Embodied Activism

Words by Brianna, 24 QLD 

Content Warning | WhyNot | Blog

This article contains themes of mental health and eating disorders which may be difficult to read or triggering to some readers. Readers in need can seek support from the following services or visit our Creating a Safe Space page to see a full list of support services.

Lifeline – 13 11 14

This piece was a finalist of the Youth Summit Creative Competition 2022.    


My fat little feet,
too wide for the shoes I like
to ‘borrow’ from my
sister, are at least
reliable. Although they
never managed to
keep me high up on
my toes like other, thinner,
dancers, they still get
me to lecture halls
and meetings in offices
a short walk away
from Parliament House.
I’ve yet to walk them through the
city on a hot,
hot, unnaturally
hot day, when the young people,
like me, fight for pride
or fairer wages
or a future we won’t melt
ourselves away through.

My thick little thighs
and round little belly both
seem to be too big
for slip dresses and
skinny jeans. But they are fed
well and store within
them energy I
need to get me through the day,
or week, or month, or
those random moments
in my life where up is down
and left is right and
time itself is lost
to a great, grey cloud I can’t
seem to see beyond.
In times like this, I
let thick little thighs propel
my body as fast
and far as it needs
to go, and I let my round
little belly be
as full as it wants
of chocolate, fruit and tea,
while I wait for my
craving for change and
the strength of my screams to grow,
heal, recover,
from those untimely
throes of passion that hit us
when we are so close
to arriving home.
And, sometimes when the grey cloud
rises, I see the
thunder in my thighs
could take me half across the
world. And I see the
the round parts of my
belly are the places where
I have been most loved.

My chubby little
arms stand guardians of my
equally chubby
chest. These parts of me
are my strongest weapons, the
the forefront of all
the power contained
in this big little body
my brain knows as home.
My arms split the seams
of old dance costumes, remnants
from a childhood
I’m not trying to
outrun. And they’re strengthened by
the weight of picket
signs, decorated
with care and clumsiness by
the fumbling hands I
have never mastered
the art of writing with. The
hands, my hands are good
at typing though, so
type away I do, often
and now to use up
powers that reside
in my guarded chest. I type
the words I will speak
in Parliament one
day if nothing changes now,
and I grow tired
of waiting, and old
enough to fit in with the
rest of the Chamber.
I type these words, for
now as letters, to people
who still hold power
and make decisions
I would like to make, for me.
I type the words that
are seared into
my heart. Words I learnt from young,
inspired leaders,
leading me today,
who have steered me the right way.
My chubby little
chest, is full of love and hope,
a treasure that makes
my being richer
than precious stones, gemstones, jewels.

At last, there is my
head. What else is there
to say other than my head
is not done growing
yet? There are always
new ideas to be had.
New perspectives to
learn from, to help me
understand what I have no
hope of knowing from
the experience
to which I am limited,
the privileges I
have never fought to
gain. But my little head has
power still as well.
With my ears, I
hear the lives and stories of
people who will come
to inspire me,
as much with the strength of their
words, as with the force
of their fighting hearts.
With my eyes, I can see the
headlines. They are signs
of how far along
we have arrived on journeys
with which we burden
ourselves. They are signs
of how soon we might lighten
the load. They are signs
that show us when to
pitch our tents, rest and bask in
small successes. And
sometimes when we need
to set our sights on changing
horizons. I am
an experienced
traveller now, with a bud
of a head, waiting
to bloom offerings
of guidance to be passed down
to the next ones here.

My fat little feet.
My thick little thighs. My round
little belly. My
chubby arms and chest.
I embody the journey,
nourish my body,
let myself be a
presence, not an extinguished
flame. And at last, with
my head, which I hope
still grows bigger, I’m starting
to let myself take
up space with no shame.

Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

Posted in