Fat Activist

Posted on September 09, 2010 by Stacy Bias | 9,797 views | 2 Comments

Stacy Bias is an activist, educator and entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon. At 36 years of age, Stacy already has many and varied successful projects beneath her belt, as well as a proven track-record of hard work, political passion, ethical business savvy and community-mindedness.

In 2000, Stacy founded TechnoDyke.Com. During its eight year run, TechnoDyke was a dynamic online publication and forum whose mission was to facilitate online and real-time community by providing queer-centric media by/for queer women. Over its eight year run, TechnoDyke’s audience soared to over 50,000 unique visitors per month and over 15,000 registered members. TechnoDyke went offline in 2008 as Stacy’s activism found a new passion and focus.

In 2003, Stacy founded and organized the highly successful FatGirl Speaks, with the help of an amazing troupe of committee members and volunteers. This day-long conference was a celebration of women of size and featured workshops, body-positive fashion shows and an evening of performance art featuring women of size. Independently produced in its first two years, FatGirl Speaks was fiscally sponsored in its last year by the non-profit In Other Words Books and Resources, and partnered with Portland State University’s Women’s Resource Center.

Inspired by the success of FatGirl Speaks, Stacy facilitated several sister events whose goals were to continue the empowerment of women of size in and around Portland.

First came the FatGirl Frock Swap, a clothing exchange designed to make plus-sized clothing (which is often outlandishly priced) more accessible, as well as to facilitate a comfortable and supportive clothes shopping experience for those who often find it otherwise.

Second came the Cupcake dance parties — a body positive dance night which ran from early 2006 to late 2007. This event created a fun and joyful environment for women of size and their allies to enjoy movement, push their fashion boundaries and create community.

Third came the ChunkyDunk, an annual summer series of body-positive, private group swims. Swimsuits can be a daunting task for even the most confident individual, and those whose empowerment is fledgling can find it nearly impossible to fathom. The ChunkyDunks sought to use tongue-in-cheek humor with its name to invite those who needed a little encouragement and support to don their suits, connect with their bodies and have a great time in the water. These events are ongoing as of now, though Stacy passed the reigns of this project to others in the community in 2009.

In addition to event planning, Stacy began the digital project, BelliesAreBeautiful.com. The goal of BAB is to provide a visual counterpoint to the media’s unrealistic portrayals of perfection, and to showcase the beautiful diversity of bodies (bellies, most specifically – since they get the worst rap). As well, BAB seeks to provide a venue for individuals to release their shame by sharing the parts of themselves they often judge the most. Bellies Are Beautiful has hundreds of user-submitted photos and, while currently not actively promoted, still garners new submissions each month and remains an online showcase of beauty in all its forms.

In addition to events local to Portland, Stacy hired a talented videographer and took a 6 week road trip in late 2006 that spanned 16 states and two countries, from Toronto, Ontario Canada to Atlanta, Georgia. During this trip, Stacy interviewed 41 women of size about their experiences in the world. This grueling trip yielded over 50 hours of video and audio, was entirely self-funded (to the tune of $15,000) via a small inheritance from her grandmother, and was one of the most inspiring experiences of her life.

Upon her return, Stacy began the Fat Experience Project. With the materials collected during the initial phase of the project (the survey to select the interview candidates, the travel to conduct the interviews, the transcription and editing of the video) the Fat Experience Project seeks to create multiple resources, including:

– A dynamic website with streaming audio and video, sharing portions of the interviews categorized by themes.
– A traveling multi-media exhibition with portions of interviews shown by theme.
– A series of companion materials for Fat Studies and Women’s Studies courses that provide a humanizing element to academic explorations of fat and body image.
– Contributions of consenting, anonymous data collected from individuals of size for publishing academics doing work in the realm of Fat Studies and body image.
– A published book containing a fictionalized series of monologues for stage performance
— based on real-life interviews and featuring the voices of women of size — called Fat Girl Speaks.
– A parenting guide-style video featuring women of size speaking about their relationships with their parents (mothers especially) around their bodies, the formation of their relationship with food, and the impacts of the mother’s self-loathing on the daughter’s relationship with their own body and the concept of beauty.

After her road trip in 2006, Stacy realized that, while she felt that her heart and personal politics were entirely in the right place, she felt her activism would be enhanced by a better understanding of social theory, global politics and critical thinking skills. She also felt that her activist vision was too narrow, and rather than a specific focus on women of size, she wants to address the broader concepts of shame and consumerism – a heady and potent combination which she feels is at the rootof empowerment issues for people of all genders, races, sizes, ages, abilities and sexualities.

For this reason, Stacy has decided that her next adventure will be the pursuit of an undergraduate and eventual Master’s degree in Visual Anthropology. Stacy is currently in the process of applying to Goldsmiths University in London, England.


2 Responses to Fat Activist



  1. I find your body of work absolutely amazing! I am currently working on a project on my home campus for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree dealing with body image and eating disorders. Are there any resources you would recommend I look at for further research?



    • Stacy Bias

      Hi Shay – Thanks for the kind words! Please check out the “Fat Studies Reader”, put together collaboratively by Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solovay to start. You might also read Paul Campos’ “The Obesity Myth” as well as Marilyn Wann’s Fat!SO? for more social implication study. My work focuses more specifically on anti-shame advocacy and self-esteem for women of size, so I’m afraid I don’t have tons of resources to offer regarding eating disorders specifically. I hope you find what you’re looking for!

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