I’ve been mulling this over for weeks.
While to many people I don’t look it, I am in fact over the weight where most people think fat people are incapacitated by their fat and unable to function. I assure you this is not so. I, and many other fat people, are perfectly functional and healthy, believe it or not. But even if/when we aren’t healthy or functional, we’re still deserving of basic human decency.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m getting ready to go to Emerald City Comic Con tomorrow for the first time, and I intend to avoid the celebrity section of the con like the plague.
Because there are certain people who I would rather maintain my mental image of them as awesome people, than meet them and risk seeing that momentary flash of disgust, or whatever negative emotion it might be, in their eyes. Or better yet, be completely ignored by them in favor of younger, thinner, prettier fans.
Many of you will rush to tell me that it won’t happen, that it’s all in my head, and to some extent you may be, and probably are, correct. But I’ve seen it happen. Not with celebrities. But it happens.
I, apparently, have a sexy as hell phone voice. I have been told this frequently, before sexual harassment laws were regularly enforced, or in places where they weren’t or if I was talking to someone I didn’t work with, say customer service. And frequently, when we get a new vendor, they’ll call up and talk to me on the phone, sometimes for months before they meet me. When they’re dudes, the first physical meeting is always accompanied by that flash in the eyes, and on occasion, “Wow, you don’t look anything like I thought you would.” I did have a female vendor once tell me that she had thought I’d be “taller” and blonder. In case you’re wondering, she actually meant “thinner.” It’s ok, I know.
Being fat in public is kind of crazy-making for any gender, but when you present as female it’s so much worse. I’ve talked to the Geek Husband What Rules who has been much heavier than he currently is, and he is by no means slender now. And he admits that women get the fat-shaming harassment so much worse than men, or in his words, “Holy shit! People actually SAY that to you? They would never say that to a dude!” When you’re fat people feel free to criticize and comment on your clothing choices, your diet (even if you aren’t anywhere NEAR food at the time), your style, your perceived desperation, that they’d rather die than be that fat, the list goes on. When you’re a woman, add slut-shaming on top of that, and diet-talk and you’ve got a cocktail of sucking hate.
While SF/F convention fandom, smaller local conventions like say Norwescon or Rustycon, is far more welcoming and forgiving toward fat people than society at large, that’s mostly the fans themselves. Celebrities come from the world of celebrity, you know, where Jennifer Lawrence is considered chunky. Even with the welcoming nature of smaller cons, fat fans are often afraid to cosplay, especially any character deemed sexy by the fandom. They’re afraid to meet their idols. They sometimes wonder if the furniture at convention hotels will be sturdy enough. Sometimes people will assume that because they’re fat, they’re also stinky, lazy, stupid… You know, all those things for which our culture uses fat as shorthand.
I’ve been thin in fan culture, and I’m currently fat,so I’ve seen both sides of that coin. I have no doubt that Roger Zelazny asked me to hang out with him when I met him at 19 because I was highly decorative. And I don’t think he would have if I looked like I look now. It certainly wasn’t for my witty repartee, because pretty much all I could manage was star struck babbling. Dude! ZELAZNY!
Someone once asked me if I would meet Tom Hiddleston if I had the chance, and my honest answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know because right now the image of him in my head is kind of what’s keeping me sane in my job right now (you will notice that I didn’t say that HE is what’s keeping me sane, this is an important distinction). I don’t know if I want to risk having that image destroyed by reality. Granted, there is also the chance that he’d be even more awesome than I imagine him to be, this is true. That has happened (see Gail Simone, Clive Barker and Felicia Day). So, yeah, odds are good that I’d suck it up and do it. Besides, he seems almost comically sweet, really.
But it’s a concern. I sometimes worry when I host meet-ups that people who meet me for the first time will react badly, or when I do the sex and BDSM panels at conventions. Which is ridiculous. I’ve done burlesque at my current size, and had nothing but favorable reactions. But that fear still lurks in the back of my head, before every performance with Honey Badger, I go through my responses to any possible “Hey, Fattie!” hecklers at shows in my head, again, not that I’ve encountered any yet.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll get all gothic princessed up, suck it up and wander by the celebrity area after all.
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Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want. We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly. Check it out (we’re track 16).