Welcome to Pipe Wrench no. 6

In Marquisele Mercedes’ excellent feature story on medical fatphobia, she notes:

There are plenty of fat researchers and students, like myself, who study fat stigma, but an anti-fat world is one without fat experts. Not because fat people do not amass expertise, but because our fatness means we’re not worth learning from.

This issue is an attempt to help remedy that.

Marquisele is fat. The illustrator who created the art for her story is fat. Every single one of the conversation pieces comes from a fat writer and/or artist and/or activist and/or organizer and/or scholar.

And full disclosure: the editor — me — is fat.

This issue is a big one. I won’t say it’s oversized, because over what size? Like people, it is its own size, which is therefore the correct size; there’s no “normal” size for what a person or magazine should be. Historically speaking, there have always been large magazines. I warn you only so you know to put on some comfy pants before you sit down with it.

First time at Pipe Wrench? Nice to see you!

Body positivity and loving yourself are great, if you can manage them. They also do nothing about medical discrimination, job discrimination, or the thousand and one cruel behaviors to which fat people are subjected all day, every day. You can not love yourself out of a misdiagnosis or a paycheck that’s a fraction of your coworker’s. Being positive will not make the discomfort of living in a world that doesn’t accommodate you any physically easier to bear.

Because the BMI is not a neutral, objective descriptor of bodies.

Because Mama Cass didn’t choke on a ham sandwich.

Because the same fat person who is denied gender-affirming surgery will be welcomed at the bariatric clinic.

Because fat people are scared.

Because fat people are hurt.

Because fat people are people.

To our fat readers: I hope you feel represented by this issue. I hope it gives you strength, or knowledge to brandish the next time your doctor suggests weight loss as a cure-all, or introduces you to people and resources who can change your life, or helps you rearticulate a difficult relationship with your body. To our not-fat readers: I hope you listen to these voices. More than that, I hope you believe them. A belief that the world does not materially harm fat people day in and day out is just that, a belief. A belief that fat people are a drain on society is just that, a belief. Listen to and believe those with the lived experience. Listen to those who are experts, and also fat. The two are not mutually exclusive.

We’ll all be the better for it.

But especially your fat friends. You do have some fat friends, right?

Welcome to Pipe Wrench no. 6.

Michelle Weber, editor in chief