Ask Aunt Fattie: Where can I find fat friends?

Dearest Aunt Fattie,

I need fat friends. As soon as possible, please.

Over the past year I’ve really started to accept my body and practice HAES. I stopped dieting and started living life to the fullest. I’ve become more outgoing, I dress better and am much more confident.

The only problem? I have very few friends and the friends I do have don’t (or won’t) understand any of this. I’ve explained over and over again, I’ve avoided the topic — but it continues to gnaw at me. I’m starting to suspect subliminal dieting tips, like a friend of mine who suggests that I order salads at a restaurant when she never does or another friend who tells me about the latest and greatest fat-free ice cream for no reason.

Basically, I need some fat friends. Fat-positive thin friends would be fine I suppose but I want that special bond. I want someone to go shopping with and someone who will understand what I’m going through. Unfortunately the only fat people I ever meet are either trying to lose weight or much older than I am (I’m 18).

How do I find people who will understand and accept me as I am? Where are the hot spot fattie hangouts in San Francisco?

Signed,
Desperately seeking fat companionship

Aunt Fattie almost laughed when she read your question, not because your situation is humorous — it is both serious and poignant — but because, perhaps unbeknownst to you, you have the luck to live in perhaps the best area of the United States for a fatty hankering for fat companionship. The Bay Area has a number of fat groups, clubs, and activities. To help answer your question, Aunt Fattie turned to San Francisco fat maven and Fatshionista livejournal community founder Amarama. Ama says:

There’s a lot of great ways to meet fat people in the Bay Area. Here’s a few:

Heavy Rotation Dance club — fat/outsiders club at El Rio every month:
http://www.elriosf.com/calendar/view_entry.php?id=1431&date=20080613

Fat Swim, every week at the Albany, CA pool:
Making Waves
The swim currently meets Sundays from 11am-1pm
at the Albany High School pool, sliding scale from $3 – $5.
You have to be a woman weighing 200 pounds or more. Contact
Linda at (510) 526-6206.
Also ba-fatdykes@groups.queernet.org

Fat Yoga with Sally Pugh:
http://www.sallypugh.org/body2.htm

Big Boogie Nights (this is a BBW club, the politics are eh, but can be fun, too)
http://www.bigboogienights.com/about.php

There’s several great listservs, too, where info can be had:

Marilyn Wann’s Fat Studies listserv:
fatstudies@yahoogroups.com

Bay Area Fat Dykes
Request Membership at
ba-fatdykes-owner@groups.queernet.org

In San Francisco, as you can see above, it helps to be comfortable with the queer community. Whether you are queer or not, groups that have been coping with outsider status for a long time will often generously and ebulliently reach out to other outsider groups or subsets, meaning that the queer and kink communities can be a gateway to fat communities in some areas. If you prefer your fat friendships to be untainted by any mention of sex, though, there are still options for you in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

You don’t say whether you’re in school, but a local college may be a good place to start looking, whether you’re enrolled there or not. At your age, which is still an uncertain and shaky age for many, it may be hard to find other flawlessly confident fat shopping buddies. But at the same time, the ones who are out there may be as lonely for your company as you are for theirs.

What to do if you’re outside the Bay Area? You can do just what Aunt Fattie did: find a high-profile, plugged-in fat activist and ask her where she goes to be unapologetically fat in public. You can reach out on Shapely Prose, in the Fatshionista community, or in other fat-positive communities. Or you can start your own group. An ad on Craigslist or in the local alternative weekly might garner some nasty responses, because some people will take any opportunity to show themselves to be personally repulsive. But it’ll also help you gather your fat posse. Plan a bike outing, a Scrabble club, a regular shopping expedition.

Finally, remember that there is no shame in looking for fat friends. Even if it were just about having a shopping companion who goes to the same stores you do, that would be reason enough. But it’s also perfectly reasonable to seek out people who are outside the mainstream in the same ways we are — other queer people, other nerds, other punks, other people of our cultural background. Whether our outsider status comes from an innate difference like race or sexuality, or from a subcultural choice, we feel comfortable and supported among people who share it. Of course it’s important to keep in mind that finding another fat activist your age is no guarantee that he or she will become a friend. But once you find one who is, it’s okay if he or she fills a niche that even fat-positive thin friends can’t.

If you’ve got your own questions on fat, fatshion, fatiquette, self-esteem, or body image, send them to auntfattie@gmail.com.

130 thoughts on “Ask Aunt Fattie: Where can I find fat friends?

  1. Hey, this is a great question.

    I’m about to move to Philadelphia (actually, to the Swarthmore/Media/Pendle Hill area) and I need some fat friends too. Anyone out there?

    (you can contact me at fatgirlonadate at gmail dot com)

  2. I’ve talked to most of my friends about HAES and my views on fat, and most of them are keen on ignoring it (which may be different for me as well because I’m NOT fat. I’m just average. My being a size 16(ish, because sizes are always ish) has more to do with me be tall, and so average for a tall girl. But I can definitely see where Desperately Seeking is coming from.

    At the moment I’m not working hard at looking simply because I’m moving in less than six weeks, so any new friends I meet now will become long-distance friends pretty short term.

    But I should probably take a look at any FA groups down in the L.A. area before I go down. That might be a good way to get myself settled and start meeting new people. That thought hadn’t even occurred to me until just now. OMG THIS IS GENIUS.

    Thank you for asking this question Desperately Seeking!!! And I just want to add, Good for you that you’re looking. Good for you that you like yourself enough and recognize your own needs enough to go out and look for the good friends you deserve to fill an area in your life you feel needs it. Best of luck!

  3. Boston Suburbs? :) I’m sure there are those of us around the country who wouldn’t mind one (or another) shopping buddy who won’t spend the whole time trying to find you something “Slimming”! What a great question and response. Huzzah Aunt Fatty! ^^

  4. Western Colorado? (Haha… right!)

    There’d need to be somewhere to shop in general here in order to garner a fat shopping buddy, but a fellow gym goer or hiking buddy would be awesome.

    I’ve wondered this same thing frequently. I really need a bigger city!

  5. I dig Desperately Seeking’s proactivity on this. I, too, in Tucson, AZ, have found that there’s just no ability for my friends, or even my husband, to understand this whole self-acceptance thing, particularly on the weight front. I had a friend the other day tell me with proud that she’d managed to eat only 750 calories a day all week. I had to inform her that she was starving herself, and left it at that. Going into the whole FA deal would’ve been too much to deal with at once. Lately, I’ve been yearning to be around folks for whom constant self-criticism isn’t their hobby of choice. I had no idea how hard they’d be to find.

  6. April D: Outer Boston represent!

    Depending on how close you are, Big Moves Boston is a good source. Unfortunately for me, I’m on the North Shore so it’s a little far. I do have some Boston proper acquaintances who joined recently, and they love it.

  7. Also, for the SF Bay Area, go over to Big Fat Deal and leave a comment, as there is talk of a Bay Area blogger get together.

    In LA (and in other large cities), there are also local NAAFA groups. The LA chapter is trying to pull in the non-political folks for socializing and they have some fun stuff planned (according to their Yahoo list). I know that there is dissatisfaction about NAAFA among lot’s of folks, but as a social networking tool, it can be quite useful.

  8. Yes please? I’m in the Boston area (Somerville) and have been thinking about how to assemble a fat-positive posse for some time now. If anyone wants to join me, let me know at anais923nin at yahoo dot com

  9. I’d also recommend that the person not limit herself by age so much. When I was in high school, even a few years older seemed like such a big deal but in a few years, having friends who are 10-20 years older won’t seem like a big deal at all. Don’t give up on people just because of age. It is more about whether you can be friends and have things in common. Some people act younger or older than their biological age anyways, so don’t dismiss a 30 or 40 year old as being a good friend.

    I’m 40 and have friends from 20-80 years old. I don’t think age affects our friendship nor the benefits I have from knowing them and hanging out with them.

  10. You could set up (or try to find) a Meetup group in your area — any area. I joined one (different emphasis) and have made a couple of good friends over the last year. Meetup.com. It’s free to join and to find groups, but there’s a small charge ($50 a year?) to start a group.

    I also second the recommendation of not worrying too much about age.

  11. Excellent response, Aunt Fattie. I’ve been wondering the same things about finding friends, and it’s nice to have some ideas.

  12. fatgirlonadate, I’m about to move to that area, too! I can’t fill the fat friend need, but I’d be happy to fill the fat-positive thin friend niche where it’s wanted. Same goes for anyone in that area. And I won’t take it personally if I’m not invited clothes shopping or over for ice cream. :)

  13. YES YES YES.

    Thanks so much for your question, Desperately Seeking!

    I love the Fatosphere so much, but it seems the only place it’s okay to talk about fat positivity, self-acceptance, or feminism is the internet. I’m blessed to have a wonderful, close network of family and some dear and special friends… but none of them understand any of these things. Any time I bring them up, it just serves to either alienate me, start an argument, or get the comments like, “where do you come up with these ideas?” or “you’re so cynical and angry (you’re right, I should be spitting flowers and sunshine because you just compared breastfeeding in public to Tourette’s!)” or “but fat is unheeeealtheeeeee!”

    I’m not just going to write people out of my life because they’ve been brainwashed by a society that works super-hard to keep everybody brainwashed, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to actually talk to another person who knows where I’m coming from, as opposed to typing. And let’s face it, there’s times I could use a hug about this kind of stuff!!!!

    In my area, I don’t know where I’d find the others like me. After all, I grew up here, and grew up pretty much convinced I’m the last of a dying species that was abandoned on this planet when the spaceship crashed.

    But at least I know I’m not the only person that feels that way. And I’ll keep looking.

    Leave it to the Shapelings… you lovely peoples always make me feel better!

  14. Something I would add in addition to Aunt Fattie’s excellent advice is to do the stuff that you like doing, and keep your eyes open for other fatties there already enjoying whatever it is you’re doing. I think looking for people who are already digging on stuff you dig could make it even more likely for you to find someone whose interests are compatible with yours…which could make it easier to have reasons to hang out and bond.

  15. My closest friends are thin and there is nothing lacking in our bonds. We even have fun clothes shopping together though it isn’t quite as communal as tossing clothes to each other over the walls of the changing stalls.

    One of my friends is athletic and has taught me how much joy there can be in exercise. I’ll never share her passion for skiing, but I love to hear her talk about it because she gets all giddy and glowy. I get the same way when I talk about swimming, so we understand each other on that level even though our passions are different.

    Most of the fat friends I’ve had have made the assumption that they knew everything about me because we were all fat, so we must have all had the same life experiences. We had some superficial things in common, but they kept missing out on who I actually was because they weren’t hearing what I was saying.

    That’s a lot of words to say that the bonds of friendship are based on far more than common experience. You can’t always tell who is going to understand you just by looking.

    I’ve wandered through groups of the so-called “pretty and popular” and “outsiders” and just about every other group you can think of. There are people who will be high quality friends and people who won’t get you at all everywhere you go.

    The way to identify who will be good for you is to listen to how people talk about themselves and how they talk about others. Also, pay attention to how they listen. The kinds of people who make awesome friends show respect for people who aren’t even present by not laughing at jokes that put other people down. They steer the conversation away from gossip. They don’t go along with people puttting themselves down because they don’t do it either. They show an interest in and awareness for the things that other people have to say by asking questions that encourage more than yes or no answers or asking questions that respectfully challenge a person’s ideas.

    The best way to make high quality friends is to do things that you love in places where other people will be doing the same thing. I love to swim, so I took a water aerobics class. I love to sing, so I joined a small choir. I didn’t make friends in those groups, but I had fun looking. I enjoyed the activities and had fun with the people who enjoyed them because we had a common interest. I value my memories of those people because we had good conversations.

    Enjoy getting to know people for who they are and they’ll let you get to know them a little bit. It won’t always result in friendship, but it does result in positive interactions that help everybody involved to feel valued and respected.

    I didn’t stick with those groups because there were other groups and activities I wanted to try. Sometimes, I make friends that stick. Sometimes, I don’t. I always have fun. I always have the joy of having positive interactions with people.

    The trick to making friends with the people who ask good questions and show respect for others is to be one. Standing up for yourself and others is the world’s strongest jerk repellant. It also happens to attract people who stand up for themselves and others. That doesn’t always result in lasting friendships either, but it does make for some awesome conversations a long the way. Then, when it does result in strong bonds, you know that those bonds are based on the kind respect that seeks the best in you and for you.

  16. After all, I grew up here, and grew up pretty much convinced I’m the last of a dying species that was abandoned on this planet when the spaceship crashed.

    SugarLeigh–LMAO! I so know what you mean.

  17. They steer the conversation away from gossip

    Okay, I’m hoping not to create a total derail from Aunt Fattie’s excellent advice, but I just want to say that I actually think the devaluing of gossip is a complex and interesting topic. IMO, there’s a difference between malicious gossip, which intends to cause harm/spread secrets/stain someone’s reputation, and friendly gossip, which is a sharing of information and comparing notes on mutual acquaintances. As an introvert, I rely on gossip from my more outgoing friends to keep up with people I don’t see as often — and I rely on gossip to disseminate news from my life that I don’t want to tell over and over again. I know that when Twilightriver says good friends avoid gossip, she means the malicious kind, but as a person who is generally considered warm and caring and who also loves to gossip, I just wanted to pipe up and say that I think there’s a place for nonmalicious gossip in friendships.

  18. After the keywords “fat acceptance” brought up only a weight-loss group in my area on the suggested meetup.com, I would once again like to throw out the Savannah, GA-area as a lovely area, full of fun hiking trails, fascinating history, and cool boutique shopping, all better done together.. And yummy pecans and peaches and peanuts. And mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes.

    I honestly can’t tell you if I qualify as “fat” or not (my BMI would say I’m “overweight”, but you know how that goes). But I definitely have had the experiences that most of us have had, of feeling not right in our own skins, of feeling not enough (or too much), of just never being good enough to quite qualify for…well, much of anything, really. Plus, the everpresent mother-pressure to lose weight (although only for your health, of course).

    So shout out for the Sea-port if you’re around.

  19. Possibly a silly suggestion, but have you also tried OKcupid? It’s… technically a dating site, but also used a lot just for fun; I’m on there for the tests, and to find geeky people to chat with, and nothing more. You could set yourself up as looking for friends only, rate yourself using the questionnaires regarding the importance of practicing HAES, etc, and look around for like-minded people in your local area?

    In fact, damnit I’m going to go on there now and add some HAES-style info to my questions!

  20. fatgirlonadate, I live in Wayne, PA — not too far from where you’re going to be! If you ever need a fat shopping buddy, I’m your gal. There’s a great plus-size boutique in my neck of the woods, and the King of Prussia Mall (which is freaking HUGE) is nearby as well.

  21. I’m super in favour of regional meet-ups. As another in-betweenie, I wouldn’t want to encroach on anyone’s safe space, though. Maybe FA meetups for allies of all sizes, and Fatty meetups as a separate thing, branching out of the FA meetups?
    Toronto here. :)

  22. Yeah, Aunt Fattie, I too had a little inner-laugh reaction when I saw where the letter-writer was searching. I know that not everyone has access to fat communities–it depends on your age, identity, wired-in-ness, transportation options, abilities, etc.–but if you DO start looking in earnest, you will find that you cannot throw a small baby-flavored donut in the SF Bay Area without hitting a fattie clothing store, or fat swim, or fat social, or fat performing group, or right-on punk rock fattie. It’s not enough, of course, but it’s a heaping handful of _something_.

    I personally enjoy the DIY approach to community: if you can’t find the kind of community you want, make it (through groups, or craigslist postings, or flyers, or whatever). Also, the advice about going about your regular pursuits and finding a social circle that way is also really good. It’s what they say about dating, too, and I think it’s true: when you’re doing what you love, people do tend to be attracted to that energy.

    I totally get wanting fattie-friendly friends, though. Man, it makes all the difference not to have to wade through body hatred.

  23. @Yorke – where are you, Grand Junction? My partner’s family lives there (Colbran now, actually) and I totally feel you. I’ve spent a lot of time there and never really liked it. And yeah, no shopping except for like, Herbergers.

    @ Desperately Seeking – I am originally from the bay area and will be moving back in early September. I’m older than you (soon to be 27) but I’m militantly fat-positive, love shopping (thrifting in particular) and whatnot and would be open to meeting up. I’ll be in the east bay, though, not SF proper. Email me at yellowvalkyrie at gmail if you want.

  24. @ Yorke again: scratch part of my first comment – I love the Colorado National Monument! As a park ranger, I must say that the great basin has some lovely open space. But still no shopping.

  25. Yay, JuliaRS! Email me! I’d love to get together.

    W00t! Will do.

    Is the boutique Fresh Ayer? I’ve heard of it and am psyched to visit.

    Yep! I’ve gotten a lot of nice things there. And they’re having a sale right now! There’s a pair of Svoboda jeans calling my name….

  26. @April D, Roni, and Christine:

    I work in Cambridge and live on the North Shore (am also a former Somervillian)! Represent!

  27. Not to derail the excellent meetup discussion (anyone in NYC?), but I have a similar – yet different – problem that I would love some advice for. See, I HAD a super cool friend of similar size, and I fear I’m losing her. She’s also my roommate, and she is really my only friend close to me in size (we’re in-betweenies). We’ve always had fun shopping together, going out for meals, etc. She’s never really been one to diet – the closest I’ve ever heard her come to a negative body comment is something like “eh, I probably shouldn’t be eating this…” She’s not exactly fat positive, but I didn’t get the impression that she was unhappy with herself.

    Then last week, when I emailed to invite her out to dinner with some friends, I got this as a reply:

    “Thanks for the invite, but this week marks the start of PSD (Project Slim Down) for me… running every morning, watching what I eat and curbing any unnecessary spending. Hurrah! Yes, I am a huge loser. But something needs to be done. I am disgusting.”

    I was pretty shocked. I never responded, because the only thought going through my mind was “you have a GORGEOUS size 14 figure…WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!” I have no idea if this was going on all along, or if something happened to make her start to feel this way. And I feel awkward talking about it with her, because the last week has been a running commentary of how she’s eating so much less and exercising all the time, and isn’t that SO VERY EXCITING! I don’t have the heart to tell her I don’t agree with what she’s doing. But I also don’t think I can take much more of the diet fixation – it’s seriously bumming me out, and I’m starting to feel guilty eating my normal food in front of her. Plus, I want my awesome roommate back! It saddens me to think we’ll no longer be meeting up for happy hour drinks/goodies, and other fun food oriented things we used to do.

    Any and all advice about how to approach the situation would be much appreciated!

  28. Speaking of fat community… somewhat related: I’m going to burning man this year and am wondering if anyone knows about any FA presence out there? Camp/event/something? It would be so amazing to experience that on the playa…

  29. I just want to say that I actually think the devaluing of gossip is a complex and interesting topic.

    DUDE! I am so with you. Growing up in a *huge* extended family, I not only experienced gossip as a way of disseminating information, but also as a way of enforcing behavioral standards and such. I think gossip is a time-honored and oft-maligned social tool.

    ….and now back to the actual thread.

  30. Southern NH, and very happy to travel to Boston for happy times! Recently moved to the area so new body-positive friends = yay.

  31. Kristie, I’m in Tucson too! And I have an awesome crew of (mostly inbetweenie) female friends who are big on self-love, but then I hang out with mostly poets, so yeah. SoAZ in the house!

  32. I second what Kim said: don’t rule out older people. Granted, I’d have to go home to bed before the bar scene started. But, an older woman may be wanted younger company, missing a daughter who has left the nest or who isn’t necessarily fat-positive.

    On the other side, Desperately Seeking didn’t mention her own mom. Mine is about as fat-negative as it gets, and I would never go shopping with her now. It might be nice to get out and do something with a mom-like person who isn’t going to send her diet tips.

  33. Peanutty, ugh… having lost my one local fat girlfriend to ephedra and compulsive exercise, I really feel ya. Two things spring to mind:

    – She’s doing a LOT at once. Changing her exercise habits and her eating habits and her spending habits a) is really setting herself up for disappointment and b) speaks to a deeper-seated dissatisfaction. This might mean that she really needs you right now, or is about to really need you. That said:

    – Aunt Fattie’s official position is that you can’t change people’s behavior, only your relation to it. The likelihood is that you cannot convince her to stop what she’s doing; you can only decide whether you want to stand by and witness it. It’s okay to decide no.

    Since she’s a good friend, I think it’s worth it to try to have a conversation about where her dissatisfaction is really coming from, and whether trying to change all these habits simultaneously (while possibly not changing the real sources of disaffectation) is a good idea or an act of desperation. After that one conversation, though, if she keeps at it, the only thing you can do is decide whether to grin and bear it or say “I’m so sorry, I can’t have another conversation about how little you ate today.”

  34. I really feel all you people living out in the west of CO! I would *love* to have had a fat community here in the Upper Valley of VT; it’s very strange to be fat in the land of thin, where everyone acts like you just flew up in the air if you’re fat and you go hiking or climb something or swim or something. I’m leaving at the end of August, but if anyone wants to hang out before then, I’m game: defiantcreatrix at fastmail dot fm.

    Also write if you’re in Madison, WI (If you want to); that’s where I’m moving!

  35. Perhaps you could meet a non-fat-positive fat friend and educate her about FA and HAES. I mean, many fat people have simply never heard of this concepts and have never considered that there is another option besides self-loathing. I mean, you don’t need to push it on them–but simply talking about your lifestyle, gently disagreeing when she puts herself down, etc. You’d not only be making a friend, you’d be doing an incredibly good deed as well. I say this because when I was fat and lonely and hated myself, I would’ve been ecstatic to meet someone like you.

  36. Peanutty, you have my sympathy…I know I’ve mentioned my WW-obsessed best friend before, and it definitely sucked to lose my primary pursuit-of-awesome-food buddy. And it hurts to see her hating/mistreating her body. My best advice is to become very good at changing the subject when diet talk occurs. Otherwise, I have nothing to offer but said sympathy, as my attempts to talk about HAES, etc. have been unsuccessful. :(

  37. Meg, I think that’s good advice but depends on how the questioner is feeling, you know? I wouldn’t want to suggest that to someone without knowing how stable they’re feeling in all other aspects of their life, because educating and convincing and helping people is HARD WORK. It’s enervating, and it’s also often not fun — and the questioner could be forgiven for wanting fun friends!

    But I do agree that she might not want to rule out people who are only halfway there — people who aren’t going to try to drag her down, but who will blossom with her positive influence even though they’re struggling on their own. The passive-aggressive salad-mentioners don’t sound like they fall in that category, though.

  38. The passive-aggressive salad-mentioners
    This would also make an excellent name for a band. An evil band. So if Piggy Moo were Jem and the Holograms, they would be the Misfits.

  39. Thanks for the advice, guys. Killedbyllamas, changing the subject has been my method of dealing so far – sadly, I’ve already become quite adept. Ugh, and I’m very worried about the possibility of my roomie joining WW – I know there is a group at her work, so it’d be very easy. So sorry you’ve had to go through that. I’m already starting to feel the loss of my “pursuit of awesome food buddy” (awesome phrase, by the by), and it is not fun. Luckily, we have a pretty good group of food-loving (and accepting) friends – I just hate thinking about her missing out!

    And fillyjonk, I am definitely working under the assumption that there is something deeper going on. It seems like all the talk about her awesome new diet is heading towards some sort of “we should do it together!” suggestion. When that happens, I think I’ll take that opportunity to explain my reasons for declining, and try to find out why she has made this sudden change. My gut is telling me that all the pressures of her job are catching up with her – she works in PR for a pretty high profile shoe/handbag designer, and I’m sure it’s especially hard to be fat (and fat accepting) in that industry. Which SUCKS, because she loves (and is awesome at) her job – I hate to think of her insecurity overshadowing that.

  40. Aunt Fatty, I think that this was the most relevant question to my life you’ve ever picked. I’m even around the same age as the questioner, and have been struggling with wishing I had fat friends to shop with. I mean, I shop with my thin friends, and can still have a good time, but they always feel uncomfortable if I go into a plus-size store, since “they can’t wear anything”. Plus, there is constant body-hate talk with them, so it kind of gets to me, as someone who is refusing to diet, and refusing to hate her body, things get awkward sometimes. This is probably hoping too much, as spread out as Oregon is(compared to So.Cal, where I am right now spending summer with my parents) but any fat ladies, of any age, looking for friends in and around Oregon State University? I’m not there now, but will be coming back in the fall.

  41. You folks in the Philadelphia area – I’m willing to drive! I’m about to move to the greater Pittsburgh area and I know nobody anywhere in the vicinity. :(

    Goddess bless the Internet, eh?

    DRST

  42. To the actual question at hand: I have had great luck making connections by quietly representing around other fat people.

    Like if there is food at work and someone is moaning about the calories or whatever, I will ease up to my target and say something like: “Wow, everything looks delicious, I’m glad she’s leaving so much for the rest of us.”, and then smile demurely. If I get a “I’m trying not to die of the fatz.” response, I just nod and move on, but if I get a “Isn’t food yummy response.” Score.

    As to getting together, I have been wanting to recommend some kind of Fat Jamboree, perhaps an off-season camp weekend, or something of that sort. Bigmovesbabe’s comment just solidified my feeling that I could probably put something together. Would anyone be interested? Would anyone be interested in helping make the plans?
    Hit me up, my email is: bellacoker at yahoo dot com.

    I live in North Texas and there are some nice places around here, but we definitely aren’t limited.

  43. integgy – I just had to go shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding. Because I’m a bad judge of what looks good on me, I asked a thin friend to go (I don’t have any fat friends around here), and I gave her the out by saying that I knew it would be boring for her b/c she couldn’t try anything on. She didn’t care, of course. I also remember shopping with 2 thin friends a few years ago. We went to a bunch of thin stores for them, then I felt fucking guilty for “making” them go into Lane Bryant. WTF?! No, there was nothing they could try on (though one did buy an awesome denim jacket there), but there was nothing I could try on at Forever 21 (who the fuck wants to stay 21 – or any age – forever?!), either. Did they feel guilty for “dragging” me into those stores? Hell no! I ended up shopping with a fattish friend who was visiting this weekend and it was awesome.

  44. Hey Liza, if it helps i live in Manhattan.

    I’m 30 years old, married, work in computer animation, and am always open to meeting new friends. Especially cuz all my old friends are in Israel where I’m from…

    So you can use that as a basis for whether we have anything in common :)

    This is my site if you ever want to contact someone in new york who loves shapely prose… http://www.shmonster.com

  45. Yorke, mulheresperta, I can’t believe there are people here near me, kinda! I am in Moab UT, just 1.5 hours from Grand Junction. I went to college there! I am dorkily excited and I don’t feel like such an outcast and afraid to post ’cause I’m from this tiny town….lalalala.

    In summation: YAY!

  46. How do I ask Auntie Fattie a question?

    Oh dammit I always forget to add the tagline saying how to reach Aunt Fattie. Thanks for the reminder! It’s auntfattie at gmail.

  47. Lilah,
    Oh, it’s never that I feel bad for taking them into stores. I don’t feel guilty at all, since there are a lot less plus size stores, and I get dragged into about twice the stores I drag them into. xD It’s more like, I’ve actually had a few friends tell me that they feel uncomfortable in, say, Torrid, or they’ll stand, really stiff against the wall. I really only have one thin friend who doesn’t mind, but she and I rarely go shopping for clothes, and shop more. I find that usually, the best place to go with thin friends is something like a large department store, which carries a variety of sizes, since then there’s something for everyone, and no one really feel left out.

  48. I’ve actually had a few friends tell me that they feel uncomfortable in, say, Torrid, or they’ll stand, really stiff against the wall.

    I love this. It’s like “Oh no, guys, if people see me in a fat girl store they might think I’m fat!” I mean, I’m not disparaging your friends, because I’ve felt similarly absurd things on this sort of topic, but it really is insane when you think about it.

  49. NW Chicago suburbs, anyone? I’ve got a couple of rad fat friends out here, but I could always use more!

  50. Anyone around the Manassas/Chantilly, VA area? Or northern VA in general? I’d love to have someone to go shopping with!

    @LilahMorgan: I have to admit that I’ve totally done that in straight-sized stores. Not “oh no, they’re going to thin I’m thin!”, haha, but “oh no, they’re going to think I’m delusional or totally pathetic!”

  51. I’m of the Bay Area myself… I’m old though (43) :D But I can vouch for the fat yoga, Sally Pugh. I found her class surfing around from this very fat-friendly hub, and I absolutely LOVE her. I have never done yoga before, but that hasn’t mattered, and I really have a great time.

    Even still I’m a fat club newbie. I had no idea all these great things are out there. I have read of the burlesque girls and such though. Sometimes though the Chronicle is unreadable for all the Fat is Evil articles, including the Fat is not only Evil but RUINING the Environment.

    You’d think in a place so notable for tolerance these things wouldn’t wash, but it seems the majority do feel that fat people are a blight on society and a lovely target for what is wrong with this country. :|

    Some of the blue state ranting about the “fat, lazy, stupid” members of Red States who were personally responsible for electing Bush make me really mad :( Stupid yes, but what’s fat or lazy have to do with it?

    Grrr… sorry for ranting.

  52. Peanutty, I’m in NYC *waves*. If you want you can email me at thenewthirteen at gmail dot com.

    I am sorry to hear about what’s going on with your friend. My former best friend (we stopped being friends for reasons that had nothing to do with bodies/weight/etc) had a very distorted body image and when I discovered FA, I bought her a copy of “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies” and she loved it…but she didn’t sign on. She still made body and fat hating comments. If we had stayed friends, I don’t think I would have been able to deal with it.

    From what you’ve said, I think you are handling the situation as well as you can. Hopefully, this is just a temporary situation that may clear up if the stress clears up, but if not, well, maybe the two of you will just have to make a no-diet-talk rule.

  53. I know many are inquiring how to meet people in their area, and not online – but I’ve personally been a part of an online community called Dimensions for multiple years now. I have literally travelled all over the country hanging out with girls that have the same positive views, confidence and security about their bodies as I do and some of my best friends in my life right now I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through events that are discussed in this community. Even if you aren’t into the whole possibility of meeting a friend from the online community – they still keep VERY up to date schedule of events all over the country and even internationally. Thousands and thousands of people are members, and there is a ton of activity daily. It might be worth a look if you aren’t aware of this community already. Enjoy!

    http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/forums

  54. Hey, Kristie and Linz! I’m in Tucson, too. If anybody in the area decides to put together a fat girls’ shopping-dining-whatever group, count me in!

  55. @caffeine – I’m in Montgomery County, MD, which is at least metro-able to Tyson’s Corner and various shopping points in DC.

    Anyone else in DC/MD/noVA?

  56. I’m in Toronto. I work in a mall and it would be really nice to have fat-positive friends to go shopping with. I think I would make a wonderful friend, haha :P I’m 17 and am desperate to get out of the house/work, and would love to meet some awesome people who won’t make me feel bad about my weight.

  57. A friend and I are looking to start a group for fat women in the Lansing MI area! If you are interested email: lansingfatbottomedgirls (at) gmail (dot) com

  58. Linz and No Sharp Edges, that would be groovy (and note to self: hang with more poets…I’m a poet, too!), but you didn’t leave link/contact info on your comments. My blog is linked with this one, so swing by. Who knows what could happen here in the Old Pueblo. :)

  59. I know it’s difficult, but I would suggest telling your friends to politely not police your eating habits. It doesn’t even have to be bitchy, just say “Hey, I don’t want a salad, I’d rather have ____”. They will learn. If they are really your friends, they’ll back off. Eating is a really personal act and there’s no reason people should judge you for it.

    Craigslist is actually a good place to start (try activity partners or the platonic section) or even the LJ group fatshionista. I know there are plenty of cool fat women on there who live in the bay area.

    Hang in there, girl! It is hard to be fat in the bay area, especially since we are so elitist and food obsessed. Just stand your ground and be strong!

  60. As an in-betweenie, I got practically kicked out of an LB once. I had to say to her, “No, this is what size 14-16 looks like.” I was stunned and NOT flattered (which is what it looked like she was expecting).

    Can I also say that my one of my absolutely favorite parts about this blog-mmunity is that you all read everyone’s comments? I always read everyone’s comments on all the blogs I read and hate it when the “I didn’t take the time to read what you said, but I’m going to go ahead and say what I think” comments happen. That doesn’t happen here much and the amount of respect I feel is incredible. Kudos and thanks, Ladies and Gents.

  61. Wow, atiton, when I was a size 16, the only store I got that kind of treatment at was Victoria’s Secret…

    I suspect that I’m all alone here, but anyone in Munich? (I mean the one in Germany, not Munich, North Dakota)

  62. Winnipeg Manitoba anyone? I’m feeling a little desperate I have to admit. Everyone’s cut me off from talking about FA :(

  63. Thanks Aunt Fattie for the indirect reminder to be grateful that I’m lucky enough to have found a bestie who is a generously upholstered gal like myself, and who is NOT desperately trying to change the way she just naturally is. I know will never, ever have to put up with diet talk, picky (read fearful) eating and self-hating comments when I’m with her.

  64. @celeloriel: Ooh, that’s close to Rockville, isn’t it? (My Maryland geographic knowledge is abysmal.) There’s a fantastic bead store there, so I’d love to have an excuse to get up there. Email me at pearlandopal at gmail if you’d like to chat!

  65. @celeloriel, caffeine:

    I don’t live in MoCo, but I take trips up there several times a year as my family lives in Olney. Let me know if you all ever decide to do a Phun Phat Girl Outing. E-mail is entoaggie at gmail. I’ll be up that way next in mid-August (10 year HS reunion, oh my!).

  66. Not that I’m anywhere NEAR Montgomery County, but one of my friends from college grew up there (specifically in Olney), so I know where it is. I feel special.

    I’m in Cleveland, but moving soon, and I don’t qualify as a fat friend . . . but I’m nice! Or at least amusing.

  67. Sweet Machine, I’ve read recently the theory that the development of speech and shortly thereafter, gossip, replaced grooming. That allowed human communities to grow larger than the other primate packs because you didn’t have to physically touch every member of your group to bond.

  68. Hi nolittlelolita and Vidya! I think there are more than a few of us in Toronto, actually. We should seriously try for a meet-up. There was a small shopping expedition to Buffalo that happened a couple of months ago, but I couldn’t make it. We should try again!

  69. Toronto ladies! Yes please! Julia, Vidya, nolittlelolita!
    Vidya, my husband is from Winnipeg, and we just spent the past week there listening to my mother-in-law talk about how fat she is EVERY FIVE minutes.
    I’m so glad I found FA and HAES because she and I are the same size and proportions, and I think that would have sent me into a diet spiral a couple years ago.
    How do we go about getting Toronto ladies together? I just moved here in January, and I still don’t have any friends, and I’m going crazy!

  70. Carleigh, I just moved here in May, so I’m probably even more friend-less than you. Email me? juliafaye AT writeme DOT com (yep, that’s a real email address :)), and I’ll start getting a mailing list together. That goes for all Toronto Shapelings who read this.

  71. Buttercup, curse your logic! *shakes fist*

    It’s very pleasant once it hits about the middle of September/ the beginning of October, I PROMISE!

    Seriously, though, there seems to be a real dearth of FA in the South (Fillyjonk in her location being an exception) and what the hell is up with that?

  72. Rotund,

    My theory on FA being (ahem!) slim in the South is that the notions of femininity are still strong here.

    But wait, they are still strong everywhere. Oh, nevermind.

  73. Cindy, that IS an interesting idea, though. I wonder if it has to do with the rural versus urban breakdown of the area – FA seems a very urban sort of movement at the moment.

  74. Waves from the urban part of Alabama — heh. Yeah, it is too hot. But being forced by Mother Nature to wear tank tops & camis or die of heat stroke several months out of the year isn’t all bad.

    Cindy: Yeah. Conformity in general is a really big deal. One of my neighbors (who’s originally from Seattle) finds it hilarious and disturbing that the ‘hippie chicks” here wear so much makeup.

  75. Christine, April D, and Roni- I’m living in North Shore MA as well! Let’s definately get together ’cause I don’t know many people around here, let alone other awesome FAers!!

  76. For those in and around Massachusetts there are also BBW dances held by Heavenly Bodies. The website is superbbw.com if you want to check it out! I’ve only been to one small dance, but it was a good time.

  77. TWoP Fan – I live in Humboldt County, CA now but I’ve spent a lot of time in western CO because of my partner’s family. I haven’t been to Moab but I looked at it once from on top of a rock in Arches NP. :)

  78. Cindy:

    Hit me up, I’d love to get together. I wish there were some easy way to just give you my phone number or something, bleh.

    I’m not so much for the shopping, except for books, but I am crazy for the hanging out.

    bellacoker at yahoo dot com

  79. I’m lucky to have friends in Michigan who are really trying. In fact, one told me recently she had a “Jo” moment, meaning she bawled out her roommate for talking about needing to diet, and told her she needs to accept her body. Hooray for influence! :-)

  80. muzaika, I always got the idea that Burning Man is very much a general acceptance type of group (or groups.) My husband has been going for the last 4 years (I don’t go because it’s too dusty for my delicate lungs and there are no trees.) He tells me quite a few fatties run around nearly naked as well as in less revealing garb and no one would ever dream of cat-calling or insulting them because it’s a haven for self-expression.

    That being said, it’s entirely possible that there’s a group of fat folk planning on being there. There should be a Burner group near you that you can inquire of; try teh google. Piss clear, know your pharmacist and have fun!

    If you run into The Alchemist there, that’s my hubby; say hi.

  81. Ha! Tricia, that is totally awesome. I actually sell stuff at an art gallery there, Naked Art. Birmingham is my favorite What If I Just Moved Somewhere fantasy destination! Which is so funny because, hey, Alabama, but Birmingham rocks.

  82. To those of you in the Philadelphia area I’m in Central Bucks County (45 min north of Center City). I can be reached at sabrinamhc90ATverizonDOTnet.

  83. Columbus, anyone? Add an @yahoo.com to the end of my name!

    And I’m rather fond of Birmingham myself…many funny associations from a visit last year.

  84. twincats –
    thank you, it’s true – I was there last year and that was pretty much my experience. but there are also a lot of skinny gorgeous naked people around and I was noticing all my body stuff come up, and I just though it would be AMAZING to have some kind of organized mass fat jiggle across the playa. to concentrate that energy together in a place that was so open to it anyone feels like a really powerful idea to me.

    I’ll keep an eye open for alchemy on the move:)…

  85. Rotund! *waves* I live in Florida, an hour north of Orlando! I kept thinking the same thing! What’s shakin’?

  86. Why is there not a single person from Minnesota?! :(

    I was wondering the same thing. Minneapolis, here. :)

  87. The Rotund: Small world syndrome, for real. So you must know Vero, then. I don’t know her that well, but we have friends in common and wind up at the same parties and dinners a lot.

    I live a few minutes from the gallery, if you visit I’d be happy to buy you a drink!

  88. killedbyllamas: You, too. If you’re ever back in town drop me a line…. silverruneatyahoodotcom

  89. for anyone complaining about no one being from their area, seriously just go to dimensions forums.

    there’s over 20,000 people in the community that is entirely geared toward what this article talks about.

    i know 118 comments are hard to sort through and you’re probably skimming through this, but seriously, everything that’s been mentioned (dances, get togethers, the heavenly bodies dances in boston, etc) are ALL ON THE FORUMS.

    http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/forums

    yes, long url … but a huge, simple, popular forum is what it leads to. oy.

  90. I’m posting this here, because it seems to relate to this post best; see, I’ve had fat friends, but they’ve all lost the weight and now I’m the only one left. And now I feel like I have no one to talk to about it.

    My best friend of 14 years invited me to celebrate her birthday in Las Vegas this year. That sounds great, right? Except, well, um…no. Not so much. Because of all my girlfriends who’ve gone through “fat phases”, I am the only one who has stayed in it.

    J and I were fat together in high school (and if only I could be “fat” like that again), and though it bothered us–her more than me–we had a great time and lived our lives. Until a few years ago, that’s how things were…we continued to gain, me more than her, but she was always bigger than I was, and in a sick way, I think I felt better because of it.

    Then, 4 years ago, I pursued a diet her sister was doing that essentially meant starving yourself but using acupressure to tell your body you aren’t starving. A load of honkey, I’m sure, but I lost a lot of weight in a very short period. As I was doing so, so was she, and we both became the “skinny” girls we always wanted to be. Suddenly our lives opened up (because of our new confidence, I should add). After losing the weight the unhealthy way, we both maintained by exercising regularly and eating a sensible diet–which basically just meant eating baby carrots instead of potato chips, etc. It felt great; I had more energy than I ever thought I could have.

    Part of the reason working out regularly was so easy was because I worked at a gym; when I lost that job, then got evicted and then ended up living on J’s couch, I was forced to move home to Vermont from Nashville. There I was diagnosed with bipolar and put on Depakote (which is a sick joke played on me by someone, because I’m not really bipolar and was just having a drug thrown at me–a fat girl, being tossed a drug known to cause weight gain). The weight came back on pretty quickly, at least up to a point. Before I knew it, I was back where I started before the diet. However, J was one of those “freaks” who has never really gained the weight back. She works out regularly most of the time (I guess; we don’t talk about it, and I don’t live near her now), and avoids “bad” foods.

    Needless to say, I am desperately envious of her for this, mostly because I don’t know where to find the motivation to exercise. Earlier on the phone I mentioned my desire for some Oreos, andshe mentioned that she hadn’t had one in nearly two years. This made me feel so many things: weak, fat, lazy, disgusting, awful, miserable, depressed, and unworthy. This happens to me a lot with her; I am always comparing myself to others, especially her, and my lack of ability to lose weightagain (or motivation to really do so), has made me feel like I don’t even want to see her, much less spend a weekend in Las Vegas with her and her thin friends.

    The stupid thing is, she doesn’t care. The stupider thing is, I’M the one with a boyfriend. Not that that’s a measure of worthiness, but…I hope you know what I mean. Being thin was always about finding a guy for me, and now I have one (who I met while fat) and…I honestly don’t know why he’s with me most of the time–because I’m fat, and I feel like that makes me undesirable. And on top of that, I feel like Ican’t talk to him about it because I feel like he’s going to leave me because I don’t love myself.

    The worst part is, I feel like I can’t talk to anyone about it, because I feel like they don’t know how to talk to me about it, like it makes them uncomfortable, because they’re relieved not to be in my position anymore. My three closest girlfriends have, as I said, all gained and lost weight, and remain fairly slim. I am the lone fat one. And even though I’ve known these girls for more than ten years, it makes me feel like not being with them. Even when I meet new people–like my coworkers, who are mostly female and all thin–I find myself confused that they actually want to talk to me, because in my mind, why would they? I’m fat, and therefore unwantable.

    I can’t stop crying as I write this, because these scars are so old and so deep, and I don’t know how to heal them. Every therapist I’ve ever gone to responds to my complaints about my self esteem regarding my weight with, “but you look great!” (even the eating disorder specialist). That’s awesome that they think so, but I think I look horrendous. I feel like an elephant among a flock of flamingos. And not in an elegant, nature way.

    The bottom line is, I feel like there’s something wrong with me, because it seems they’ve all finally gotten it “right”. I’m trying so hard to believe in what you all are saying, but as many have said, I feel like it’s so hard to apply it to myself. It’s great to feel confident about fat, and I believe bigotry about it is wrong, but I still have my Fantasy of Being Thin. And I don’t know how to let it go and just be happy with the wonderful friends I already have. Because despite the fact that they love me, they wouldn’t go back to being fat no matter what. And I don’t blame them for that.

  91. Simply Mac — First, let me say I totally get it. I’ve been there, and it’s so, so hard. What helped me was learning not to be thin, which would be like learning to fly – but learning not to compare myself to others so much. Right here on this blog there are people who are better than me at things that matter WAY more to me than being thin. Funny, witty, sharp people who don’t appear to get quite so wrapped up and awkward. The thing is, I don’t know what it’s like to be them. And they don’t know what it’s like to be me. There will everywhere and always be someone better than me in all the things I want to be good at; but I’m pretty awesome, nonetheless.

    Also, I doubt other people’s heads sound exactly like your own self-doubt. I find people who dislike me almost never dislike what I hate most about myself anyway. “Huh? That’s what you picked to dislike me about? But that’s silly. Pick, um, this HORRIBLE FLAW…. no, no, not that one – THIS ONE…
    No. You’re not hating me right.
    …God. Do I have to do all the me hating around here?”

    But even if you were right about what other people think of you, there are a lot of assholes in the world: but eventually we have to stop doing their work for them. When you’re hating on yourself, stand up to the asshole voice there. It’s not right they should get to live in your head. They’re not even paying RENT. There are also a lot of good people in the world, and you won’t be able to see them if you let the assholes speak for them.

  92. “No. You’re not hating me right.
    …God. Do I have to do all the me hating around here?”

    Oh my GOD, Arwen, yes. I just needed to see that repeated. And I may have to post it somewhere visible, like my forehead, for easy access in case of mirror-related confusion.

  93. muzaika: don’t forget to reverse it so you can read it in the mirror! :)

    apropos of the “why are there so few FA people in the south” bit of the conversation, I absentmindedly went over to CNN’s webpage (I know, first mistake…) only to be faced by the headline “South Leads Nation in Obesity”… Make of that what you will.

  94. The Bald Soprano: The weird thing about that South leading the nation in obesity, is that it appears I’ve moved to the one place down here where that isn’t true. Even when I lived just outside Nashville, it seemed difficult to find the larger people. I also seem to live in the more ritzy areas (and believe me, this is not because I have money), so maybe there’s a correlation there, too…

    Arwen: Thanks so much. I have been trying to learn not to compare myself to others so much, but I do believe it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I simply don’t know where to start. It comes back to the thing with my boyfriend: why would he be with me when he could be with her? And her? And her? Well, it’s because our personalities mix in exactly the right ways, and he LOVES my body. Covets it. Can’t get enough of my round ass. And it’s not like I want to be skinny, or even society’s definition of “thin”, but when I was thinNER, I was actually happy. I didn’t really want to be any smaller. And I don’t know why, because of how great I felt when I exercised regularly (having so much energy and feeling so healthy), I can’t start doing that again. I can’t pinpoint what’s holding me back. So I think that’s one of the bigger issues. Because even though I have found a group of people in you guys who share the same mentality as me in thinking that fat does not equal unhealthy, I feel incompetent compared to you (there’s that word again), because you all are the healthy versions, and I’m the worst representation of the fat population (in my own mind).

    Ugh. It tires me out just thinking all that stuff….At least it’s Friday.

  95. TWoP Fan! Wow that’s awesome you’re in Moab. I am in love with that town. It’s my favorite spring camping/hiking destination. So did you go to Mesa? Me too!

  96. Please, whoever is considering ditching their friend because they are not fat ,don’t do it. You don’t realise how losing you will hurt this person.

  97. integgy, I know that this is WAY late, but I’m in Eugene, so I’m only about an hour from you. I’m not fat, but I’m fat-positive, and I do often find it difficult to talk about FA with most of my friends, especially with all the body hate many of them express. I would love to organize or at least be involved in a meetup of like-minded people in the area (there must be more of us in the Willamette Valley….). If you want to get in touch, my e-mail is levinmj at gmail dot com.

  98. hey, everyone who’s in nyc, please feel free to say hello. I have *zero* plus sized friends and it gets frustrating sometimes. email boloderbaccha @ hotmail dot com

  99. plz help me and my mom we need to find fat friends in the orlando fl area if anyone has a suggestion plz let me know!!!!!!!!

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