Proud2Bme | This is What Inclusiveness Looks Like: An Interview with Bad Fat Broads

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This is What Inclusiveness Looks Like: An Interview with Bad Fat Broads

By Laura Porter--Two Fridays ago, we hosted a live Facebook Q&A with the amazing women from Bad Fat Broads. KC and Ariel host a bi-monthly podcast that breaks down issues related to body positivity ranging from the serious to the silly. With a focus on intersectionality, the Broads provide a great (and hilarious) analysis of what inclusiveness really looks like in the body posi community. Check out some of the highlights from our Q&A below.

Q: How did the show get started?

KC: We decided to start BFB in late November last year when we realized that the two of us were always winding up talking about the same things, having similar perspectives on various issues related to bodies and fatness. We thought it'd be nice to have a space where we could intentionally discuss various issues together, and then realized that there was so little media that was explicitly for the perspectives and experiences of fat people and felt that was something the world needed. We landed on a podcast as our medium, and the rest has been history.

Q: What is your favorite part about doing the show?

A: I have two favorite parts: one would definitely be writing the posts that accompany each episode on the website. It's a fun challenge to summarize the conversations KC and I have into a tiny text post. The second one: definitely the feedback from listeners. It's meant a ton to me to hear from people that something resonated with them.

K: My favorite part of doing the show is getting to spend a couple hours a week on skype talking about things I care about with one of my favorite people. Recording is really fun, and Ariel and I are always laughing and having a good time while we're doing it. It's one of my favorite parts of the week.

Q: What do you think is the most important message of your blog?

K: I think the most important message to me is that fat people are people, and fat community is valuable. So often we're encouraged to spend all of our time focused on what Kate Harding called "The Fantasy Of Being Thin" and there's just not enough space in the world for fat folks to talk to each other about our experiences. We want people to see that there are a lot of dimensions to being a fat person, to fat politics, and that being with other fat people can be a great time.

Q: How do you guys treat the word 'fat' compared to how others may think of it?

K: As you've probably seen, we use the word fat A LOT. For me that's both about reclaiming something that has been used as a weapon against me and about acknowledging that fat is actually just a descriptive word. Society has loaded the word fat up with all kinds of negative connotations—lazy, ugly, unclean, etc.—but really it's just a descriptive word. I call myself fat in the same way that I say that I have blue eyes or that I have purple hair, it's just true and on its own it doesn't mean anything negative (or positive).

A: The word fat is important, but it's definitely a negatively charged word for a lot of people. We reject that framing and use it as a completely neutral descriptor in the same way that I'm short or have blonde hair. I think a lot of people confuse doing away with the stigma that's tied to the word as the same as doing away with the word altogether.

Q: Have you ever received negative or body-shaming comments? How did you handle them?

K: More times than I could count. I've actually recently had people on Twitter try to use pictures I've posted of myself to insult me, which is just...super weird. In general I have a policy of "block and roll" when I'm online, but of course...you're not always online and it's not always easy to just walk away even when you are online. How I'll deal with body-shaming depends on where it's coming from and what the context is. Most of how I deal is by making sure to spend time in spaces that are free of judgment, that are truly body positive, and that are truly fat accepting. This means I follow a lot of Tumblrs that post pictures of fat folks, I'm part of Facebook communities of fat folks and when I can, I go to conferences with tracks related to fat politics (Abundant Bodies at the Allied Media Conference!). I think this is one of those places where fat community and fat friends are absolutely priceless, and where a practice of vanity is actually really helpful (take lots of selfies! your body is beautiful!).

A: Absolutely! I think it depends on the context of the commentary, things like who, where and how I'm feeling that day. If it's a random jerk on the street and I'm great that day, I'll ignore it or respond with something a bit feisty. If I'm having a not so good-self feelings-day, it might get to me and there's no shame in admitting that. Most people aren't impenetrable fortresses so the handling of unnecessary commentary changes. It becomes a bit trickier when it's family, friends or intimate partners. My policy in those situations as of late has been to ignore and redirect the conversation or blatantly display my love of my body in their face.

Q: What are some ways people can get more involved in challenging media and promoting inclusive body positivity?

K: Just start talking about it. It can be really hard to speak up, but something as simple as saying, "Hey, let's not make hating our bodies a bonding exercise,” when folks start on the "I hate my ___ I look so ____" train can make a huge difference. Also, reading about fat politics and participating in fat community can give you ideas and resources for making your own projects and adding your voice to the wider conversation.

Note: KC recommends: "Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion", edited by Vergie Tovar and Marilyn Wann's "Fat!So?: Because you don’t have to apologize for your size."

A: I think the easiest way is to be very aware of what's going on in the media. It's easy to accept a lot of the cute listicles and headlines that are passed around right now, but being willing to really interrogate the depth of the message and pointing that out, even if it's just to friends or family means a lot. I personally am a big fan of calling out media outlets and dismantling bad journalism, but I realize that isn't for everyone. Example: if someone publishes a list of "body positive heroes" and most of the people on the list all look the same or still live in bodies that are mostly privileged, it's okay to point that out.

About the blogger: Laura Porter is a senior at The George Washington University majoring in political communication. After taking three semesters off of school for her own mental health struggles, Laura became passionate about advocating for increased awareness of mental illness among college students, specifically eating disorder awareness. Laura served as the president and founder of the organization Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge at GW (SPEAK GW) for two years and is a proud former communications intern at Active Minds Inc.

Also by Laura:

5 Things I've Learned in Recovery (As Told Through Broad City GIFs)

5 Ways to Advocate and Promote Awareness on your Campus

Taking Up Space: An Interview with Beck Cooper

Never Stop Fighting for Recovery

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