Lindsey Averill is a feminist blogger and activist headquartered in south Florida. Averill juggles several projects including Bitchtopia, her weblog Feminist Cupcake, and her coaching service Extraordinary Being. She is currently teaching at Florida Atlantic University in the Women, Gender and Sexuality department while she pursues her PhD in Women’s Studies. Averill’s most current project is a movie-length documentary called Fattitude: A Body Positive Documentary which aims to break down the cultural and medical demonization of fat bodies. Fattitude is currently in it’s developing stages with a projected release of late 2015.
What made you become interested in Women’s Studies and Feminism?
I don’t remember when or where feminism dawned on me, but by the time I started college I was comfortable calling myself a feminist. That said, I don’t think I realized that my life was going to be about women’s studies and feminism until I was in the second year of my Ph. D. program. Just by chance, I took a class with Jane Caputi. (I liked the title of the class: Women, Myth and Reality). Jane was thrilling. She shattered the ground beneath my feet and made me truly see how much of what I had been taught to believe about women, women’s lives, women’s roles and women’s desires was not actually fact but deep-rooted sexist assumption. She also made me realize the connections between our cultural demonization of women, our bodies and the earth. (Jane is fucking amazing. If you don’t know of her then go google her. Life changer.)
After being introduced to the theoretical feminism I started to recognize that my body was a sight of ‘intimate terrorism,’ as were the bodies of many others I knew. (Intimate Terrorism term I stole from Gloria Anzaldua – meaning the brutalities and oppressions that are so close they are self-inflicted.) I had to change that.
That’s why I started Extraordinary Being. That’s why I write Feminist Cupcake. That’s why I am making Fattitude. Because it’s time to stop hating bodies, particularly fat ones, but all bodies, really.
Have your experiences directly inspired your body-positive activism?
Absolutely, my life experience inspired my activism. Like most people whose body weight is more than her peers, I spent years being bullied and bullying myself because I genuinely believed that my fat body wasn’t good enough.
When I think about my childhood, I remember crying a lot about my body. I remember feeling like a failure and not understanding why I wasn’t thin like my friends. I would have given anything to be thin, and I tried everything to be thin. I’m not going to lie to you. I have always loved food, but honestly I wanted thin way more than I ever wanted food. I dieted constantly. Each time I was thinner I loved being thinner, and I desperately wanted to stay thinner but as soon as I stopped starving myself and started eating normally I gained the weight back. Thin was/is not in the cards for me.
Today, I work out regularly and eat healthy but I don’t lose weight. At least I think I don’t lose weight because at this point in my life I never get on a scale but my clothes keep fitting so…
Honestly, I genuinely believe that constant dieting made me fatter. I think that if I had accepted my body rather than diet I might have been a bit bigger than others but I never would have been as big as I am now. Diets failed me. They haunted me – they filled my life with failure because no matter how many times I dieted, I never stayed thin.
We often hear people say that diets don’t work, and there are a lot of articles and research out there that explain why this is true, for example this, this, and this. And yet, so many people continue to believe that if you have a fat body, then you can make ‘choices’ which will result in you having a body that is less fat. In other words, despite the research, we continue to believe that diets do work.
We are making Fattitude and I run Extraordinary Being and blog at feminist cupcake because I am trying to educate people about fatness. I am trying to get them to see that bodies are individual, some are fat, some are thin, some are healthy, some are unhealthy, some are short, some are tall, some are gay, black, white, brown, hetero, trans – it doesn’t matter. All bodies deserve kindness and respect.
There are a lot of incredible people coming together to Make Fattitude happen: What are your methods of networking to organize change?
To be honest, I just emailed or facebooked lots of people in the social justice/feminist/fat activist community. I know that sounds way too simple, but the these communities are open to supporting most projects that look to help educate the populace about fat shame and fat hatred. Occasionally – before the trailer was complete people were a little wary, supportive but wary. Now that we have finished the trailer most activists get right back to us.
That said, when we were filming the initial interviews we were not able to secure any interviews with male scholars or activists. This is one of our main goals for our next round of interviews. We absolutely want to have men in Fattitude and we will.
What advice do you have for beginning activists who are looking for their voices?
Find a mentor. Read everything. Start a blog. Write for established blogs. Comment on the work of others and listen when they comment back. Apply for scholarships to amazing programs for rising feminists, like those offered by Soapbox, Inc. Get out there and get learning because finding your voice is about knowing what you stand for.
What can we, the readers, do to help you make Fattitude happen?
1.) If you can, please donate to our Kickstarter. Every dollar counts.
2.) Share the Kickstarter on your social media feeds – facebook, twitter, personal blogs, etc. The more you post it the more likely we are to get exposure – and obviously, the more traffic we get, the more funds we can raise.
3.) Invite your friends to like our facebook page or tell your followers to like our facebook page. The facebook page is located at www.facebook.com/fattitudethemovie. On the right hand side of the page is a panel that says, “Invite Your Friends to like this page.” You click the words “see all” on the right hand side of the panel. A new box will open up and then you can click “invite” to invite anyone you feel comfortable inviting. Honestly, this is a tedious process, as you have to invite each friend individually – but we would be ever so thankful if you help us grow our community.
4.) Check out our web page and sign up for our mailing list: www.fattitudethemovie.com.
5.) If you know anyone you can contact or who you think we should contact about the kickstarter, please let us know. This could be anyone from a great blogger to a mainstream media outlet to a friend who you think might be interested. Raising this money is an important part of this process and we need all the exposure we can get!
Fattutude’s Kickstarter campaign will continue until Sun, May 25 2014 1:52 PM EDT.
Would you like to share the story of a feminist in your life? Email Btopia.Mag@gmail.com for more information.