Thursday, June 26, 2014

The tribal connection

The Native American tribe who held the land on which FatLand was built were consulted and asked if they would like to arrange somehow to take back the land they had once owned, and which FatLand would lease from them. They said that they did not believe in borders, but that they would be happy to lease the land. So it is the case that the lease FatLand holds is held by the tribe and not the state. If one looks at the lease, one will see the signature of the tribe elders, with their tribal seal.

The first FatLand Board asked the tribe if they would bless the land and also told them that they were free to pass between FatLand and the OtherSide/USA. The tribe said that they appreciated the freedom of passing and asked the medicine person if he would bless the land. He did so. Afterward members of the tribe and FatLanders celebrated together. On FatLand's Founding Day ceremonies, tribe members are always present.

For a long time FatLand did not publicize this connection because they did not wish to bring trouble to the tribe. However, when relations between the OtherSide/USA and FatLand were established, FatLand began to mention the connection, with the permission of the tribe.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Restaurant bigotry in the time of the Pro-Health and Diet Laws

As many FatLand residents noted, it wasn't so much that restaurants kicked them out before and during the first couple of years of the Pro-Health and Diet Laws. It was more that the maitre d's made excuses not to seat them -"Sorry, the restaurant is full now"- or gave them the least desirable seats in the restaurant(s). "Um, I'd really prefer something a little further from the kitchen? There isn't anyone sitting in the front at all."

Or they said that a special party had rented the restaurant. "All of it?"

Or they said that all the empty tables were reserved. "All of them?"

Or they said that the restaurant only seated couples during the last two hours. "Really? Then I guess single people are out of luck here."

Or they said that a special tasting dinner was being served at $120 per person that night. "Are they tasting gold crumpets?"

Or they said that there were no seats that could fit us.

Or they said that the bathrooms were too small for us to fit in them.

It was an atmosphere, more than anything else - an atmosphere of fear and loathing, of hate, of bigotry, of discrimination at its most blatant.

This is how one knows that it's time to leave...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Project Pushback

When relations were reestablished with the Other Side/USA and when citizens of FatLand were allowed freely into the OtherSide/USA and vice versa, the FatLand Senate met to discuss a new project, entitled Project Pushback.

For years, the OtherSide/USA had published articles in their media denouncing and mocking FatLand, even and especially when studies revealed that FatLand had lower all around mortality rates than the OtherSide/USA. But with the repeal of the Pro-Health and Diet Laws, OtherSiders began to become more interested in FatLand and what it had to offer. Ironically. now that the terror of the Pro-Health administration was no more, FatLand was more interested than even in drawing visitors and emigrants from the OtherSide/USA. The FatLand Senate especially felt that FatLand would be able to acquire a larger population (in numbers, that is) and thus more land if it attracted more people who would become residents.

At first, some FatLanders were in favor of writing nasty articles about the OtherSide, and they could have easily done so, given the history of relations/non-relations with -and threats from- the OtherSide. But soon cooler thoughts prevailed, and sneakier heads inclined toward writing articles of praise for places on the OtherSide that were kind and just to fat people. Their reasoning was that people from the OtherSide would be more attracted to FatLand if FatLand media praised the efforts of the OtherSide to free themselves from the legacy of the hate enabled by the Pro-Health and Diet Laws, and talked about places most welcoming to fat people in the OtherSide/USA. Reverse psychology, as it were.

And it worked. The number of residents in FatLand almost doubled in a year and a half's time.

Now the FatLand Senate could with some justice claim that FatLand needed more land.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Peggy Elam and Pearlsong Press: Healing the World One Book at a Time

I was going to try to summarize and paraphrase Peggy Elam's thoughtful and deeply felt blog post about how and why she founded Pearlsong Press. But she explains it so beautifully that I would not wish to take anything away from her own description.

So here it is - all about Pearlsong Press: its founding and the vision of its owner.

the HAES® files: Healing the World One Book at a Time

by Peggy Elam, PhD
There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. ~Junot Diaz
Almost two decades ago when exercise physiologist Glenn A. Gaesser, PhD was seeking a publisher for Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health—a book packed with scientific evidence of the hazards of dieting and the shaky foundation of weight-focused approaches to health—his agent informed him that he needed to include a photo with his book proposal in order to show prospective publishers he wasn’t fat. A thin person writing on the subject of weight and health had more credibility to publishers than a fat person with the same credentials.
Gaesser, who is thin, provided the photo. He met with several interested publishers before accepting a contract from Fawcett Columbine, who published Big Fat Lies in 1996.
It was several years after the book’s publication that I learned how its publication had hinged on the author’s having an “acceptable” body size. The knowledge infuriated me. It was bad enough that people with bodies larger than societal and medical ideals were seeing few positive representations of themselves in literature (or popular culture in general), but to have the route to traditional print publication of health-related nonfiction barred to fat people? Not acceptable.
At that time, I was already contemplating starting a publishing company that would pull together my expertise in journalism, English and psychology to publish fat-positive books and resources that support the Health At Every Size® approach. Learning of Gaesser’s experience was my tipping point. I founded Pearlsong Press, the only publishing company (to my knowledge) whose mission and vision include promoting fat-positive fiction and nonfiction and health, happiness and social justice at every size.
I established and still run a fat-positive publishing company because I want fat people’s voices and research and perspectives and opinions to be heard, especially when they challenge the status quo. I also want fat people to be able to see bodies similar to theirs portrayed positively in tales in which fat people live and love and have adventures and overcome challenges and thrive, providing not only a good read, but perhaps for some people, the first inkling that anyone can live happily ever after while fat.
Pearlsong Press was incorporated in October 2003. Our first book, Pat Ballard’s short story collection Dangerous Curves Ahead, was published in May 2004. Since then we have published more than 44 books, both fiction and nonfiction. In our books, Pearlsong author Frannie Zellman notes, “proud fat heroines spring to life and tell the world ‘I’m strong, hot and fat. Got a problem with that?’”
Zellman is author of The FatLand Trilogy novels, which are set in a near-future in which “pro-health” laws have become so oppressive that those wishing body liberation have established a territory  in which dieting is forbidden and large bodies are celebrated.  She also edits the Fat Poets Speak series.
The Fat Poets’ Society was formed in 2006 when Zellman taught a workshop in writing fat positive poetry at that year’s NAAFA convention. “Mary Ray Worley provided a sheet for attendees to sign their names and then dubbed us the Fat Poets’ Society,” Zellman says. “We wrote and wrote online as a Yahoo group, and all of the poems in Fat Poets Speak: Voices of the Fat Poets’ Society [published by Pearlsong Press in 2009 and featuring the work of Zellman, Kathy Barron, Anne S. Kaplan, Corinna Makris, and Leslie J. Owen] were drawn from this group.
“My heart almost broke with pride and appreciation when I read the poems our poets wrested from their bodies, minds and hearts,” Zellman adds. “You see, many and maybe even most of us were taught that people contained in poems — and especially women — were supposed to embody the culturally acceptable ideal of slimness. Fatness was taboo. Mentioning it as an issue was taboo. What these poems do is defy this taboo and speak of living life, loving, laughing, aching, revolting, reimagining the world and days spent in it as fat people, sometimes calling attention to our fatness, sometimes simply being in the world as fat people.
“For me, the message we bring so tellingly to other fat people, especially but not only women, is ‘We are not alone. We are all unique and yet we experience so much that is the same. We cannot be bypassed or not counted any longer. We write ourselves as who and what we are. We write fat poems. We write as fat people. And we are proud to do so.”
Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly, published April 2014, contains poems by some of the original Fat Poets’ Society members (Zellman, Barron, Kaplan, Owen, and Worley), another poet who took the Fat Poets’ Workshop at the NAAFA convention the following year (Eileen Rosensteel), and four New Voices (Durette Hauser, Deb Lemire, Dr. Deah Schwartz, and M.M. Stein). The Fat Poets’ Society is donating the royalties from Fat Poets Speak 2 to fat activist Ragen Chastain. Royalties from the first volume are being donated to NAAFA.
Through Pearlsong Press, the voices of fat scholars are also heard. Our nonfiction includes Lonie McMichael, Ph.D.’s Talking Fat: Health vs. Persuasion in the War on Our Bodiesan examination of the rhetoric of the “war on obesity,” and Acceptable Prejudice? Fat, Rhetoric and Social Justicewhich has been called “Fat Acceptance 101,” as wellas Pattie Thomas, Ph.D.’s Taking Up Space: How Eating Well & Exercising Regularly Changed My Lifewritten with her husband Carl Wilkerson, M.B.A, and containing a foreword by Paul Campos.
As for fiction — we’ve republished Lynne Murray’s award-winning Josephine Fuller mystery series, which went out of print in the early 2000s, and have made those novels (Larger Than DeathLarge TargetAt Largeand A Ton of Trouble) available as ebooks for the first time. We’ve also published two new novels by Murray, the romantic comedy Bride of the Living Dead and the paranormal adventure The Falstaff Vampire Files.
We’ve published seven novels and a novella by Pat Ballard in addition to her short story collection , a free nonfiction ebook (Something to Think About: Reflections on Life, Family, Body Image & Other Weighty Matters by the Queen of Rubenesque Romances), and her self-help guide 10 Steps to Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are), which the author ofEating Disorders for Dummies calls “your body’s best friend in pocket form.” Other fat-positive romantic fiction includes The Giving Season by Rebecca Brock, Kiss Me, Nate! by Judy Bagshaw, and the rollicking soap opera in print Measure By Measure by Rebecca Fox and William Sherman.
In addition to The Falstaff Vampire Files, in which Sir John Falstaff — yes, that Falstaff — is undead and misbehaving in San Francisco, fans of fantasy and paranormal adventure can enjoy large as life heroes and heroines in Fallen Embers and Blowing Embers by Lauri J Owen, Fatropolis by Tracey L. Thompson, and Zellman’s FatLand and FatLand: The Early DaysThere’s a supernatural tinge to the thriller The Program by Charlie Lovett, whose book proposal had me at “evil weight loss clinic.” (Lovett is also the author of the only young adult novel we’ve published thus far, The Fat Lady Sings.)
Not every book Pearlsong Press publishes deals specifically with size, weight or physical health issues — some of our books are age-positive, or spiritually oriented memoirs, or self-help, or literary fiction — but none are fat-negative or promote a weight-centered approach to health or wellbeing.
As Pearlsong Press has grown, the publishing and bookselling world has been rapidly evolving, accelerated by the growth of the internet and advances in technology that make it easier for books to be traditionally and self-published. The past decade has seen several fat-positive nonfiction books published by academic presses and other companies. Kudos, among others, to BenBella Books for publishing Linda Bacon’s Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight,  Seal Press for Virgie Tovar’s Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion, and Beaufort Books for publishing Rebecca Weinstein’s Fat Kids: Truth and Consequences, due October 2014 and featuring a chapter on “Collateral Damage in the ‘War on Obesity’: Fat Kids, Dieting & Eating Disorders” written by yours truly in her role as clinical psychologist.
Yet, as the number of books of all kinds published each year has risen, it’s been harder for potential readers to find them. Many bookstores have closed, challenged by the rise in internet sales and the poor economy, with those remaining open often stocking their shelves with products other than books in an effort to increase revenue. As I write this, the publishing world is monitoring the faceoff between publishing giant Hachette and retailing giant Amazon over pricing of ebooks and the timely shipping and ordering of print books, issues which cut into publishers’ and, ultimately, authors’ income.
The buzz word these days in publishing is “discoverability” — the ability of something to be found. It doesn’t matter how good a book is if no one knows it exists, and it’s hard for a book to be sighted or a new voice heard among the plethora of books and ebooks competing for attention.
In a sea of books promoting slenderness as the route to health and happiness or fatness as the cause of personal and even global disaster, how can the few (but growing) number of fat-positive and HAES® friendly books published by Pearlsong Press and others be sighted and plucked out of the watery unknown? Without, I might add, needing deep pockets to pay for advertising and publicists and strategic placement in bookstores?  One option is the Fat Friendly Fiction blog started by Pearlsong Press and author Lynne Murray. (I have plans for a Fat Friendly Nonfiction blog, but not yet the time to establish it.)
Another option is for publishers and authors to connect with potential readers and encourage word of mouth through teleconferences, video chat, webinars, and other forms of social media. With that in mind, a few years ago I started a series of teleconference call conversations with Pearlsong authors and readers as a way of promoting our books and authors and HAES-friendly fiction and nonfiction. You can download recordings of many of these Pearlsong Conversations at
Personal challenges including the demands of caregiving elderly parents have temporarily halted my ability to facilitate more Conversations, but I hope to start them again soon — possibly with a video chat component. If you’re interested in participating or listening/viewing the recording, stay tuned to or subscribe to the Pearlsong blog , Facebook page  or Twitter feed.
In the meantime, I encourage you to buy (or check out of your library) and read and recommend fat-positive and HAES-friendly fiction and nonfiction published by Pearlsong Press and others. Let’s help fat-positive and size-diverse books and authors — and publishers — become beacons spreading health and happiness at every size.

PE5CROPPEDPeggy Elam , Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and former journalist in Nashville, TN. She was iVillage’s Emotional Health expert from 1998-2000 and hosted the Health at Every Size show on Radio Free Nashville from 2005-2011. She was interviewed by filmmaker Julian Dahl for his documentary FAT in 2009 and is one of the experts featured in that film. She founded Pearlsong Press in 2003.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The insult of the negative fat meme

The insult of the negative fat meme

Besides all of the discrimination and efforts to control their weight by non-productive and non-constructive diets and medication (weight loss surgery proved extremely cost-ineffective and was scrapped in most areas early in the rule of the Pro-Health and Diet Administration), the worst thing about being fat, refugees from the Other Side/USA wrote in their journals when they were in FatLand, was being tagged with memes, images and symbols that insulted them and made them sub-human, made them symbols to be ridiculed, harassed and hated and at odd times, pitied.

The worst one, a new FatLand resident wrote, was the one that labeled fat people passive. "Couch potato" was one that was often referenced, as was "piggy lazing in mud." This, the writer wrote, seemed to associate fat people's supposed "passivity" with their being sent to the Reeducation Centers. It seemed to imply that fat people deserved the horrific singling out and mistreatment they received in the Centers and that it was natural for them to receive it because they were passive and "soft" and useless.

"This," she said, "was the worst. "It was bad enough being singled out for your supposed lack of health and unattractiveness, but then to be considered passive and useless, and only worthy of being sent to a Reeducation Center, made me so sick inside that I cried almost every night. It felt as if my own country was telling me that I could do nothing of worth for them, that I was not worthy of being a citizen and living in it."

"That is when I knew that I had to try to get out of there, even if I died in the process. For I was either going to get out or die trying. I refused to be sent to a Reeducation Center."

According to the rest of the account, this FatLander arranged with the FatandProud group in her area to help her transport herself to Canada, to an airport where the then-fledgling FatAir, the airline of FatLand, operated. She took FatAir to FatLand.

And there, she reported, she started to live again and recover her worth as an individual and as someone who had something to contribute to the economy and social wellbeing of her new country.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"This Land Is Mine"

This is one of the songs I think of  most when I wrote/write FatLand.

Dido - This Land Is Mine  All words copyright Dido.


"This Land Is Mine"

From behind these walls I hear your song
Oh, sweet words
The music that you play lights up my world
The sweetest that I’ve heard
Could it be that I’ve been touched and turned
Oh Lord, please finally…finally things are changing

This land is mine but I’ll let you rule
I let you navigate and demand
Just as long as you know…this land is mine
So find your home and settle in
Ohhh, I’m ready to let you in
Just as long as we know…this land is mine

After all the battles and the wars
The scars and loss
I’m still the queen of my domain
and feeling stronger now
The walls are down a little more each day
Since you came, finally…finally things are changing


Follow the days I’ve travelled alone
In this cold and colorless place till now
It’s what I had to pay


This land is mine and I let you rule
I let you navigate on demand
Just as long as you know…this land is mine

Friday, June 13, 2014

Full June Moon

There is a considerable pagan/neo-pagan group in FatLand. As a matter of fact, FatLand is considerably more tolerant toward pagans than the Other Side/USA, so even a few pagans who were not/are not fat have emigrated from there to FatLand.

The full June moon is a time for celebration in FatLand, in any case. GymNotTrim conducts its first midnight and clothing optional swim. There are three swims: women-only, men-only and coed. It is magic to swim under the stars and see the night clouds flashing by. Of course, if it rains, the swims are held indoors. It's still fun, but not quite as much.

After the swims, people can pitch tents or sleep in the open in sleeping bags or in low cots, if they wish (these can be rented from GymNotTrim for a nominal fee). Members get to go to the swim/s free; others pay, but not a lot.

There is of course a wonderful snack/mean of hors d'oeuvres of all kinds. Vegans and vegetarians find many pleasing choices, but meat eaters and fish eaters also find many tasty morsels. And those cute little cocktail franks and mini meatballs remain on the menu.

As do rather sumptuous brandy alexanders and more serious dry martinis.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


This is a side story about a woman who belonged to a group on the Other Side/USA closely related to FatLand:  FatandProud.

All my life I was a pretty peaceful soul. I was a proofreader. I owned a modestly priced condo in Inwood, at the tip of Manhattan. I was considered reliable and competent, two attributes which arose out of my loving my work. I took one week vacations in various parts of New England and brought along my work. I walked in the park nearest to my condo in autumn. I had a few peaceful, modestly interesting romantic relationships that didn't last past a year. I was devoted to my parents and my cat. I had a few good friends and two with whom I met each week for some meal or other. In short, a contented and productive life.

Oh, yes. I was also a member of FatandProud because I am fat and read articles by and about several strong, proud, fat women who voiced what I had been thinking for a while, which was that diets do not work and that it is so much happier and easier to lead a life which does not involve hating yourself and your body.

We met monthly for a while. Then, when the Pro-Diet and Health Laws were passed in 2010 and then more of them in 2014, we began to be viewed as subversive. At first we thought it was humorous. Then, when several of us received calls from the FBI, we started to feel otherwise. And we started to meet weekly.

In 2014 we set up our Fat Underground Rescue Team. We were saving fat people from the Reeducation Centers, in which they were brainwashed and starved, often without their losing a pound. Sometimes we did manage to spring them, but more often we worked to help them escape to FatLand.

Early in 2015, I received my call.

"Ms. Pomeroy," it began, "I am Clarence Knightley from the FBI.  We would consider it extremely helpful to our peacekeeping efforts if you could tell us the names of the people from FatandProud who are helping you maintain the Underground Railroad."

"Am I under arrest?" I asked.


"Then am I free to go?"

"If you tell us the names of people who are helping you in the Underground Railroad."

"Am I free to go?"

"I am sorry to say that your efforts have earmarked you for a Reeducation Center. So that question is basically moot."

"Thank you, Mr. Knightley," I said, and hung up.

How strange it still felt, to be considered "subversive" for being fat and helping to free fat people who were not causing trouble to anyone or anything but had been labeled undesirable citizens because they were fat and because many corporate entities found it convenient to scapegoat them. Insurance. Big Pharma. Diet Companies. Fitness Companies.

But in any case, I was now one of the targeted and had to move fast. I could not text those who had to know, but emailed them through a hidden network we maintained. I simply typed "420," our prearranged code, and they knew. Within minutes a car was sent for me and I got in with one bag and my cat, who would be taken in by sister FAP members. I kissed her goodbye as I transferred to a van with a back in which I was told to hide by lying down and covering with a blanket that matched the seats. They then took me to the Denver airport, where I boarded a flight to Canada under an assumed name with a different passport, made up for me and kept in my escape bag at all times. I then passed through their customs and blessedly then into the FatLand Air Section, rather new at the time, but still incredibly good to see.

The FatLand Air head sat me down and asked if I wanted to go to FatLand or work with FatAir, the FatLand airline, to get people out of the OtherSide/USA. I chose the latter. I knew that my FatandProud friends would need rescuing, and soon.

I missed them all. And I did end up taking a hand in rescuing them. But that is a story for another time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

No racism in FatLand

No racism in FatLand. Why? No one is made to feel inferior by virtue of job, income, looks, race, gender, belief system.

FatLand has people of all races and colors and ethnic groups and belief systems and sexes and genders.

FatLand has serious punishments for bullying. The worst ends one's residence in FatLand.  "Bullying" in FatLand includes negative statements made against anyone for any attribute or possession. This includes all of the above.

FatLand has some punishments on the books for discrimination against anyone who wishes to enter any establishment or business and anyone who seeks to prevent anyone else from purchasing anything or renting anything. However, they have never been applied. No one seems to want to or need to discriminate.

FatLand has no jails. There is no chance for racist subcultures to develop.

People in FatLand are allowed to opt out of racist and sexist channels on the net or anywhere else. They are also encouraged to point them out so that others will know about them. There are several people to whom these bigoted channels are reported in FatLand.

People can choose any job they find and request a trial period during which they are judged and tested -and paid- for their ability to do a job. So there is no inferiority associated with any particular job or kind of job.

People can participate in sports and activities they appreciate without either being pressured or stopped from doing so.

People are encouraged to use FatLand facilities and to find friends. Thus we don't experience the frightening phenomenon of anti-social people with axes to grind (and guns).

Oh, and speaking of guns - they are outlawed. No one is allowed to possess them. Not even most law enforcement personnel (of whom there are not many). So no one fears that people of any one particular group may possess them.