Body Stories: In and Out and With and Through Fat

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Body stories capture a nuanced, interconnected, interactive, and complex telling of our understanding, perception, and experience of and through our bodies. Plenty has been published on body image but image suggests a static fixed body, unmitigated through our social interactions and varying times and spaces. This book is not a “how-to” guide for fat confidence. It’s not a compendium of fat suffering. It’s simply a collection of narratives about what it’s like to survive in a weight-hating world. It resists the ways that marginalized bodies are being written and researched and put into other people’s ideas about our existence.

The stories in this book are celebratory and are painful. They look at intersections of race and queerness; they destabilize womanhood by presenting a range of possible female embodiments. They explore issues of disability and madness. The full range of possibilities that are collected here give a picture of what it means to live in a society with strong and powerful messages about size, about normalcy, about what a moral and healthy life and body look like. This book is a snapshot of its place and time, but these stories remind us that we’re here to stay. The body stories will change but we will keep owning our own narratives.

While story, especially written by women, is often seen as outside the academic canon, these stories, these creative offerings, are theory, are research, and are activism. They are nothing less than the blueprint for liberation. Writing about fat and about bodies outside of medicalized narratives, without ignoring the impact of race, sexuality, class, ability, gender, fashion, appearance, and beyond, is radical and rigorous.