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What We’re Looking For!

Please Note: The Fat Experience Project is currently on a very slow roll. I’ve recently returned to higher education and have learned a great deal in the last few years about intersectionality in activism that may entirely revise the foundation of The Fat Experience Project (Let’s just shorten that to FXP, shall we?) as it stands now. Please feel free to submit your story, but understand that for the near future, updates will be powerful but infrequent updates as I revise and re-think FXP’s direction. What follows is the project scope as it stood in 2008.

We know that, with such a vague topic, it can be hard to come up with a place to start. So here are some excellent places to begin. Feel free to wander anywhere you choose. These are very loose examples and there are countless more avenues to be explored than we could ever list here! This is an *inclusive* project — women, men, younger, older, all nationalities, all abilities, all orientations, all political views, all perspectives. We want to hear from *everyone!*

History of self

  • Describe your childhood. What was it like? What were you like?
  • What’s your family like? Are other people in your family fat, or are you the only one? How does your family respond to this?
  • What was your school experience like? What kind of school did you attend? How many students? What were you like in school? Who did you hang out with?
  • How did people interact with you in school, and what was your response? Were you lonely, surrounded by friends, in-between? Did you observe the way you interacted with others to be unique?
  • When you were a child, what was your definition of beauty? How has that definition changed over the years? Can you pinpoint the moment it changed?
  • Were you always fat? If not, what was the cause of your weight gain, if it was sudden or unexpected?
  • When did you first see fat as ugly, if ever? Did you see fat as being “wrong” or “bad” for some reason? What or who gave you this impression? Have you been able to overcome that sentiment? If not, how does that make you feel?
  • When did you first realize you were fat? Who, if anyone, pointed it out to you? When did you first hear this as a derogatory statement, if applicable?
  • What impact have media images had on your perception of self? Positive/negative?
  • Has fatness impacted your gender presentation, either in your own eyes, or in the eyes of others?

Society

  • What is buying clothes like for you? Do you buy or make your own clothes? What do your clothes say about you? How do you dress your body, and why?
  • Do you enjoy restaurants? How about grocery shopping?
  • In what public settings, if any, do you feel the most overt prejudice? Do people seem comfortable with their prejudice against you? How do you respond?
  • What public places allow you to feel most at ease? How did you interact with people in that setting?
  • Where have you traveled? What types of travel have you tried (flying, rv, etc.) What was the experience (of traveling) like? How comfortable was it for you? Where have you traveled in the country where you have felt most welcome? What made the people in this area different?
  • Why do you think some interact with fat more positively than others?
  • Do you feel you’ve missed out on experiences by being fat? If so, what kind of experiences? And how does this make you feel? Have you explored alternatives?

Relationship with Food:

  • How would you describe your relationship with food?
  • Do you recognize a time in your life when your relationship with food was changed, for better or for worse? What was the root of or inspiration for that change?
  • When, if ever, do you think your first experience with the villainization of food was? How did it make you feel?
  • How do you feel eating in front of other people? Are your home eating habits and public eating habits different? If so, in what ways, and how does it make you feel?

Health

  • What have interactions with doctors been like? Do you feel pressured to lose weight?
  • Do you consider yourself healthy?
  • Have you tried dieting? Who has encouraged you to diet? What has been the basis of their encouragement? (i.e. concerns about health, physical appearance, stigma, etc.) What has the result of dieting been for you, both physically and emotionally?
  • Is your weight more or less constant, or do you yo-yo?
  • What kinds of things (sports, etc.) did you originally feel that you “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do because you’re fat, only to change your mind? What changed your mind? How do people respond to your decision to do these things? How has it impacted the way you feel about yourself?

Dating and Friends

  • What’s your dating history and in what ways do you feel your size has impacted it?
  • In addition to feeling attractive to someone you’re dating, do you feel sexy in and of yourself? Has how sexy you feel changed as your weight has changed?
  • In your opinion, who has been more welcoming to your size? Specific social groups, genders, etcs?
  • What are your friendships like? Do you go out a lot? How do you think your size has impacted your social experience?

Now

  • Have your perceptions of yourself changed(positive or negative) in the last few years? When did they change? What encouraged/lead to this change?
  • How has your definition of beauty changed from that of your more innocent childhood self?
  • What is your general level of engagement with yourself, your body and the world? How do you feel your size has colored your experience of the world?
  • What frustrates you most about the world in general as it pertains to your size. Rather than changing yourself, what would you wish to see changed in the world at large to help you feel like a welcome and valued member of the planet?

Lifestyle, Politics & Culture

  • Do you consider yourself a fat activist? Do you use other language to describe a similar stance?
  • Do you find being fat impacts your ability to navigate inside political movements you are involved in?
  • Do you feel you are treated differently in terms of getting, keeping or advancing in your job? Do you feel limited in the kinds of jobs you can perform, or are your options limited by employer perceptions?
  • How is fat seen in your culture? What are the stereotypes? How has being fat been for you given the answers to the previous two questions?
  • Does the combination of your size and your ethnicity give you a unique perspective? Unique challenges? What are they?
  • How have you overcome shame? Or have you?
  • What does your perfect world look like?