This weekend there are tons of BBQ’s and such going on here in the states, but events and meetings happen every day. And every day, fat people are “invited” to events and meetings at which they aren’t accommodated in even the most basic ways. Most often this isn’t done on purpose, it happens because thin people don’t know what they don’t know. I know that you want to truly welcome fat people to your event, so let me help you out:
The importance of fat friendly seating cannot be over stated. Seating that is sturdy and accommodating (ie: loveseats, armless chairs, benches etc.) The seating should also fit in with the seating that other people have (if everyone is in the yard but the bench for your fat cousin is on the porch, that’s not cool.) Don’t make your event another fat people and chairs hate story.
I’ve Got a Blank Space Baby
Is there enough room for fat people to navigate your event? Whether it’s between the tables at a buffet, or throughout your home, or in the restaurant you’ve chosen, accessible seating won’t help if we can’t get to it without knocking over the dessert table on the way. Clear the widest spaces possible to accommodate the most people.
Does the event space have a fat friendly bathroom? You may not be able to change the size of the bathroom in your house, but there are some things you can do – if the hip space is being limited the the hanging toilet paper roll, you can put the roll on the sink or towel rack. Make sure that you don’t have a garbage can blocking the door from opening the door all the way etc.
Nobody Should Be a Shit
Consider putting something on your invitation about this being a body positive event (no body shaming or food policing allowed.) And/or, if you’ve invited people who you are worried will fat shame or food shame your guests – consider having conversations with them ahead of time. You are creating this space, so you are the boss of it! Make it a priority not to invite people into a hostile environment.
Finally, I want to point out that accommodation is not just for fat people – consider ways that you can make everyone on your guest list as comfortable as possible. Is there easy parking and access for people who use a wheelchair or have limited mobility? Are you inviting People of Color and racists to the same event (or Queer and Trans people as well as homophobes and transphobes, Muslims and Islamophobes etc.)? If so, remember that “I want to oppress you” and “I don’t want to be oppressed” are not simply two equal but differing viewpoints – the first is an expression of harmful oppression, the latter is a statement of basic human rights. So think about how are you going to make it a safe space for your friends/family with marginalized identities, and make sure you’re not inviting people into an oppressive environment without warning them.
When I posted this to Facebook there were a couple of commenters whose knee-jerk reaction was “You should bring your own chair” (and, apparently, our own bathroom?) While my partner and I do often bring our own chairs to events (and doctor’s offices!) just to be sure, we shouldn’t have to do this. The idea that some of your guests should be coming to a BYOC situation is not inviting at all. Take responsibility for making your space/event inclusive and accommodating for the people you are inviting into it. As K.C. said on my Facebook post about this: don’t just mean well – do well.
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