I Identify As Fat & Yes, It's A Political Statement

If New York's florescent burlesque scene suffers from a lack of body diversity, Fancy Feast is helping to even the score. Fancy, who debuted her sultry act at queer-friendly local cabaret nights six years ago, has transformed her once-tentative forays onto the stage into a powerhouse portrait of self-confidence — one that has kept her calendar crammed (and her lips extravagantly bedazzled) ever since. Watching her paint-dripped, tassel-twirling shows, it's easy to see why. With 67% of American women wearing a size 14 or higher, eroticized spaces like burlesque are increasingly ripe for Fancy's cheeky brand of inclusivity, exposing and celebrating sexuality through shapes beyond skinny silhouettes.

But Fancy isn't mincing words. By grabbing "fat" back from the internet's seemingly endless slew of body-shaming haters, she's drained the taboo term of its venom, splashing sizes long-sidelined by antiquated ideas about beauty with the spotlight's warm glow. "'Fat' is a word that used to be wielded as a weapon against me. It was the thing I was supposed to be terrified of, supposed to spend my whole life trying to avoid or erase at all costs," she says, "And if I take the thing that people are most terrified of and turn it into something less scary, it implicates the larger structures that keep people afraid to begin with."
If Fancy's defiant reclaiming of the loaded word shocks you a little, all the better; it signifies a radical shift in our conversation around bodies and the restrictive categories they're so often asked to occupy — from shape to gender to complexion. Under the smokey club lights, Fancy's scintillating moves are an expression of barrier-breaking confidence, and her highest goal is to connect with her audience as a performer, to "hold [them] in love," as she so elegantly puts it, one scandalously slipping sheet at a time.

Unsurprisingly, Fancy's theory of boundless inclusivity gives her whole outlook an unapologetic radiance that's hard to miss (though we'll admit her flawless flower crown certainly helps). Thinking about the advice she'd share with less seasoned performers, she gives them permission to embrace every minute of their act, regardless of the inevitable mistakes. "You will mess up, at some point; that's a gift," she says. "You'll discover that you didn't cease to exist just because you tripped or got stuck in your dress, and after that, you are invincible."

Because, even in the brassy, neon world of burlesque, is there anything sexier than just loving yourself?

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