As the author of a book titled “The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise,” Hanne Blank is not one to make a New Year’s resolution to lose 10, 15, 20 or however many pounds. She reads and signs this book at Charis Books & More on Jan. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
The event is sponsored by Charis Circle’s Founding Future of Feminism Program and a $5 suggested donation is asked.
Blank is one to encourage movement, though, and learning to love and respect the body you have.
She is the author of other books including “Straight: The Surprisingly Short Story of Heterosexuality,” “Big Big Love: Relationships Guides for People of Size (And People Who Love Them) as well as an editor of “Best Transgender Erotica.” She is also a classically trained musician and has taught at Brandeis University and Tufts University.
In other words, she knows her stuff.
And as a self-described queer woman and “proud fat girl,” she says she “understands the physical and emotional roadblocks that overweight women face in the world of exercise.”
But there are options, she stresses, from WiiFit to extreme sports, as well as menus to follow for proper nutrition — all of this without the fat-bashing prevalent in our culture.
She answered a few questions ahead of her visit to Atlanta, where she lives part-time with her fiance.
People don’t always tend to see fat as being physically fit. Your book looks to debunk this. You are a personal fitness trainer. How can you help people understand this?
Fitness is not a size! It’s a state of bodily vigor and strength, capability and robustness. There is no size or shape of human being that is automatically, uniformly vigorous and robust. There just isn’t. There are plenty of small or thin people who are nowhere close to it. There are plenty of big or fat people who are actually a lot more physically vigorous and robust than you think.
Size or weight aren’t very accurate ways to tell someone’s fitness level. There are actual formal tests — VO2max, the Wingate Test, goniometry, all kinds of scientifically valid measures — that do a much better and more accurate job of that.
As a movement coach — I actually hate the word “trainer,” I think that word applies to people who work with animals — what I try to do is encourage people to do things that make their bodies more vigorous and robust, regardless of their size or shape.
Anyone, at any size or shape (and even at many levels of dis/ability) can do things to help themselves be more physically strong, capable and robust. This approach to improving fitness is based on the approach to general health that Dr. Linda Bacon calls “Health At Every Size.”
Our society does not embrace people, especially women, who are fat. Why should we change this attitude and how can we do so?
Fat people are human beings. Human beings deserve human dignity.
It’s really that simple. No one’s asking for any kind of special treatment here, just to be given a share of the same thing that everyone else on the planet should get.
How can you do so? The same way you refrain from treating anyone else badly: treat them as a valid human being, just like you. You learned this one in kindergarten.
Why are you unapologetic about being a fat girl?
Why should I apologize? Why should anyone apologize for being embodied in the particular way(s) they are?
The problem isn’t that human bodies come in an amazingly diverse range of forms and sizes and colors and metabolisms and body compositions. That’s the nature of our species.
The problem is that we’ve decided culturally, in a way that is not arbitrary but rather deeply racist and sexist (among other things), that only certain types of human bodies are “good.”
Top photo: Hanne Blank (Courtesy photo)