WFAT radio show: 30 Big Minutes with Fat Liberation (1985)

Title (as given to the record by the creator):  WFAT, 30 Big Minutes with Fat Liberation
Date(s) of creation:  International Women’s Day – March 8, 1985
Creator / author / publisher:  Judith Stein, Meridith Lawrence, May Roe, Marcia Duvall, Susan Stinson, Jude Gage-O’Brien, WMBR (MIT radio station)
Location: Cambridge, MA
Physical description:
mp3 audio recording
Reference #: JudithStein_30_big_mins_1985
Charlotte Cooper (audio) / Judith Stein (identification of speakers)
Links: [ mp3 ]

WFAT, 30 Big Minutes with Fat Liberation

This radio show, created by a group of Boston area fat dykes, aired on the MIT radio station on International Women’s Day, March 8, 1985.



WMBR Announcer: [00:00:00] Celebrating International Women’s Day. All our voices. All day long. [00:00:05][4.7]

Judith Stein: [00:00:06] And now live from WFAT, 30 Big Minutes with Fat Liberation. [00:00:10][4.4]

May Roe: [00:00:12] I’m May Roe and I want to welcome you to our radio magazine highlighting news and trends in fat liberation. Now it’s time for the news. Meridith? [00:00:21][9.1]

Meridith Lawrence: [00:00:22] Thank you, May. Today we’re going to focus on weight loss surgery and more specifically on stomach stapling. In 1984, the National Association to Aid Fat Americans published a report by Paul Ernsberger, Ph.D., describing stomach stapling, its benefits and complications, and ten case histories of women who have had their stomach stapled. Stomach stapling is a, quote, “large group of different operations that create a tiny artificial stomach,” unquote. It is performed primarily on women who are – who are 100 pounds over insurance chart weights. Although in some places, anyone more than 40% over the charts becomes a candidate for surgery. It is considered a last resort after dieting has failed and fat women feel totally victimized and desperate. The operation creates a tiny artificial stomach out of a portion of the original stomach, usually closing off the stomach with a staple gun or plastic mesh. Sometimes the operation involves gastric bypass, in which the intestine is severed and reattached to a hole punched in the stomach pouch. This type of surgery is highly experimental. Many surgeons have developed their own versions of the stomach bypass. Until today, no two surgeons are following precisely the same procedure, and each surgeon frequently changes the procedure. The operation causes weight loss by limiting food intake. No more than a few mouthfuls can be eaten without vomiting. The adult stomach can hold approximately one quart of food or liquid. After surgery of this type, the stomach can hold one-half to two ounces, which is far smaller than a newborn baby stomach. For women who have been oppressed all their lives because of how big they are, this may not sound too bad. But as the NAAFA report shows, there are far more complications than there are benefits from the surgery. Within six months after surgery, about 5% of the patients receiving this operation die. This figure is probably greatly underestimated because surgeons with high death rates are reluctant to publish their findings. Stomach stapling has been shown to damage nearly every organ in the body. Digestive system, kidneys, liver, blood clotting system, immune system, blood cell formation, brain, and nervous system, eyes, skin, hair, pancreas, spleen, and bones. The risks of these complications is permanent, while the weight loss may only be temporary. 75% of the patients who got their stomach stapled regain lost weight or have had a second stapling within three years. The operation has become popular because of the strong demand by fat women willing to undergo almost any treatment that will help them lose weight. And by surgeons who are only too happy to have a group of people to experiment on. Ironically, this type of surgery was first performed on dogs for the treatment of ulcers. It was found to be of no value. But because the dogs lost weight, surgeons decided to try it on fat patients. And because there have been many protests against the pain and suffering of lab animals, it is considerably easier to perform surgical experiments on fat people than on dogs. In conclusion, it is easy to see how this horrendous surgery is really an absurd outgrowth of fat hatred. It must be stopped, as must all hatred of fat. We will not succumb to society’s standards, not by ridicule, shame, or a surgeon’s scalpel. And now back to you, May. [00:04:18][235.3]

May: [00:04:19] Thank you, Meridith, for that shocking news. That brings us to our literary corner. We’ve received several wonderful poems this week from our listeners. First, we’ll hear from Marcia reading a poem by Barbara Ruth called, “A Fat Woman.” [00:04:32][13.3]

Marcia Duvall: [00:04:33] They call me a fat woman, chubby, overweight. They say I’m too big. Accused me of taking up more space than I’m entitled to. They tell me I should lose weight, reduce myself, shrink myself down to a more manageable size – like size 12, maybe, or size 10. I enjoy being out of bounds. Extra large. Overweight. I enjoy being fat as I enjoy being female. Ain’t nobody going to cut me down to size. [00:05:06][32.3]

May: [00:05:07] Thank you, Marcia. And now Judith will read loving advice to thin women for their own good, of course. A poem by Judy Freespirit. [00:05:15][7.2]

Judith: [00:05:15] Outside every thin woman is a fat woman dying to get in. The soft round curves, the sensuous expanse of breast and belly hunger to break through the tight and unremitting paucity of form. Held tight by fear and falsehood. you create a barrier and call it self-control. You are controlled. You overflow nothing. Being damned up and down inside. You are empty as an eggshell and as brittle. I want to crack your fortress, flooding you with warm flesh, making you a woman of substance. [00:05:51][36.7]

May: [00:05:53] And now a word from our sponsor. [00:05:54][1.7]

Susan Stinson: [00:05:56] Are you tired of music that has no meaning? Songs with doo-wop ditty [background humming begins to the tune of Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.] that raise your pulse but not your spirits? Are you looking for hope? Inspiration? A message that will make you feel better? Well, friends, just listen to this sample of a brand new recording from the Big Girls Flabernacle Choir. This record available for just $17.98 is not sold in any record store. Only through our special radio offer. If you’re looking for something special in your music, just listen. [00:06:31][35.8]

All: [00:06:35] [Singing to the tune of Glory, Glory, Hallelujah] Mine eyes have seen the stories that they tell us about food. All of their lies and all their myths with which they tried to set our mood. But we’ve dug through all their falsehoods and discarded their old lies. That pride is growing strong. Clear your mind of all their fables. Look at us and not your labels. We are not sick and we are not lazy. We are certainly not crazy. Fat Pride is growing strong. Their diets keep us weak and worrying about our looks. Their myths keep us divided and their lies are painful hooks to keep us from uniting all as sisters as their aim. We must not play men’s games. Clear your mind of all the fables. Look at us and not your labels. Join together fat and thin. And we’ll surely someday win our lives strong, proud, and free. [00:07:42][66.6]

Susan: [00:07:44] [Background humming resumes] Isn’t that grand? This is a one-time offer and may be revoked at any time. So, send $17.98 today to Big Girl Choir, Box 6969, Lesbos, New York 10069. That’s Big Girl Choir Box 6969, Lesbos, New York 10069. Send your check or money order today. Don’t miss out on music with guts. [Speaker stops, humming continues.] [00:08:12][27.8]

May: [00:08:21] Back to our show. In our next segment, we’re joined by a Girl Scout Troop 69, an all fat girl scout troop. Joining us in the studio is the scout leader, Judith, and three members of the troop. Would you care to tell us a little about the origin of Troop 69, Judith? [00:08:37][16.4]

Judith: [00:08:38] Thank you, May. Troop 69 is a very special kind of Girl Scout Troop. All of our scouts are fat. Troop 69 was formed by some adult women active in the Fat Liberation Movement. Many of us had been scouts and had enjoyed it a great deal, but we faced tremendous hostility and ridicule from our fellow scouts and sometimes from our scout leaders because we were fat. We wanted to provide an opportunity for young fat girls to enjoy scouting to its fullest without having to go through the typical harassment of being the one fat girl in a scout troop. Our scouts do all the typical activities of any girl scout troop, but we add a special emphasis on developing a strong self-image in a world hostile to fat girls and women. Our scouts have come prepared to discuss some of our special merit badges. Meri, would you start, please? [00:09:25][47.3]

Meridith: [00:09:26] My merit badge is in health and nutrition. We learned about fat oppression and fat liberation. Did you know that fat oppression is a systematic hatred, ridicule, and discrimination against fat people by the society? Yeah, it’s true. It means that fat people like ourselves are believed to be more stupid, lazier, or not as good as thin people. And to top that off, there are myths in our society about fat that everybody thinks are facts because they’ve been around for so long. But medical research and the experience of lots of fat people contradict them. For my merit badge, I had to learn three examples. The first stupid myth is that people get fat because they eat too much or eat the wrong foods, or maybe because their metabolism doesn’t work right. Well, we learned that this is really stupid. On the average, fat people eat the same amounts and same types of food as thin people. Medical research has tried to prove in over 100 studies that we eat more, but every study has failed. They even did a study with a group of teenage girls like ourselves who all claim that they ate more than their friends, even though an actual tally of food showed they ate less than their thin friends. The second dumb myth is that fat people could change being fat if they’d just go on a sensible weight loss diet. Well, again, doctors did a lot of research and found out that diets have a failure rate of 98 to 99%. That means that 99 out of 100 people who do lose weight on diets will gain all of it back within five years. In fact, they also prove that dieting itself is unhealthy. It causes hardening of the arteries in lab animals and is thought to be connected with the higher risk of heart attacks and strokes in people. Finally, the third myth. Fat people are unhealthy or less healthy than thin people. You know, fat people range from healthy to ill, just like thin people. Every attempt to prove that being fat causes heart attacks or strokes or diabetes has failed. Diseases that are attributed to fat like heart attacks or high blood pressure have been proven to be caused by stress, the stress of living in a fat, hating world. So as you can see, this merit badge required a lot of thought. [00:11:45][138.8]

Judith: [00:11:46] Thank you, Meri. We’ve come prepared with a song, May. Do you think your listeners would like to hear it? [00:11:51][4.8]

May: [00:11:51] I’m sure our listening audience would love that. [00:11:53][1.8]

Judith/All: [00:11:54] Okay, girls. [Singing to the tune of “Make New Friends”] Find the truth and toss out all their lies. Fat women eat no more than any size. Find new lies. Dig deep and toss the old. All diets fail, no matter what we’re told. Find the truth and toss out all their lies. Fat women live as well as any size. We’re all told to look a certain way, though. The male beauty standards, right away. [00:12:25][31.3]

Judith: [00:12:27] Oh, very nice, girls. Our next merit badge is in fashion. Marcia? [00:12:30][3.9]

Marcia: [00:12:32] The badge I just finished is the fashion badge. The idea of the fashion badge is that within the rules that the fashion industry has set up for everyone, there is a special set of rules for fat women and girls. These rules are supposed to make fat women look thinner, or at least to hide our fat as if there was something wrong with being fat. Some of these special rules are: only wear dark colors, never white or bright colors. Never wear horizontal stripes. Only vertical ones wear loose flowing dresses, not dresses with a waist. Never wear trousers. Your bathing suit should have a skirt or boxer shorts to cover those fat legs. Well, we Girl Scouts think this is silly. Why would anyone think that wearing navy blue will make a 250 pound woman look thin? There are two requirements for the fashion badge. The first is to make an outfit with a waist in a bright color. I made a magenta jumpsuit in cotton velour with a silver belt and silver buttons. The kids at school loved it. The second requirement is to make a bathing suit without a skirt or boxer shorts. My bathing suit has punk zebra stripes. It is black and white, but those colors are in and I’m wearing them because I want to. [00:13:56][84.5]

Judith: [00:13:57] Thank you, Marcia. Our last merit badge is in journalism. Susan? [00:14:00][3.5]

Susan: [00:14:02] There were two parts to my merit badge. First, I had to write a scrapbook of articles from women’s magazines. Second, I had to write a letter to the editor of two magazines. One in favor of an article or issue and one against. Do you know how many diet articles there are in most women’s magazines? It doesn’t matter if it’s Glamour or Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal. There is at least one diet article in every single issue. Can you imagine how much energy women spend dieting and trying to lose weight? Not to mention the billions of dollars women spend on diet soda, WeightWatchers, and other slimming aids. It’s disgusting. Just think what this world might be like if that money and energy were spent doing other things. The sad thing is that diets don’t even work. There is one magazine though that I like that magazine. BBW or Big Beautiful Woman has fashion sections and articles for women who are fat but who want to look nice and care about themselves in a fat, hating society. I wrote one of my letters to them. My other letter was to the editors of McCall’s. They had a diet article directed to the mothers of fat, growing girls. I thought it was disgusting. [00:15:19][77.6]

May: [00:15:21] Thank you, Susan. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us, Judith? [00:15:25][3.2]

Judith: [00:15:25] Well, I do want to talk about our sports program. Troop 69 has programs and all the usual types of scouting activities: hiking, swimming, volleyball, and softball. We try to encourage each girl to play her best, and we find that without the fear of ridicule, most of our girls develop very strong athletic abilities. We do participate, of course, in region-wide scout tournaments. Our scouts play their hardest and certainly win our fair share of games. I am more convinced than ever that any supposed lack of athletic ability among fat girls is really the result of a lack of support and encouragement in a setting that accepts fat as just one more human variation. We do have one last song. Would you like to hear it, May? [00:16:06][41.2]

May: [00:16:07] We’d love to. [00:16:07][0.5]

Judith: [00:16:08] Okay, girls. [00:16:08][0.3]

All: [00:16:09] [Singing to the tune of I’m an Oscar Meyer Weiner.] We have big thighs and bellies. We’re soft and warm and round. We’re full of girl scout spirit with good cheer we abound. I love our fat girl scout troop. We have a special style. Support and love that will bring out my great big girl scout smile. [00:16:25][16.6]

May: [00:16:27] Thank you for being with us, Judith, and for bringing the scouts along. I think a trip back to the literary corner is in order. Joining us now is Susan Stinson with her piece entitled, “Lifting Belly Again” with portions excerpted from Gertrude Stein’s poem, “Lifting Belly.” [00:16:41][14.7]

Susan: [00:16:43] I have been heavy and had much selecting. I saw a star, which was low. It was so low, it twinkled. Breath was in it. Little pieces are stupid. I want to tell about fire. What is it when it’s upset? It isn’t in the room. Moonlight in darkness. Sleep and not sleep. We sleep every night. What was it? I said lifting belly. You didn’t say it. I said it. I mean, lifting belly. The stomach with its adjuncts, appetite, capacity for food, gluttony, the womb, the inside or interior of anything. A protuberant or bulging surface of anything. Lifting belly. Lifting belly. Cry. Lifting belly. Lifting belly. Splendid. Lifting belly is so kind. Lifting belly fatily. Doesn’t that astonish you? You did want me. Say it again. Strawberry. Lifting beside belly. Lifting kindly belly. Sing to me I say. When my lover touches me, I might relax. I might lie back and let my body spread across the bed like butter on warm toast, maybe bounce a little on the bed or floor or grass, wherever we are. Just bounce enough to be moving all over myself, to be loose and shaking on the high wide parts of both legs. My breasts bumping into each other and the fat tops of my arms. The knee pushing up, brushing up with my belly against hers rolling down, rolling with its own motion. Smaller trembles in the wide, tight fat against my own folds and looseness. Many bellies, mounds and valleys becoming mounds. Parts of her folding into parts of me, all soft thickness, big legs rubbing across big legs, parting the soft fat touching where they meet with a knee. Thick knee pushing into wetness. I might prop one heel up on a wall, might dangle the other off the side of the bed, might move the layers of her back in circles, pull it all up into my fist, then knead it back flat and slide my hands off to her complicated sides with its different curves of hanging belly, hanging breasts, hanging hips. I might anchor my feet and lift up to meet her, rubbing so hard that the bed creaks, that we both gasp, that we notice a bone. Lifting belly is current rolling. Lifting belly is so strong. Lifting belly is so strong. That is what I say. I say it to please me, please yourself with thunder. Or I might tense up, hollow out. She might lean too close and pinch me. I might remember dinner and our struggle over food. She says I gobble. It’s true. I rush like this plate might be my last. Like I’m not supposed to be eating. Like I’m doing something shameful. But too many people have told me that they can’t stand the sight of me eating. And hearing it from her shocks me. How come we’re both in pain about this? I chew slowly and clench my stomach. There’s a knot there she could feel hours later if I let her. But I turn on my side. Lifting belly is no joke, not after all. I am so discouraged about it. About lifting belly. I question. I am so discouraged about lifting belly. The other day there was a good deal of sunlight. There often is. There often is here. Use me as a pillow. Rock me and sing. Walk past men on the street with me. And never be ashamed of my breasts, of our fat arms, or our bellies. I will also rock you and also sing. I will memorize your body to recognize swellings. I will be on the beach with you, watching the ocean and remembering current rolling. I will be current rolling, even pouring sand against my own legs. We see a splendid force in mirrors. Angry, we are not angry. Pleasing. Lifting belly raining. I am good looking, a magazine of lifting belly. Excitement sisters. I am angry in the mirror and then again over the phone. How many boys shouted out of cars? How many men stood behind me and muttered? One man left his number on the subway seat. You don’t listen, you say. Thanks for sharing to quiet me down. Your pain won’t let you. Or maybe it’s trust. We have other issues. Lifting belly is such an incident in one’s life. Lifting belly is such an incident in one’s life. I don’t mean to be reasonable, shall I say thin. This makes me smile. Lifting belly. Exactly. Lifting belly all the time. Do be careful of me. Remarkably so. Remarkably a recreation. Lifting belly is so satisfying. Lifting belly to me. Large quantities of it. Say that you see that you are praised. Lifting belly. See that. [00:22:17][334.3]

May: [00:22:19] 30 big minutes with fat liberation is brought to you by Sappho’s Bosom Spa, where we rent hot tubs to hot tubs. Our next segment will take us to the rehearsal hall of the Zaftig Follies, where we join the cultural correspondent Angela Rip off. Angela? [00:22:34][14.6]

Jude Gage O’Brien/Angela Ripoff: [00:22:34] Thank you, May I’m here at the rehearsal studio with the Zaftig Follies celebrating their phenomenal success as an all fat musical dance troupe. With me are Judith, Marcia and Meri, all featured performers with the Follies. Tell me, Judith, why an all fat musical theater troupe? [00:22:52][18.0]

Judith: [00:22:53] Why not? There are a lot of very talented, creative, fat women who are not able to have another outlet for their creativity and talents. We’re trying to change that. But in the meantime, the Zaftig Follies gives us a chance to show our stuff. [00:23:06][13.2]

Jude/Angela Ripoff: [00:23:07] I see. And has the group been successful? How have you been received, Marcia? [00:23:11][4.0]

Marcia: [00:23:13] Well, at first I was really scared to perform, even though I wanted to be in a fat dance troupe. I was worried that the audience would laugh and make fun of us. But it was just the opposite and has been from the beginning. People have loved us. We always get standing ovations. And the best part is the fat women who feel good because of seeing us and come and talk to us backstage or write to us. So many women have told us about beginning to use their bodies to do sports or to dance after they saw us. It’s a good feeling to have helped other women feel better about themselves. I’m sure glad I took the risk to join the Follies. [00:23:52][39.1]

Jude/Angela Ripoff: [00:23:53] Hmm. Meri, what’s your special appeal to an audience? [00:23:56][2.6]

Meri: [00:23:57] Well, Angela, I think it’s because we provide entertainment with a message. We make people think. We make people feel good, and we leave them tapping their feet to our tunes. [00:24:07][9.7]

Jude/Angela Ripoff: [00:24:07] Would you perform a few of your hits for a listening audience? [00:24:10][2.3]

All: [00:24:10] We’d love to. [Singing to the tune of On The Street Where You Live.] Many times have I dieted before, but the diets failed and then I’d have to try some more. Now I understand and the truth is ground. I am simply the size I should be. People stop and stare, try to hassle me. But I know that I’m the size that I was meant to be. Just as some are tall, some are big or small. Now I know I can live with that pride. And, oh, that powerful feeling just to know each other is near. To feel self-hatred run reeling, as every second more self-loathing will appear. Now the world must change. Stop oppressing me. Or let’s rearrange until the truth is really seen. Healthy, strong and free, we will ever be. In our pride and our strength as fat dykes. [00:25:24][73.4]

Marcia: [00:25:26] [Singing to the tune of I Could Have Danced All Night.] I spent my life on a diet. Each different sort, I’d try it. And still, I weigh the same. Nobody understood that I was being good. So then I got the blame. You’ll never know the agony I felt then. ‘Til all at once I heard the news. [00:26:01][34.6]

All: [00:26:04] [Song continues with several voices joining in.] Diets all fail the same, no matter what their name. And now I’m healthy, strong, and fat. [We’ve joined with?] others now, we’ll change the world somehow to end this fear of fat. We know our myths, their lies that taught us to despise our body size. Does that show variations, wide and tall? Some folks are fat and some are small. Now we will live, you see, from fat oppression free. We’re living strong and proud and fat. [00:27:02][58.6]

Jude/Angela Ripoff: [00:27:04] Wonderful. Thank you. Zaftig follies. Oh, and one last question. Where do you find those great bras with spangles in your sizes? [00:27:12][8.4]

Susan: [00:27:13] Well, Angela, come on backstage and I’ll show you. [00:27:16][2.6]

Jude/Angela Ripoff: [00:27:17] Gee, thanks. Back to you, May. [00:27:18][1.8]

May: [00:27:19] We’re out of time for today on 30 Big Minutes with Fat Liberation. My guests have been Marcia Duvall, Jude Gage O’Brien, Meridith Lawrence, Judith Stein, and Susan Stinson. A note on our poets: Judy Freespirit is a fat activist about to publish her first book, “Free Spirit in the Flesh,” this September. Watch for it. Barbara Ruth is a radical, lesbian feminist, a beautiful, fat, disabled woman currently living on the West Coast. Susan Stinson is an adorable fat lesbian living in Jamaica Plain, and she will publish a poem in the next issue of Sinister Wisdom. Song lyrics by Judith Stein. The engineer for this program has been Melanie Berzon. For International Women’s Day, I’m May Roe. [00:28:03][44.3]

WMBR Announcer: [00:28:04] For more information on fat liberation, write Boston Fat Liberation, 137 Tremont Street, Cambridge 02139. You’re listening to WMBR at MIT celebrating International Women’s Day. Give us a call at 494-8810. [00:28:04][0.0]

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