While there are asshats everywhere, there are some places that I have found to be reasonably fat friendly, while not being fat-centric. I think it is important for fatties to get out and mingle with the non-fat community. It is harder to maintain a bias against a group, when you know someone from that group and know that the stereotypes being attributed to that group don’t apply to the person you know.
My two mainstays are the Science Fiction Community and Theater; but right now I’m just going to concentrate on the former (unless someone really wants me to do a 20 page post). My husband and I go to at least one Science Fiction Convention per year (BayCon), and would like to go to more if we only had the time. BayCon is a “big umbrella” kind of Convention – Science Fiction literature, art, gaming, costuming, music (filk), dance (belly dancing and Regency dancing), hard science, anime – they cover as much of it as they can.
Much of the portrayal of women in Science Fiction art and literature seems to lean heavily on the wasp waisted, big boobed ladies in leather; but the actual fandom is much more diverse (and if you really watch the art shows, you can sometimes find some great original fat art).
Another thing, nowadays, Science Fiction is no longer just Science Fiction – it also includes Fantasy (elves, fairies, witches, vampires – you get the idea). So even if space travel is not your thing, if you enjoy fantasy you will love a Science Fiction Convention. And they are pretty much everywhere. Wikipedia even maintains a list of Science Fiction Conventions. And if you find that you enjoy a particular aspect of a Con, you may enjoy some of the more focused types of Cons (furries, gaming, anime, etc.).
Many Science Fiction fans are about intelligence and imagination; so there is not quite so much focus on the actual body type, which is refreshing. Also because imagination is encouraged and applauded, cleverness in costuming or just how you present yourself is really appreciated. You will see people of all sizes in all manner of dress and undress, and everybody feeling good about themselves. What a joy. Like to see the big guys in their kilts (yum)? This is the place to be. Like to see a fattie dressed in steam punk or wearing a corset and fishnets (oh yeah)? Come on by.
The dealer’s room (where the vendors sell their wares) is not quite as fat friendly, but I think they try. Because I am super-sized, I seldom find clothing (although at a WorldCon, I found fabulous dresses and burned out velvet dusters – so you never know) – but the vendors, themselves, are very fat friendly, and most (if not all) will be happy to take your measurements and have something custom made just for you! Yes it will cost, but the quality of the workmanship is usually excellent, and you’ll have something uniquely special. And there are a lot of fabulous one-of-a-kind jewelry, weapons, masks, hats, books, etc.
I used to run a “fan table” at BayCon – doing some minimal fundraising and handing out literature for NAAFA. And I had such positive response from people of all sizes. I have discontinued doing this because NAAFA no longer has a selection of literature covering various fat issues. However, it is my hope to encourage people to write brochures for me on fat issues, so I can again do outreach to the fat community and our friends. I can’t tell you how many average sized people would collect brochures for fat friends because the fat friend was so unhappy and all the average sized person wanted was to let their fat friend know that they could be fat, healthy and happy.
Anyone feel like writing a brochure for me? I’ll be happy to add the artwork (thanks to a subscription to ClipArt), put it in pdf format and it will be available for anyone who wants to print it and do their own outreach. Let me know.