On Saturday Julianne and I headed to The Plus Bus Boutique in LA to watch Fatch, a fat sketch comedy troupe (fat + sketch = Fatch!) and the experience has me thinking a lot about offline fat community. (And I’m purposely saying offline rather than IRL because the idea that online community isn’t “in real life” is problematic, including being ableist.)
The Plus Bus has new, used, and vintage clothes and wares. As someone who has always been fat, I’ve certainly been in plenty of plus-size clothing stores. But it’s far rarer that I am in a clothing store that actually celebrates fat people – where fat positivity is just oozing out of every bit of the space – a store that creates an authentically empowering experience.
For once I didn’t feel like they were begrudgingly selling clothes in my size because they wanted my money. I didn’t have to worry that an underpaid and highly-pressured sales clerk was going to body-shame me to try to make a sale. Instead, every inch of this place and every second of the experience was created to feel like home.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was fat positivity everywhere. I walked into the bathroom and was blown away by the amazing amount of fat positive stuff that was on all the walls. (And I had a little freakout when I realized that one of the things was actually a card I created to help fat people at the doctor’s office. And then another fangirl freakout when I met Jen, the owner.)
Then it was time for Fatch. I love comedy and Julianne and I go to a lot of shows. One of the things I’ve gotten used to is the onslaught of shitty, cheap fat jokes. It’s pretty rare to get through a show without being the butt of deeply unfunny punch-down jokes.
And that’s what made this experience such a big deal – from the first moment to the last, the audience got comedy that was hilarious no matter what size they were. But for the fatties, we got to have our experiences reflected in comedy, rather than just existing as the butt of fat jokes. That is something that I find is far too rare, and with sketches about everything from the Nike plus-size mannequin debacle, to auditioning for “the fat friend” character, to Buffy the Fatphobe Slayer, they just nailed it.
I love connecting with fat community online. And there is nothing wrong with those who prefer online community. But it’s a damn tragedy that there are so many fat people who want fat-positive offline spaces but don’t have them – either because those spaces don’t exist where they are, or because the spaces that do exist aren’t accessible to them. So I’m extra grateful to people like Jen at The Plus Bus and the fabulous fatties of Fatch for creating powerful offline fat positive community.
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I’m (still!) training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com .