Posts Tagged ‘fat activism’

You Sound Fat: Fat Embodiment Online

Hello! I am going to start cross posting my fat related posts from definatalie.com to axisoffat.com, because as you might have noticed, I’ve been a bit quiet here! Bri from Fat Lot of Good totally revved me about this (in a good way!) and said I should cross post because definatalie.com isn’t on the Notes from the Fat-o-sphere feed and some of my posts should really end up on it! So here goes. This is the paper I presented at the Fat Studies conference in Sydney over the weekend. Enjoy! (Original post)

Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue was INCREDIBLE. I truly can’t put into words how wonderful it was but I’m going to attempt to at a later stage. There were so many fabulous people to meet and ideas to action and a buttload of fun and friendship. In the interim please accept a video of my presentation, and the paper it’s based on. I was very nervous but it seemed to go ok!

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My name is Natalie and I’m fat, I like the internet and I should preface this by telling you that I’m so unacademic I had to ask Google how to write an abstract for a paper when I was encouraged to submit something for this presentation! Gratefully, I also had the support of Australian Fat Studies academics as well as complete strangers on the internet, and I want to tell you a story about how I’ve come to be here, loving and accepting myself with the help of the World Wide Web.

Chubby teen finds the internet

I started using the internet in 1995 as a 14 year old at a private girls school. While my friends were swapping X-files fanfic and accidentally swearing at our headmistress via PM over our Novel network, I was helping other students circumvent the ban on chatrooms by using Telnet talkers. I’ve always been interested in communication and community on the internet, rather than downloading porn or music and other stuff. I sought people I could connect with because most folks just didn’t get me; I had crazy ideas that human beings should be treated equitably and I was an introvert who communicated much more comfortably via the written word.

Despite running the gamut of teenagehood and being exposed to conflicting messages about what my female body was supposed to look like, I never wanted to be skinny and I never really was. At a size 14 I felt kind of trapped between being properly skinny and properly fat. I remember many times thinking that if I was going to be chubby I ought to be properly chubby with the benefit of soft flesh and rounded bits. I was attracted to chunkier people and while I felt my thoughts went against the grain I never questioned or repressed them.

Properly fat

At 17, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and found I had to change my whole life. Suddenly I had to inject insulin four times a day and monitor my blood sugar levels in relation to what I put in my mouth. My regular meals had to be balanced, planned, measured and predictable. I had hypos in the middle of the night, and woke disoriented and pouring with sweat; the only way it could be fixed was by eating food to bring my blood sugar back up again. I put on weight even after I lost a lot of weight pre-diagnosis, even after establishing really healthful and doctor-approved, diabetic-friendly eating habits. My body became properly fat and I felt a sense of relief to belong to a group – even if it was a feared and harassed group. I started to get really curious about fat bodies. I tried to talk about fatness with friends and family but the conversations never went very far. People, mostly female, felt genuinely panicked when I brought up the topic.

My Mother was concerned about the weight gain and accompanied me to Weight Watchers meetings. I went along to a few and ate the diet, but it never felt right to me. As a diabetic, my food intake was already policed (by myself and by other people) so submitting myself to more policing and having to pay for it felt wrong and unhealthy. I never felt as if I had disordered eating, nor as if what I ate contributed to my weight gain. My General Practitioners and every Endocrinologist up until my current one would treat me as if I were some kind of terrorist, waging war against my body by intentionally putting on weight. My current Endocrinologist actually says something new: I could have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome symptoms. Back when I was doing Weight Watchers I knew that my weight gain couldn’t be explained by my food habits and it didn’t make sense for me to further damage my relationship with food by doing a diet that reduced nutrition to numbers so I dropped out. My Mum was baffled but dropped the issue with me, while continuing to pursue various diets herself, yet always remaining the same, familiar and lovely Mum-shape. I broke up with dieting because it seemed like a crock.
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