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Memories of the 2009 Dimensions Bash

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Sep 29, 2005
Tennessee, USA
Back in 2009, the first, and only, Dimensions Bash took place in Orlando, Florida. My dear friend Heather produced it with the help of many volunteers. It turned out to be a grand event. Below is the keynote speech I presented:

Dimensions Bash 2009

Welcome to the first ever Dimensions get-together. I really never planned on having anything like this, but people kept asking for it, and here we are. The credit goes entirely to Heather and Ann Marie and Randi and Carla and all the people who worked with them. Thanks guys. Give them some applause.

It’s great to be among people who realize it’s okay to be different and have a different taste. Some of you are fat, and some of you prefer fat. I always felt that was a potentially great match. The problem is that we’re two groups that don’t always have it easy, especially when we grow up.

I don’t know about you, but I always knew I was different, even when I was a child. No one in my family was fat, and in Switzerland where I grew up I hardly ever saw anyone fat. But I still reacted very strongly to pictures of fat people and fat seemed something wonderful and mysterious. I had no idea why that was, but it was definitely a very powerful thing.

Later I wondered why the models in Playboy and Penthouse magazine just didn’t do it for me. I thought maybe something was wrong with me. I spent a lot of time doodling and drawing pictures of fat girls. There really wasn’t anyone fat that I knew, and so my girlfriends were not much more than average size. For a while I thought that perhaps everyone had those dreams and desires but they just didn’t talk about it.

That was all long before the web or Internet, and there was absolutely nothing out there that I could relate to. Eventually I found a few fat magazines but in those days the publishers couldn’t imagine that anyone would be attracted to those fat models and so the captions all made fun of them. I thought that was really weird because to me they looked absolutely delicious.

I came to the United States on a scholarship and eventually heard about the National Association to Aid Fat Americans. I was absolutely thrilled that something like that existed and so I wrote them a letter and asked for information. You had to have a lot of patience in those days because everything took weeks and you couldn’t just push a button and sign up. But eventually I heard back from them and became a member and joined their dating program. I never forget how thrilling it was to be able to specify what size and weight I preferred.

They also had a PenPal program, and through that I got to correspond with other FAs. That was terrific, too, because I finally realized I was not alone, that others had the same exact desires and fantasies that I had, and that fat women were real and that my fantasy could actually become real.

So after a while I got involved in NAAFA and became the coordinator of the FA-SIG, which stands for Fat Admirer Special Interest Group. That was started because there were a good number of FAs in NAAFA, but the purpose of NAAFA was really helping fat people, and so the men just sort of hung around and the women didn’t know what to make of them. So we figured a group for those who have a preference for the larger size made sense, whether they were fat or thin.

So in February of 1984, I published the first issue of the FA-SIG newsletter. It was black and white, 24 pages, and I made all the copies on a Xerox machine. In my first editorial I wrote this:

“What is it that the FA-SIG intends to do? For one thing, we want to be a forum for ALL Fat Admires, male AND female. We want to let you know that you are not alone out there, and that it is perfectly okay to prefer fat over thin. We are going to try to bring you as much material of interest for FAs as we can. Most importantly, we hope to hear from you. Unlike fat people who are fat for everyone to see, our preference is invisible until we speak up.

“Almost everyone of us had to go through some sort of ‘liberation process,’ we had to find the strength to stop pretending and to accept the social stigma attached with taking the fat girl to the dance no matter what our friends think. And this is just the beginning. Many of us have not come out yet at all. All of this can be a lonely process, and most FAs have gone through difficult times with no friends to talk to.

“Also, it is important to hear from the fat women we admire. We need to learn about their side o the story. We need to know how fat people perceive us and what we can do to iron out some of the problems that often exist between FAs and fat women.”

See, I always thought FAs and fat people were just a wonderful match. To us, fat women are the goddesses of our dreams, and I felt that as long as there were fat and very fat people in this world, it was only fair that there were those who wanted and desired them.

The problem is that there’s a lot of distrust. One of the earliest books on size acceptance I read was “Such a Pretty Face” by Marsha Millman. In that book, FAs were basically categorized into three groups: infantile nursers who need an authoritarian figure, the insecure dealer type who accepts fat in return for his own shortcomings, and users who are after an easy lay.

Obviously I didn’t agree. I knew I wasn’t part of any of those categories, and I knew many other FAs who were not either. So I wanted to prove that we are for real and that we can be trusted even though we are only human and cannot always be the instant Knights in Shining Armor we’re sometimes expected to be.

Somehow, the FA-SIG newsletter was quite well-received and I ended up doing a lot of Xeroxing and there were a lot of interesting discussions. However, even then no one was really happy with the term FA and FA-SIG. One reader wrote that the name and logo made the FA-SIG publication look like a “case history journal of sexual malcontents.”

So we did a contest for a new name and got some interesting stuff, like Extravagance, Fatopolitan, Fatabulous, Weight Worshippers, Big Stuff, Crush, Finally Fat, and … Dimensions.

After that, Dimensions took off and became a real print magazine. Word got around and I ended up on TV. I was on the old Sally Jessy Raphael show, and when it ran a few weeks later, they had me on national TV with the caption, “Conrad Blickenstorfer, Fat Admirer.” At that time I was a manager in a large company and I was wondering whether I had to defend myself or whether they were going to fire me.

My professional life didn’t come to an end because of that show, and it didn’t influence my professional standing either. I did more talk shows after that, including Donahue and Geraldo. Dimensions became a glossy magazine with many thousands of subscribers and we had national distribution.

At its peak in the mid-1990s, the Dimensions print magazine had several hundred personal ads in each issue. I also put Dimensions on the web early on. We had Dimensions Online by 1995 and if you dig deep enough, you can still see leftovers of those early web pages.

For a while, the website and the print magazine complemented one another. We had very popular online model searches, polls, and we also got into discussion boards early. At some point printing the magazine became just too expensive. I really hated to see it go, but by that time, the Dimensions website was already on its way to becoming a community.

The biggest step forward came when we switched from earlier discussion boards to the vBulletin software we use now. I installed that in 2005, and there have been 1.2 million posts since. As many as 1800 people have been logged in at the same time, and Dimensions and by now over 37,000 people have registered. If we can get only 10% of them to show up at the next bash, we’ll have a very full house.

After all is said and done, what does Dimensions mean? Probably something a little different for everyone. I am really happy that it did turn out to be pretty close to what I envisioned 25 years ago. A place where fat people and their admirers can meet and get to know each other. A place that’s always there when you need it. And a place where anyone’s dream just might come true.

Thank you all!

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