How do we build fat community?

Fat positive community is radical, and it’s vital for fat people getting and staying free of diet culture and living into fat acceptance and fat positivity. I’m sure I’m not alone, though, in saying that it’s really difficult to make new friends as an adult, and building entire communities is even more challenging.

Recently, in conversation with Laura E. Burns of Radical Body Love Coaching, Yoga, and HoopAsana, she pointed out that connecting with people looks different in Houston, Texas, than it does in Portland, Oregon. She mentioned that it seems like there aren’t a lot of people looking to get free of diet culture and that community building has been challenging there. At the same gathering, Eron and Amanda, creators and hosts of the Fat Face Feelings podcast, mentioned how burned out a fat positive friend is on trying to build community in Seattle, due to how painstaking it’s been over the years. Even here in Portland, Oregon, where there’s an existing community of fat positive folks, there are still new groups forming to try to better connect fat people with each other.

So, how do we build fat community? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to make some suggestions and would love to generate dialogue.

Perhaps most obvious, connect online. Follow fat activists, fat leaders, fat teachers, fat organizers. Don’t just follow, but also interact, support, and encourage them. I ended up meeting and having these conversations with Laura, Eron, and Amanda because I follow them on Instagram. When they were all coming to Portland the same weekend, we all got together. Perhaps a little less obvious, connect with their followers. These are folks who already share a common interest.

Seek out fat positive Facebook groups and/or start your own, or try starting a Fat Positive Meetup. I’m taking my own advice and starting Fat Positive Cooperative FB Group to go along with this site. Feel free to join!

Here are some FB groups that aren’t limited to a particular geographic area:

Look for posts where people share their locations and try to connect with other group members in your area.

Here are some FB groups that are location-specific:

If you’re aware of others or you start one and want to be added to the list, let me know!

Look for or organize fat positive classes. I made my first friend in Portland at a stretch and strengthening class by Zaftig Dance (currently on hiatus).

Attend a fat positive conference, camp, or retreat.

Join ASDAH (Association for Size Diversity and Health) or NAAFA (National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance) or both.

Plan and advertise (via social media) a get-together and set boundaries for no weight-loss talk, no body talk, no diet talk, etc. [See Fat Girls Hiking’s mission statement for inspiration.]

Ideas for get-togethers:

  • a meal somewhere with accessible seating and a variety of price points
  • coffee/tea drop-in meetup (low commitment, low price!)
  • bowling
  • karaoke
  • book club
  • pop culture club
  • podcast party
  • scavenger hunt
  • escape room
  • game night
  • trivia night
  • attend a sporting event
  • movie night
  • discussion group (pick a topic)
  • hiking or walking or jogging
  • paint night
  • crafting
  • go to a local plus size resale shop together

What activity ideas do you have?

Do you have fat positive friends? How did you meet?

Have you tried building fat positive community? What have you tried? What worked? What didn’t?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via!


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