When I set out to edit Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion, my thought was, “I know all of these ferocious fat bitches who are so amazing and so fierce and I’m going to ask them how they became so fierce.” I thought the stories were going to be funny and almost like a romantic comedy. What I found was that the stories were really, really, really complicated, and a lot of them were not sunshine and puppies and romantic comedy shit. It was serious, intense shit. I realized was that my understanding of “fierce” had been totally one-dimensional—I only saw the shiny parts. I didn’t see what went into what it meant to be fierce.
Now that the book has come out and I’ve talked to people about it, it blows my mind to hear people’s impressions of what this word means. I remember once I was giving a lecture, and the professor had assigned the introduction of my book to the students to read. She’d asked everybody to go around and say what they felt like the word “fierce” meant to them. Everybody had all these different answers that were really good, and then there was this one queer person of color, and they said, “Fierceness is armor.” It was like, “Oh, shit.” It still gives me chills to remember those words.
The word “fierce” has been absorbed into our culture, and it comes very much from queer people of color community, queer people of color history. When you think about queer people of color, especially femmes of color, the amount of resilience that is needed to survive in a world that is constantly bombarding their identity and their body is incredible, and then to turn it into this thing where it looks fashionable and looks stylish and looks sexy and looks effortless—that shit is not effortless!