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The Story of a Story: Behind the scenes of international documentary "Fat Girls Float"
Posted by Tee in FGG Guests
A guest post by Kira Nerusskaya

Hello, fellow fat girls!

My name is Kira Nerusskaya, and I am a fat girl with a dream. A dream so simple, that it seems completely reckless and ridiculous: I would like people of all sizes to be treated with the same respect as everyone else. We seem to feel our “non-fat” counterparts achieve respect simply by breathing, even though we're sharing the same air!

The most honest, humblest words are usually—the truth. Like Dr. Martin King, I think people should be judged by the content of their character not by the color of their skin. But, I have often said that I would like to further extend his definition to add “nor their size.”

People may call my simple dream reckless because everyone seems to think that you not only cannot be fat, but you shouldn’t be. And if you are, well, tough—deal with it—as if fatness equals and demands deservedly poor treatment.

Yet up until now, that's exactly what we have been doing. But we are a little tired—tired of cruel fat jokes, glares, stares, and uncalled-for shouts on the streets, denial of possible romantic partners and proper health care, unequal professional treatment and/or discrimination in the workplace. Programmed weight stigma is alive and well in our society, we face it daily, and it's come to be regarded as the norm. Yet somehow I am always surprised. I remember reading about curvy girls in the UK. One person commented that she didn’t understand how these plus-sized women could be pretty since they “must sit around on the couch eating Bon-Bons all day.” I remember thinking, “Are you for real?” I hardly think I am the exception: I have been fat all of my life, and have never eaten a Bon-Bon, and haven’t owned a couch in 10 years.

Fat stigma and negative stereotypes continue-even when our culture says they're trying to embrace it.

Clearly, we still need a voice, and better yet, a voice attached to women on film, happy women who are happy in their bodies, out living and loving life, and themselves. What an important thing for the world - not just Americans - to witness.

I was introduced to the BBW (Big, Beautiful Women) community years ago by a male stranger on a railroad platform at New York City’s Grand Central terminal. He approached me, asking if we had met at Goddesses --  New York’s premier dance party for BBW singles and the men who admire them. I checked it out, and immediately knew that I was among friends. I had finally found my people.

I've always thought that we as a group should be documented, but from the inside, and thought that film would be the most powerful venue way capture the fat acceptance movement. I had been kicking around the idea for years, and now I just wanted to get on the street with a camera. As I sat alone on the bus thinking people must think, as Kim Brittingham has said, that "fat must be contagious," I knew it was time to roll up my sleeves and get started.

So, despite a very demanding full-time job, I went down the block, had a t-shirt made, took a ten-minute “this is how you use the camera" lesson, took a picture with my deli guy, then pointed my radar and my camera toward the 2006 BBW Vegas Bash in 2006—and I haven’t looked back.

I didn't stop with the U.S. Fat shame knows no boundaries—not gender, age, color, creed, economic status, profession, level of education, or nationality. So I turned to what I knew best, Russian literature, and thought about a book that was dear to me: Voices from the Chorus by Andrei Sinyavski. A collection of thoughts, overheard conversations and letters Sinyavski had written and received while imprisoned in the Russian Gulag, this book was the inspiration for my framework on how I would present the conversations in my film. I wanted to collect voices from the fat chorus, the voices of and about women living and working and playing every day.  Here's what I found:

In England we had some good laughs, despite that there are many differences of opinion, and there's definitely a need to bring better plus-size sources and clothing to the country.

France was familiar, I lived there in the early 1990s, and why I never had a problem with language, culture or how I was received by the French, I was heartbroken to watch the way they would be cruel to a fat person buying vegetables in the market. Because we don't eat vegetables, right? Just Bon-Bons. And on the couch.

In Russia, it was like being home. Actually, it's my second home. I loved meeting women from both Moscow and St. Petersburg. Talking about culture, we laughed together when I told them that I related more to the Russian Matriyoshka doll (the Russian nesting doll) than Barbie, even if she became a feisty brunette. And impromptu discovery on the way to the bus was one of my favorites: I met two other fat women. We smiled at each other as we sized each other up. They liked my clothes, I liked their honesty. We became friends, and, it turns out, they were plus-size clothing retailers with a booming business!

As I visited these countries, it was clear that their size acceptance movements were in a different place than ours, but still growing, and very grass roots—like any socio-political movement. They're on their way, and seem happy to move in a positive direction, toward loving their bodies and themselves—and helping others to do the same. In all cases, the it was the warm sense of support we all received from each other, as we do here, that stuck with me most. Twelve thousand dollars and many hundreds of hours later, and I am left awed, grateful and honored for the many people who have shared their thoughts, hearts, and lives with me during the production of my documentary, Fat Girls Float.

Worldwide, plus-sized men and women are fighting for a very basic need: to be accepted. Our story needs to be told, and I thought who better to tell it than one of our own? Someone who knows what it means and how it feels, physically and psychologically, to walk down the street carrying 300 pounds. and so I have produced this documentary virtually by myself, from holding the camera, losing audio, making connections and tracking down people to talk with, promoting, asking, setting up travel, blogging, logging, cataloging and everything else under the sun necessary to tell this important story. It was worth it.

But I'm not finished, yet. I want Fat Girls Float to have an international audience, and I could use your help. Please check out and then pass along the film trailer to everyone you know, and if you'd like to help push this project over the top, consider a donation through Kickstarter.com, an organization dedicated to helping spread important messages through art.

‘In a culture where fat can weigh you down, the only thing that keeps you from sinking is the size of your heart.”

—KIRA