Born and raised in Hamilton, Katie has a background in social work and works daily with individuals who have developmental disabilities. Currently, she runs a group alongside Cynthia (featured on our blog earlier this month!) called Fat Chat, held twice monthly at Body Brave. This initiative brings to life a long-term goal of starting a fat community in Hamilton – and is only the beginning of how Katie plans to support people living in bigger bodies.
She will soon be launching her business, Take Up Space Forever, offering supportive one-on-one counselling for people in larger bodies, and she hopes to eventually expand the offerings to include group sessions and workshops on fat activism and fat liberation.
“Throughout my journey of accepting my body and loving myself there was nothing in real life — it was all online. And the in-person experience really makes a huge difference,” she says. If you’re interested in connecting with Katie, and others in the fat community, Fat Chat is a free drop-in event on the first and third Friday of each month, at Body Brave.
Q: Why Mettamade?
I met Cynthia and Morgan through Body Brave. When Morgan and her mom started making these clothes and really becoming more vocal about size inclusive, I had some questions about what they were really trying to do.
In a larger body there's not a lot of options for clothes that are MY STYLE. I was interested in what they were doing, and began supporting them. Modeling for Mettamade was a huge deal for me. I never thought anyone would ask someone in a body like mine to model for them.
Through the modeling and clothes-making process, they care about what I think and how I feel in the clothes — that I feel good in them. When else do you get the opportunity to have that kind of relationship with the people who are making your clothes? They adjust pieces for me, building a relationship you'd never have with Old Navy.
I love the sustainable, breathable fabric — that's super important to me. People in larger bodies will sweat, so it's helpful. It makes you feel valuable as a human. I feel shallow about it sometimes, but with fashion-show opportunities I want to put my body out there for people who are like me and look like me to see a body like that on a runway.
My body isn't "an acceptable fat" that’s "fat in the right places." Morgan has asked me to bring along friends of all bodies and genders, and I appreciate how committed they are to this inclusivity. She's walking the walk. I admire it.
Q: Tell us about your body positivity journey.
I first heard that phrase eight years ago, when I was on Tumblr. I found a blog called Chubby Bunnies — it was the first time I saw a body like mine represented in a positive way but also any way at all. I thought, “Oh, other people can find themselves beautiful EVEN THOUGH they're fat. Wow, I don't have to hate myself for being fat.”
I don't typically use the phrase in my own adaptation. It's so hard to feel positive about your body all of the time. We talk about body neutrality, but I prefer liberation. Liberating yourself from society's confines and what society puts on you, and liberation from marginalization and oppression. It's more than just beauty — it's access to services, healthcare, and clothing. The words body positivity are tied up with fat positivity and liberation, and body liberation. Body positivity has been co-opted by mainstream society in a way that isn't necessarily body positive anymore. It's supposed to be a phrase that lifts up people in marginalized bodies. That's my activist self. It's about liberation + freedom for bodies to be as they are, no matter what they are. Size, race, gender, all of those things.
Q: How do you incorporate body positivity in your life?
I've made it my work. It was something that wasn't talked about in my social-work schooling — size was never mentioned as an oppression. I realized this and took it upon myself to get that into the curriculum at McMaster University (where I studied), so I did my master’s degree in that area. I live and breathe it.
For me, recognizing how it’s systemic, and how diet culture plays such a huge role (and did in my own life) was so important in beginning to integrate these thoughts. Diet culture is this billion-dollar business that infiltrates people's minds and lives and takes away their ability to engage. The systemic analysis of what's going on, and realizing the role of patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism upholding all these beliefs. It seems huge, but that's really how I think.
When I'm in those moments of not liking my body, seeking out representation of it is really important for me. By looking at different kinds of bodies, sizes, disabilities, and different gender identities, all of those things help me realize how unique humanity is. And that I'm unique, and that's okay.
It comes down to community. Through Fat Chat, we talk to other people who GET IT and have the language for it. for me, seeking that out is so important. You can feel so alone in it until you find others that think the same way and can help lift you up.
Q: Tell us about your capsule wardrobe.
I wear a lot of leggings and tunic shirts. From Mettamade, I love the Morgan jumpsuit with the cuffs at the bottom. And I just got another pair of cuff pants! I also love tank tops, dresses and tank dresses. I'm not a big fashion person — I need to put something on my body to not walk around nude, so I'm really going for comfort. In a fat body, I don't wear pants or button jeans because it's uncomfortable. I love Mettamade clothing because it's so comfortable, I can just not really think about what I'm wearing. It feels like nothing, and that's appealing to me. I would walk around naked if I could.
Watching my sister just be like “whatever, I don't give a fuck” really makes me want to not care either. Who cares? This is my body. It's so much more about them and how the culture has taught us to think about bodies than it is about there being a "problem" with your/my body.
Q: What's one piece of advice you can give others on their body peace journey?
If I can get one thing across to people, it’s representation and looking at different bodies that's so important. We are fed one acceptable body, but when I started to expand my view that that’s when my mind blew wide open. “Wow, not everyone has a flat stomach. I thought that’s what I had to have to be a respected human being.”
No, most people actually don't. It's just an airbrushed false thing that we're fed. They're trying to do that so they sell us stuff. There’s a perfect Stephen Colbert quote: “If girls feel good about themselves, how are we gonna sell them things they don’t need?”
Whenever I feel bad about myself, I think “who profits off this emotion?" It's not about me, it's about who’s trying to sell me something. Fuck that! It's a constant, evolving process. As a fat activist, wholly embracing that word (neutral, as a descriptor) I still have trouble with that word. Entrenched, internalized fat-phobia. It's not a straight-line journey. It's not all rainbows and unicorns. You go back and forth, and you have hard days. It's never done. It's hard and messy. And that's normal.
LEARN MORE: Katie recommends the book Health At Every Size as a great resource for those looking to explore fat liberation.
Get in touch:
FB: Take Up Space Forever
Find Katie this weekend at Goodbodyfeel Movement Studio for her third session of Be Abundant, a 3-part workshop series for those in larger/plus size/abundant bodies to be in community with others in similar bodies, facilitated alongside Jo Gale.