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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9 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #249 – On Being a Fat Fan”
Meeting your heroes is always risky at the best of times. When they are your heroes it inevitably means that you are putting them on a pedestal, but nobody is perfect. If they are an actor or actress, most of what you hear them say has been carefully scripted. There’s normally careful control over what information from them is released to the press. The impression that you receive when seeing them personally can be very different and, with high expectations to live up to, can also be disappointing.
As for the weight concerns, very few of us are completely happy with the way we look. The human body comes in a variety of forms and so do ideas on attractiveness. In spite of the impression that the media provides, the number of people with a thinness fetish is actually pretty low.
Still, you know all this. Clearly you have to be pretty comfortable with yourself to do a burlesque performance and on this blog I congratulate you for your bravery in posting that image of yourself performing in “Rocky Horror”. You didn’t have to post that image, but I’m not about to complain.
But yeah, there’s no use worrying about all the possible ways that Tom Hiddleston could disappoint you. It’s probably too many to count and a reaction to your figure is most likely the least of your worries. But are you really going to let paranoia about your weight dictate whether you meet him or not? Isn’t it possible that your image of him could give you even more of a glow if you also had memories of meeting him in person? – Personally I think you should go for it. It’s worth the risk! (ALL the risks!) 😀
Thank you so much! I know I’m mostly being ridiculous. I haven’t exactly been in a good place re: body image lately. But I’m working on that. My head is full of decades of body image demons I’m trying to exorcise.
And I realize a lot of it is the body image demons living in my head, and totally my damage. But that doesn’t always make it easier to get over.
All right; gotta ask. At what theatre did you do Frank, and around when?
1989-91 – Overlake Theater in Redmond, WA
1991 – Lewis & Clark Theater in Seatac, WA Including a massive performance for the Microsoft Halloween party as Magenta.
1991-2 – Back to Overlake until it closed.
I’ve probably seen the movie over 300 times, and performed it nearly as many. I started as Janet, pulled from the audience the first time I ever went. But mostly did Magenta and Frank, and Rocky, and Columbia. We had some way better Columbias than me, though.
Awesome. I was on the East Coast around the same time, and although I was never cast (much preferred being a voice in the dark), I have attendance numbers comparable to yours. Thanks for the reply!
No problem! I loved doing Rocky! And through it I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
I don’t go to a lot of cons because crowds make me insane. I’m fat too, and if I had to deal with The Look in addition to the claustrophobic feeling of all those people, it would get ugly. I’d love to cosplay, but I “know better.” If that thin, gorgeous black woman could take shit for doing Sailor Venus (Chaka Cumberbatch – COULD she have been a cuter Venus? I don’t think so), what hope have I got, unless I dressed as Pink Pearl? (And I am actually not fat enough to be Pearl, so I’d still hear nothing but criticism, right?)
Self-loathing and social anxieties make it easier to stay online and out of sight. In a few more years I’ll be old enough that I could more comfortably cosplay as Nanny Ogg. Because I’m too short and too heavy to be my idol, Granny Weatherwax. *sigh*
Thanks for your candor. It’s nice not to be the only one with those damned demons. ❤
Luckily, I came across this website after reading a review on Goodreads.com. While growing up, the only things of value I got from my parents’ Hebrew sky god religion was that there was a carpenter’s son once upon a time that believed in love and redemtion, and that you shouldn’t put stock into outward appearances. My wife has explained to me that the entire world doesn’t operate with the same level of finesse. So, I always make sure that I primp just enough when going out in public (with my wife), so she is not embarrassed.
Other than a shared loved for Rocky Horror, I shared a disdain for the inequality of backlashed received by males versus females. From magazine covers at doctors’ offices, I have gathered that male celebrities, “let themselves go” in pictures from vacation beaches, whereas females are chastised if they have imperceivable weight fluctuations.
However, what gets me the most is when paunchy male coworkers complain that their size two girlfriend/wives are ‘fat’. Why is it OK for a man to be into beer three during a ballgame with a slew of junk food on the coffee table; but when their honey reaches for a chip, they inquire if said damsel (in chauvanistic distress) has forgotten about their ‘diet’? (Consequently, I only watch sports alone, or with my wife and kids–once annually, during the Superbowl telecast.)
Although I have never been to a comic-con, I would hope that just the mention of mistreatment by celebs from–say the Emerald City rendition–would light up the internet so much that said celeb would dread facing any fan, at any occasion.
I don’t need to hear your voice, nor see any pictures of you; past, present, nor future–to tell from this blog, that you have a ‘sexy’ voice as a writer. That variety is not achieved by any form of diet, exercise or fitness voodoo: either one is bore with, and cultivates, their cerebellum; or they waste an average blob of grey matter.