Convention was great! I laughed (thanks Angela!), I cried (in a workshop talking some of the problems I have faced as a fat woman) and I never felt more at home in my life! I have always tried to live in a way that my fat didn't interfere with my life. In someways that is good. I try hard not to isolate myself or limit my experiences in life because I am shaped different from others. Not always possible but worthy of effort nonetheless. I never wanted my thin friends to see how winded walking made me, how difficult climbing stairs is for me and I tried to hide the fact that I cannot be on my feet for very long. I think the only person I was kidding was myself. At the NAAFA convention I felt free to sit in the chairs provided while waiting for the elevator. If I needed to sit down I would just say so to whom ever I was with. I was less then graceful when pulling my self up by the railing when climbing the few stairs we needed to in order to get into the pool area. That freedom of not having to put on a front was a relief!
|RMNAAFA members Angela, JeanMarie, Patti, Dinah, and Margaret at the dinner dance.|
|I marveled at the beauty of the fat brothers and sisters at the convention.
So many had such self confidence and esteem. I learned from their stories
of growth and acceptance. I shared in their pain of continued oppression.
The talent and intelligence shown by our fellow members delighted me. I
almost hate to bring it up but I even enjoyed witnessing the "FA''s" (fat
admirer's) and their worship of the large body form. I must comment that
some of the FA's had a predatory like mannerism, but most were charming
and polite. I think many of them felt like kids in a candy store and or
felt unsure of how to handle themselves with so much of what they desire
so close at hand.
Land of plenty it was. People of all sizes and shapes. Most as large or larger then me. I saw the biggest person I have ever seen and hips larger then I thought possible. I loved it! I loved how different we all were yet this common fat was there to bind us. Out fat was distributed and allocated so differently I admit to gawking. That experience helped me understand why we get stares. It is hard not to look and study at something you have not seen before. Now those stares are not going to bother me as much.
|The keynote speaker at the opening breakfast was Massachusetts House Representative Byron Rushing. He is responsible for size rights legislation bill being introduced in Massachusetts. He is pictured here with Jody Abrams, NAAFA Advocacy Chair.|
|On the down side I must say as a group we too need to work on the sizism thing. In my mind I feel NAAFA is for everyone who can relate to the issues of fat discrimination, be it 10 pounds of fat over societies norm or 700. There were a few people there that were 20-40 pounds over what standard weight charts would have them be. I heard their tales of size discrimination received from doctors, mates friends and family. It was painful and very real. The saddest thing however was hearing larger people say things like "Where are you 187 pounds?! You don't look like you weigh that much!" or "you're too skinny to be in NAAFA" or "What are you doing here?" or "I'm sorry, but how can somebody who is only 20 pounds over weight be discriminated against". That didn't happen a lot, but it was present. I learned how I needed to work on my sizism issue as well. I saw a very, very thin women at the airport coming home and my first reaction was "oh my gosh! She is so skinny! Yuck". I have no right to judge her form, anymore then she has to judge mine. I have no idea why she is shaped that way and it makes no difference in value humanity that she is so thin. I did more then a little soul searching on this issue and will continue to work on it.|
Patti Kelly of RMNAAFA and Marylin Wann, author of FAT?SO!
|Five of our 28 members attended. Wonderful stats I must say! I hope
you all think about going next year. San Francisco is wonderful with or
without my fat brothers and sisters, but power in numbers after all!
Lovin' the fat,
For me, it was an extraordinary experience. I experienced many major emotions: fear, happiness, anger, hurt, incredulation, awe...you name it, I felt it. Pretty incredible.
We made it to the hotel barely in time to check in, freshen up, grab dinner, and get to the fashion show. We found Patti, Angela, and Margaret right away and sat down with them. What a cool experience! Lots of evening clothing and swimming suits. Marilyn Wann, the pink and blue haired flabulous author, was wandering around in a black mesh dress with a thong visible underneath. What a sight. I've never seen so many fat people strutting their stuff. Very cool indeed.
After the fashion show, we got dressed and went down to the pool party. Another eye opening experience. Two pieces everywhere. The pool was filled with loads of fat people frolicking in the water playing with large beach balls. It was a bit on the cold side (hard to believe), so I went upstairs and changed and then went back down to hang out. After the pool party, there was a hospitality suite, but I wasn't feeling very hospitable. I made an appearance with Ang and Patti and then went to bed. I had things to do in the morning.
The RMNAAFA gift basket, prepared by Patricia Pierce-Phillips
|I attended a mid-size and super-size SIG (special interest group) meeting (as did the RMC NAAFA members) and got a lot out of that. I was able to voice my irritation with the fact that I felt I was being slightly discriminated against by a few women at the convention because of my size. I had people look at me like "why are you here"? That was a very emotional thing for me. I thought we were all fighting for the same cause. A woman there addressed my thoughts and told me that only a few women, typically the ones who aren't in NAAFA (groupies that don't go to the workshops, are there just to get laid and to get the convention hotel rate) are the ones who are making it a bad thing for the mid-sizers. I see the need for the distinction, as many super-size women have to deal with health and hygiene related issues that the mid-size women don't, but I still feel a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. I really don't feel that we ever met a middle ground on the discussion so that was a bummer. We separated into the different groups. I enjoyed the mid-size discussion and I plan on joining the SIG. If you want information about it, let me know and I'll send it your way.|
The RMNAAFA delegation enjoys an evening out at the "Legal Seafood" restaurant
|The best part of the entire convention for me was the rally on Saturday.
It was WONDERFUL. JeanMarie and I went and had a great time. I was so proud
of my fat brothers and sisters and our allies out there telling the world
that we just wanted acceptance. There were a few speakers who talked about
eating disorders and things and the outrageously rich diet industry. Elizabeth
Fisher talked about her battle with Honda and seat belt extenders. We sang
songs and celebrated our diversity. A group from NY (In Fitness and in
Health) gave a demonstration of fat-friendly exercises. Bettye Travis,
Sandie Sabo, and Jody Abrams also spoke and had good things (and sad things)
to say. IT WAS WONDERFUL.
The crew from 20/20 were there with John Stossel. I might be on tv folks in a couple of months with a sound bite--if I don't end up on the cutting room floor! I'll keep you posted.
One last thought: How many RMC-NAAFA members does it take to fill up a Ford Taurus rental car? (Imagine the five of us if you will...)
RMNAAFA Member Dina Marroquin with other NAAFA members and John Stossel of ABC's 20/20.
For more great pictures of the show, see this page: Convention 99 Page 1.
Also, don't forget to visit the official NAAFA report on the convention.