“Any time there is a fat person onstage as anything besides the butt of a joke, it’s political.
Add physical movement, then dance, then sexuality and you have a revolutionary act.”
Heather MacAllister, aka Reva Lucian
founder of Big Burlesque: The Original Fat Bottom Revue
Va Va Boombah aims to create a space for fat performers of burlesque, cabaret, circus, drag, spoken word, indefinable performance art and other curios to make awesomeness happen. We welcome performers of all genders who self-identify as fat.
Va Va Boombah was founded with explicit fat acceptance and body positivity principles in mind.
We ask that everyone involved in VVB keep this in mind at all times. You don’t have to share our politics completely (and fat politics is a broad church to begin), but our aim is to provide a safe, fun and welcoming space for our performers as well as our audience.
Contemporary Western culture tends to encourage body shame, fat phobia, and self loathing. We are often socialised to ‘bond’ via diet talk and body shaming. Va Va Boombah aims to create an environment where we can bond via mutual admiration, shared awesomeness, and an appreciation of the kickass talents and hotness of everyone involved.
To help achieve this aim, we’ve developed some guidelines for Boombah space. These are not intended to shut down conversation, but to help foster a safe and affirming space for Boombahs of all sizes. We also want to encourage everyone to re-examine our speech and thoughts, and look for new ways to connect – both within Boombah space, and out in the world.
1. No diet or weight-loss talk
We all get messages every day that tell us we should be trying to lose weight through diets or “lifestyle change”. The message is inevitably that our fat bodies are wrong and need to be changed. Va Va Boombah should be a space where we don’t have to deal with this. Diets are boring. Talking about diets is boring. Talking about calories and kilograms is boring. Not only is it boring, but it can be extremely triggering for people who may have a long history of dieting, disordered eating, or simply struggling with body acceptance. You are, of course, free to engage in all the dieting and weight loss attempts you want – it’s your body. Justplease don’t talk about it in Boombah space.
NB: This doesn’t mean that talking about bodily changes is off limits, but please be mindful that you’re not perpetuating the idea that losing weight is better than not losing weight.
2. No food shaming.
Food has no moral value. Chocolate is not “evil”, chips are cake are not “bad”, and you do not have to atone for the sin of eating by “working it off”. This kind of talk is the product of a diet culture that makes more than $60 billion per year selling products with a 90% failure rate.
3. No body shaming.
No body shaming. No fat shaming. No skinny shaming. No hating on your body, or anyone else’s. Your ass is not too big for anything. Your ass is magnificent.
4. Look, no shaming, okay?
This includes slut shaming, class shaming, style shaming, intelligence shaming, ability shaming, and any other sort of shaming. It’s not cool, and we’ll all have a much better time if we try to do away with it.
5. Positivity is awesome!
Enough of the Don’ts, on to the Do’s! Do talk about victories and struggles, compliment each other sincerely, share resources, and give honest and respectful feedback. Consensual objectification, reciprocal flirting, mutual admiration, and shared magnificence are what Boombah is all about!
Fat Acceptance Resources
This is a small selection of resources to get you started – there’s heaps more out there once you start looking!
Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion – edited by Virgie Tovar
Screw Inner Beauty/Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere – Kate Harding & Marianne Kirby
Two Whole Cakes: How to stop dieting and love your body – Lesley Kinzel
Fat and Proud – Charlotte Cooper
Fat! So? Because you don’t have to apologise for your size – Marylin Wann
Big Big Love: A sourcebook on sex for people of size and those that love them – Hanne Blank
Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression – edited by Lisa Schoenfielder & Barb Wieser
The Obesity Myth – Paul Campos
Big Fat Lies – Glenn Gaesser
Fat Politics – Eric J Oliver
Health at Every Size – Linda Bacon
Women En Large: Photographs of fat nudes – Laurie Toby Edison
The Full Body Project – Leonard Nimoy (Lots of pictures of Big Burlesque!)
Zaftig: Well Rounded Erotica – Hanne Blank
Fat Studies Books
Fat – Deborah Lupton
The Fat Studies Reader – edited by Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solovay
The ‘Fat’ Female Body – Samantha Murray
Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession – edited by Don Kulick and Anne Meneley
Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression – edited by Katie LeBesco and Jana Evans Braziel
Revolting Bodies: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity – Katie LeBesco
Historicizing Fat in Anglo American Culture – edited by Elanor Levy Navarro
Two Whole Cakes (Lesley Kinzel)
Shapely Prose archives (Kate Harding)
…Especially “The Fantasy of Being Thin”
Adipositivity (Substantia Jones)
Obesity Timebomb (Charlotte Cooper)
Radically Visible (our very own Sarah)
The Fat Nutritionist (Michelle)
Definatalie (Natalie Perkins)
Friend of Marilyn (Cat Pause)
Notes from the Fatosphere (an aggregate feed)
Friend of Marilyn
Two Whole Cakes
Body Love Wellness
If you would like a PDF copy of this document, you can find it here: VVB Fatty Loving Manifesto.