Written by Rebecca Alexander.
There are just too many things to love about Bevin Branlandingham. She’s been part of the fat acceptance movement for over fifteen years, penned many a blog on her queer-fat experience at QueerFatFemme.com, produced a podcast before it was cool, and founded Fat Kid Dance Party: an inclusive, accessible dance aerobics class that’s currently on tour.
Bevin’s self-love, body-positive, “there’s-no-wrong-way” attitude make you feel pretty much great about everything–especially yourself–when you’re around her. She’s regularly seen giving high fives when people take drinks of water or set any kind of boundary.
Branlandingham’s Fat Kid Dance Party was born after trying out dance aerobics classes in Los Angeles that, despite being “all levels” classes, were difficult for her. “I’ve been doing work on my body image for a long time and I am okay being the slowest in the class,” she said, “But I was wondering what about everyone else who is left behind by these classes? What about the people who don’t feel comfortable going to a gym or even being in public in workout clothes?”
So Bevin, a woman with the most delightfully pink, femmetastic wardrobe I’ve ever laid eyes on, created Fat Kid Dance Party and took it on tour. I had a chance to go to the class this weekend in Portland and here to give you the skinny (haha!).
Fat Kid Dance Party combines the best parts of a Lizzo concert (meaning, not the hangover) with a fat positive support group to create a fun, accessible, empowering aerobics class. Breaks are encouraged and awkwardness is celebrated. (Literally, if you feel awkward, just yell, “I feel awkward!” and everyone will cheer for you!)
Bevin believes these types of safe spaces are important for people hoping to develop body neutral and self-loving attitudes. “This is a type of freedom I wish for everyone,” she said. “I think it is a path to true peace.”
Like many of us fat folks, Branlandingham has her AllGo stories–moments when our physical world imposes limits or restricts our ability to be us because of size. For Branlandingham her AllGo moments include not being able to enroll in undergrad classes because the seats in the lecture hall didn’t fit her (or anyone above a Size 14 for that matter!) and the time she had to sit in a corner at a family wedding because there wasn’t enough space between the tables to walk around. And once–like yours truly–Bevin broke a piece of furniture.
When she told me this particular story–the one about breaking a chair–she said something that really resonated with me. She said, “It was really embarrassing and I lied about what happened and denied responsibility because I was too ashamed to admit it might have had anything to do with my weight.” I told Bevin then and I’m telling you all now, this was exactly how I felt too. And only now, years later, am I able to remember, I wasn’t to blame. (And you weren’t either, Bevin.) Here’s to sturdy and armless chairs, everywhere!
I also asked Branlandingham about her most recent experiences with space accessibility and her response basically captured the very raison d’etre for AllGo.
“These days I am always acutely aware of accessibility for size whenever I go somewhere…I am always asking restaurant hosts to change where they are seating us to be more comfortable for me. I’m learning more and more about how to ask for what I need, because I deserve the same comfortable experience afforded to folks who are smaller sized.”
We couldn’t agree more, Bevin.
Are you wondering how you can experience the body-love magic that is Fat Kid Dance Party?
We totally understand. First, check out FKDP’s tour dates. Second, visit their crowdfunding campaign page! They’re raising money to make an in-home video series. While they’ve already successfully reached their goal, you can still contribute so that you’ll be the first to get in-home videos when they are available!
About the Author
Rebecca Alexander is the Founder of AllGo and the author of A Kids Book About Body Image. Rebecca believes that being fat isn’t something she needs to change. She works to help others free themselves from the harmful bias that exists in our society. Her work is equal parts creativity and technology. Rebecca lives in Portland, Oregon with her Lhasa Apso, Lucy.