Of a different kind of freedom of choice
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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"Growing fat is anathema to most people in our society, let alone deliberately choosing to grow fatter," said Margaret Deirdre O'Hartigan in her article "Body Building" in our February issue. "But," she continued, "I'm coming out as fat - by choice to remind women like me, and the men who love us, that being fat is not an affliction but an accomplishment, and something to be desired."

I thought this was quite a refreshing and remarkable position, especially since Margaret is absolutely right: it is difficult enough to accept a body shape and size which is outside of societal norm, let alone make a conscious decision to go against the flow and do what feels right rather than what's expected. Margaret's bold statement did not go unnoticed. A senior editor at highly acclaimed Harper's Magazine approached us for permission to reprint an excerpt in their Readings section. He said "it was a great and powerful article." I was a bit reluctant at first, fearing sensationalism, but the proposed excerpt was very well put together and we agreed. Margaret O'Hartigan seems to have struck a chord. Instead of expressing shame, guilt, and a promise to diet, which is what's expected of fat people, she boldly states the opposite. This concept is so unusual that most people are baffled when confronted with it. Even readers of Dimensions may wonder "is there a catch?" and feel kind of guilty because such an admission is part of their own, much maligned, fantasy life. But Margaret says "growing fatter, however, is first and foremost a matter of loving myself, and only secondarily a form of erotic expression to share with my lover." In any case, there has been much reaction to "Body Building," and I wonder if Margaret's courageous admission might lead others to admit that they, too, are fat by choice, and what's wrong with that anyway?!

Another topic which raised quite a furor was the main feature of our last issue, where we looked into disturbing recent incidences of "thin bashing" and the exclusion of people who are thin, or not fat enough, as participants and allies in the size acceptance movement. Many people, among them several NAAFA leaders and other notables, have spoken up in letters and on online computer services and there is almost uniform condemnation of this sort of discrimination. While a review of the latest issue of "New Attitudes" indicates that positions of those suspicious of thin people have not changed, it was gratifying to see NAAFA' s board of directors pass a policy resolving to "discourage all instances of prejudice against various sized people, within and outside of NAAFA."

This issue of Dimensions is a bit of an experiment. We expanded to 60 pages, and added an eight page full color spread in the process. There is no way we can economically justify the additional expense, but we felt it was something we had to do in our ongoing quest to build national distribution and a national presence for Dimensions. Distributors want glossy, colorful magazines on the newsstands, and so we took the plunge. Doing color is much more complex and much more expensive than doing black and white, even if you do all the color work in house. For the technically inclined: most images were scanned on our new Nikon Coolscan slide scanner, cleaned up in Adobe Photoshop on our trusty old 32meg Mac IIfx and then imaged by a service bureau. The color images alone took over 250 megabyte of disk space, as compared to less than ten megabyte for the entire rest of the magazine. I have no idea what the finished result will look like. I hope it came out okay. Speaking of technology, our systems have also been enhanced by the addition of a couple of Apple Newton PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), devices the size of a video cassette which can understand handwriting (most of it anyway) and do all sorts of near miraculous things. Mine quickly became indispensable and is now chuck full of facts, names, notes, and sketches pertaining to Dimensions. I can even use the Newton to fax and communicate via electronic mail with the office, contributors, and subscribers while I'm on the road.

But let's get back to issues of size: As I am writing this, two bills which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of height and weight are still pending in the New York and Massachusetts state legislatures (see Sally Smith's article on page 16). If you live in one of those states, please do what you can to help get those bills moving. In this issue we also look at feminist authors Laurie Edison and Debbie Notkin's struggle to get Women En Large published, a book that'll show the beauty and power of fat women, and which the authors call the first radical book on fat since Shadow on a Tightrope. After having told my own story as an FA and editor many times in conversation and on-line, I was talked into being the subject of this month's Portrait. Susan Morgan Taylor analyzes the monumentally different approach men and women take in seeking a partner (one quick look at personals ads tells all). This is a topic I want to look into in more detail because the differences are really amazing. Anyway, have fun.


Editor at Large