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"It's also about how bloody sexy we are too, hun" - Scottee on Fat Blokes

Queer artist, activist and all round piece of “feminist ’n’ working class fat brilliance”, Scottee, has a new show that yet again smashes the staid narratives and challenges the norms.

The boy from Kentish Town, who now resides in Southend, is giving bigger bodies a space to exist and even better he is doing it on a stage with his latest cultural offering ‘Fat Blokes’.

The piece is an intersectional study landing right at the crossroads of race, class and shame. Whilst keeping a firm eye on pride, self worth and what it means to be “allowed” in a space  if you don’t fit the high street sizes.

Though its titled ‘fat blokes’ Scottee says the show is for any of us who have looked in the mirror and thought we are not quite enough.

So fat or skinny, double chinned or chiselled, we are all welcome - the fat rebellion has arrived and it looks beautiful, allowed and seen. 

Jayson Mansaray: What is your new show ‘Fat Blokes’ and what's its mission?

Scottee: It’s a sort of dance show about what it is to be fat and where that meets class, race, shame, pride and self worth. It’s about the confusing headspace of what it is to always be the butt of the joke, to have white vans hurl bottles at you and Channel 4 dedicate its prime time programming to trying to ‘solve’ you. It’s a protest piece - its loud, angry, big. We’re sharing our lived experience - one that is currently unfolding, one that has seen us be physically attacked and disowned - its also about how bloody sexy we are too, hun.

Jayson: Where did the idea grow from?

Scottee: I’ve made various bits and bobs about fatness but they’ve usually been me on my own - I wanted to create a fat gang. Now, the world is constantly telling us that fat people need to move their bodies, so the most obvious choice was to do a dance show - ‘Fat Blokes’ is us doing what the world wants us to do but they need to listen to our thoughts whilst we’re doing it.

Jayson: With your instagram handle being @scotteeisfat, and past posts/articles, you appear to have been a self admitted “fatbloke” for a long time, why do this show now?

Scottee: It’s taken me 10-years to get to this point - to be able to inhabit my brilliant body and to almost all of the time rise above the shit the world throws at it. If you ask your fat friend (everyone is lucky to have one) what their experience of the world is like you will find out that people do everything possible not to sit next to us. We’re called smelly or sweaty, people take photographs of us in public space, our bodies are touched like public property, go to the doctor with a sore finger - they will advise you go to Weight Watchers, we’re vilified as taking up too much space, using too many resources and often we’re on the receiving end of public shaming, verbal abuse and in some cases extreme physical violence. Just because I’ve got to a position where I can block the trolls and live life under headphones it doesn’t mean the problem has gone away.

Jayson: Which do you think you are most...artist or activist?

Scottee: I’m not precious - I’ve been called much worse in my time. I’m often called a comedian (because I’m fat and visible I guess), some folk consider me a writer or and internet person, my Nan thinks I’m a drag queen - I’m OK with whatever makes sense to people, because if I’m familiar enough they’ll listen. I think the term activist now is batted about a lot - it’s become shorthand for folk who have 20k followers on instagram who once said ‘down with Trump’. I’d like to think of myself as an old school activist - I’ve created the first pride in Peterborough, occupied high streets with queerness in Southend, made survival zines for queer and trans young people across the UK, found ways of having complex conversations around class with working class communities - I’m not saying I think my activism is better than those who place themselves at the centre of online ‘body positivity’ movement but I’m yet to see how these middle class, privileged movements support those from backgrounds or politics like mine.

Jayson: I’ve been lucky that my weight has never been an issue, but it has for many friends and family, what is the experience I am missing?

Scottee: Ask your friends and family - if they’re able to do the emotional labour then all you need to do is listen. Watch how the world navigates their body when you are in public space.

Jayson: Do you think we have seen a change in body attitudes - is the rise of the ‘plus sized model’ enough?

Scottee: Not really. Fat folk are being coerced into thinking our bodies are accepted by a few select retailers, but we’re online only - we’re not allowed to try the clothes on in store  - keep the fatties away from the brand! The clothes available to us are designed to hide our fat, to be ‘flattering’ again centring thinness as the desired. Plus size models are what I call ‘good fat’ - they are fat in the right places - big boobs, small waist and a booty - they often are white, with thin faces and masses of conventional sexual and social capital. This is just capitalism pretending we’re OK, we’re allowed, we exist - but our clothes cost more because we’re fat, we’re hidden and placed out of sight. The body positivity movement is also trying to convince us utopia is right round the corner but again I’m yet to see how a bath bomb or a scented candle can dismantle the shit that is thrown at othered bodies. Empty platitude of ‘love yourself’ and ‘self love is beautiful’ are just that - empty.

Jayson: As a black guy my race is sometimes fetishised would you agree this happens to “fat blokes” too?

Scottee: I think that important to state I’m not trying to correlating the experience of blackness with fat, these are two very different experiences and one, as a white fat person I will never truly understand. However, I’ve shared lots of conversations with black and brown friends and lovers who often bring these two experiences together - especially folk who are fat and QPOC (queer people of colour). We’ve spoken at length what it is to be either completely ignored - to have no perceived worth, value, capital OR to be completely fetishised where your blackness and/or fatness become the thing of fixation and not you - the person. I call this detachment because as a fat body, when you’re body is the fixation of their desire you observe the ritual, you’re not apart of it. The worst is when you are asked to perform to the stereotype the other person wants you to fulfill and they can’t see how ugly, damaging and aggressive their actions are towards you. 

Jayson: Is this show a space for the fat blokes and women only or can we all take something from it and share the space?

Scottee: Far from it, in fact it's for anyone who's ever looked in the mirror and second guessed themselves, who got to the door and wasn’t sure if they were brave enough to step foot into the world. I also invite fat sceptics - those who think I should be ‘sorted out’ to come down, watch and meet me in the bar afterwards.

Jayson: In three words summarise your relationship with your weight in the past, the present and, hopefully, the future?

Scottee: Hidden, Seen, Allowed.

Scottee
scottee.co.uk | instagram.com/scotteeisfat | @scotteeisfat

Fat Blokes by Scottee
8 Nov 2018 - 11 Nov 2018
Southbank Centre
Info and tickets: southbankcentre.co.uk