What I've been chewing on lately...

February 20, 2012
The Well-Fed Woman: Virgie Tovar

DISCLAIMER: I never thought I’d use the word ‘staunch’ to describe myself and certainly not on my website, but here it is: I am a staunch believer in fat acceptance and the Health at Every Size (HAES) Movement and I have been for 10 yearsI myself am not fat (unless you ask Karl Lagerfeld), but I believe the HAES paradigm is the antidote to so many of our woes. And because I believe this, I don’t see fat as a woe. Hard to believe given the “war” we’re in with it, but nope it’s not a problem in my world. I know people who are healthy, happy, loved, and sexy at every size and I know people who are unhealhty, unhappy, self-loathing, and disconnected at every size. It’s true! I could go on and on about this subject and why the truth of it liberates but you’ll have to wait for another day. If you want to understand where I’m coming from you simply must read Dr. Linda Bacon’s book Health at Every Size or at the very least her HAES Manifesto.

Okay, on with the show.

A few months back I saw a tweet come through my feed called “Virgie Tovar’s Guide to Fat Girl Life” and I clicked through, somewhat mindlessly if you must know, and discovered this delightful woman:

As you can see, Virgie is radiantly wonderful and full of such positive energy (and style) that I fell in love instantly. But, as is with our mile-a-minute living, I clicked on to something else and didn’t give it much thought.

Then in January, my dear friend and vintage style maven Rachel Ericsen (rule of thumb: two Rachels is better than one) was holding her monthly Mosswood Mercantile Pop-Up Shop and I went over to say hello and see the goods.

In walks Virgie! Not entirely sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me I shouted from across the store, “Do you have a YouTube show?!” She says yes, her friend looking at her like she hadn’t relized she knew a celebrity.” Bing. Bang. Boom. Virgie, a writer, sex educator, and “fierce fat girl” agreed to be interviewed for my Well-Fed Woman series and I am over the freaking moon. Here’s why:

Virgie, what are you TRULY hungry for?

I’m truly hungry for lots of things. I’m hungry for the perfect peanut butter cookie. I’m hungry for orgasms, for the next time I wake up and my vagina says “I have an idea…” I’m hungry for travel, to take the 2000 mile journey in a slow boat up the Mekong River, to see lemurs in Madagascar, to smell vanilla in Oaxaca, to eat that perfect baba ghannouj I found in Atlanta that one time, the baba ghannouj that had been slowly roasted and hand turned for 15 hours paired with red wine from Israel. I’m hungry for those mornings when the sun travels through the vertical slats of my blinds and I can see the green of the trees from Golden Gate Park and I sigh that delicious sigh of the most genuine feelings of “yes.” I am hungry for my lover’s full lips, to see one more new thing that will feel like a secret that’s only mine.

What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? 

I spent so much of my childhood and adolescence denying nearly every craving for pleasure I felt. Because I’ve always been a fat girl I tried to deny myself the pleasure of food in hopes that I could gain the pleasure of love, acceptance, visibility and normalcy. Food was the enemy and I recall writing hate-filled letters to my body and to food as if they were conspiring against me. I tried to deny that I was a very erotic person from a young age, tried to deny the urges to masturbate because I was afraid God was watching with violent disapproval. Because I was a self-loathing fat girl who believed in a vicious God who owned my body I denied myself the pleasure of kissing boys my age, boys I loved and who loved me. I was always barely holding onto the prohibitions, feeling like I was on the 100th push-up, suspended, shaking, exhausted on the precipice of what I then would have called capitulation or failure.

The change in these beliefs happened imperceptibly, but began with sex and with healing my relationship with my vagina. As a child I’d been taught my vagina was a dirty secret and that my sexuality should be viewed with the same sort of sordidness. As a fat girl I’d been taught that I was thoroughly undesirable and unlovable, barely female, barely human. I had to learn how to deserve love, respect and desire. Shame and self-hatred can take years to unlearn or sometimes just a moment of clarity in which the utter ridiculousness of it is revealed. And now I’m an unapologetic 256-pound woman with a life filled with the feather boas I use for my burlesque routines, a loving 5-year relationship with a hot man, delightful afternoons filled with moscato and macarons, and my best friend the Hitachi Magic Wand.

How has this impacted you?

I live without guilt, without shame (most days, at least), without hatred for my body or myself. Food is no longer the enemy and neither is the pleasure it brings me. I revel in my hunger for love, sex, and delicious food. I have eradicated the people and things in my life that make me feel bad or wrong. In fact, I no longer even attract people who seek to make me feel bad or wrong. I see and feel my desirability as I walk through the world. I see my body as one part of the abundance that surrounds me and that pours into my life. I set boundaries with my family because now I know I deserve to have a relationship with them on my terms. My sexuality amazes me and brings me incredible (incredible!) new experiences of  lusciousness, of aliveness. I have created a self that is sacred and strong. No one can touch that secret part of me that knows I’m a queen.

What are you a conduit for? 

I’m a conduit for the comfort that giggling brings, women finding love they’d forgotten or never learned they had. I’m a conduit for permission, for the unapologetic pursuit of pleasure, for the relinquishing of shame. I’m a conduit for showing women a world filled with cheese and puppies and ridiculous little things that mean we are far from hopeless.

What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?

Fashion, sex, glitter, pleasure, hedonism, delight.

Favorite bite in recent memory?

Musamun curry with perfectly cooked beef at Thai House on Valencia, between 16th and 17th in San Francisco. The curry was a beautiful red-brown accented with gorgeous globules of sun-orange oil. The chunks of beef had been cooked to a luscious tenderness and the whole thing was served in a bowl that looked like a little white flower with perfectly rounded petals.