Tag Archives: empowerment

Why I joined Aquaporko

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

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Aquaporko 2012/2013 FTW!

So, it was our first Aquaporko back for this season this week. To say I have been excited about this moment is an understatement to say the least! Since the performance in April, life has gone back to it’s usual hectic pace, but I’ll admit I’ve been feeling a bit bereft without my barracudas and ballet legs!
The performance last season was a real achievement for us all, and while showing off our mad skillz* to our friends and family was awesome, my favourite memory of the day was standing in a huddle with the crew, giving ourselves props for what we had achieved. We had some feels.
It’s not every day fat women get together and do something extraordinary. But it’s what we do, once a week. Reclaiming public space, reclaiming our bodies, reclaiming ourselves. It’s a powerful statement that we make simply by stripping down to our bathers and splashing about in the pool. Amazing that something so powerful can be that easy.
My weekly Porko sessions have become so much more to me than just an excuse to get into the pool and pretend to be a mermaid (a lifelong dream). Aquaporko has become a home away from home, a place where I’m not just accepted for who I am, but am encouraged and supported to be myself – even when I’m a quivering ball of social anxiety, barely capable of speech. Aquaporko is a place I know I’ll find friendship and laughter – lots of laughter – and love, and every week last season I counted down the days until I would see my Porkos again!
So yeah, to say that I have been excited for the return of Aquaporko for the 2012/2013 season is an understatement. It’s more like finding a part of myself that has been missing for six months.
If this sounds like the kind of thing you could get into, drop our Training Group a line with your membership request – let us know how you heard about us and why you’d like to join. Also, if you haven’t already, like us on Facebook!

We’re a fat-positive, queer-friendly and generally inclusive kind of group, open to anyone who self-identifies as fat. Those with inner Mermaids, Divas and Drag Queens are strongly encouraged to join! There’s no minimum swimming ability required, though the ability to prevent yourself from drowning is fairly essential.
*may or may not indicate actual skill ability.
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