Fat Liberation (radio) presents: Plain Talk About Fat (1984)

Title (as given to the record by the creator):  Fat Liberation presents: Plain Talk About Fat
Date(s) of creation:  International Women’s Day – March 8, 1984
Creator / author / publisher:  Judith Stein, Meridith Lawrence, Kelly, Marcia Duvall, WMBR (MIT radio station)
Location: Cambridge, MA
Physical description:
23-minute mp3 audio recording of a radio show recorded on International Women’s Day, 1984
Reference #: JudithStein_plain_talk_1984
Charlotte Cooper (audio) / Judith Stein (identification of speakers)
Links: [ mp3 ]

Fat Liberation (radio) presents: Plain Talk About Fat

This radio show, done by a group of Boston area fat dykes, aired on the MIT radio station on International Women’s Day, March 8, 1984.



Speaker: [00:00:00] [Chime sounds.] Stand-by. [Chime sounds.] When we’re at 5 minutes, I’m going to go like this. [00:00:09][9.1]

Kelly: [00:00:11] [Cut off]…liberation presents. [00:00:11][0.5]

Kelly: [00:00:12] Plain Talk About Fat. [00:00:13][1.1]

Kelly: [00:00:14] Fat dykes throw their weight around. [00:00:15][1.4]

Kelly: [00:00:16] A light show about a heavy topic. [00:00:18][1.8]

All: [00:00:19] Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. [Two people hum the theme from I Love Lucy] [00:00:26][6.5]

Kelly: [00:00:26] [Humming continues] Stay tuned for the Phyllis Donahue Show – Plain Talk About Fat brought to you by Adipose Productions, producers of the Zaftig Follies. [00:00:35][8.7]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:00:37] Good Morning, America. I’m Phyllis Donahue. Welcome to the Phyllis Donahue Show. [Very light applause] Today, my guests are three fat activists Kelly, Judith Stein, and Marcia Duvall. We’ll begin with our guests right after this word from our sponsor. [00:00:57][19.8]

Judith: [00:00:58] You’ve read the book. You’ve seen the Broadway production. Now, the show that’s already made a big name for itself, the Zaftig Follies. [00:01:07][9.0]

All: [00:01:10] [Singing, to the tune of There’s No Business Like Showbusiness] There’s no women like fat women, like no women I know. Everything about them is appealing, bellies, breasts, and tushies turn you on. Where else can you get that happy feeling when you are squeezing that extra pound? There’s no women like fat women. We’re big women and strong. We won’t take your bullshit. No more diet games. We’re standing up proudly. We’ll feel no shame. Don’t psychologize us, we’ll take no more blame. We’re moving right along. We are fat and we are strong. [00:01:46][36.4]

Judith: [00:01:48] Yes. Now’s your chance to see this larger-than-life review that will have you rolling in the aisles. Warm, inspirational theater. The way theater was meant to be. [00:01:58][10.3]

All: [00:02:02] [Singing, to the tune of “Moon River”] Fat women, wider than a mile. When I see you, I smile all day. Whenever your damn diet ends, I’ll be around the bend. My beautiful fat friends, fat women, and me. [00:02:29][27.2]

Judith: [00:02:31] The Zaftig Follies, brought to you by Adipose Productions. Coming soon to a theater near you. [00:02:37][6.2]

Kelly: [00:02:38] The Phyllis Donahue Show is also brought to you by… [00:02:40][2.4]

All: [00:02:43] [Singing] Fat, such a beautiful thing. Fat. The more, the better. Fat. Each inch is more delightful. Fat, such a beautiful thing. Fat. Those great love handles. Fat. It’s beautiful to me. I’m loving your fat. [00:03:00][17.6] [sung to the tune of a 1984 Tab commercial]

Kelly: [00:03:01] And now here’s Phyllis. [00:03:03][1.8]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:03:04] Thank you. And welcome back to our show. Tell me, ladies, I’ve skimmed your book, “Shadows on a Tightrope,” before the show today. In it, you make a reference to something called fat oppression. Exactly, what is that? [00:03:16][11.6]

Judith: [00:03:16] Well, Phyllis, fat oppression is the systematic ridicule, hatred, and discrimination that fat people face in our daily lives. It’s based on the belief that fat people just aren’t as good as thin people. It’s a social problem that confronts all fat people, not just some individual fat people who have a hard time adjusting. The range of fat oppression is very wide from everyday comments that people on the street make to us, strangers who don’t know us. Our families put pressures on us to diet and change. We face discrimination in jobs and medical care. We face social harassment. And it also includes more serious things like the kinds of health problems produced by dieting and also experimental weight-loss surgeries that performed on fat people, especially fat women all the time. And those are costing us our lives. [00:04:03][47.1]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:04:06] But don’t you choose to be fat? I mean, don’t you fat people simply eat too much? [00:04:11][5.1]

Kelly: [00:04:12] All right, I’ll take this one. Most fat people eat the same amount as thin people eat. In fact, many fat people actually eat less than thin people because it’s one of the effects of chronic dieting that the body has learned to slow its rate of energy consumption. And when somebody diets long enough and often enough, this slowing down effect will become permanent. The body simply learns to get by on less food, and many fat people eat less food to maintain the same weight. It’s simply an out-and-out myth, and it’s a lie that we eat more food than anybody else. [00:04:47][35.2]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:04:49] Well, even if that were true, which I must admit, I’m having quite a hard time believing. Aren’t you fat because of what you eat? I mean, all those Snickers bars. [00:04:57][8.1]

Marcia: [00:04:57] Look, it’s just a stereotype that fat people are constantly stuffing their faces with candy bars, ice cream, and spaghetti. This stereotype comes from the fact that when the human body is given less food than it needs in order to sustain itself, in other words when you’re on a weight loss diet, it will develop a strong drive to get some badly needed quick energy. And so dieters will feel this intense craving for carbohydrates and sugar. This is a biological reaction, Phyllis. It’s not a matter of willpower. If a woman gets off this vicious cycle of dieting and then bingeing, her eating habits will return to quote, normal. Dieting causes bingeing. Left alone a fat woman eats about the same amounts and about the same types of food as thin women eat in general. [00:05:45][47.3]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:05:47] But what about just going on a diet? There are so many different diets available. You mean that you can’t manage to lose weight on any of them? [00:05:56][9.5]

Judith: [00:05:57] Well, Phyllis, I’d agree with you that there are many different diets available. In fact, the diet business is a multibillion-dollar industry. Everywhere you go, you see an ad for a new diet. Just go to the supermarket. Every single magazine has an ad for a new diet every month. Diets sell magazines. What they don’t publicize, however, and if they did the diet industry would lose a lot of money, is that permanent weight loss by dieting is next to impossible. And losing the weight isn’t the issue as much as keeping it off. The failure rate of dieters to keep off the weight they lose for more than five years is 95 to 99%. That is out of every 100 people who managed to starve themselves long enough to lose that weight. Between 95 and 99 of those people will gain back every pound they’ve lost and more within a five-year period. So you could say that most people won’t lose weight on diets. [00:06:55][58.1]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:06:57] Huh. Well, what harm would there be in just trying a diet? [00:07:00][3.7]

Kelly: [00:07:01] Think about this, Phyllis. Out of every hundred dieters, only five people will keep that weight off for any length of time. Chances are the other 95 will try more diets and get into that cycle of losing and gaining, over and over again. Medical studies have shown that it’s the repeated dieting and not the being fat that appears to be the cause of heart attacks and strokes. It’s those periods of weight gain that the 95% of dieters will go through that are the risk-producing ones. The level of serum cholesterol in the blood is higher, and this increases the chances of deposits in your arteries that cause arteriosclerosis and lead to heart attacks and strokes. It’s the dieting itself that can be linked with a wide range of health and emotional problems from diabetes, kidney failure, and high blood pressure to depression, paranoia, anorexia, and food binges. And Phyllis, this is the crucial point, virtually every study claiming that fat is unhealthy in humans was done with fat people who are chronic dieters or who live in a fat-hating society. [00:08:06][64.6]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:08:08] So you say you can’t lose weight. What about the health risks of obesity? [00:08:12][4.0]

Marcia: [00:08:14] Many of the diseases associated with obesity, for instance, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are also stress-related diseases. What they tell you is that overweight people are at higher risk for heart disease and all those other diseases. They’ve never been able to prove that being fat actually causes the diseases. There’s a good possibility that the diseases are caused by the stress from living in a fat, hating society. The same diseases are higher for other minority groups. You know, that question might be better phrased. What about the health risks of dieting? [00:08:47][33.8]

Kelly: [00:08:49] And now a word from our sponsor. [00:08:50][1.6]

Marcia: [00:08:50] At last, the show you’ve all been waiting for. From Adipose Productions, the musical that took New York by storm, the Zaftig Follies. [00:09:00][10.2]

All: [00:09:07] [Singing to the tune of, “Oklahoma”] Overweight is what they tell me that I shouldn’t be and I shouldn’t eat a food that’s sweet for they say that’s what is killing me. Overeating is what they say I really shouldn’t do, but I feel so well they can go to hell and take their diet doctors too. We know that we eat like they do, all the lies that they tell are not true. So when we say… on diets we won’t say. We’re always saying you’re doing fine fat women. Fat women. Okay. [00:09:44][37.2]

Marcia: [00:09:46] Yes! Opening soon at a theater near you. The original songs, the original cast of that Broadway hit, the Zaftig Follies. [00:09:54][8.0]

All: [00:09:57] [Singing to the tune of, “Frere Jacques”] No more diets. No more diets. No more pills. No more pills. No more surgery. No more surgery. No more ills. No more ills. No more diets. No more diets. [Singers start singing in a round] No more diets. No more diets. No more surgery. No more surgery. No more ills. No more ills. No more surgery. No more ills. No more surgery. No more ills. No more ills. [00:10:25][28.5]

Marcia: [00:10:35] Tickets are still available for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Zaftig Follies. Hey, don’t miss it! [00:10:42][7.1]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:10:43] Welcome back to this fascinating show. Can we really be frank now? I’ve had a question ever since I saw the way you all look. Can any of you really say you really have a normal social life? I mean, come on. What about your sex life looking the way that you do? [00:10:59][15.9]

Marcia: [00:11:00] Oh, Phyllis, you should have it so good. Since I started loving myself. And especially since I started loving other fat women. Well, talking about my sex life would make these radio wires sizzle. [00:11:11][11.9]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:11:12] Well. Tell me the truth. If there were a pill you could take, that would make you thin instantly. Wouldn’t you take it? [00:11:20][8.0]

Marcia: [00:11:21] It’s interesting you’d ask that, Phyllis. I used to be thin. At one point I lost 75 pounds and was close to my weight chart weight, but I wasn’t happy and it had a lot to do with my attitude. Since that point, I’ve gained a lot of weight. In fact, right now I’m doubled my weight chart weight. But in the meantime, I’ve gotten involved with Fat Liberation, and it’s helped to change my attitude. I’ve learned to try to accept myself. I’ve stopped dieting and started getting on with my life. I’ve even gotten work with high visibility. I’ve been a teacher. And believe me, those students look you all over when you’re up at the blackboard. If I could invent a pill that would change something instantly. I’d make it a pill that would help people change their attitudes regarding their bodies and regarding fat people. [00:12:04][43.2]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:12:06] You’ve said you experience a lot of hostility. Why do you think that people hate you? [00:12:12][5.2]

Judith: [00:12:12] Well, women are bearing the brunt of public and private abuse because this is a sexist society. Women are expected to be smaller and weaker than men and pleasing to the male eye, as he defines pleasing. Fat women are big and strong-looking. Not the kind of women that you can either choose to beat up or protect. She looks as though she can take care of herself, and I think that’s much too threatening to men. And so we’re asked to make ourselves disappear and return as thin women so they can be more comfortable. Another reason is that a certain moral judgment is being placed upon any bodily pleasure in this culture. Sex is seen as dirty, and eating is also vaguely seen as sinful. And since fat people are thought to be eating all the time, which we are not, we are seen as somewhat sinfully overindulgent. Women in this country actually feel guilty when they feed themselves, especially if they are enjoying what they are eating. Eating a hearty meal in this culture is almost a pornographic act if you are female. [00:13:18][65.6]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:13:20] In your book,” Shadows on a Tightrope,” you say that fat oppression affects all women. I must say I’ve never experienced anything called fat oppression. What are you talking about? [00:13:32][11.9]

Judith: [00:13:33] Well, Phyllis, you may not have identified experiences you have as fat oppression, but there’s hardly a woman alive who feels that her body is the size it ought to be, or who really likes her body. And most often, that feeling is focused on being too fat. No matter what size a woman really is. What happens because of this feeling, which is not an individual neurosis, but this is part of fat oppression, is that all of us as women are kept preoccupied with what we eat and what we weigh, and how we think what we eat is going to affect what we weigh. We’re all afraid because of fat oppression, that we’re going to become fat or get fatter. Our status in the world as women is still determined by men and male standards. And this also keeps us in competition with each other instead of allowing us to band together for our common goals as women. Just think for just a minute. If all of the lunchroom talk across this country was instead of about diets, which it so often is, was about getting a union or getting a daycare center on the job or street safety or getting better job promotions. What a difference that would make in the world. That’s how fat oppression affects all of us, because it keeps us divided and preoccupied with our weight instead of the things that are really keeping us down. [00:14:45][72.0]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:14:48] Your book “Shadows on a Tightrope” puts fat activism as part of the women’s movement. Just how has the women’s movement accepted you? [00:14:57][9.3]

Kelly: [00:14:58] Well, a lot of us in fat liberation consider ourselves to be feminists, and we feel that the foundations of feminism – the ones that question women’s roles are good ones to begin thinking about our attitudes – how our attitudes toward our bodies are shaped. But many of us fat activists have been disappointed with the response of the women’s movement to the issues of fat oppression. We thought that since one of the cornerstones of the women’s movement was that womens – women were listening to each other and believing each other where we were formerly thought to be crazy. And we listened to each other’s stories and supported each other. But maybe feminists are listened out? Maybe they are too threatened? Maybe it’s just the last stronghold of brainwashing? Women’s libbers used to say, Well, I believe in women’s liberation, but lesbians? Now, many lesbians say, “Oh, come on with those fat dykes. They’re just looking for an excuse to pig out and not have to pay.” Doesn’t that sound a little bit like if you play, you’ve got to pay? I just wish that feminists would put aside their shock and listen to us for a while. If you can let yourself listen, you’ll be in for a surprise. [00:16:10][72.2]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:16:13] One final question, ladies. If each of you had one point you’d like to get across to our listeners today, what would it be? Let’s start with you, Marsha. [00:16:21][7.6]

Marcia: [00:16:22] Well, I wish that women could learn to accept their bodies whatever size. But if you do have to diet, please don’t talk about it in front of us fat women. [00:16:29][7.5]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:16:30] Thank you. Kelly? [00:16:30][0.3]

Kelly: [00:16:32] Well, I would say pick up a copy of “Shadows on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression” available now at your local feminist or progressive bookstore. [00:16:41][9.9]

Judith: [00:16:44] I would encourage fat women to stop believing the lies about ourselves and start believing ourselves. Let’s get information, get support and get mad. [00:16:52][8.4]

Meridith/Phyllis Donahue: [00:16:54] Thank you, ladies. This has really been a fascinating conversation. I’m sure our listening audience has gotten quite an earful, but we’re out of time now. Here’s a final message from our sponsors. [00:17:05][10.5]

Marcia: [00:17:06] Adipose Productions is proud to announce a new concept in theater in the round, critically acclaimed by The New York Times as a real heavyweight in musical theater. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the original cast of the Zaftig Follies. [00:17:22][16.5]

All: [00:17:25] [Singing] 301 pounds of fun. That’s my great big honey bun. Get a load of honey bun tonight. Speaking of my sweetie pie, 40 inches is her thigh. Every inch is packed with dynamite. Her body is big and cuddly. Mmm. She’s so cuddly wuddly. Ooh. I love to squeeze both her knees and listen to her sigh [audible sigh]. [00:17:52][26.5] [Sung to the tune of “101 pounds of fun” from South Pacific.]

All: [00:17:53] Action packed. Exciting. Yet touching in its broad appeal. Something for everyone. [00:18:00][7.5]

All: [00:18:02] [Singing] I’ve grown accustomed to my size. I love my lovely, luscious thighs and now it’s time to celebrate each gorgeous pound of weight. My stomach, my breasts, and all the rest. I just won’t diet anymore because diet workshop is a bore. [00:18:25][23.1]

Marcia: [00:18:27] [Singing] I’m going to learn to love my body just the way it’s meant to be. [00:18:31][4.1]

Kelly: [00:18:32] [Singing] I’m learning how to cherish every precious inch of me. [00:18:36][3.6]

All: [00:18:38] [Singing] I’ve grown accustomed to my fat. I know that’s where it’s at. Accustomed to my size. [00:18:48][10.6]

Judith: [00:18:50] Opening soon at a theater near you. [00:18:52][2.1]

Judith: [00:18:53] Today’s show has also been brought to you by. [00:18:55][2.5]

All: [00:18:57] [Singing] Well, you know what I like? I like those gorgeous, fat dykes. Beautiful. We don’t do diet anything, you and me. We don’t do diet anything, fat and free. [00:19:09][12.4]

Kelly: [00:19:10] Diet free. [00:19:11][0.5]

Meridith: [00:19:13] Musical advice for this show was provided by Mary Frances Platt. The show was engineered by Marilyn Perry for International Women’s Day. Playing Phyllis Donahue, I’m Meridith Lawrence. [cheers] [00:19:24][11.0]Kelly: [00:19:32] Are you tired of being treated [cut out] because of your weight? Boston Lesbian Fat Liberation sponsors monthly discussion groups for fat lesbians 200 pounds or over. Meetings are the last Tuesday of every month at the Cambridge Women’s Center, 46 Pleasant Street near Central Square. The meetings are drug and alcohol-free. Introduction to Fat Liberation is from 730 to 8 p.m. with the main discussion group meeting from 8 to 9 p.m. The topic on March 27th is the Fat Closet: Rediscovering Our Hidden Talents. And on April 24th, join the members of Fat Liberation for a night of dancing and socializing at the Marquee Central Square, Cambridge. This is not a diet or food issues group. Come and meet other fat lesbians for support, information, and fun. [00:19:32][0.0]

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