Posted by Pattie on 9/28/2005 09:07:00 AM

An Embarrassing Omission

There are so many things that influence one in writing a book, especially a memoir (after all it is a summary of a life and a life has many influences). So it is with great embarrassment that I must admit that I forgot an extremely important influence in the writing of Taking Up Space.

Close to 10 years ago, in a feminist bookstore in Gainesville, Florida, I ran across a beautiful book of black and white photos of nudes. This book was unusual because the women portrayed in this book were for the most part fat women. I flipped through the pages and was overwhelmed with that feeling one gets when they realize that they are seeing something they have been missing.

Here was beauty in my size.

I was only beginning to understand what it meant to feel beautiful and appreciate beauty in larger people. The book, Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes was the right book at the right time for me. I bought it immediately and it is one of the few books I have kept with me on the road.

About six months after buying the book, I was taking a course at University of Florida called "Philosophy of Culture." I wrote a paper in that course about French Philosopher Luce Irigaray's search for "the other of the other of a woman." Without getting too academic here, Irigaray was basically asking the question if it was possible to define what a woman is and is expected to be without using men as the "other." My paper asserted that fat women were an "other" of the feminine woman and that is what makes us so threatening. I further argued that appreciating the beauty of fat women and, indeed, of fatness could create a radical shift in culture and economics.

That paper was the basis for the section of our book called "Looking Good."

Women En Large was an important and key element to helping me appreciate the beauty of fat. I regret terribly that I forgot to mention that debt in the acknowledgements.

I especially regret it because last night I got an e-mail from Debbie Notkin (the author of the text in Women En Large. She and her collaborator and photographer, Laurie Toby Edison have a wonderful blog that she was hoping I could let readers of fattypatties know about.

If you get a chance take a look at body impolitic . It is a blog about body image, body issues and culture. I haven't had a chance yet to read most of it, but I find the entries intelligent and thought-provoking. What I like most is that the discussion is framed by Laurie's beautiful photographs.

Makes me think a lot about bodies and beauty even when the discussion has nothing to do with either.

I hope you will check it out and I hope this repays in a small way the debt I owe to Debbie and Laurie for expanding my view of the world.