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Chronic Illness Girl

Perzine/Comic, Katie Tastrom, Issue 1, [email protected], $5 or PWYC

Katie Tastrom hits exactly the right chord in terms of charm, lived experience, and grounded advice that will actually (for real) help those navigating the medical community as fat-bodied folks. Though they don’t owe it to anyone to be charming, charm is just an irrevocable quality of the informed and nuanced first issue of their zine, Chronic Illness Girl. A combination of illustration, storytelling, and how-to guide, Katie’s long-form chronicle (or, as they refer to it, “origin story”) is full of whimsy and truth presented in a navigable, accessible way. Their story is one that is relatable to any fat-identified person suffering from chronic illness and is well-presented in relation to the myriad resources and tips they offer. (I would list Tastrom’s guide, “Fat hacks at the doctors” as essential reading for any fat person looking to navigate the traumas of medical care with (relatively) more ease — or, at least, preparation).

The zine itself is a little haphazardly thrown together and, likewise, the illustrations could be described — for lack of a better term — as technically lacking, but the rhetoric and positioning of this zine is never lost. Tastrom themself notes that the labour of producing a zine requires spoons already expended by those suffering from chronic illness, no doubt. While Chronic Illness Girl is by no means going to take home any medals for its visual aesthetic or complex story-telling, its merits in terms of real-world resources and truth of experience make me inclined to say “show me the lie.” Gold star. (Sarah-Tai Black)