the sheer sense of fun.  I smiled a lot while reading this; I also giggled and laughed occasionally.  There’s quizzes, personal stories, insult comebacks, a Venus of Willendorf paper doll (with outfits!) and “Hero” and “Villan” trading cards.  There’s the start of Big on Batik and fat-related quotes.   There’s  Marilyn’s personal trainer telling people at the gym to apologize to their thighs for putting them down, and stories and essays from other writers.

Yes, some of the information – such has how fat people earn less and given substanded health care – sobering.  Some, like Lynn McAfee’s story of the soap lady, are heartbreaking.

Yet above all, Fat!So? is full of an infectious attitude. Being fat doesn’t have to mean hiding in fear. Yes, fat people are oppressed, which means fat people are stressed, mistreated, misdiagnosed, and given substanded health care.  But we can claim our lives anyway with humor and passion and fun.  Life is for living.

Oh, and today I had a bit more verve in my step as I walked up the stairs to the office. Dunno why. ;)

2 thoughts on “I’m Fat! So?

  1. I loved Fat!So? the ‘zine SO MUCH, and I loved their website with the wall of asses.

    When I first started reading in the fatosphere (about six months ago, now) it was like nobody remembered or talked about the stuff that was so revelatory to me, back in the early ’90s – thanks for the review.

    • I never got the ‘zine but I read alt.support.big-folks. When Women En Large came out it was huge!

      I did get rid of some of those old books, but I still have some, as the list above shows :)

      The wall of asses (and the page of upper arms, and bellies, and other anatomy lessons) are in the book too :)

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