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Fat Zine 3
Tiara ReverdesCourtesy of The Fat Zine

The Fat Zine explores the darker side of being fat

TextAlex Peters

Issue three of Gina Tonic’s fat liberation zine navigates the fears that fat people live with everyday and the burden of being other people’s “worst nightmare”

“How do you cope knowing some people would rather be dead than look like you?” That’s the question being asked in the latest issue of The Fat Zine, Gina Tonic’s radical, fat-positive publication. Taking on the theme of fear, issue three navigates both the fears that fat people hold within themselves, as well as unpacking the burden of being a living representation of other people’s “worst nightmares”. 

“There is so much to fear about being a fat person,” says Tonic, who took on the role of sole editor-in-chief this issue, following the departure of Chloe Sheppard. “Accessibility, dating, access to healthcare, discrimination and even once coming to terms with all that you have to cope with the fact a huge portion of the thin population feels an immense fear towards the possibility that they may ever look like you.”  

Launched last year, The Fat Zine celebrates the lives, bodies, and experiences of fat people, putting them front and centre in a way that is still extremely lacking in mainstream media. Following issue two’s exploration into the nuances and facets of love and desire, this time Tonic decided to shine a light on the darker aspects of living as a fat person. “I love relishing in the negative and I think it’s important not to shy away from the bad parts of life, especially when you live in a marginalised body,” she says.

Full of essays, poetry, short stories, photography, and art, issue three features interviews with the likes of TikTok icon and inventor of the ‘fupanza smash’ Naomi Hearts, alongside contributions from Megan Winstone and Dazed 100 winner La’Shaunae. As with the previous issues, Tonic relied primarily on open submissions to make up the zine, allowing the publication’s community to have a platform to express themselves and see themselves represented. Standout pieces for Tonic include a visceral shoot by Dia Knight and an essay by Rojo Génesis about being fat and trans, which she says really relishes in being angry and fighting back. Meanwhile a Wild Iris comic strip about being a fat sex worker will “rip your heart out”.

As much as The Fat Zine spotlights and champions contemporary artists and creatives involved in today’s conversations, it always remains aware of the pioneers that came before, and its place in a wider fat liberation movement that has spanned decades. In issue two, a back cover image by Ray Madrigal paid tribute to the activists of the past, echoing sentiments of signs from the 1969 ‘Fat In’ protest in New York, while a supplement outlined how we’ve been fighting this struggle since the 50s. This mini zine appears again in the new issue, reminding us how little progress has been made in the last 70 years and how much more fight there is left to do. 

“I think the way this zine pushes forward is by reaching as many people as possible and educating them about the fat struggle,” Tonic says. “Luckily with each issue we get to spread more diverse opinions and feelings and facts to more people.” This remains important as ever as we see culture begin to swing back around to the early 2000s aesthetics that idolised ultra-skinny body types. And despite the efforts of body positivity campaigners over the last few years, nothing much has really changed. “The accepted body types strayed a little, but the flat bellies and lack of cellulite are the same. Thin people have still been adored and celebrated and idealised, they just have Jessica Rabbit curves added on,” says Tonic. “I’m being cynical, but the ultra-skinny and the curvy-skinny are both shit ideals.” 

The Fat Zine issue three is available to buy from February 28 here

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