Monday, November 11, 2013

30th anniversary of Shadow on a Tightrope

This post was actually supposed to be posted on November 8th, the actual 30th anniversary of the book, but I was in Cincinnati, Ohio at the National Women's Studies Association annual conference (which I will blog about in a day or two).  This is a part of a blog carnival being hosted in celebration of the anniversary.

As someone who has been aware of fat acceptance since my girlfriend at the time introduced me to Marilyn Wann's Fat!So? book around 1999, I thought I was pretty aware of a lot of the history of the movement.  I wouldn't say that I was an activist at the time, but it opened my mind to many possibilities to stop waging a war against my body that never started out as "normal."

When I began my masters degree program in 2009, I took the scholarly leap into fat studies with a paper I wrote for my feminist theory class.  I was fairly ignorant of a lot of things that happened in fat history until I started digging deeper and deeper in my classwork and my conference presentations.

In 2011, I presented a paper at the NWSA conference that talked about fat athleticism and dance, and connected writings by fat folks online to my Youtube dance video.  It prompted my culminating project that involved a more thorough search for published writing on fat physical activity as a whole, but more specifically on fat dance.  I found Shadow on a Tightrope while trying to get my hands on any published work that either referenced fat dance or had personal or creative work on what it was like to be a fat dancer.  I was thrilled as this seemed to be the first book that had published stories on fat women in motion (if someone finds earlier work, please let me know!).

My used and loved copy of the book
I still remember finding a battered used copy and the book and smiling when it arrived in the mail.  It looked like the previous owner probably loved it dearly.  Reading the stories of other fat bodies in motion, seeing how similar some of the stories are to the stories I hear about today's fat bodies in motion....this is a powerful work that gets at so many parts of fat existence!

If you've never read this timeless book, I highly recommend picking up a copy.  Aunt Lute has kept this book in print and so many of the stories are still very relevant to a variety of fat experiences (I also highly recommend picking up a copy at a feminist bookstore like Charis Books in Atlanta...there are very few of these treasured spaces left in the United States!).

Photo description: A black seat with a cream colored book on top of a white take-out box.  The book says "shadow on a tightrope" in a large font with a sketch of a fat female-appearing face, with "writings by women on fat oppression" underneath and the editors names at the bottom.

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