TW: fatphobia, weight, fatphobic abuse.
Izzie, our VP Opportunities details how the Chub Club began this year.
Considering how much time most people spend worrying about weight gain, it’s ironic that frank discussion about the reality of living in a fat body remains so taboo. Constantly battling against a well-established fatphobic rhetoric is exhausting and often demoralising. Weight is not a protected characteristic despite fatness putting individuals at a heightened risk of being denied, amongst other things, employment and healthcare, plus being substantially more susceptible to verbal and physical abuse.
It was such an incident of verbal abuse on my way to work some weeks ago that sparked significant reflection. Fat liberation is something I have become increasingly passionate about over the past few years, following and reading fat influencers and authors, and writing a research paper in my final year of university on how meaningful intersectional feminism must stand firm against fatphobia. However, having “fat cow” shouted at me by a van driver that narrowly missed running me over caused me to consider the topic of fatphobia through a lens that I could not have achieved in the classroom or the pages of a book. After a lot of crying and self-care, I thought to myself that there must be something practical I could do to channel my passion for fat liberation to create something positive following a disheartening experience. And so… Chub Club was born! With the organisational and pastoral support of the wonderful Emily Jameson, I established Chub Club as a community for women/non-binary Exeter students that self-identify as plus-size.
This group has been designed as a safe space for people to exist unapologetically as themselves, as well as for discussing fatphobia and the fat lived experience in a positive, open environment. We’ve had two successful events so far, with our first discussion group ‘The Big Fat Chat’ followed by our festive social ‘Fatty Christmas’ (see some of the lovely decorations we made attached!). I would like to offer a huge thanks once again to Emily for all of her help, Kayleigh Underwood for our beautiful graphics, and to the societies which have so kindly promoted our meetings this term! I am so looking forward to growing this initiative further next term.
“I realize now that all those times I had said, “I want to be thin,” I actually meant:
I want to be loved.
I want to be happy.
I want to be seen.
I want to be free.”
- Virgie Tovar in You Have the Right to Remain Fat, 2011.