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?
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:
Fat Swim, every week at the Albany, CA pool:
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.
Fat Yoga with Sally Pugh:
Big Boogie Nights (this is a BBW club, the politics are eh, but can be fun, too)
There’s several great listservs, too, where info can be had:
Marilyn Wann’s Fat Studies listserv:
Bay Area Fat Dykes
Request Membership at
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 email@example.com.