Wednesday, April 2, 2008

fat fabulousness in porkopolis

so, i went to cincinnati (previously called porkopolis, swears). and it didn't suck. like. at. all. in fact, it was pretty friggin' fabulous. and leonard nimoy had a little bit to do with it. i know, wtf is that all about? but let me 'splain.

i went to the annual north central sociological association's conference between March 27 and 30. it encompassed a large swath of sociological topics but i was presenting on a fat studies panel. i presented a paper about fat phobia and authenticity in online dating. it was cool.

let me just say that this was my first foray into the fat studies world and hot damn, it was a good one. i have come to realize recently, cause apparently i am a little daft, that conferences are about meeting fabulous people and getting amazing ideas rather than about the "presenting" itself. however, my presentation went well - especially after my last non-academic conferencing debacle (please see here for more information on that little ditty). so after spending seven hours at chicago's o'hare due to weather and wiring difficulties, i landed in cincinnati (and got into a cab with a brand new driver that didn't even know which state we were in. after moving to the front seat, typing things for him into his cheap-ass gps, and still getting lost down a closed-off unlit road in the middle of an electrical storm, i ask him to take me back to the airport. which he did promptly after the third time i yelled it at him. up until that point he was assuring me that he knew where he was going. um, no ya don't dude. please stop taking my life in your hands).

cincinnati, aka porkopolis, did not actually suck - i mean the downtown was nice, had trendy delicious places to eat, and i even got an up-close-and-personal fireworks show right outside my hotel window due to some kind of marathon happening on the day that i left. but wait, i haven't gotten to nimoy yet. but i'm gettin' there. so after some not so spectacular presentations, except one ethnographic methodological paper about "gravers," that is, those people who gather at the graves of famous dead people as ritualistic secularized pseudo-religious activity, i finally stumbled upon the critical crew, on day two, at my panel. these people were wicked cool and i just happened to be rooming with one of them as well - a highly articulate, inspiring, and inspired woman of only 22. i wish i had been all of those things at 22. at 22 i was tanning too much, drinking too much, going to the gym too much, and dyeing my hair too much. ah, to return to the heady days of painfully "healthy" eating, overtanning, and binge-drinking. wait - that is still my life sans the healthy eating and overtanning. forget it. i don't wanna talk about my 20s anymore.

so speaking of food and weight (how is that for a terribly disjointed segue?), i must say that i was absolutely thrilled and enlightened by what i learned about fat studies and the people that constitute it at the conference. SUCH interesting people with a refreshing view on life who ingeniously meld my interests in sexuality, gender, various "technologies," and my new obsession with fat. basically, i have a big fat studies crush and i'm makin' no apologies.

alright. so leonard nimoy. i am not going to tell you about how when i was a teenager i had a life-sized poster of him on the back of my bedroom door, or about how i had a star trek insignia pin that i actually wore. no, this post is not about my teenage crush on pointy-eared-blue-eye-shadow-wearing leonard nimoy, okay? it is about how he has recently completed a photography book of nude fat women - a sample of which graces the top of this post. had i heard about nimoy's project - entitled the full body project - and his explanations of his motivations for it (found here in his artist's statement) - i would have been surprised and pleased, and no doubt, i still am. this is a man who is channeling his creative energy into chronicling the lives of women in the fat liberation movement and to convey the respect these women feel for themselves to others. what i learned at the conference from my fellow panelist, and i think is profoundly interesting to note, is that his decision to capture the images of fat naked women positioned him as a "fat admirer" or "chubby chaser" when he was interviewed by the media. nimoy took a staunch position against taking these pictures as part of a possible sexual "fetish" which disheartened me at first. however, thinking about it further, i have reckoned that what is f*cked up is not his disavowal of the sexual "fetishization" of fat women by saying that he thinks these women are beautiful and worthy of immortalization through film, but that the interviewers were trying to construct what he is doing as "abnormal." that is, unless of course he is "abnormal" by wanting to get with that in which case it's normal. messed, eh?

anyhoo - i encourage you to look at nimoy's project and let me know what you think. i'm going to go back to daydreaming about porkopolis and my reinvigorated fat studies crush.

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