Fat Girls and Size Queens
Alternative Publications and the Visualizing of Fat and
Queer Eroto-politics in Contemporary American Culture
In the zines FaT GiRL: A Zine for Fat Dykes and the Women Who Want Them and Size Queen: For Queen Size Queers and Our Loyal Subjects, members of fat and queer pride movements produce textual and visual selves that center on their culturally contested bodies. Joining the personal and political in these activist objects, the zines simultaneously use and reject conventional ideas and ideals of deviant bodies to reinvent marginalized fat and queer identities. This is important for activist movements that work to find and infiltrate spaces within American culture to form self-representative and self-loving communities. An examination of these zines begins to tell us about how fatness, gender, and sexuality inform each other and are mapped onto bodily artifacts and politics in contemporary American (sub)cultures.
In her groundbreaking book Revolting Bodies? The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity, fat studies scholar Kathleen LeBesco examines numerous discourses around fat bodies. She emphasizes the importance of communities that “are attempting to create and regulate a new social reality through the use of the written and spoken word” (LeBesco, 2004, p.4). She does so because of the value that she places on gender theorist Judith Butler's concept of “locutionary acts, which [when] repeated, become entrenched practices and, ultimately, institutions” (quoted in LeBesco, 2004, p. 4). Both LeBesco's and Butler's interest in linguistic repetition, or performativity, strongly informs my own work here on the visual self-representations produced in FaT GiRL and Size Queen. My project focuses on the centrality of visual imagery in the creation of the corporeal and discursive subcultural subjects that both embody the kinds of practices and form the institutions these theorists note as central to the production of the viable subject.
FaT GiRL: A Zine for Fat Dykes and the Women Who Want Them was created by a changing collective of self-identified fat dykes from the San Francisco Bay Area and published between 1994 and 1997. The zine contains images and text, including drawings, photographs, cartoons, poetry, prose, reviews, and transcribed roundtable discussions. FaT GiRL was printed on newsprint paper and circulated throughout the