A note about SparkleFat, about representation, about visibility, and about these brave, brave bodies


SparkleFat: Poems That Intend To Be Seen by Melissa May | 5.5″ x 8.5″ | 72 pages | ISBN: 978-0692225417

Hey all, Melissa shared this today & I felt like I needed to share it with you:

A note about SparkleFat, about representation, about visibility, and about these brave, brave bodies

Hello, world. My name is Melissa May and I recently (like, as of yesterday) released a book with Words Dance Publishing titled SparkleFat: Poems That Intend to be Seen. If we are friends on any variety of social media, you’ve probably heard me garble excitedly about it in the last several months. It’s a big deal to me, this book. For one, it’s my first book not held together with staples and painstakingly assembled by my husband, my friends, and myself on the questionable floor of a local print shop. This book has a spine and a bar code and so much gorgeous color. I look at it a lot, mostly with gratitude, sometimes with a flipping tummy, but all of the time with love.

I want to tell you why this book is important. Or perhaps, rather, why *I* think this book is important.

SparkleFat is a book of poetry. The poems this book contains are a map through a dense wilderness. This wilderness is love. Love for my body. Love for bodies. Love when it is ugly and it hurts. Love when it turns into redemption. Love that fights back. All of the poems are about bodies in some incarnation or another. From the first poem I ever wrote about being a fat woman (Fat Girl) through the 30 Love Letters Project I was blessed to participate in by invitation (alongside SassyFatGirl member Rachel Wiley) of Denise Jolly, who continues to tear up the sidewalk of shame in a way that captivates and viscerally frees people. This book is like my diary – but it’s more than that. This book is my story. It is the story of so many women and men who do not see themselves in media or represented in a bold or empowering way. This book is my life, my blood and my guts and my secrets. This book is the story of my body.

Recently, Button Poetry uploaded my performance of my poem “Dear Ursula“, a poem in the book and a poem that has a lot of special, powerful meaning to me. Upworthy picked the poem up from Button and suddenly my inbox was flooded with people telling me the stories of how they, too, connected to Ursula in a deep and meaningful way in much the same manner as me. Ursula was the first fat, empowered figure I ever saw. Watching her on-screen, even in the role of the villain, shook something deep inside of me. After the video went sorta viral, the same stories popped up again and again from strangers reaching out to let me know that seeing me, talking about Ursula, talking about bodies, talking about my body, empowered them in a similar way. Many of them told me they had never had the courage to talk to anyone about the lives they led in their bodies because they were ashamed. How freeing it was to send a simple message. What a powerful thing that was to me, to hold all that secret and all that grief that they no longer had to cling to ashamed.

That’s when I realized how very rare a thing it is to see a fat woman own her body in a public way. How very rare it is to hear the stories of fat people in general, without apologetic undertone or frequent attempts to temper their truth with “good fatty” wisdom. How powerful and necessary these stories were becoming. How saying them and reading them and seeing them come to life on the page was like raising a flag up high in the air that screams, boldly, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.

This book isn’t just for fat people. This book is for anyone who has ever lived inside the cage of their body before realizing that is only as prison as we make it. This book is for your brother or your aunt or your sister. This book is for you. This book is for me. This book is a loud voice in a forest that begs us to get lost in the myth of body-ideals, a voice screaming that you are perfect. Screaming it.

This book is saying the two most powerful words any human can utter.

This book is saying Me, Too.

I want to make it clear that though I am incredibly proud of this book, and proud of the work that my Editor Amanda Oaks and her team at Words Dance Publishing put into this book to make it the glittering and wondrous thing that it is, I am also a little afraid of it.

When my video went viral, it wasn’t just kind messages I received, and though I was warned by my fat-girl sisters that it would happen, the push-back knocked the wind out of me for a bit. The cost of visibility is being seen. By everyone. By people who do not want good things for you, to whom you are merely a closet to hold their rage. I’ve had some time, and some pushing, and some deep, deep thought about what this book would mean if I gave it to the world in the manner I wanted to, with this message attached to it, and what that would mean to my life as a semi-introvert who feels things very deeply and takes everything personally. What a risk such a thing like this would be.

It’s okay. I’m ready.

I am ready to be seen.

Even the cover, a photo taken by a dear friend of mine Juli Bowen during a body celebration shoot (the first real pictures I ever saw of my nearly-naked body) is a statement in visibility. I didn’t want an illustration or a model or anyone else to be the gatekeeper of this journey. That’s my body. That’s my face. That’s my stomach and my hair and my nose. That’s me.

See me. See us.

Spread this message as far and fat and wide as you can. I have spent too much time being afraid of what would happen if people really saw me. I am tired of having to hold the secret shame of people who do not feel worthy to share their own story. I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of shame.

This is your invitation to the journey. May love find you in it. May you hear the Me, Too’s in every page. May you love yourself with all the good light you deserve. May you take up every bit of space your body has earned. May this inspire your own story, your own skin, your own journey.

You can find the book here & you can find me on Facebook here.

You might find yourself in these pages. Open up, loves. Let the light in.

Sparkle on,
Melissa