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I felt like a witch surrounded by torch-wielding villagers.

It was clear that even for many urban sophisticates paying to attend a festival about difficult ideas, thinking about fat as anything but bad was borderline impossible.

”A woman at a book club meeting asked me this question recently.

I’d been beamed into a living room via Skype to chat about my novel with a group of professional women who drank wine and ate snacks as they awaited my response.

Most people are startled by my unapologetic use of “fat” to describe not only the heroine of my novel, but my own body.To a majority of people, fat can never be anything but an insult.So I’ve explained again and again that fat activists use the word proudly in an effort to destigmatize not only the word, but by extension, the fat body.I said I was fine, but in the hotel that night, I crawled into bed, relieved that I no longer had to perform as a professional fatty. I had begun to feel like the fat lady in a freak show, on display for public amusement.The front lines of the obesity debate are an awful place to be for anyone who challenges pervasive “fat is bad” rhetoric and who asserts that the most significant problem for fat people isn’t their bodies, but hatred and abuse from society.

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