BIRTHDAY WISHES TO THE SUNSHINE GIRL
for the annony mouse who has just been castrated: Abhe tere chuheye ke gaand mein kidde guus gaye kya ?
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Fat, OK? And having a blast at that too
By Stephanie Rosenbloom
Joann Bellemore was the only fat person in her family, the eldest daughter of a career Navy man and a strict Japanese mother who felt that an unwieldy body represented a lack of self-control. Like other military children, Bellemore spent her childhood bouncing from city to city, though for her that also meant being towed from one diet doctor to the next. Like many adolescent girls she kept a diary. In hers she scribbled the contents of her stomach, not her soul. It was not until the end of her teenage years that she found courage. “Mom, you have to love me the way that I am,’’ she said as she was about to graduate from high school. She was 5-foot-8 and 235 pounds. Today Bellemore is 49 years old, 250 pounds, and the founder of the Big Beautiful Women Network (BBW), which organises Vegas Bash, an annual weeklong gathering of obese men and women in Las Vegas. Five hundred people are expected at this year’s bash, from Tuesday to July 3 at the Stardust Resort and Casino. It is just one of many social and athletic get-togethers that Bellemore’s network and other groups like it organise around the country to allow the very overweight to mingle in a climate of tolerance. The events are meant to encourage people to get out and meet one another, to transform their shame into confidence and to accept themselves as they are, not as others would have them be. As Sandy Schaffer, the director of the New York chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, put it, “Why allow somebody to say, ‘You can’t do this until you lose weight’? There might be a lot of fat people,’’ said Schaffer, who is 5-foot-5 and 280 pounds, “but there aren’t a lot of empowered people.’’ Bellemore has been reluctant to speak with reporters because of the way groups like hers have been represented in the news media. Earlier this month, for instance, a St Louis newspaper ran an item about a Midwest Chub Club gathering under the headline “Lard Have Mercy’’. A few years ago a television station filmed a fat acceptance association event while participants were eating and set the scene to barn music. “It’s like one of the last prejudices,’’ Bellemore said. “Comedians make jokes about fat people that they couldn’t make about other groups.’’ The Vegas Bash began in 1997 when Bellemore, who was living in Ph oenix, invited members of a Big Beautiful Women Internet chat group to meet face to face. Twenty-six people showed up. The following year 100 people came. By Year 3 Bellemore and her husband had moved to Las Vegas to work on the event. Now eight years old, the bash has laid the groundwork for 48 marriages. “I have to do this every year,’’ Bellemore said. “Maybe it’s my therapy.’’ This year’s gathering will include karaoke, a pool party, a fashion show, a costume contest, dance lessons and an appearance by ‘Elvis’. Many other social events for the obese are also growing in popularity. This, they say, is a conscious attempt to encourage people to regard the word, fat, as a run-of-the-mill adjective and not as an insult. NYT News Service
it is cruel to expect a mature wooman to be slim ....