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Report on the NAAFA convention

Enjoy, beth666ann!

9:20pm, 26 May 01
Went to the NAAFA conference. The registration desk wasn't open. I looked in the Trunk Sale rooms, but I couldn't find my friend I had come to meet up with. I collected a bunch of brochures and headed up to the 5th floor because I thought some people would be selling clothes out of their room up there. A conventionally attractive tall guy got in the elevator with me and smiled and talked to me and tried to be helpful (he said that no one was selling out of their rooms right now, and I said I had just arrived and was trying to find my friend, and he asked her name). I found that a very interesting experience because in the real world conventionally attractive guys almost never smile at me in that way. I found it a bit disconcerting to be honest, even though he didn't seem creepy or anything. It reminded me of an interview on E! with Gwynyth Paltrow, about her new movie where she wears a fat suit for part of the movie (she wears a fat suit instead of having a fat actress play the part because the point of the movie is that someone falls in love with a fat chick and "sees" her in his mind's eye as "beautiful". Now, it drives me up a tree that they have to show a "thin" woman in order to express that her lover finds her "beautiful," but that's Hollywood.) Anyway, she said that she put on the fat suit and went into the lobby of this swanky hotel and it really upset her because no one paid any attention to her. I thought that I rather like not being paid attention to much of the time, and it would be damned annoying to go into the lobby of a hotel and have all sorts of strangers paying attention to me. So I guess it is about what you're used to.

So no one was selling out of their rooms, and I went back to the Trunk Sale rooms and looked around, feeling self-conscious. I ran into my friend G (not the person I was to meet up with, but seeing her helped me relax a bit). Then I saw Cathy who runs Big on Batik and I relaxed some more. I have bought a lot of her stuff over the years. Her husband was with her. I hadn't met him before, because in the past I've always seen her at women-only conventions. He was also smiley and helpful. I bought a "bare back" top from her. Unfortunately she is no longer making the fringed caftan tops in NONSHRINKING rayon that I love. She said that there was too much competition in that particular cut.

I also tried on an item from Sandie's Boutique for size. She didn't have anything I wanted in my size, but she had a lot of very beautiful fabrics, including "tie dye purple stretch velvet" and "sparkle poodle" and "sheer red velvet burnout." She bragged about how people think she and her daughter are sisters and how she might be a grandmother but she didn't want to dress like one. I said "We just have to change the idea of how grandmothers are supposed to dress." I hate it when people have negative attitudes about age, but I will save that rant for another time.

I got bored with shopping and wandered to the other end of the hotel where M's dance class was going to be. R, the instructor for another movement class, was there. She had the shape of a typical skinny personal trainer type and I was suspicious of her. I figured I would just get a glass of water and sit down for a minute, but she came over and introduced herself. I ended up staying for her class, which involved a lot of core-muscle-group strength training. It was pretty good -- R has a good sense for large bodies and how they move. I was mildly annoyed that because I had told R I was not currently doing much exercise (by which I meant I'd let my exercise habit slack off for about a month so I am currently on the "more weak and out of shape" end of my fitness curve) she seemed to assume I had never done any, and she came across a bit patronizing.

So then I stayed for M's class. My friend who was supposed to be going to it didn't show up but a couple of other people I knew from other conferences were there. I am frustrated with one aspect of M's teaching style, but I had fun learning the routine and dancing it in front of the other group. M wanted to go out to the hotel lobby to do it for an audience, but we didn't.

I was exhausted after 3 hours of movement classes. Three of us went to the pool, which was a really big T-shaped one with a nice hot tub, but it had a domed glass ceiling which created a lot of sharp echoes (there were some non-NAAFA folks in the pool having a loud game of "volleyball"). I sat in the hot tub for a while but I was too tired to push my way into any of the conversations that were happening. So I got into the pool instead, which was very pleasantly cold, and I paddled around for about 15 minutes. I decided I was too exhausted to go to the next event, which was a formal dinner-and-dance, and I went home.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2001 05:48 pm (UTC)
I noticed a tendency in both your posts to see thin people as somehow "The Enemy". I don't think thin people see fat people as "The Enemy", although I do not claim to speak for the majority of any group.

I realize you do work to not be blinded by that bias, which is why it really doesn't bother me that much. I just think you would be happier if you could reach the point where you could say "I am content. Mostly I get what I want out of life, and if the cultural icons in our society don't have my body type, fuck 'em, I am happy with my life and I wouldn't want to be famous anyway".

One thing I think TV and other passive media do is convince people that the world is this great big narrative that isn't about them in the slightest. Fat people and other minority groups feel particularly alienated because the people whom this great big narrative is allegedly about don't even look remotely like them.

My answer to this is to try and find your own story and lay off passive entertainment. I almost never watch TV and am happier for it. It makes me appreciate my own life more. Even though looking the part of someone who our society's narrative is about is a bit of a project of mine, it doesn't mean it is about me any more than it is about bi, poly, pagan fat grrls, people older than 25, poor black people, flaming/butching gay people, mentally impaired people or third world people. I don't take it personally. They can tell thier stories, I can tell mine. And if thier story implies that my story is dull and without value, I simply turn theirs off.

May. 27th, 2001 07:04 pm (UTC)
Most thin people don't see fat people as the enemy. Some do, based on some of the harrassment and tormenting that I and every other fat person I have ever talked to has received.

The negative remark about feeling patronized had nothing to do with the instructor's being thin; I have had similar patronizing behavior from fat physical fitness instructors.

I have spent most of my life assiduously ignoring the feeling of being left out of most everything, and I am currently finding it interesting to explore the notion of "Hey, I'm actually kind of mad about that."

I mostly agree with you about media. I do find some of it amusing but mostly all I watch is Animal Planet.
May. 28th, 2001 12:42 am (UTC)
Explore yeah, honestly admit to some ligitimate resentment, yeah.....and then I suggest getting over it. You aren't going to change anything. No matter how mad you get about people not drooling over you like a supermodel or even giving you a modacum of basic respect, you aren't going to change them.

On I-75 near Ocala, the fastest lane is closed to trucks. So they tailgate people in the middle lane to force them out of thier way. For maybe five or six times, I would slow down in front of them, full of rightious wrath. Then, I realized that had to get where I was going without ending up a hood ornament on a semi, of which there is a near infinite supply, and just got out of thier way. Am I encouraging such behavior...well yes...but I can't change it, not matter how much I get mad and try to "punish" them for it. I just risk injury and needlessly disturb my peace of mind with no hope of accomplishing anything.

I think the moral of the story applies in your case I am afraid.
May. 28th, 2001 02:29 am (UTC)
I do all those things at various times -- explore, resent, and live-with. I don't tend to act dangerously when I resent stuff, so I am not sure why you think the moral of your story applies to me.
May. 27th, 2001 09:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks much, Firecat. I enjoyed the report. No wonder you were exhausted after three hours of exercising!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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