I’m here today to talk to you
about a very powerful little word,
one that people will do almost anything
to avoid becoming.
Billion-dollar industries thrive
because of the fear of it.
Those of us who undeniably are it
are left to navigate
a relentless storm surrounding it.
I’m not sure if any of you have noticed,
but I’m fat.
Not the lowercase
or the seemingly harmless chubby or cuddly.
I’m not even the more sophisticated voluptuous
or curvaceous kind.
Let’s not sugarcoat it.
I am the capital F-A-T kind of fat.
I am the elephant in the room.
When I walked out on stage,
some of you may have been thinking,
“Oh,this is going to be hilarious,
because everybody knowsthat fat people are funny.”
Or you may have been thinking,
“Where does she get her confidence from?”
because a confident fat woman
is almost unthinkable.
The fashion-conscious membersof the audience
may have been thinking
how fabulous I look in this Beth Ditto dress
Thank you very much!
Whereas some of you might have thought,
“Mmm,black would have beenso much more slimming.”
You may have wondered, consciously or not,
if I have diabetes, or a partner,
or if I eat carbs after 7pm.
You may have worried
that you ate carbs after 7pm last night
and that you really should renewyour gym membership.
These judgments are insidious;
they can be directed to individuals and groups.
and they can also be directed at ourselves;
and this way of thinking is known as”fatphobia.”
Like any form of systematic oppression,
fatphobia is deeply rooted in complex structures
like capitalism, patriarchy, and racism,
and that can make it really difficult to see, let alone challenge.
We live in a culture where being fat is seen
as being a bad person; lazy,
贪婪 不健康 不负责任
greedy, unhealthy, irresponsible,
and morally suspect.
And we tend to see thinnessas being universally good;
and in control of our appetites,
bodies, and lives.
We see these ideas again and again in the media,
in public health policy,
doctor’s offices, in everyday conversations
and in our own attitudes.
We may even blame fat people themselves
for the discrimination they face because,
after all, if we don’t like it,
we should just lose weight.
This anti-fat bias has become so integral,
so ingrained to how we valueourselves and each other
that we rarely questionwhy
we have such contempt for people of size
and where that disdain comes from.
But we must question it
because the enormous value we place on how we look
affects every one of us.
Do we really want to live in a society
where people are deniedtheir basic humanity
if they don’t subscribeto some arbitrary form of”acceptable”?
So when I was six years old,
my sister used to teach ballet
to a bunch of little girls in our garage.
I was about a foot taller and a foot wider
than the most of the group.
When it came to doingour first performance,
I was so excited about wearinga pretty pink tu-tu.
I was going to sparkle.
As the other girls slipped easily
into their lycra and tulle creations,
not one of the tu-tuswas big enough to fit me.
I was determined not to be excludedfrom the performance,
so I turned to my mother,
and loud enough for everyone to hear,
said:”mum,I don’t need a tu-tu,
I need a four-four!”
And although I didn’t recognize itat the time,
claiming space for myselfin that glorious four-four
was the first step towards becominga radical fat activist.
Now,I’m not sayingthat this whole body love thing
has been an easy skipalong a glittering path of self-acceptance
since that day in class, far from it.
I soon learned that living outside
what the mainstream considers normal
can be a frustrating and isolating place.
I’ve spent the last 20 years unpackingand deprogramming these messages,
and it’s been quite a roller coaster.
I’ve been openly laughed at,abused from passing cars,
and been told that I’m delusional.
I also receive smiles from strangers
who recognize what it takesto walk down the street
with a spring in your stepand your head held high.
Through it all,
that fierce little six-year-old has stayed with me,
and she has helped me stand before you today
as an unapologetic fat person.
A person that simply refuses to subscribe
to the dominant narrative about how I should move through the world
in this body of mine.
And I’m not alone.
I am part of an international community of people
who choose to,
rather than passively acceptingthat our bodies are
and probably always will be big,
we actively choose to flourish
in these bodies as they are today;
people who honor our strength and work
with not against our perceived limitations;
people who value health
as something much more holistic
than a number on an outdated BMI chart.
mental health, self-worth,
and how we feel in our bodies
as vital aspectsto our overall well-being;
people who refuse to believe
that living in these fat bodies is a barrier to anything, really.
There are doctors,
academics, and bloggers
who have written countless volumes
on the many facetsof this complex subject.
who reclaimed their bodies and their beauty
by wearing”fat-kinis” and crop-tops
exposing the flesh
that we’re all taught to hide.
There are fat athletes
who run marathons,
teach yoga, or do kickboxing,
all done with the middle finger
firmly held up to the status quo.
These people have taught me
that radical body politics
is the antidote
to our body-shaming culture.
But to be clear,
I’m not saying
that people shouldn’t change their bodies
if that’s what they want to do.
Reclaiming yourself can be
one of the most gorgeous acts of self-love
and can look like a million different things:
from hairstyles, to tattoos,
to body contouring, to hormones,
或手术 没错 甚至是减肥
to surgery, and yes, even weight loss.
it’s your body,
and you decide what’s best to do with it.
My way of engaging in activism is
by doing all the things
that we fatties aren’t supposed to do,
and there’s a lot of them;
inviting other people to join me
and then making art about it.
The common threadthrough most of this work
has been reclaiming spaces
that are often prohibitive to bigger bodies
from the catwalk to club shows
from public swimming poolsto prominent dance stages.
Reclaiming spaces en masse
is not only a powerful artistic statement
but a radical community building approach.
This was so true of AQUAPORKO
the fat femme synchronized swim team I started
with a group of friends
The impact of seeinga bunch of defiant, fat women
in flowery swimming caps and bathers
throwing their legsin the air without a care
should not be underestimated.
Throughout my career,
I have learned that fat bodies
are inherently political,
and unapologetic fat bodies
can blow people’s minds.
When director Kate Champion
Force Majeure的导演Kate Champion
of acclaimed dance theater companyForce Majeure
asked me to be the artistic associate
on a work featuring all fat dancers,
I literally jumped at the opportunity.
And I mean, literally.
Nothing to Lose is a work made
in collaboration with performers of size
who drew from their lived experiences
to create a work as varied
and authentic as we all are.
It was as far from balletas you could imagine.
The very idea of a fat dance work
by such a prestigious company was,
to put it mildly, controversial
because nothing like it had ever been done
on mainstream dance stages before
anywhere in the world.
People were skeptical.
“What do you mean’fat dancers’?”
“Like size-10, size-12 kind of fat?”
“Where did they do their dance training?”
“Are they going to have the stamina
for a full-length production?”
But despite the skepticism,
Nothing to Lose
became a sellout hit of Sydney Festival.
We received rave reviews,
toured, won awards,
and were written aboutin over 27 languages.
These incredible imagesof our cast were seen worldwide.
I’ve lost count
of how many times people of all sizes have told me
that the show has changed their lives,
how it helped them shift their relationship
to their own and other people’s bodies,
and how it made themconfront their own bias.
But of course,
work that pushes people’s buttons
is not without its detractors.
I have been toldthat I’m glorifying obesity;
I have received violent death threats
and abuse for daring to make work
that centers fat people’sbodies and lives
and treats us
as worthwhile human beings
with valuable stories to tell.
I’ve even been called,
“The ISIS of the obesity epidemic.”
a comment so absurd that it is funny
but it also speaks to the panic,
the literal terror
that the fear of fat can evoke.
It is this fear
that’s feeding the diet industry,
which is keeping so many of us
from making peace with their own bodies,
for waiting to be the after photo
before we truly start to live our lives.
Because the real elephantin the room here
refuses to indulge this fear
by advocating for self-determination
and respect for all of us.
We can shift society’s reluctance
to embrace diversity
and start to celebrate the myriad of ways there are to have a body.