Fat Stuff (2007)

Title (as given to the record by the creator):  Fat Stuff
Date(s) of creation:  2006
Creator / author / publisher:  Charlotte Cooper, students of the University of East London
Location: London, UK
Physical description:
A one-sheet zine printed on both sides and folded in half twice, to make 4 pages that can then open out to show the large 5th page.
Reference #:  CharlotteCooper-FatStuff
Source: Charlotte Cooper
  [ PDF for Printing ] [ PDF for screen viewing ]

Fat Stuff

[image description: a black and white clip-art style megaphone with sound waves emanating from it.]

Start here.

We are students at the University of East London who think that being fat is about more than what you eat or don’t eat, what you do or don’t do. We believe: 

  • It’s okay to be fat
  • Fat people are as valuable and as beautiful as anybody
  • Fat is not necessarily unhealthy – and even if it is, it doesn’t really matter
  • Trying to lose weight can really screw you up, dieting is a waste of time, and the health benefits of being thin are over-played
  • Fat people are part of the fabric of humanity and found in every culture and every country, and not everybody feels the same way about fat either 
  • Fat people have been around forever, or at least 25,000 years, which is the age Austrian archeologists have attributed Venus of Willendorf, an icon shaped like a fat woman that they discovered in 1908

We want to challenge the current mythology that surrounds fat people, which is generally very negative. We’re angry about the pervasive cultural messages we come across every day about bodies, health and beauty, instead of swallowing this stuff we want to create a space where we can discuss the truth about what it is to be fat. Moreover, we acknowledge that there are connections between body image, sexuality, class, race and ability – all kinds of issues really. We think that fat is political as well as personal. 

But mostly we are excited to see a fat and body-positive culture developing. We encourage everyone to get involved, to develop self-esteem, and to know our bodies as strong, powerful and resilient as we move through life. 

Why we made this zine

We think that Student Wellbeing Services’ Obesity Awareness Week in March 2007 is kind of rubbish and that everyone deserves better than a patronising healthy eating event, or finger-wagging, shame, pity and guilt about getting or being fat. 

We thought maybe people didn’t know that weight loss isn’t necessarily the healthiest option if you are fat and that there are many better alternatives to it – alternatives that Obesity Awareness Week are unlikely to present – so we decided to make a zine about that, which is what you are reading now. 

You don’t have to be fat to read Fat Stuff, fear and anxiety about body weight affects just about everyone, whatever their size. We hope this zine will help you feel a bit better about yourself and get you thinking about different, maybe better, ways of being. 

Just open up the page and enjoy! 

[image description: a series of clip-art style arrows in slightly different shapes, all pointing to the right.]

Instead of worrying about being or getting fat, why don’t you…

  • Tell your friends that you love them whatever size they are
  • Read a novel that features a fat protagonist and discuss it with someone you like
  • Organise a demonstration against body size obsession 
  • Go play on the gymsforall equipment at Docklands
  • Go dancing at Unskinny Bop with your mates
  • Treat yourself with compassion
  • Visit Greene Street and eat a delicious dosa 
  • Tell someone that you’re thinking about becoming a fat activist
  • Stop waiting to live your life until you’re a size ___
  • Learn to meditate
  • Find out about the history of the fat liberation movement and tell someone about it
  • Wear your favourite item of clothing
  • Have a picnic in Epping Forest
  • Have counselling if you think you might need it
  • Organise a fat-friendly swim, a fat trampolining group, a fat rounders team or a fat burlesque troupe – or think about how you could make activities fun and accessible for all
  • Borrow or hire a bike and go for a ride around the docks
  • Snuggle under a duvet and watch a really stupid film
  • Take an assertiveness class and learn how to challenge negative comments
  • Have a stroll around Thames Barrier Park and a cup of tea in the pavilion – or play in the fountains on a hot day
  • Take a moment to define what healthy means to you
  • Tell us what you think of this zine: puppigrrl@hotmail.com
  • Share a joke
  • Or ________________ (fill in your own)


There are loads of great resources out there – if you know where to look. Useful search terms include “fat rights,” “size acceptance,” and “fat liberation.” But here are a bunch of links, books, and films and things to get you started.

[Image description: each item listed is accompanied by a small icon representing the specific resource: a logo, a book, a tiny photo, etc.]

Online stuff for reading, doing, Ideas and fun

Big Fat Blog
News and comments in the world of the rotund

The Chubsters
They’re mean, tough, aggressive and angry

Unskinny Bop
Fat-friendly nightclub with the best DJs in town

Charlotte Cooper’s Fat Pages
She’s fat and she’s proud

Fat Studies
Forum for this new academic discipline

Socially conscious fat fashion discussion list

US event for queer fat women and their allies

Size Queen and Fat Girl
Radical pro-chub zines from San Francisco

Susan Stinson
Awesome writer of great fat characters

The Fat Liberation Archives
Exactly what it says it is

The Gossip
Fat superstar Beth Ditto rules the school

Naima Lowe
Film maker, activist, and all-around great gal

Council on Size and Weight Discrimination 
Working for institutional change in the States

Fat is Contagious
Fun/inspiring essay about fat activism

Junkfood Science
The truth about food, fat and health

The biggest fat rights organisation in the world

Legendary activist Marilynn Wann’s online home

Nomy Lamm
Artist, writer, zinester, musician and more

Body Image Bibliography
A good place to do some research

Films featuring amazing fat characters who won’t insult your intelligence

Bagdad Café (1987) by Percy Adlon
Hairspray (1988) by John Waters
Heavy (1995) by James Mangold
Palindromes (2004) by Todd Solondz
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993) by Lasse Hallström (there’s a copy of this in the library)

Dates for your diary

International No-Diet Day – 6 May

Love Your Body Day – 18 October

UEL Library
Although the uni library hosts the usual kind of stuff you’d expect on obesity, there’s not much from an alternative perspective, though you might like to check out:

Cooper, C. (1998) Fat & Proud: The Politics of Size London: The Women’s Press
Cooper sets out debates regarding fat lib based on research undertaken at this very university! 

Schoenfielder, L. and Wieser, B. (1983) Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression USA: Rotunda Press
Hugely influential anthology, slightly dated now, but still well worth a read

Health at Every Size
HAES hosts multi-perspective discussions about fat and health. An electronic version of this journal, 2004-present, is available in Academic Search Elite though the EBSCO database – ask a librarian for help if you’re not sure how to access it.

Don’t forget that you can always ask for inter-library loans of books, videos/DVDs and other resources that you come across. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.