Fat!So?: Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size

Fat!So?: Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size

by Marilyn Wann, Wann Marilyn


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Fat? Chunky? Less than svelte? So what! In this hilarious and eye-opening book, fat and proud activist/zinester Marilyn Wann takes on Americas' biggest fear—worse than the fear of public speaking or nuclear weapons—our fear of fat.Statistics tell us that about a third of Americans are fat, and common sense adds that just about everyone, fat or thin, male or female, has worried about their appearance. FAT!SO? weighs in with a more attractive alternative: feeling good about yourself at any weight—and having the style and attitude to back it up. Internationally recognized as a fat-positive spokesperson, Wann has learned that you can be absolutely happy, healthy, and successful...and fat. With its hilarious and insightful blend of essays, quizzes, facts, and reporting, FAT!SO? proves that you can be out-and-out fabulous at any size.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780898159950
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 12/28/1998
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 910,947
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Marilyn Wann is a fat activist, author, and weight diversity speaker. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in linguistics from Stanford University. In 1994, she started the print zine FAT!SO?, which was nominated for an Utne Reader zine award. She later published the FAT!SO? book, which was named an American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers. Wann has been giving weight diversity talks since 1995 and has been invited to speak all over the US and in Canada, Mexico, and Iceland. In 2005 she received the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club Individual Service Award. Wann has been a board member of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and an advisory board member for the Health at Every Size journal. She is currently an editorial board member for the Fat Studies Journal.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



If you're like most people, you've spent plenty of time worrying about your weight. In all that time, it probably never occurred to you to ask yourself what you actually like about being fat. Who would ask such a thing? Just formulating the question goes against all our conditioning (and is probably illegal in the state of Mississippi). Nonetheless, the question that no one thinks to ask always produces the most interesting answer. (Einstein said that. Or maybe it was Barbara Walters.)

    That's why the survey on the FAT!SO? Web site asks people, "What do you like about being fat?" So far, hundreds of people have generated thousands of interesting answers to this question. Laid end to end, their responses are powerful counterpropaganda to the forces that would have you believe you have to be thin to be happy. I'll list some of the best answers here. You can try them on for size or think up your own.

* My friends like me for who I am.

* I'm unique, not a cookie-cutter person.

* Looking younger than my age—no wrinkles.

* People like to hug a soft person.

* Looking like a fertility goddess.

* People get out of my way when I'm in a hurry.

* I've never been mugged.

* I can eat what I like (including salads).

* People remember me.

* Having big, luscious breasts.

* Not being on a diet.

* I exercise because I want to, not because I have to.

* When I was in the Middle East, a young woman
said,"You're so fat! How did you do it?"

* I can do something fun, instead of obsessing about my thighs.

* I am part of the fat modeling scene.

* My girlfriend is fat. I wouldn't trade her for the world.

* My measurements won't be all I have going for me.

* I'm not tiny and helpless.

* I feel substantial.

* It makes me strong.

* It taught me to think for myself and not rely on the crowd.

* It made me more accepting of other people who are different.

* It's a built-in jerk detector.

* I have weight behind my efforts.

* I have more body to tattoo.

* It gives me attitude.

* I just plain feel good the way I am.

* It's part of me, and I like myself.

And the answers from one thirteen-year-old guy:

* A keg is more than a six-pack.

* If you've got the size, you win the prize.

What do you like about being fat?

1. ____________________

2. ____________________

3. ____________________


by Alexis Neptune

I once had a boyfriend who said that when he held my butt, he felt like he was holding four. I should have told him that he was damn lucky to hold it at all, but that weak girl I once was cried and didn't eat for three days. I once had a boyfriend who bought me a dress in a size 6. When I asked him why he bought it in that size, he said, "As incentive." I cried and went on Nutri-System. I was a size 6 for a full eleven months and then had my gallbladder removed at age twenty-one.

    I've gone from a size 6 to a size 18 and back, again and again. I've been on every diet you can think of. I have done aerobics, callanetics, weight lifting, jogging, you name it. My body still cries out, "I am 180 pounds and a size 16, and nothing you can do will change that!" I have come to accept it, begrudgingly at first. Now there are things that I like about my flesh. For instance, my motherly breasts, the huge arch from my waist to my knee, my grandma's legs—like an heirloom. I still have bad days. They come mostly when I need new clothes, but they are growing farther apart.

    I had a boyfriend who oohed and melted with just a look from me. When I cried that I was fat, he said, "You're my beauty queen." He took me to meet his mother. She was round like an apple and soft, freckled with these blue, kind eyes. She asked me why I was so skinny. She fed me fresh tomato sandwiches from her garden. I told the boy I loved his mom. He said that she was the second most beautiful girl in the world—that I was the first. I married him.


I was flipping through a mail-order catalog one day, when I came across something mesmerizing—a blob of fake fat. I knew I had to have one, but I didn't know why. They wanted $24.95 for a pound of slimy, jiggly plastic, its curdlike surface embossed with the words "1 LB. FAT." That's $24.95 plus shipping and handling, and it isn't even the real thing!

    Just think. Let's say I weigh 270 pounds and I'm about 50 percent fat. What am I worth? A cool $3,368.25 at the very least. Of course, I'd never be willing to sell, but I find it quite amusing to think of people who are so desperate for a few extra pounds that they'll lay down twenty-five bucks for a shoddy look-alike, an expensive substitute.

    I know that's not what the fake fat manufacturers had in mind—their customers are mainly those crazy diet-group leaders who use blobs of fake fat as a motivational tool—but I couldn't imagine that anyone would actually believe they have jiggly, plastic blobs inside their bodies.

    Then it hit me. The pound of ersatz fat doesn't represent the pound you weigh, it's the pound you lose, which poses a deep, metaphysical question: Where does a pound of fat go when you lose it? (It has to go somewhere, that's the first law of thermodynamics.) Well, FAT!SO? has solved the mystery: The lost pound goes on vacation. It has a great time, and makes friends with other little pounds of lost fat. They globe-hop together for a while. Then they all come home, right back to where they belong, your hips and thighs.

    Now there's photographic evidence of this process. Using a highly sophisticated, infrafat camera, FAT!SO? spies snapped these shots of little lost L.B. O'Fat during its world tour. L. B. loves to use the photos for postcards. You never know when you'll get a postcard from your pal, little lost L.B. O'Fat.


1. FAT!SO? CALLS FOR REVOLUTION. THE REVOLUTION starts with a simple question: You're fat! So what?

2. There's nothing wrong with being fat. Just like there's nothing wrong with being short or tall, black or brown. These are facts of identity that cannot and should not be changed. They are birthright. They are heritage. They're beyond cures or aesthetics. They provide the diversity we need to survive.

3. Fat people are not, by definition, lazy or stupid. People who believe in such stereotypes, however, are.

4. FAT!SO? proclaims 12:01 A.M., January 1, to be International Fat-Outing Minute! During this minute, round folk are called upon to stand before their mirrors, smile, and proclaim, "I am fat!" The zealous will then gaze deeply into the eyes of their round loved ones and say, "You are fat, too!" Then, fat folk everywhere will applaud and blow noisemakers for a second time in as many minutes. Instead of starting the new year with yet another resolution to lose weight on some harmful, ineffectual diet, we'll begin each year with an honest moment and some relief from body-related anxiety.

5. FAT!SO? invites you to become a flabulous fatso—everybody, size 6 to 16, size 2X to 12X—because fat or thin, straight or gay, male or female, we have all at some point wasted our precious moments on the planet worrying about how we look. Stop that! Just say the magic words: "Yes, I am a fatso!" Write it here:


With these words, you create revolution. You turn fat hatred back on itself. As a fatso, you possess the ultimate weapon against weight worries, body prejudice, and size-related discrimination: fat pride.

6. Practice saying the word fat until it feels the same as short, tall, thin, young, or old. Chat with your fat. Give it pet names. Doodle fat on your notepad during meetings: fat FAT fat fat FAT. Use the word fat with your parents, with your partner. Let friends in on your secret. Say, "By the way, I'm fat." You're not overweight, not plump, not bloated. You're fat! Combine the word fat with other words in new and unusual ways: sexy fat, fat and fabulous, fat pride. Use fat in a sentence: "You're looking good. Are you getting fat?" "I met a handsome fat man the other day." "Gee, I wish I could be fat like her." Try out these radical phrases on people you meet and watch their stunned reactions.

7. Large, big-boned, overweight, chubby, zaftig, voluptuous, Rubenesque, plump, and obese are all synonyms for fear.

8. List the five people you most admire.

1. _____________________

2. _____________________

3. _____________________

4. _____________________

5. _____________________

    How many of them are fat? Is this more than you expected? Less than you hoped? What does your admiration really mean?

9. Fat is a numbers game. You tell yourself, "I could never weigh more than 140 pounds" (or 160 pounds or 200 pounds or more). If you exceed this imaginary limit, your body becomes an impossibility. When I weighed 160 pounds, I thought I was too fat for words. Then I went up to 200 pounds. The unthinkable had happened. Now that I weigh 210 pounds and have friends twice my size, I realize that this numbers game is no different from the flat-world theory: We set weight horizons beyond which we expect to fall off the face of the earth. But the world is round, and all bodies are possible, acceptable, real.

10. FAT!SO? calls on all people everywhere to stop lying about their weight, especially on driver's licenses. This self-hating practice reinforces the oppression of fat people and undermines fat pride. When Gloria Steinem turned forty, people kept telling her she didn't look it. She would patiently explain that she did, too, look forty, but that women have lied about their age for so long that we think forty really looks like thirty-two, and that thirty-two should pass for twenty-eight. Likewise, people have lied about their weight for so long that we don't know a good-looking, 270-pound person when we see one. So what? So fat people can't get jobs, lovers, health insurance, or respect because our society can't imagine people weighing more than the numbers on some bogus height/weight chart. Practice honesty right now. Fill in the following blanks.

    My name is _____________________, and I weigh _____ pounds.

11. My fellow fatso, it's time we refused to be weighed during doctor visits. If a health professional pressures you to get on the scale, ask what possible medical purpose it would serve. A nurse said, "We need to track your weight so that, if it changes a lot from one visit to the next, we'll know, because it can indicate disease." Yeah right. Like I wouldn't notice a sudden loss of twenty pounds. Call the doctor's scale what it is: a tool of intimidation and humiliation, a means to justify the medical industry's antifat bias and diet-pill profiteering.

12. This is how we see: Vertical lines of thin bodies are good. Horizontal rolls of fat people are bad. It's a hierarchy of the Y-axis over the X-axis. Marx says: Reverse the terms, put fat on top. I say: Dichotomies are dumb. Love it all!

D is for Demand

"Women's minds have been mutilated and muted to such an extent that 'Free Spirit' has been branded into them as a brand name for girdles and bras."

--Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

--Frederick Douglass, "West India Emancipation" speech

Table of Contents

What Are You So Afraid Of?13
Quiz: Are You a Fatso?15
Why I Encourage You to Use the F-Word18
What Do You Like About Being Fat?24
Love in the Time of Size 18: Alexis Neptune25
Little Lost Pound o'Fat Sees the World26
The FAT!SO? Manifesto28
Talk Radio & You31
She Likes It!: Boanne34
But What About Your Health?35
What's In a Word?: Donna Marsh42
Fat Kills: Betty Rose Dudley42
A Happy Ending: Dawn Falkowich44
Another Number46
Anatomy Is Destiny47
The Little Black Dress: Audra Spurlock49
A Letter to FAT!SO?: Bethany Johnson50
The Cutoff Point50
Oh, Yeah?54
Celebrity WastingSyndrome56
My Personal Trainer Can Beat Up Your Personal Trainer56
Cinder Says 61
Break the Connection61
What Being Fat Has Taught Me: Nicole M. Nicholson63
A Talk Show By Any Other Name 63
What Can You Do?64
Self-Hate Crimes68
The Search for the Cure69
A Brief Timeline: Prescription Diet Drugs71
The Same Old Song74
The Battle of the Pseudosciences75
Skeptical But Equal78
The Soap Lady: Lynn McAfee81
Beating a Horse of a Different Color82
Fat Is Not a Cloaking Device!83
Gab Café Success Story #1: The Newlyweds85
The Wash & Chop Way87
Diet Doublespeak88
How to Tell When You're on a Diet89
First Strike90
The Cyrano Syndrome91
Opportunity Cost92
Yeah, Right!94
Eat Like a Bird96
Genetic Curses: Emily Ivie96
Notes from a Young Zine Editor97
Cottage Cheese Cuisine98
Gab Café Success Story #2: The Angry Young Woman100
Why Not Just Needlepoint?103
Everyone Needs a Hobby105
The Dance of Happiness: Yalith Fonfa107
It Ain't Necessarily So110
It's Hereditary113
Deserts: Kristine Durden116
Children Can Be So Cruel117
A Normal Childhood: Tracy Pekar-Rogers120
The Weight Question121
He Ain't Heavy, He's Samoan123
BMI: Bold & Meaningful Information About Fat: Sondra
They Called Me Hank127
Generation XXX128
Cut & Paste Project #2: Venus of Willendorf Paper Doll129
My Size: Debora Iyall150
Shopping With Mom: Johanne Blank152
Gab Café Success Story #3: The Entrepeneur154
Thank You, Barbie!155
Why You Should Dye Your Hair Hot Pink156
Muumuu-of-the-Month Club (A Fatlin Mint Exclusive)160
When In Russia 161
A Good Fat Rant: Joanna Iovino163
Fat Phrasebook164
Roseanne Sighting166
Calling All Fat Men167
By Any Means Necessary168
Join the Air Force, See the Scales: Porter Bennefield170
Tales of a Fat Lad: Charles Van Dyke171
Cut & Paste Project #3: Dial-A-Clue173
Flirting 101175
The Joys of Fat Sex177
A New Position on Fat Jokes: Cynthia Meier179
In Praise of Appetites180
Aunt Agony182
You, Too, Can Be Flabulous!184
Shelf Life185
FAT!SO? Trading Cards: The Heroes & Villains of Fat
About the Author208

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