Size acceptance activism goes

by Sean Madigan

“Fat” is not a dirty word, was the message at a size-acceptance celebration Saturday at the Como Park Pavilion.
More than 20 people attended a potluck picnic to celebrate the first International Size Acceptance Day, sponsored by the University YMCA and Largely Positive to promote self-esteem, health and equality among large people. Largely Positive is a metro area-wide support group that promotes body type acceptance.
Picnic attendees also listened to speakers on health and fitness, received resource information and won door prizes.
“People have to learn to be happy and healthy at any weight,” said Danielle Lewis, a University YMCA staff member and coordinator of Largely Positive. Lewis said before people improve their health, they must be able to accept themselves for who they are.
Speakers promoted health and fitness as methods to feel better — not to look better. Largely Positive officials said the picnic was not just for large people, but anyone tired of living in an image-conscious society.
“I just came today to try and better my health and see what types of resources are available to me,” said Ann Hennen, a metro-area nurse.
Comedian Jason Wooten took part in Saturdays’ events to support other large people like himself. Wooten has been a part of several organizations for large people including the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance.
As a comedian, Wooten came to terms with his size very quickly. However, he said many large people aren’t ready to accept their size, and added that they might not be ready to “come out of the fat closet.”
“The fat guy is the last safe stereotype left to make fun of,” Wooten said. “It is no longer PC to use racial or religious stereotypes, but someone can always stuff a pillow down their shirt and be the big, stupid, slobbering, drunken fat guy.”
Unlike many other large comedians, Wooten said he tries to steer the content of his shows away from size. “I guess my act could be full of self-loathing hatred, but that isn’t really that funny to me,” he said.
Bev Hanson, a retired middle school teacher and Largely Positive participant, said the group meets to discuss issues large people face every day, from size discrimination to where to buy clothes.
Largely Positive meets at the Cathedral Hill YMCA on the first and third Wednesday of each month.