Prizm News / July 22, 2019 / By Garth Bishop

Photo by Fat Babes of Columbus

Body-positive pool party is just the beginning of the Fat Babes of Columbus’ community efforts

Popular culture usually portrays the pool party as a light-hearted, carefree experience. However, it can be anything but for individuals who attend, only to find themselves judged based on their appearance.

That’s why a new social group in Columbus has made a series of body-positive pool parties the linchpin of its efforts to provide a community for those with marginalized body types.

The Fat Babes of Columbus was founded in May to build visibility and provide resources for this demographic group. The group emphasizes exclusivity, welcoming to its events attendees of all sizes, sexes, gender identities, races, ethnic backgrounds, and abilities.

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The group’s founders are Jae Burchfield, Elizabeth Chinn, Hannah Godown and Krystal Orr. Burchfield and Orr have known each other for years, and the others came together through online connections – and, eventually, through shared desire for a fat-positive pool experience. The Fat Babes of Columbus is an open social group.

“We want all folx, not just women, who attend our events or interact with our social media to feel community, safety and inspired to advocate for themselves and take up the literal and air space that they need,” Chinn writes in a statement for the four co-founders.

The group kicked off its local presence with a body-positive pool party on June 22 at the Westerville Community Jaycee Pool. All 110 tickets sold in less than 10 hours.

Body-positive pool parties, as a concept, have been around for several years. But they gained new prominence this past spring, when one served as a centerpiece for an episode of Hulu comedy Shrill, leading to widespread media coverage from such outlets as Glamour and Slate.

The success of the Fat Babes’ inaugural event has led the group to schedule another for August 10, with tickets going on sale at midnight Friday, July 19.

“Pools are notoriously hard spaces for people with fat bodies and other marginalized bodies, as they are very public and often involved a lot of vulnerability and little clothes,” Chinn writes. “Having an event like this offers safety, affirmation and community to make the experience easier and fun.”

Among the group’s other endeavors have been a giveaway for a glitter photo shoot, and future events may include dance parties and clothing swaps. The co-founders will also speak at curve-friendly fashion conference Dream Big Midwest, taking place Aug. 17-18 in Chicago.

The group further aims to collaborate with local businesses so it can direct the fat community to safe places for services. It keeps its work intersectional by using its founders’ own experiences and conscientiously incorporating feedback from its followers and community – for example, attempting to use accessibly facilities with gender-neutral bathrooms and changing areas.

The Fat Babes of Columbus frequently posts updates on its Instagram and Facebook pages.

Garth Bishop is a freelance writer and a longtime Columbus-area journalist. He serves as president of the Society of Professional Journalists – Central Ohio Pro Chapter.