Wow, it’s so hard to sort my thoughts and put them into any kind of order right now. I want so badly to somehow make you feel what I felt and am still feeling as a result of this past weekend. Let me try to paint you a picture. Imagine, if you can, an entire hotel full of proud fatties laughing and chatting and swimming and dancing and learning and sharing and crafting and listening and so much more!
They call it Fatlandia and this year’s conference was “Fat Strikes Back!” and I must admit, I loved it! It is difficult to get back into the swing of life. I’ve been saying, “Damn you reality!” but really, Fatlandia is a reality and I am doing my best to keep it and the spirit of the fat community with me always.
I am coming to terms with the fact that I will never truly be able to convey or explain the magic that was my first No Lose. Unless you have been, it is nearly impossible to describe. I know that sounds hella fucked up, I don’t mean it to be, but my memory isn’t perfect and without a camcorder to prove it, I’m afraid you may not even believe it.
To literally be surrounded by fatties and allies and to physically and emotionally feel the community and all that it encompasses is like the warmest and fuzziest blanket imaginable enveloping you when you need it most. This was a congregation of activists. This was the convergence of intersectionality brought together to work, to further social justice and to do better for ourselves and for the world. I know that sounds huge, but it was/is.
A big takeaway for me was about how the language we use, regardless of our intent, can not only offend, but can also hurt and alienate folks. I will work very hard to say what I mean, use more precise words and rid my personal vocabulary of so many ‘ist based words. Words that we use that are “socially acceptable” and most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at, can actually be offensive and harmful. Words like “Crazy” and “Lame” and “Ghetto” which are used so frequently that we never even stop to think about them at all. Words that we may feel partial to because of our own backgrounds or “that’s how I was raised.” But that is no excuse. Once you realize the harm that language can cause, I would hope that you, like I, would want to change it.
You can say anything in the right space. Yes, even negative things. The No Lose community/attendees were there for many things, but mostly to listen, to share and to learn. I never felt that I couldn’t or shouldn’t say something. Concerns were consistently voiced and addressed. Needs were met. Solutions were discussed and agreed upon. This was all done so well in my eyes. I cannot imagine putting on a huge conference like that and then at the last part of the last day asking for feedback good and bad. But that is what happened and it was fantastic.
Even though so much work has been done there is always room for improvement. There is always room for more people. There is always room for more love and understanding. I walked into No Lose not really knowing where or if I would fit in. I carry a lot of privilege with me and know that others have more and less than I do. I went into it with an open mind and ready to really learn and absorb all I could. I had no idea that I would be changed forever. I had no way of knowing that my perceptions about so many things would be permanently altered. And I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to be there and to experience it.
Full disclosure: I did receive some financial aid from No Lose for registration, though I paid part of it myself and for my own lodging/food/transportation (apart from what was provided as part of attendance/registration). No Lose has in no way asked that I write about my experience on my blog and to my knowledge is unaware that I am doing so.