This month we are publishing selections from Virgie Tovar’s book Hot & Heavy. In the first of five short essays Virgie sings a fat manifesto. No matter your size, her words inspire joy. Listen to her pride and confidence. Listen to her shout in the face of oppression and discrimination.
I was born into a world where fat women are outlaws: a band of lawless revolutionaries, fighting against myopic standards of beauty and archaic forms of femininity. A world where fat women are like Che Guevara meets RuPaul, like Thelma and Louise meets Madonna—the stuff of fantasies and legends. We are the eaters of the crème brûlée and the tiramisu. We are the cupcake warriors, the sensualists, the plus-size queens. We are flag-bearers in a turgidly anti-pleasure society.
Fat is a delicious, cute, little word. The f and the a slip off the tongue as if they were dipped together in melty mascarpone. And the hard t at the end reminds you that there’s a little punch to whomever is graced with the title. Oddly, the f-word is used to scare women, but it doesn’t scare me. My fat is political because when I show it off it really seems to piss people off. My fat is political because I’m keeping it. My fat is political because it’s fucking hot. My fat is my flag, my claim to fame, my battle scar, my secret fat girl society badge.
I live in a time of unprecedented freedom for women, the daughter borne of immigrant dreams and feminist fantasies. I have the freedom to own a company, terminate a pregnancy, remain fabulously single, and yet my freedom to be fat is heavily contested by my government, my community, my television set. As this book was written and edited, the War on Obesity had created a platform for polemicists to comment on the immorality of fat parents and for scientists to describe the alleged dumbing effects of fat on the brain.
As Don Kulick and Anne Meneley succinctly stated in Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession, “It isn’t just a chemical or biological fact. It is also a supremely cultural fact.” Discussions of fat people, especially women, become texts, documents, artifacts that we must dissect, analyze, and explore. As the deeply flawed public health sector decries fatness as a medical pathology, an epidemic that threatens the Western world, we can hear the familiar sounds of an age-old reminder: “be good.”
In the face of such platitudinous admonitions stands a bunch of big-ass, mouthy fat girls who wear fuchsia and feathers, who walk out in the world with bellies exposed and middle fingers raised. Take heed. Our bodies, our attitudes belie the polemics, unveil the truth: that being good doesn’t get you much besides the title. Our day in the sun is only as far as we make it. And for girls willing to forsake good, there is deliciousness of a different kind to be had.
In soliciting submissions for Hot & Heavy, I asked fierce, fabulous women to tell the stories of how exactly they came to be that way. This thing called “fierce” is a single word meant to capture an infinite number of possibilities. It is not a single destination arrived at through the same infallible process. In my life, fierce looks like pencil skirts and cleavage, burlesque stardom and satin sheets. But we each decide what this word means to us. We do fierce the way that we do fierce. And what you’re about to read are the ways that thirty-one women walk in fierce fatness. One for every day of the month.
When I conceived of the idea for this book, I thought, “This will be my chance to show the world how hot and amazing and fabulous fat girl life can be.” And as with any project of fabulous-making, I secretly sought to hide the stories that complicate what fabulous really is. As a burlesque performer, I can tell you that fabulous looks flawless. When we’re on stage, no hair seems out of place, no sequin seems amiss. When we’re backstage, we are madly sewing things onto other things and gluing stuff to other stuff, and we do this to create an experience of perfection for the audience. If we can be that for you, then some part of us can be perfect, too. We hold your expectations, and they nourish us.
Sometimes we need someone who is—to us—flawlessly fabulous to give us the strength to do the things that might change our lives forever. I wanted to show you that and only that, but as I talked with the women who contributed to Hot & Heavy and as I read their words, I knew that editing out the complexity would be dishonest.
So, no piece in this book presents the picture-perfect image of body love nor is any piece in this book a tale of what life at the end of fat hatred or body hatred looks like. There is no such thing as “perfection.” There is no such thing as “the end.” But for those willing to step out into the limelight, there are beautiful secrets no diet or measuring tape can possibly reveal.
Fierceness is complicated. Fabulous lives in this book: in the words about great joy and hot sex and deep love, about delicious meals and amazing outfits, but also in the words about frustration and pain and loss.
Fabulous is so much more than just the sequins.
It’s easy to be a lot of things, but it’s not easy to be a fabulous fat girl. So, you’re an over-achiever! You like that little extra bit of attention, those envious glances, those moments of glory.
You’re in the limelight. So, strike a pose.
Submitted by Virgie Tovar, the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion. For more read Virgie’s blog and follow @virgietovar.