Pop culture stereotypes, shopping frustrations, fat jokes, and misconceptions about health are all ways society systemically rejects large bodies. BIG is a collection of personal and intimate experiences of plus size women, non-binary and trans people in a society obsessed with thinness. Revealing insights that are both funny and traumatic, surprising and challenging, familiar and unexpected, 26 writers explore themes as diverse as self perception, body image, fashion, fat activism, food, sexuality, diet culture, motherhood and more. These stories offer a closer look at what it means to navigate a world designed to fit bodies of a certain size (sometimes literally) and, in turn, invites readers to ask questions about—and ultimately reconsider—our collective and individual obsession with women’s bodies.
Contributors include Dr. Rohini Bannerjee, Amanda Scriver, Cassie Stocks, Jo Jefferson, Layla Cameron, Rabbit Richards, Sonja Boon, Simone Blais, Tracy Manrell and other writers from across Canada, the US, and the UK.
About the authors
Christina Myers is an award-winning newspaper journalist turned freelance writer and editor. After leaving her long-time newsroom post, she turned her attention to more creative work, including both fiction and narrative non-fiction (and sometimes, secretly, poetry too.) She holds degrees in journalism and psychology from TRU and UBC, respectively, and is an alumnus of the Writer’s Studio at SFU. She is a fan of vintage collectibles and BIG dresses with deep pockets, she juggles parenthood and creative work from her home outside Vancouver, BC.
Layla Cameron is a PhD candidate in the Simon Fraser University School of Communication. Her dissertation research focuses on the representation of non-normative bodies in both reality television and activist media as seen through an intersectional feminist lens grounded in fat studies, disability studies and critical race studies. Layla also works as a journalist, fat activist and documentary filmmaker. You can read more about Layla and her work at laylacameron.com.
Rabbit Richards is learning how to exist on stolen land in a marginalized body. The Brooklyn-born poet writes into the awkward to explore the connections we deny and mischaracterize, blending the politics of race, love and gender with the emotional grounding of lived experience. They serve as the chairperson of the Anti-Oppression Committee for the board of Spoken Word Canada and as accessibility coordinator for Verses Festival of Words. When not touring, they make their home in Lek'leki, Downtown Eastside Vancouver.
Simone Blais is a recovering journalist who writes in a communications department by day, edits works of non-fiction at night and escapes the clock by crafting fiction and poetry in between. Her poems have appeared in Trickhouse and Other:____ Magazine. An alumna of Simon Fraser University and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, she calls the Okanagan home and can be found online at simoneblais.com.
Jo Jefferson is a Toronto-based queer writer and parent who grew up in Nova Scotia. Their essay, “How I (Finally) Became a Genderqueer Parent,” was included in Caitlin Press’s anthology Swelling with Pride. Their first novel, Lightning and Blackberries, was released by Nimbus Publishing in 2008. When they’re not writing or swimming, Jo hangs out with their kids, works at a community centre, explores the world and facilitates workshops with creators of all ages.
Dr. Rohini Bannerjee, born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, daughter of immigrants from Himachal Pradesh, India, is an associate professor of French and francophone studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics and a faculty member in the Asian studies, women and gender studies and international development studies programs at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Her primary research focuses on the literatures and cultures of the francophone Indian Ocean. Her poetry has appeared in Understorey Magazine and a short story in India in Canada, Canada in India (Cambridge Scholars, 2013). When she is not teaching or writing, Rohini enjoys life with her husband and three sons.
Cate Root is a writer. She is part of the team behind Dogfish, a mixed-genre literary salon, and is building a better world with the New Orleans chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. She writes love letters, poems, stories, essays, jokes, spells and way too many tweets. Find out more at cateroot.online.
Sally Quon is a writer and photographer living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, where she writes a weekly nature blog. When not out enjoying the back roads of the valley, she likes to spend time writing poetry and practising the art of quiet sitting. Her photography has appeared in Canadian Geographic magazine and in Nature Alberta’s birding brochures. Her poetic musings have found homes in an assortment of places.
Tracy Manrell was assigned female at birth. They now identify as non-binary transmasculine and use they/them/he/him pronouns. Tracy has lived their life large in many ways through decades of being hounded internally and externally by size bias, fat stigma and gender dysphoria. Their life is full of complexities and love. They live on unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam peoples with their beloved queer partner of nearly twenty-five years and their two funny, smart and kind teenagers. Tracy is one of the few folks in the world who has a full beard and whose kids call them Mama. It’s a name of love, commitment and connection, not gender. In their spare time at home and afar, Tracy can almost always be found geocaching.
Jen Arbo lives with her family in New Westminster, BC, where she works in the public sector. She holds a blue belt in karate, prefers to shoot her recurve bow sightless and cans a great jar of jam, though she swears she is not preparing for a dystopian future. Likes: snug socks, strong tea and a brand new dot-grid journal. Dislikes: heights, clutter and storage containers that have lost their matching lids. “Encircled” is her first published piece since her son was born and stole her brain a decade ago, and she’s happy to be back. You can find her online on various platforms as @jenarbo.
Lynne Jones is a teacher and life coach specializing in self-acceptance and self-esteem issues. She is currently working on her first non-fiction book, exploring these subjects in an attempt to encourage more people to understand themselves and discover their true passion. In her spare time, she can be found chasing her naughty border collie across the Welsh mountains or rocking out with her band on a tiny electric ukulele in the South Wales Valleys.
Sonja Boon is an award-winning writer, researcher and teacher. Her creative non-fiction has appeared in Geist, The Ethnic Aisle and donttalktomeaboutlove.org, and is forthcoming in two edited collections. In 2018, she received the Marina Nemat Award for Creative Writing from the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. Her critical memoir, titled What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home, will be published in September 2019 by Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Jessie Blair is a gender-fluid person of Mohawk and Celtic descent. They are in their third year of an undergraduate degree studying sociology and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. They have published several articles, including interviews, in Western Living and Vancouver magazines. One article about an LGBTQI storyteller project was published in Peace Arch News. Some of their short fiction stories have appeared in various anthologies created by Filidh Publishing. Their focus is fiction and non-fiction stories. In their spare time they play the ukulele and sing off key to their cat.
Heather van Mil is a Canadian plus-sized body positivity advocate and freelance writer. She empowers women to love themselves and each other at every size. Her mission is to bring BIG, beautiful bodies to the mainstream, inspiring them to show up and take up space without apology. While her heart is split between the East and West Coasts, she currently resides in Halifax with her husband, two daughters and three fur babies. Follow her at @HeatherVanMil1.
Cassie Stocks was born in Edmonton, Alberta. She’s been a biker chick, a university student, an actress, and a rich man’s gardener; she’s worked as a waitress, an office clerk, an aircraft cleaner, has raised chickens, and has even been the caretaker of a hydroponic pot factory. In 2002, she was accepted to the Writing with Style workshop at the Banff Centre, where she received support and encouragement from Sharon Butala and the late Gloria Sawai. Upon her return to Edmonton, she quit her job at a steel fabrication plant and applied to the Grant MacEwan Bachelor of Applied Communications in Professional Writing. Cassie currently lives in Eston, SK, with her son Julian. Dance, Gladys, Dance is her first novel.
Jennifer Pownall served as the literary artist-in-residence for the City of Port Coquitlam. She co-facilitates a writers’ group, is the blog content manager and editor for Joanne Fedler Media and works as an editor and contributing writer for What’s On! Port Coquitlam. The Globe and Mail published her personal essay “I Am Bairnlorn,” which speaks to her experiences with infertility, a topic she is exploring in detail as she composes her memoir, Re:Birth.
Caroline Many is a prairie nomad living in Metro Vancouver. She’s been obsessed with online culture since the mid-1990s, when she first surfed the web as a staff music writer for EverythingCool.com. Over the past twenty years, her poetry, arts reviews and travel features have been published online and in print.
Shadoe Ball is a writer and artist from Sudbury, Ontario, who lives in Toronto. She was diagnosed with binge eating disorder at twenty-eight years old. Through group therapy programs, a HAES-informed nutritionist and a lot of self-discovery, she learned healthier coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety, such as flexing her creative muscles. She is thrilled to be included in this anthology and is eager for opportunities to connect with BIG ideas and curious people.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a freelance journalist best known for being fat, loud and shouty on the internet. Her written work has appeared on Healthline, BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, FLARE, The Walrus, Allure and Playboy, among others. She finds joy in drag, reality television, bold lipstick and potato chips—in no particular order. You can follow her everywhere on the internet at @amascriver.
Katy Weicker resides in Victoria, BC, and attends the University of Victoria, where she is chipping away at her BA in writing. A former staff writer for Camosun College’s Nexus Newspaper, she has also had work appear in Island Writer Magazine as well as UVic’s The Warren and The Martlet. She is pleased to report her cats have not attempted to eat her face to date—knock on wood!
Emily Allan is a freelance writer, editor and equality consultant whose work deals with intersectional feminism and body politics. Born and raised on a little island in British Columbia, she relocated in 2018 from Vancouver to Toronto, where she now runs a small writing group, affectionately and accurately named Snack Club. She holds a BA in anthropology and political science and an MA in anthropology from the University of British Columbia.
Heather M. Jones lives in Toronto with her husband, two young sons and two indignant cats. She can usually be found arguing with strangers on the internet or watching just one more episode on Netflix. You can follow Heather on Twitter and Instagram at @hmjoneswriter and on Facebook at /hmjoneswriter. To see more of her work, please visit hmjoneswriter.com.
Andrea Hansell studied creative writing at Princeton University and earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She was a practising psychotherapist for many years and is now a consultant and scriptwriter for Glowmedia mental health education films. Her essays and short stories have appeared in publications including Lilith, Intima, daCunha and the Lascaux Review.
Elizabeth Cook is an aspiring author who lives in a suburb of Toronto with her spouse and two children, Sully and Fitz, but will continue to call the BIG Land, Labrador, her home. She believes sunrise is the best time of day and popcorn is a legitimate meal.
Tara Mandarano is a Pushcart Prize–nominated writer and editor based in Canada. Her work has been featured on the front page of the Huffington Post and has also appeared in Reader’s Digest, Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Canadian Living. She is also a chronic illness and mental health advocate. Please visit taramandarano.com to see more of her writing, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @taramandarano.
Susan Alexander is the winner of the 2016 Short Grain poetry prize and the 2015 Vancouver Writers’ Festival Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in SubTerrain, Arc, CV2, Grain, Room, The Antigonish Review, and PRISM international. She is a regular at Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane’s poetry retreats. For inspiration, Alexander writes from eclectic experiences — as a chambermaid, CBC Radio journalist, stay-at-home mother, waitress, lay preacher, and associate at a boutique investment firm, as well as from her family history and passions. She is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets