I first learned of Aquaporko around this time last year. I’d been reading body positive blogs for a while and stumbled upon the group somewhere on the Internet. I joined the Facebook group, excited to start engaging with Melbourne’s fat community and become more comfortable with my newly realised identity as a fatty. Sadly, I lost my nerve and didn’t go. I continued reading, discovering more about myself and watching the local fat community grow. When the second season of Aquaporko began, I decided it was time to dive in*.
You see, despite taking on and wholeheartedly believing in the ideas that Fat Acceptance/Health at Every Size/body positivity/whatever, I didn’t actually know any other radical fatties and a lot of the people I engaged with on a regular basis had a decidedly anti-fat stance. After schooling a couple of my friends and one of my Health Science lecturers on the offensive, stigmatising and ignorant nature of their beliefs, I was desperately in need of some fat love. So, off I trotted to my first training session, convinced I’d either chicken out or be so awkward and new that no-one would like me. The troupe turned out to be super nice, I already knew how to egg-beat and I even went to dinner with them afterwards. I’ve since learnt how to tumble, scull and am working on my (no)handstands. Everyone I’ve met has been super welcoming and friendly, even though I nervously (and creepily) blurted out “I follow you on the Internet!” during introductions.
Although my main drive to join Aquaporko was to make friends and stop sitting on the sidelines, it has since come to mean a lot more for me. Being a part of a synchronised swimming team for fat folk has allowed me to come out to my friends as a fat, and proud, person. The group has given me an avenue to discuss fat hate with people in my life. Having to explain that no, I am not doing this to lose weight/tone up/get healthy/other stupid euphemism, allows me to discuss the ways that society labels and stigmatises people who are different. I get to tell people I am doing this because I am tired of living in a world where my body, and bodies like mine, are reviled and shamed. Aquaporko allows my fat body a place to take up space, be visible in my fatness and push against the boundaries placed upon it. Synchronised swimming requires strength, discipline, grace and awesome outfits. All things that my society says my body can not have because of it’s size. Getting together once a week with other fat bodies and moving them in ways that society says they can’t be moved is inspiring.
Joining Aquaporko is one of the best things I’ve done for myself this year. If you’ve been thinking about coming along to a session, I hope this prods you in the direction of the pool.
*I can’t actually dive