This past weekend, we were in Las Vegas for the 50th NAAFA Convention.
NAAFA – National Association for Fat Acceptance.
No, this is not a joke.
NAAFA is a civil rights organization for fat people.
NAAFA’s goal is to help build a society in which people of every size are accepted with dignity and equality in all aspects of life. NAAFA will pursue this goal through advocacy, public education, and support.
For the past “x” number of years, I have had a love-hate relationship with NAAFA.
I am not the only one who has had issues with NAAFA.
However, I have always felt that NAAFA’s core mission is important.
I could fill pages and pages how fat people are discriminated against just on the basis of weight.
Add to that the intersectionality of being fat with other oppressed groups, and it gets even uglier.
There is only 1 state (Michigan) and 6 cities (Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA; Urbana, IL; Madison, WI; Washington D.C.; and Binghamton, NY) where fat people are protected from discrimination under the law.
Everywhere else we are fair game; and the game sucks. Hard.
I did not have high hopes for this convention. NAAFA has been facing some very hard times.
But the Board of Directors (Peggy Howell and Darliene Howell, and Tigress Osborne), pulled off an amazing convention with the help of many folks in the fat community.
There were not a lot of panels, but the ones we attended (one on relationships given by Dan Oliviero author of The Round World: Life at the Intersection of Love, Sex and Fat) and one on entrepreneurship (given by Jamie Lopez, founder of Baby Doll Beauty Couture, a beauty salon which caters to fat people) were very good; and from what we heard the other panels were just as good.
The key note speakers (Bill Fabrey – founder of NAAFA; Jes Baker; and Dr. Joy Cox) were wonderful.
While NAAFA still struggles to achieve more diversity in its membership, it was heartening to see that with this convention there seemed to be an influx of young(er) attendees and people of color.
There also seemed to be a good representation of people who hope to improve the lives of fat people through their studies, outreach, entrepreneurship, art, and activism.
Satu Vuorenmaa (owner of Big on Batik and Plush Cat Style), with the help of her crew (Tiina Vuorenmaa and Andrew Allen) took photos throughout the conference, plus at designated times in order to create a collection of photos for NAAFA to use in its own brochures, memes and promotional material.
Bill and I were honored to receive the Frances White Volunteer Award for our work on the NAAFA Newsletter. (I merely help drafting the news roundup; but Bill edits the whole thing – and puts (much needed) polish on the news items I round up). We worked with Frannie for many years. She was known for procuring beautiful pieces of art glass to donate to NAAFA for auctions. They presented us with one of those pieces. We kept the lovely metal plaque, but asked that NAAFA keep the vase. If we brought that home, our cats would have been, “For us?” It is too lovely to be turned into cat shatter.
NAAFA seems to be at a turning point; where it is (finally) appreciating its members and what they can achieve for the organization. NAAFA seems to be ready to hand off the baton to a new generation of fat folks and their allies, so that its important work can continue.
I sure hope so, because there are some amazing people out there ready to move the organization and the fat community forward into a better and happier world for all of us.