{The Body Liberation Guide} The power of fat-positive community

Hi friend,

This week’s quote above is from Brooke Hull (they/them), a fat graduate student, who said it casually one day recently on Zoom with me. I promptly pounced and wrote it down, and am going to repeat it because it’s so important:

“There’s so much more to the fat experience than just the horror stories.”

There’s also joy, and love, and passion, and sensuality. There’s the connection of shared experiences, and the anger at oppression. All the range of human experience and emotion.

And there’s fun! We have so much fun when we’re allowed, especially in fat community, possibly in part because fat fun is such a rebellion in a world that wants us to always be atoning for our bodies.

For so many of us, the community is the key. We’re also a population taught that our unhappiness and oppression is our own fault, so those of us who reject that framing have to be careful that “community” doesn’t really mean “further internalizing our oppression as a group.”

But good community is really, really good. (Which is why the Blanket Fort has become so meaningful for so many of us who hang out there.)

This is where Brooke comes back in.

As a graduate student in design, they haven’t gotten connected to the fat community in a way that, say, taking a fat studies course might lend itself to. The design world itself isn’t exactly fat-friendly. And Brooke deserves fat community.

Hang on, let me actually tell you who this is, before I meander on some more about community.

Brooke Hull (they/them) is a white, fat, queer, trans non-binary, and neurodivergent MFA candidate in design and visual communication who is both a researcher and a teacher. Their research centers fat lived experiences and they combine traditional research methods with designed outcomes to support fat liberation and expand education for every body.

You can see some of their very cool art on their Instagram page.

They are graduating in May and are looking for a job where they can continue their research and teaching. I asked Brooke to give me more detail about what they’re looking for, and they said:

“I am looking for primarily tenure-track faculty positions (although I am open to faculty positions that are not tenure-track) in graphic design, communication design, gender studies, or anything in which my research on fatness might be accepted! I am also open to positions outside academia as long as they center fatness/fat research.”

And this is where community comes back in.

I spend quite a bit of time these days connecting people. I never thought I would be a connector type — I’d see people who seemed to know everyone and be a little jealous. But it turns out the secret is just being in a particular sphere for ages and talking to people as you have the energy.

So whenever I can, I try to wrap fat folks I encounter into community, and/or make introductions or connections where it might help them most, because we deserve good things.

And between we fat folks and fat allies, we have so much power! So let’s use it and help Brooke find a job + professional connections as they graduate.

Drop Brooke a note if you:

  • Have a job lead
  • Can connect as a design, research or academic professional
  • Want to cheer them on for their upcoming thesis defense (!)
  • Want to welcome them to the community and leave them an encouraging note

They prefer Instagram direct messages; you can also email me and I’ll pass your note on to them.

And an additional brief thought for you this week:

In the comments on an Instagram post where a fat person was asking for more clothing options, a retail store said defensively that there’s limited room in stores.

I replied to ask them why they assumed that small sizes were the necessity and large sizes were the optional overflow. They didn’t respond, but I want to challenge you this week to imagine a new future with me.

Sometime in the next week, take a look around at wherever you happen to be and ask yourself these questions:

1. What kind of bodies are most welcome in this space? Consider both the physical space and who is represented in images there, if anyone. 

2. Who fits most easily? Could a very fat person fit? What about a person using a wheelchair or other mobility aid?

3. What might it look like if this space were designed for the fattest person who might possibly want or need to use it? How might the space look or function differently? What specific aspects of the space might change?

4. Would the space become less useful or welcoming for people in smaller bodies? If so, how?

5. Who is currently receiving power or profit (in any sense) from that space? How might that change if the bodies accommodated by the space changed?

Feel free to send me your answers, or note them to revisit in the future.

Warmly,
Lindley

P.S. Share this week’s letter or save to read later here. Want to support this work? Buy me a coffee or join the Patreon.

The Conversation

Here’s what’s being discussed this week in the world of body acceptance and fat liberation: 

» Allyship opportunity: Help the lovely, disabled fat Sarah Thunell make April rent (https://paypal.me/sarahthunell or https://venmo.com/Sarah-Thunell)

» If you’re participating in this year’s Trans Rights Readathon, this thread has almost two hundred trans authors, most of them indie or self-published, who would be thrilled to have more readers (see)

» Event: The Next Evolution of Health at Every Size®, March 27 (online)

» Fat Girls Dance is available for pre-order (see)

» Directory: Illinois weight neutral providers (view)

» Oprah Is Harming Black Women by Pushing Weight Loss Drugs and Diet Culture (read)

🦄 Unicorn chaser: Underwater Luminous Quartz Crystal Mine (watch)

Quick Resources: HAES friendly Resources for Chronic Illness

» Intuitive Eating with a Chronic Condition

» Navigating Body Image With Chronic Illness

» When Healthy Isn’t An Option: How I Learned To Love My Chronically Ill Body

» What Does It Mean To Live With A Body That Can’t Be Fixed?

» Women with disabilities and chronic illness talk self-love and embracing their bodies

Hi there! I'm Lindley. I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work here at bodyliberationphotos.com.