If everything works to plan, I hope to provide a handful of posts over the next few days about the annual get-togethers of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH). The conferences are separate, but they're both taking place at the same venue and I'm registered for the pair of them here at the Dulles Marriott in Virginia, not far from Washington DC.
NAAFA, as many readers of this blog will know, is the oldest and most venerated fat rights organisation of all time. I've written a chapter that includes information and first-hand accounts of its formation in 1969 that will be published later this year. This conference marks the organisation's 40th anniversary, and I'm looking forwards to meeting some of the people who founded the movement, and hearing their stories.
There are overlaps between NAAFA and ASDAH, but the latter seems to me to be more of an organisation for professionals interested in Health at Every Size rather than a straight activist or social concern. I imagine that it will be a slightly more sober gathering. Mind you, there has been pre-conference controversy this year because of the Board's decision to invite Susie Orbach to keynote the event. After some heated discussion her title has been renamed Guest Speaker, and there will be a question and answer session with her during the conference that looks, er, interesting! There may be tantrums.
I've never been to a NAAFA or an ASDAH event before, although I've read many accounts of NAAFA gatherings over the years, so much so that the event has achieved an almost mythic status in my imagination. This has not been helped by the bunch of ethnographies based on the organisation! The newsletters I read when I was first getting into fat stuff in the early 90s made a big impression on me, they showed that there was fat community out there somewhere. I wonder how the reality in 2009 will compare, especially now that I'm not exactly a fat activism newbie any more. I'm hoping to spend time with people whose work I respect very much, I've already bumped into HAES hero Lily O'Hara, I'm excited about seeing some dear friends and comrades, and making some new connections. I'll be presenting at ASDAH on Saturday. I hope there will be some mischief over the next few days.
PS I like pictures where landmarks appear on the tops of peoples' heads.