Virgie Tovar’s Reading List for the Fat Babe Feminist Revolution
The author of ‘You Have the Right to Remain Fat,’ on her recommended books to start a personal body justice revolution
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
So you’re an ahead-of-the-curve babe who senses something just iiiisn’t quite right with the current cultural paradigm around food, weight and body size. Congratulations! This is step one in what will certainly become the global takeover of woke folk who don’t give a fuck about carbs.
Have you heard of fatphobia? It’s an ideology based in bigotry that positions fat people as inferior and weight gain as a sign of immorality. I wrote about it in my new book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat. There are a lot of weird, fatphobic things that are embedded in our everyday life — like our cultural obsession with being as small as possible, insisting that potato chips or cookies are “evil,” the belief that weight-loss is a sign of self-improvement, and the idea that larger people make unworthy romantic partners or job candidate.
It took me a long time to question all this stuff and how it all was kinda totally ruining my life. I dieted and starved myself for almost two decades, believing it was my job to become a thin person. I put my life on hold believing that I would do everything that mattered to me later — when I was thin. That day never came. Today I’m a 250 pound woman who trolls patriarchy while wearing tiny bathing suits, bright lipstick and huge sunglasses.
Reading books about was finally able to break out of that never-good-enough mentality when I started reading books about fat activism and fat feminism. Here’s a list of my personal favorites. Think of it as a starter kit for your own personal body justice revolution:
Dietland by Sarai Walker
Sarai is one of the smartest feminists on the planet. She understands subtle stuff about gender and how the diet industry is a sexist racket. She channels all her insights into this riveting novel. It’s actually a TV show on AMC now starring Joy Nash. Keywords: feminist retaliatory terror, critique of “Waist Watchers,” get ready to be both entertained and have your damn mind blown.
Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement by Charlotte Cooper
I met Charlotte when she did a keynote at a conference when I was a baby fat activist. She blew my mind with her British accent and all her amazing stories about being a large trouble maker. She even had a girl gang called The Chubsters. In her latest book, she writes about the history and historical importance of fat activism from an insider perspective.
Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley
Before I knew Jessamyn I was her Instagram stalker. She was documenting her body in a way I’d never seen anyone else — offering unedited images of the fat body in super complex yoga poses. This book includes lots of those images, and is all about how yoga (and movement) doesn’t have a weight limit.
Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness & Transgression by Kathleen LeBesco and Jana Evans Braziel
This book is for theory fans and high nerds — people who are ready to get super deep into the nuance of weight discrimination and fatphobia (me!). If you want to understand how fatness is a metaphor for capitalist heteropatriarchy, this is the book for you.
The Fat Studies Reader by Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solovay
An easy-to-understand primer for people who are new to the study of how our culture thinks about fatness and treats fat people. This book is a collection of essays written from different perspectives on the intersections of things like fatness and gender, race, and class.
Big Big Love by Hanne Blank
Sexy sex sex. This is the only instructional book written on the subject of fat sex. It covers an array of topics, from positions to communication and negotiation.
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
If you want to understand the issue of weight and body size from a deeply scientific perspective, this is the book for you. Health at Every Size argues that thinness is not a sign of health and fatness is not a sign of illness. The book outlines a set of well-researched principles for understanding health through a weight neutral lens.
Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life by Miss Piggy
Fat Babe #1 — Miss P — offers all of her secrets on how to live a robust, highly feminine, and unapologetic life. Her book includes many aspirational photographs of Miss P dressed as, for instance, Joan Collins circa Dynasty as well as advice on how to make a chocolate pudding face mask and hors d’oeuvre etiquette.
Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion by Virgie Tovar
Duh, I have to rep my own books. That’s rule #1 for being a fat lady feminist writer person. Hot & Heavy is a collection of 31 essays by fat women who all answer the question: How did you learn to love yourself and stop dieting? From motherhood to pecan pie to dancing to Taco Bell, their stories will make you cry and laugh and have all the feelings.