When Samantha Puc and Alice Lesperance tweeted a few months back to gauge interest in a space to safely discuss experiences of being fat in the outdoors, they didn’t know what to expect—aside from the bullying they were already familiar with as writers and editors exploring that topic. When their tweet went viral and they received hundreds of responses, they knew they needed to do something, Puc says. A few months of editorial planning and a successful Kickstarter campaign later, they’re announcing the launch of Fatventure Mag: a zine featuring work by fat women and non-binary creative people who “love being active, but don’t love toxic weight-loss culture.”
Social influencers like Fat Girls Hiking and Unlikely Hikers inspired Puc to start thinking about the project. At the suggestion of her spouse, she began looking at accounts like those when she felt negative about her body. She wanted to find other people online who were doing things in the outdoors and who looked like her.
“There’s this whole thing about coming out as fat on the Internet,” she says. “And I know a lot of fat folks who can identify with that—we learn very young how to take photos that are angled so you can’t see our chin or our neck or the chub of our cheeks, or the way our collar bones don’t jut, or our stomachs, or the way our arms are flabby. For a long, long time I felt like I didn’t even see fat people on the Internet—and then these communities started cropping up.”
Seeing communities build up around those social media accounts pushed her to join with Lesperance to create a print publication. The first issue, which they plan to publish in October, will feature personal essays, advice pieces, illustrative work, and interviews with celebrities like yoga teacher and body positivity advocate Jessamyn Stanley.
“I’d really like to open up the conversation,” Puc says. “To say, hey, fat people can exist and live in our bodies and do things that you might not expect them to do and do it just because they like it—not because they’re trying to shed 40 pounds, or whatever it is that people think fat people are going to the gym to do. There’s value in the fact that outdoor spaces are for everyone, not just for one type of person.”
Through the zine, she hopes to create a space for fat-identifying people to find advice about outdoor pursuits from biking to camping. “I’ve had so many people—fat women specifically—come to me and say things like, ‘All the dudes at my local bike shop are really thin and white, and aren’t going to understand how to help me navigate what bike works for my size and body. What do you recommend for me?’”
But Puc also sees Fatventure Mag as an important read for anybody, regardless of their size, shape, ability or activity level. “One way to really cultivate respect and to open up outdoor and active spaces to others is to just let people be there, let them do their thing. When you’re participating in some sort of physical activity—and this goes for everybody—if you see somebody who doesn’t fit your vision of the kind of person who should be participating in that activity, and you want to open your mouth and you want to judge them for that, consider for a second that they’re there for the same reason you are.”