I did enjoy that when I walked in it looked/felt much like Smith. (At least one of the attendees actually was a Smith grad.)
Marina from Big Moves opened up the discussion. She talked about a project she's working on ("Hot Buffet" -- a dystoptian future ... workshop reading April 22 at Simmons, 7pm) and how fat is visible sign of indulgence so that got her thinking about what other kinds of indulgence an anti-fat society would want to curtail, which I thought was really interesting. Though she said something about policing health and I kinda wanted to problematize that -- because I feel like liberals often support policing the public health, but that's really a whole different topic of discussion.
One woman said she'd recently been to Leonard Nimoy's Full Body Project in Northampton and that she looked at that exhibit for a while and then she turned around, and the more "average" sized women in the photographs on the opposite wall looked so small. The media presents us with an idea of "normal," and being exposed to a different part of the spectrum can really shift your sense of what "normal" is.
Someone brought up the idea that if you're constantly thinking about your diet, you're not thinking about other things -- which is an idea I've heard before, but one that's good to be reminded of.
There was some talk about how thin is privileged in this society and Marina said, "it's not like you're wallowing in your privilege and using it to oppress people right there," but that people may well react out of bitterness.
There was also some talk about the dysfunctional almost bonding that women do over like "Well, I didn't have dinner, so I'm allowed to have this piece of cake" -- like literally saying that sort of stuff aloud. And how women are conditioned to expect to be always on display, to always have people watching them, but that we overestimate how much people are watching (everyone's wrapped up in their own concerns about themselves, so they're not necessarily monitoring everyone around them).
However, there is the fact that people should mind their own business -- on so many levels.
One woman talked about how certain body sizes, people feel like they can just go up to a stranger and talk to them about their size. She said, "When you're on an extreme, people feel like they have a right to tell you not to be there." (She used to swim six days a week, you could literally see her bones ... and she wasn't unhealthy, but people would come up to her and say things like, "You should eat more.")
Links Marina recommended:
The BMI Project [flickr, slideshow]