I first read one of Diamond Forde’s poems, “Fat Fuck,” in The Offing and nearly fell out of my seat. Immediately smitten, I craved more of Forde’s wonderfully irreverent, gorgeous poems that reclaim and re-write our culture’s toxic narratives about fat people.
In “fat girl Confuses Food and Therapy, Again” and “On the Way Home from a Business Trip, fat girl Pulls into a McDonald’s Drive-Thru in a Town She’ll Never See Again,” Diamond Forde’s fat girl is unnamed and uncapitalized. She is both many of us and no one at once. Most Americans are fat, yet we rarely see narratives that portray fat people—especially fat women and queers—as anything but grotesque. Our fatness, according to fatphobia’s logic, robs us of our health, our desirability, our humanity. Reducing people to their bodies is the hallmark of objectification and dehumanization. Therefore, it makes sense that fat girl is nameless—our culture has made her object, inhuman.
Once upon a time, however, fat girl ate joyfully and without shame. The first half of “fat girl Confuses Food and Therapy, Again” uses the vibrant language of kids’ birthday parties—“crowns,” “neon streamers,” “confetti,” “honeyed”—bringing us back to a world in which eating occurred in community. The poem then darkens from shimmery neons to “the day’s long maw” that “goes grayscale.” Grownup fat girl eats alone, a long way from the parties of her youth, hoping that “what sugars / stays long enough for one of us to taste it.” The speaker implies that the trauma of coming of age in our fatphobic culture has permeated her tongue, made it so she may no longer be able to taste cake’s bright sugars.
In “On the Way Home from a Business Trip, fat girl Pulls into a McDonald’s Drive-Thru in a Town She’ll Never See Again,” fat girl orders a McFlurry. She will never visit this town again and the attendant who takes her order cannot see her, “a macrocosm of microphones” separating them. The judgmental glares fat people often get when eating can make it painful to have meals in public. Hidden in her car, however, fat girl can eat with dignity, even though “fat girl can’t afford this meal— / fat a currency, the nickels and dimes of a kilogram . . . ” This line reveals how our bodies—especially fat people’s bodies—are often reduced to numbers: weight on a scale, score on the Body Mass Index, number of calories eaten in a day. In “fat girl Confuses Food for Therapy, Again,” the reader is plunged from the sequined heights of childrens’ birthday parties to the dark kitchen in which the speaker tastes nothing. In “On the Way Home . . . ,” the line between joy and dissociation blur. “[T]he world sweetens like soft serve,” announces the speaker as she drinks her McFlurry; she “loves herself, too.” By poem’s end, the speaker has shifted to the second person, reassuring the reader—who is likely to be fat, too, since two thirds of Americans are fat—that “you are perfect in your longing. / Who hasn’t wanted to be filet mignon? / To melt, in buttery love, on a belovèd tongue.”
Fat writers, such as Roxane Gay, Lindy West, and Samantha Zighelboim, are creating the fat literature canon, developing characters that are complex, not cartoonish. Diamond Forde’s fat girl poems are a vital addition to this emerging canon. Readers will surely stan fat girl, falling in love with her as I have.
Read “On the Way Home from a Business Trip, fat girl Pulls into a McDonald’s Drive-Thru in a Town She’ll Never See Again” by Diamond Forde >>