I just returned home from Fat Girl Speaks in Portland, Oregon, the first show FGS has put on since 2004 (and the third one ever). The theme this year was “Every Day is a Revolution,” and although you could ultra-technically say they were preaching to the way-converted in me, the event — consisting of a bang-up fat-chick fashion show followed by a whole mess of voluptuously gifted (in every sense) performers — definitely caused a revolution in my own personal soul.
You see, I am a closeted…musician. I used to perform fairly regularly in coffeehouses in my 20s, but ever since I gained about a kajillion pounds about a decade ago from medication, I have appeared on stage only once — in the variety show Dangerous Curves in Seattle in 2004, wherein I sang my song about the Venus of Willendorf as part of the folk trio “The Willies.” (Yes, I know there is another band by that name; this was a one-off performance for charity only.) Let me tell you, as a fat performer, the idea that you can go onstage and know that you will be accepted for who you are by every single person in that room is a rare thrill indeed.
I have written more songs since then, but sadly, despite that one-shot deal I have been a horribly inhibited writer and performer and musician; despite playing multiple instruments and having a voice that has been complimented often (and even called “sexy” by some), I am often haunted by the idea that my talent “doesn’t count,” that I need to be ten times as great as younger, thinner, “cuter” women to get half the respect. And since I’m simply not 20 times as good as anyone else (how do you measure those things, anyway?), quite often I have squished my creative ideas like cockroaches under a giant Chuck Taylor for no very good rational reason at all.
But after seeing the fabulous Joy Nash reenact her “Fat Rant” video live, and FGS founder Stacy Bias do an amazing set of rockin’ numbers fronting Fatty and the Hamslappers (culminating in the showstopping “Bearded Clam”), and bellydancers Samina and Miasia bring down the house with their terpsichorean brilliance, and Jana Phoenix and Nedra Johnson applying their gorgeous blues voices to their gorgeous blues tunes, and way way way too much else to do justice to in a mere few paragraphs…my mind started moving away from, “Gee, it’s too bad the rest of the world isn’t as size-accepting as this room,” to, “Well, why the fucking hell isn’t it? And am I really going to sit around waiting until it is before I turn the damned microphone on? Or even buy one in the first place?”
Screw it. I am crashing rapidly towards 44 and the numbers are never going to go backwards. The numbers on the scale are unlikely to do so either any time soon, at least not in any permanent, meaningful sense. I have spent way too long hiding my big fat light under the biggest bushel I can find. It’s depressing me. It’s killing me. It must stop now. It is time for the Meowser Revolution, it is time I quit feeling sorry for myself because I wasn’t given the “physical gifts” of anyone from Joni Mitchell to Jessica Valenti, and work with what I bloody well do have. The world might not “need” my music as such, but it definitely does need me to be a lot less grumpy, victimized, stymied and frustrated.
Thank you, Stacy Bias, and everyone else involved in this show, on stage and off. You might just have saved a life.