FAT GIRL REVIEWS interview by Velvet d'Amour
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lana of FAT GIRL REVIEWS after coming across her Instagram account. I was curious and wanted to know just what this was all about. The website explains…
Fat Girl Reviews (FGR) is a safe place for us big girls to review places, experiences, and products from our unique Fat Girl perspective. Did the space accommodate you comfortably? Was there equipment there to support you? How were you treated?
It seems like a great idea! Let’s find out more …
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Tell us a bit about yourself.
Oh, this is always a hard one for me, I never know where to start and how much detail to get into. I know, in this age of ready personal brand statements, how could I not have mine handy and ready? Haha Well, the basics...I'm a 41 year-old new mom, I have a full-time ecommerce job (most recently in data analytics), and I have a passion for driving change. I truly believe things can always be improved. Hmm, what else? I'm equal parts serious and silly, I absolutely love books, I'm former derby fresh meat, I question, I love history, I have the unquenchable need to understand why things are the way they are and why people do what they do. I also love anything caramel. Mmmm....
How did you come up with the idea?
By wanting to jump out of a plane. Seriously! I had been wanting to go skydiving and after many years of being rained out or having scheduling conflicts, I finally went and had one of the most embarrassing experiences of my (adult) life and I was not allowed to jump. (The long version is on our 'About' page if you're curious!) But also, FGR was inspired by something a bit more mundane...my constant discomfort with chairs. Everywhere I went, I would always worry about the seating. Am I going to fit in or on the chair, will I be able to move while on the chair, how uncomfortable will it be, or please don't let it be a bench! The idea of FGR had been brewing in my brain for years and after a few false starts, I decided to finally do something serious about it after I had my baby.
How has it evolved?
We've taken a crawl, walk, run approach and we are currently in our walking phase. We started as a simple blog site with only my reviews and we've graduated to our new site that allows anyone to come and submit a review. I cannot wait until we get to our "run" phase, I think there will be some very exciting features on the site that will help build a robust community with the power to drive change. For now, we are working on expanding our presence and trying to engage with as many reviewers as possible.
We recently interviewed the creators of the ALLGO app, how does it differ?
You know, I just heard about them too! Have they release their app yet? I've only been able to check them out superficially, but the difference so far at this point is that we're focused on the plus community to start. There will definitely be an opportunity to expand and iterate, and while we're excited about our long-term plans and goals, supporting the plus community is our priority now. We understand how what we are trying to accomplish can be applied to all marginalized groups, but we want to give Fat Girls a clear voice and a unique experience. We wish ALLGO all the best, the more voices the better!
How are you getting the word out?
We've been increasing our social activity as much as we can, reaching out to others that are active in fat-friendly communities, and we also just started with print materials that we can give to people or leave at businesses. We are hoping to host events as well, which should be coming in 2019.
How can people contribute?
By submitting reviews for anything and everything! Everywhere you go, anything you try on, any doctor you visit, any vehicle you ride in...think about how you would write the review and then submit it. We only gain power with knowledge and with each new review submitted, we are increasing our influence for change. We've already had a potential new business owner reach out to us about how they could create their business to be fat-friendly. How amazing is that? She wants to ensure bigger people are comfortable and treated with respect BEFORE she even designs her business. So yeah, reviews, reviews, reviews!
How do you see FAT GIRL REVIEWS evolving over the next decade? Do you perceive that access for all will improve with time?
We will evolve into an engaging, informative, and influential community that supports fat girls. I also see us as a repository of information for business who are looking to increase their audience by being fat-friendly. If we can facilitate this flow of information in a safe and comfortable way, we will have achieved our first step.
I do believe access for all will improve with time. Unfortunately, I don't think it will be quickly though. There are varying access issues out there and it's a lot to tackle. But I think the more vocal we are, the more things will change. Thankfully, we live in a time where marginalized groups can actually be heard finally. They just need to be paid attention. And that's what FGR is doing, paying attention.
What are some of the universal issues that you find fat people come across and how might we better advocate for ourselves?
Fitting comfortably in spaces. I mean everyday activities like eating out. Will you fit in the booth? Will the chair collapse under you? Will the chair be so uncomfortable you cannot enjoy yourself? Will you fit down the aisles or will you pull tablecloths off table because your butt brushed against them? Or will you need to move the tables around to get into your seat? Will you even fit in the bathroom!??!
We can better advocate for ourselves if we can learn to not be ashamed of these things. Many women still have an issue with the word "Fat," which I understand. But also, many women don't want to admit these kinds of uncomfortable or awkward experiences. Yes, it is embarrassing when your stomach brushes the back of a stranger's neck when you are just trying to squeeze behind his chair, but if I never mention that it's embarrassing or a problem, then how will it get fixed?
In what way can companies improve their experiences when related to accommodating others perceived of as outside a certain 'norm'?
By taking into account that fat people exist and should be treated like desirable customers. I think a decent amount of people would be surprised by how many businesses purposely ensure fat people are NOT catered to and that they are made physically uncomfortable. Companies think it will exclude the "average-sized" person if it's seen to be a "fat friendly" company. How messed up is that? No, this is not unique to fat folks and that is why diverse representation matters. So mix it up companies!!!
If you want to submit a review to FAT GIRL REVIEWS you may do so here