I’ve been working on this under wraps for a couple of weeks. It’s not often I’m quiet about something I’m working on but this story, as told to me by the amazing woman who narrates it, has been heavy on my mind since October of 2006. As part of an epic 2 month road trip with Val Garrison (rest her sweet soul, who passed this year after a long battle with lung cancer), I sat down with VJ to hear the story of her life as centered around her experience of fatness and/or the impact of others’ perceptions of her fatness. It was an intense ride throughout, but I was utterly unprepared for how jarring Vj’s interview would be (and so I advise those of you sensitive to social injustice to gird your loins, as it were). I think even VJ herself wasn’t aware of how powerful a story it was until she’d told it. It’s amazing what we learn to live with. Sometimes our resilience and strength can hush our pain until we share it with others, and then the reality of it as shared or reflected with and by others brings it home again.
It is my hope that VJ’s story is a reminder not only that things like this happen in the world, but of the beauty and strength and power of those who struggle and survive the impacts of classism, institutionalized racism, and sizeism. Little VJ was a powerhouse and grown-up VJ is the same, with the addition of compassion, wisdom and love.
If you have a story you’d like to tell through this medium, contact me and we’ll see what we can do.