22 February 2016

Fat Activist Vernacular and other zines

I have been making zines – small homemade publications – for some time and I have just published two new titles. Buy them here.

Fat Activist Vernacular

As I was finishing up my book, Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement, I thought I'd take the pressure off a little by writing a zine. 15,000 words later I ended up with this behemoth, and there's still so much more to be said.

The Vernacular is a list of words and their definitions, like a dictionary, but a lot less formal. I wrote it because I thought people not in the know might like a glimpse of the subcultural riches of fat activism, and because activists might like to read about some of the beauty that our movement has generated. The zine is funny and serious, a deadly combination.

"When you talk about fat people the language of power is the language of medicine and public health. But the words I have collected here are words that subvert that power."

Some examples from the Vernacular:

It has become a popular view amongst obesity experts, that being fat is a disease. Some of them think it is contagious. This is part of the on-going project to medicalise and control fat people, which they depend on for a living and for their status as experts.

The boss of you and everything.

Draw attention upwards
Wear a piece of jewellery, a scarf, a fancy collar, or have huge hair to direct attention upwards towards your face and hope that people don't notice your apparently awful body. Pernicious and pathetic fashion advice of yesteryear.

A million goldmines will erupt for whichever corporation finds the magic pill that makes fat people thin and keeps them coming back for more. The race is already on. Meanwhile, weight loss drugs have significant side effects including feeling wired, getting an eating disorder, major organ failure, pants-shitting, impaired cognition and death. Some need injecting a couple of times a day and at the moment you are unlikely to lose a lot of weight on any of them.

Fat dummies are used by health professionals and firefighters, and possibly others, to train people in how to handle fat people. They use dummies instead of talking to fat people.

Encounters with Nature

This is an autobiographical zine with stories from my life told through happenstance meetings with creatures. 

The vignettes include ants, a bearded fireworm, horeshoe crabs, birds, deer, fruit bats and many more. The zine explores different themes, such as regret, transformation, ethics and magnificence. A quiet zine.

The zine is about me being out in the world as a fat dyke, and a fat girl, someone who isn't assumed to have much going on. It shows me as an embodied, thinking, feeling person.

"I am in Germany for a period of time, feeling deeply alone and preoccupied with a lover. I am supposed to be more sociable than I feel so I make excuses and take long train journeys across the land as a means of making time to be by myself. It is spring and there are many hares in the fields as the train goes by. Hares are my favourites. They're not cute like rabbits, they run and fight, their legs are long, holding them high off the ground, they are mystical and lovely in art. I get to my destination, walk to the beach and lie face down in the sand for several hours, fully clothed, in a restless sleep."

Get copies of my zines

Throughout my zine-making life I have made small runs of zines very cheaply to give away for free. I will keep doing this, but now I'm interested in writing longer zines which require more production.

I have built a little online shop where you can buy my zines. Fat Activist Vernacular and Encounters with Nature are up there, as well as Simon Murphy's exquisite zine Different Times, in which I feature, about queer, drag, punk and disability in London during the 1990s.

If you would like accessible versions, please contact me.

Buy my zines.

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