Telling Our Stories

Betty Rose Dudley is writing a superb series on LiveJournal, recounting her memories of the early days of fat liberation in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s. The first post can be found here. Keep clicking “next entry” at the top of each page to see the next moving installment.

Just to lure you in, here’s one bit of Betty’s experience after hearing singer Sylvia Kohan sing for the first time:

“I masturbated and I cried, and I started to heal from wounds I’d never let myself feel before. It was as if my whole being was numb and starting to wake up, like when your foot or hand goes to sleep when you lay on it wrong. That night I began to wake up and come alive, to heal, and to stop holding my breath because of the tension created around being fat. I began to stretch and take up my space; space in a world that was beginning to grow and expand and become big enough to accommodate me. I began to make a world that fit; where I fit. I also stopped accepting the idea that this was a world that didn’t fit me, because if that was true, and I had let it become true, well now it was time to make alterations. And so I began my life, and I stopped dreaming about becoming thin. There were so many other dreams hiding behind that one ill-conceived notion that you had to be thin to live. I dreamed them all, and lived many of them, and they are now my stories.”

Just as Silvia Kohan’s work did Betty good, Betty’s work now is already doing good — in a context not of desperation but of delight. Betty’s (and our) friend Serene, responding in part to Betty’s memories, told this story:

So I was walking across Sproul Plaza this morning, feeling pretty, when it suddenly dawned on me that to a lot of people who see me every day, the fact that I’m fat means I’m automatically not pretty. I actually stopped in my tracks for a second.

Then I laughed and kept walking.

I felt pure joy for a minute, because I think my “ugliness” is kind of funny, probably because I think it’s imaginary, artificial, Man-made (as in The Man), and So. Not. About. Me.

Life is good.

If you have stories of your introduction to fat liberation, or size acceptance, or anything that opened you up to the world, we’d love to hear them.

<br /> fat<br /> women<br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">body image</a><br /> history<br /> fat liberation<br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Body Impolitic</a><br />

4 thoughts on “Telling Our Stories

  1. I can’t figure out how to leave a Live Journal comment (I think you have to join or something) but I have to say that Betty Dudley (Betty Rose, yes?) always hits the pulse points with her writing. I’m so glad to be able to learn life stories that would be lost if not written down. Yes, everyone should tell her story…herstory, our story, to that share the tears, and confusion and ultimately the power and the secret wisdom of how we learn to love and appreciate what we are as we are.

  2. Stef, I think that option was disabled there. I can understand that, because anonymous posting could lead to trolls. It always just takes me longer to get around to joining the ones you have to join–and by the time I join, I forgot what I meant to say…LOL!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I have no idea how to post comments either, but I am enjoying reading Betty’s memories, & feeling a stronger connection to other fat women, a stronger sense of community. We do need to have a written history of the fat liberation movement, of the journey of each of us to pride, acceptance, self-love, hopefully to celebration, of our unique, full-bodied beauty. We have important stories to tell & perhaps by telling them we can help other women to love & accept their bodies & be proud of who they are. I believe that Betty’s stories contribute to that.

    One small personal note on how something which seems small & relatively unimportant can mean so much to self-esteem, body love, fat pride. I am going through menopause & inevitably, my body is changing, I have gained a few pounds & it is also redistributing. I am finding that taking the trouble to find clothes I love which actually fit the body in which I am living NOW, rather than trying to get by with those which fit me 5 years ago when I was exercising obsessively 4 hours daily, helps a lot with loving myself. It seems small, but maybe it is worth passing on.

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