Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fat and Athletic

FatLand SpyClimb was a game played by kids in FatLand: The Early Days. The object of the abbreviated version that most kids played was to climb fences up and down as quickly as possible. The first one to make it down the other side of the fence won.

The full version included cutting part of the fence and making enough room for someone to slide under. This was usually only played/enacted by FIN (FatLand Intelligence Network) members. And occasionally, their kids.

Roberta Held (her last name means "hero" in Yiddish) was the female protagonist I admired most in the story. She was all I would have liked to be: organized, super-intelligent, brave, determined, very athletic. She was the one who played the full version of FatLand Spyclimb because her parents were FIN (FatLand Intelligence Network) members. She then enacted it during her FIN training.

She was called upon to free a member of her archival team who had become trapped in the Safe House Zone security apparatus. She did this by performing what she had been taught about wire cutting in FIN, and about FatLand security apparatus wire cutting specifically.

She also walked long distances as a child. She was strong, healthy and fat. Not a combination of words most people have been taught to put together in our culture (American). Or in most cultures, these days.

And yet there are a growing number of fat people who are exactly that: strong, healthy and fat. "Strong" in itself used to be a taboo for a woman. Now that taboo has been broken, and many people are thrilled that there are both women and men who are strong. And some of these women and men happen to be fat.

Ragen Chastain, a strong fat athlete -or "fathlete" has a blog about her own struggles and triumphs in becoming accepted as a fat athlete, and wider issues of Fat Acceptance/Liberation, as well. It is called "Dances with Fat." I recommend it to skeptics.

She and Roberta Held have a lot in common.

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