Take The Cake: Fat Babes In Vienna

Before this trip, when I thought “Vienna,” I didn't think “plus-size paradise.” But holy shit. Image: Virgie Tovar.

Take the Cake: Stories of a Fat Girl in a Skinny World is an ongoing series about, well, living as a fat girl in a skinny world (obviously).

Vienna is a city defined by its superlative commitment to, like, everything. From the tiny tableau that tops each creamy tart to the neoclassical flourish that characterizes nearly every facade.

There are clustered buildings in Easter egg hues and desserts delicately comprised of marzipan, layered between chocolate, layered between cherry, layered between nougat.

The coffee menu is three pages long, each beverage with its own name depending on whether there's liqueur or ice cream or whipped cream or all three added to the espresso. Many traditional coffee shops include service provided by an uppity dude dressed like a butler who takes your order with nostrils aflare.

The auspicious fact that Venus of Willendorf was found just outside Vienna seems to preside over my visit.


 

My favorite thing about this trip was that I spent my time in Vienna with fat feminists by my side every single day.


 

Before we even get started on the great news of the fat babes, you need to know the back story — and the players.

First, you need to know about Veronika. I met Veronika at Abundia (amazing fat women's convention) while she was doing an artist residency in Chicago. She's a Vienna-based fat performance artist who kind of blows my mind on the regz. Like, for a show once, she stripped down and had her assistant paint her to look like a hollow chocolate version of herself. Then, she stood on a scale made of chocolate until it melted, while people watched and ate candy.

Next, our mutual friend Angela (who I also met at that same Abundia). She had just visited Veronika and posted a bunch of pictures of pink cakes on Instagram which made me hella hungry and prompted my visit to Vienna. While planning my European trip (birthday present to myself totaling $681 thanks to kayak.com) Veronika suggested we do a lecture/talk while I was there and I was like, YES.

Talking to smart women is like my favorite thing, and doing it in public with an audience is like the double chocolate dip of favorites.

So Veronika worked with two other babes (since you're getting to know my whole life, I may as well tell you their names: Bobby and Rhea) to create Vienna's first ever plus-size market + artist talk. Shorthand: Curvienna.

So, I showed up on the day of the fashion market, and it is wall-to-wall stalls filled with plus-size purveyors. I bought a skirt from a plus blogger named Angie. I bought a big plastic heart necklace with a matching ring for € 3 from another stall. A designer named Samantha came from Italy to sell her shimmery SamanthaCurve body con collection (the skin-tight, high-shine python pencil skirt + matching PVC tank I got from her will be debuted on the 'gramz soon).

I had cakes. I had salmon cream on breads. I had prosecco. The press came.

And after all that, it was time for the talk.

Veronika had prepared about 70 slides covering 10 topics from fashion to self-care to art, politics, and romance. The room was full of people, most of them nodding along as we spoke about the paternalism inherent to dieting, the limitations of a heavily capitalism-engaged politic, our mutual love of pig iconography, and the ways our lives have been shaped by the fat-shaming culture we live in.

I took a strong stance on the pursuit of weight-loss as anti-feminist. I was honest in my assessment that most women are unhappy (feminine dissatisfaction is the corollary of life under patriarchy).

I ended my part of the talk with a line I'd written into my tiny pink journal: “The fight for fat rights — above all else — is a fight for human rights. Every person, regardless of size, deserves to live a life free of stigma and discrimination. Full stop.”

My favorite thing about this trip was that I spent my time in Vienna with fat feminists by my side every single day.


 

Occasionally, our bellies bumped into one another and then rebounded for just a second, like balloons. The familiar physics of fatness, multiplied by two or three.


 

I walked the royal labyrinth with Sara, a woman with bright red hair and thick-rimmed glasses who does workshops called "my big body is my big temple."

I met up with Julischka, a fat performance artist who prints images of her butt on big cakes, and we ate chili con carne at this ultra-hip restaurant while talking about how our respective class backgrounds has affected our relationship to our work.

I spent half my nights with Rhea, who writes novels about fat women overcoming their fear of wearing a bikini and pursuing love.

I spent an afternoon judging contemporary art and pretending to smoke with Samantha (the one who makes shiny body con dresses). We got so tight that she volunteered to stop me from clocking this particularly condescending waitress who told me I didn't know what goulash was.

Every day was like a completely unexpected fat Christmas.

On my final night, Veronika and Rhea surprised me with a visit to the Prater — an old fair filled with three haunted houses, a racist Speedy Gonzalez spinning sombrero ride, and enormous pieces of pork. The three of us got on the old ferris wheel, crammed into a car with eight or 10 other people.

Rhea is known as the walking encyclopedia in the crew, and so when we were 200 feet above Vienna, she pointed her finger out the window to direct my attention to tiny rooftops as she tutored me in historical and geographical facts. Veronika was exhausted from putting on the event, but she still smiled for my precious selfies.

I loved the way it felt to be around them, to maneuver our bodies — someone else's boobs never far from my elbow or back. Occasionally, our bellies bumped into one another and then rebounded for just a second, like balloons. The familiar physics of fatness, multiplied by two or three. I felt like we spoke in shorthand, the language of shared experience.

Before this trip, when I thought “Vienna,” I didn't think “plus-size paradise.”

But holy shit.

I'm excited to see the global fat babe takeover is going so well.

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