When I sat down to write this intro for Toni, I couldn’t recall how we first connected, so I went researching. I checked my messages on FB, both to my personal account as well as the FGR page. Nothing. I searched the FB group where I thought I posted a message and Toni responded. Nope. I then checked 4 other groups. No. No Toni. I felt terrible and I’m admitting it. I hate when I cannot recall personal details or interactions with someone. It feels, disrespectful to me. And particularly with this brain-fart. Because…well, I’m all ga-ga about Galata. (Yes, I’ve been waiting to type that, it’s been stuck in my head!) Seriously though, I feel so privileged to have “met” each of our contributors, to read what they’ve been willing to share. Each time I read an FGR Chats response or a post submission, I felt like I connected with each person.

However, me being the over-thinking and awkward one, I’m at a loss for what to do next with these new tender connections. Like now, with Toni, I’m at the point where I wonder “What will she think of me if I send a FB friend request? Too familiar, too soon? I already connected on LinkedIn because she DEALS WITH DATA TOO! But FB? Do I make the first move? I DON’T KNOW!!!!”

I know, I know, it’s just a FB friend request…but here’s why I want to send it! Read all about Toni, in her own words.

Who are you?

I’m a working-mom, a fat-activist, a data-warrior, and a smart-alec. Can you tell I like my life hyphenated?

What are you hoping to accomplish during your time on our planet?

My superpower is kindness. If my legacy is that people felt loved by me, and then were able to turn some of that love out into the world, I would be content.

Do you feel heard as a fat consumer? If so, what companies do you think are really listening?

I think as a super-fat or infini-fat (I vary between these two) I’m not particularly heard. It’s revolutionary for any products to be catered to my particular size body. Brands like Universal Standard are getting closer (though their sizing is a little wonky for me so far) but most brands that are plus size staples simply STOP before my size. Size 30+ women aren’t heard by many!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

If I could wave my magic world-changing wand, I would make body diversity basic knowledge for all humans. This not only includes size, but color, shape, gender (or non-gender) etc. All bodies deserve respect, all bodies are good bodies.

Are you comfortable talking about being a fat/plus/bigger person?

Yes absolutely. I know it is the very first thing that new people notice about me. I am a tall, fat woman. (5’10” and 475 lbs last time I was on a scale). If I couldn’t talk about it, I would be erasing myself from every conversation.

How did you get involved in the fat/plus community?

First through Tumblr, and then Instagram. I began following plus- size models, style influencers and realized that by adding larger bodies into my media feed, it was changing the way I felt and thought. I then wanted to become a plus- size model/influencer myself. That didn’t come to much, but I got involved with body positive movements, and then evolved to fat positive movements as “body positivity” became more thin and small-fat focused.

The journey to accepting and even loving yourself, are you on that journey? If so, at what point are you?

I feel really lucky that I was raised by a mother who was herself fat, and also very body neutral. She didn’t diet or hate her body. She’s a seamstress and made me the most amazing clothing when we couldn’t find things to fit me. I had a rough childhood, being fat my whole life, but I never felt my body was BAD. Because of that blessing, I think I’m pretty far down in this journey. Do I have bad days? Hell yes. But I know that they are temporary. Most of my pain now comes not from how I look, but from how I’m treated, and how I’m denied access.

What do you think are some of the issues that need to be addressed with the body positive movement?

I have such a hot/cold relationship with body positivity. Initially, it was a place for fat people to come together and show our bodies and our beauty. It was a safe space. Then it became bigger, and thin, white women started being centered more and more. The day I gave up on BP all together was when a thin white woman (size 12 maybe?) sat in such a way she had two tiny little rolls on her belly. This picture blew up about how groundbreaking it was and how women should love their bodies. I was so mad. How dare they take up this space, this conversation?

Until body positivity starts centering the discussion around larger fats, POC, and LGBTQ people (and allll those intersections) it’s just a corporate tool to sell face masks and leggings.

What do you consider the most frustrating thing about being a fat person? The most pleasant thing about being a fat person?  

Frustrating is access. The constant mental energy of planning my life around my size. Will I fit in my co-worker’s car ok when we go to lunch, or should I drive? Will the restaurant have armless chairs and moveable tables? Will I have to put my body in people’s faces just to get to my table? Will this work trip require a flight? How do I book two seats when using my corporate card? Can I fly southwest? Will this training room have armless chairs? Will I have bruises on my hips tonight? Can I use this toilet? This shower? This taxi? – It is EXHAUSTING.

The best thing? For me, being free of the heteronormative, westernized, capitalist beauty ideal. I’m already so far out of that mold that I don’t feel pressure to dress a certain way, or shave my legs, or have perfect hair. I’m already “not that girl!”

Why do you think many who embrace the current zeitgeist of equality/equity/representation/non-judgment still don’t carry these values over to fat folks?

I honestly believe that it comes from a place of privilege and social currency. Even with all the scientific studies in the world, some people refuse to believe that fat people are just fat. They will stay fat, and they may or may not be healthy, but it has nothing to do with their size.

They’ve been told their whole life that thin is healthy. That working out is a MORAL obligation. That eating a salad means you are a better person than that burger-eater over there. If we strip that away, if we say all bodies are good, and yours isn’t better…. Then what about all of their sweat, and calorie counting, and zoodles and hunger? What was it for? They are scared of losing their moral high ground.

One last question, because I prefer even numbers on lists…what fun guilty pleasure are you willing to share?

I am such a homebody. I love to stay in, play video games with my husband, and bake with my daughters. I am not terribly outdoorsy, and I feel like people equate that with lazy. Maybe my guilty pleasure is being lazy!

FOLLOW TONI:

IG = fat_mom_techie

OUR SURVEYS THAT TONI HAS KINDLY TAKEN, WILL YOU?

  1. The Basics: What Do You Say? Comfortable Enough to Talk About It?
  2. Share Your Flare?
  3. How Deep is Your Need?

MORE FROM TONI ON FGR:

Infinifat Experience