I talk a lot about the issues with how fat people are treated by society, and ways that we can fight that. I think that’s important work (though certainly nobody is obligated to do it.) But there is something else we can do if we choose – we can create spaces that reflect the world that we want to live in. We can decide that our home, our game night, our walking group, our crafting group, our whatever group is a body positive space. While we’re working to change the world outside, we can also work to change our world.
Last year I got to experience that kind of space. If you’re a longtime reader of this blog with a really good memory, you might remember my very brief foray into hoop dancing a few years ago. Well, last year Rowan and Blythe, the amazing women behind Punk Rock Hoops, invited me to be the keynote speaker at Hottie Hoop Camp. Five days at a beautiful beach house on the Texas coast with super cool hoop dancers, giving a keynote about body positivity and teaching a class on cabaret-style dancing sounded like a great time to me.
Nothing could have prepared me for just how incredible an experience it would be. Blythe and Rowan work hard to create a space that is intentionally body positive and inclusive. I won’t speak for any identities that I don’t hold, but as a queer, fat women committed to body positivity who is not a hoop dancer, I couldn’t have asked for more from the event and the group of women who were there.
I experienced complete body positivity for five whole days. It was bliss. Around 50 women were at HHC and I didn’t hear any negative body talk at all, in fact in five days I never heard anyone say anything snarky about anyone else – not even one time. There were people there at all different levels and I can’t even count how many times I saw someone compliment someone else on a move and the person doing the move immediately offering to teach it to them. Again, I can only speak to my experience and my identities but I was absolutely inspired by the way that space was curated.
I met women who I’ve danced with in shows (looking at you Onyx Swirl) who I’ve hung out with, who’ve spoken at conferences I coordinated, who I connect with on social media, who support me and my work (one of the super fantastic women I met even found me a place to stay in Arizona while I prepare for my IRONMAN, Thanks Allison!), and whose work I support as well. I have such deep gratitude to those who coordinated the event (Rowan, Blythe, Alejandra, Allison, Ruby and the kitchen staff, Trey, anyone I’m forgetting at 4:49am) and to all of those who took part!
If we want a world without body snarking, where all bodies are celebrated we can create a little of that for ourselves right now. Just like we have the opportunity to make the rules for our online spaces, we have the opportunity to create spaces offline that are intentionally and specifically body positive.
In the same way that culture has allowed fat hate and body hate to proliferate, culture can shut it down. We can create spaces where negative body talk, body snarking, etc. are simply unacceptable, where anytime someone engages in it, someone else simply explains: “Oh, we don’t do that here, in this space we celebrate all bodies.” We can fight negative body talk and fat hate in our society from the inside out in spaces that we create, and we can start right now!
By the way, if you happen to be a curvy hoop dancer, the Punk Rock Hoops Curvy Hooper Video Challenge for 2015 is happening now – you can check it out here! (Even if you’re not a curvy hooper, the videos on that page are amazing and so very worth watching!)
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Buy the book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Book Me! I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details
I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com
A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.). Follow the progress on Facebook!