Of Fat Rage and Shifts in the Movement
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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Welcome to another issue of Dimensions, where big is always beautiful, and where we are unabashedly appreciating and admiring the large figure in any shape or form.

An interesting change is happening in the size acceptance community: Most of the social activities are now being provided by independent, private enterprises. Our Dimensions Online Event and LinkMANIA pages contain several dozen social groups all over the country. Large metropolitan areas like New York or Los Angeles offer many options for meeting and socializing.

This is very different from the past where NAAFA, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, was almost always pretty much the only game in town. For almost two decades after NAAFA was founded in 1969, local NAAFA chapters were the only place that had dances and parties for fat people and their admirers. True to its purpose as a public benefit corporation, NAAFA provided a service that wasn't available through private enterprise. The goal of any such public benefit effort is to prime the pump and to hopefully see the day where private enterprise takes over. This has now happened. NAAFA chapters, by and large, are concentrating on providing friendship and activism at the local level, whereas dances and parties are handled by businesses. In some areas, NAAFA chapters and such new businesses are actually working and complementing each other, each doing what it does best. I see this as a very positive development because the dual responsibility of covering both the social and the political end of things was always a very difficult proposition for NAAFA.

On the other hand, the annual NAAFA convention remains the single largest event in the size acceptance community. Check out our report on this year's convention in Philadelphia. In terms of attendance it was the biggest and most successful NAAFA convention ever. Which is a good thing because social events and conventions are also the fundraisers which make all of NAAFA's political and activism work possible. Once private business takes this part over as well, organizations such as NAAFA will have to rely on the financial and sponsorship support of all those private enterprises whose business opportunities it helped to create in the first place. This is why Dimensions is a major donor and corporate sponsor of NAAFA and other political and activist size acceptance groups. I urge all of you who benefit from the trail NAAFA blazed over the past three decades to generously support the organization, no matter whether you organize dances, sell large size clothing, or publish magazines geared towards the large size market.

In this issue we're throwing political correctness to the wind and tackle an issue that's long been baffling me: Why is it that infighting and backstabbing are so prevalent in movements formed to help oppressed people? Sometimes it's so bad that little actual work gets done because everyone is too busy fighting and holding grudges. With an important task at hand-ending discrimination against fat people-and with a formidable enemy out there-the diet industry-it seems downright weird that infighting and splintering into ever smaller feuding groups absorbs most of our energy.

So here's a theory that might explain some this peculiar dynamic: Are we perhaps mistaken about the primary purpose of our movement? Could it be that one, or the, primary benefit of size acceptance organizations is to serve as training grounds for people who never had a chance to let out their wrath and anger in a fatphobic world? Who hasn't encountered people who act especially, unnecessarily, insensitive and obnoxious, as if trying to live up to the worst stereotypes? Who hasn't shaken his or her head in dismay over the seeming inability of people to get over minor disagreements, instead choosing to go nuclear over them?

I call this phenomenon "fat rage" because it's sort of similar to the tragic escalation of "road rage" where people caught in a common predicament start lashing out at each other instead of working together.

Do size acceptance organizations indeed serve as lightening rods for fat rage, as a place where oppressed people can relatively safely dispose of the rage and frustration of a lifetime of discrimination on the way to assuming their rightful place in society? If so, then fat rage serves a purpose and we may grudgingly have to accept its dissipation as part of our mission. It would also explain why for many people size acceptance organizations are only stepping stones that are no longer needed once the rage is gone. And why movements of potentially millions never manage to attract more than a few thousand members. Food for thought, for sure. Read Sally Smith's article on "fat rage" on page 18.

But on to other matters: Though it's unrelated to size acceptance, every now and then I like to talk about all the hardware and software we use to create Dimensions. And since there is a disproportionally large percentage of technologically oriented people among FAs I hope I'm not boring you to tears with this... Anyway, Dimensions is currently created on our new multiprocessor Apple PowerMac 9500/180MP with 9GB of disk and 112MB of RAM. We primarily use Quark XPress 3.32 and Adobe Photoshop 4.0. All scanning is done on our new AGFA DuoScan. Most of the convention pictures were taken with an Olympus DL-300 digital camera which creates 1024 x 768 pixel pictures in high resolution mode. I initially intended to use the camera just for web pictures, but the quality is so good that we can actually use the images in the magazine. And this time we imaged the film at 2540 dpi to increase print quality.


Editor at Large