By Zoe Whittall
If you’ve been to a west-end bar bathroom in Toronto lately you may have noticed the words FAT FEMME MAFIA scrawled in sharpie across a wall. At the opening of the Gladstone hotel, you may have been covertly stickered or handed a zine. You may have glanced up while clutching your overpriced cup at a beer garden during Pride ’06 to see two sassy ladies shaking their asses for the body love cause. The hype surrounding the FAT FEMME MAFIA may be momentary but Liz Brockfest and Chelsey Lichtman have longevity in mind when it comes to spearheading the chub revolution. These two mafia dons plan to get up in the face of fat-phobes. They explain via email: “We want to challenge attitudes produced by mass media that depict fat as either invisible or disgusting, by positioning our fat bodies as desirable, sexy, healthy, and competent.”
The FFM wants to make fat activism a vibrant and overt presence in Toronto. “Fat issues are discussed among friends, people wear “fat and proud” buttons and we place our fat selves on dance floors and shake it shamelessly…but we want to put fat activism back on stage, make it more political.” The FFM wants to be bigger and louder, and let go of the idea of fat as campy. “Not that campy can’t be sexy, but we want to draw attention to the fact that our bodies can move and look just as sexy as any other body.” Lots of fat activist troupes, like the now defunct Pretty, Porky & Pissed Off, were definitely on the campier side of things. The FFM cites PPPO as an inspiration. “Before Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off we didn’t even know fat activism existed.”
The FEMME in FFM is just as vital a moniker. “By using the words femme and mafia in our name paired with fat, it brings about a sexy mysteriousness. When we go out we are either wearing fat femme mafia stickers or people know about us. Our activism is driven by militancy and clenched fists. We mean business.”
For those readers unfamiliar with the term femme, it definitely, in this case, signifies feminine and queer. “Right now our activism is largely occurring within the queer community. We talk a lot with each other about the way fat femme bodies are internalized within queer communities. Overall we find people pay more attention to the fat aspect of our group rather than the femme.”
FFM’s unofficial slogan has become, If you’re not part of the revolution you’re part of the problem. “If you have a body type that reflects the media ideal, you have more of a choice to make your body a point of political discussion or not. We are concentrated mostly within the west-end queer community at places like the Gladstone where straight indie geek kids and queers interact with one another, and essentially it’s the same thing with the queers and the straights for us. We’re going to assume you’re a fat-phobe unless you show us that you’re not. Because in queer communities our bodies are synonymous with fat activism, we feel most comfortable there. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to attempt to shake up the world outside.”
The FFM does like to recruit. “We’re always looking for new members or anyone that wants to cook for us, clean for us and then take our picture.”
To get a copy of the Fat Femme Mafia Manifatso or to join the revolution, email firstname.lastname@example.org.