One of the main reasons to have a veg event, or veg fest is to welcome people into the movement, as well as encourage community and bonding with existing members. Events act like they’re welcome to everyone, but rarely put thought into what welcoming means besides just saying it. Here are some concrete ways to make events more fat friendly, which often translate into welcoming for those with disabilities, and others!
- Provide armless seating, strong chairs, wide aisles (also helps differently-abled people, too!)
- Provide restroom access for larger bodies (also helps those with mobility issues, medical devices, and parents with children)
- Make sure that there is a good representation of different speakers at the event. Even one fat/non traditionally beautiful speaker will help visibility and inclusiveness. Even if all the people’s bodies you have speaking are young, able, thin, consider the messages that your speakers are promoting. Is it diet/beauty culture masked as animal rights?
- Do vendors have a variety of clothing sizes? Encourage your vendors to advertise if they have plus sizes! It’s humiliating to shop, see something you like, and nonchalantly dig in the pile to find the largest size. I won’t even shop for clothing unless it’s one of the very few companies I know that sell my size.
One of the best experiences I’ve had in trying to find out if I would be able to attend an event was via an accessibility office at The Kennedy Center. While it doesn’t specifically talk about size, I called them and explained my situation and they were more than accommodating and kind throughout. Having an organization who has put thought into the way their patrons can access art was awe inspiring. I hope that veg events take note of this and offer to have someone who can help attendees navigate the event, whether it is for size, ability, sensory issues, or others.
Saying that you welcome all people, and actually creating an environment in which more people are welcomed are two different things.