An Interview With Fat Liberation Activist Demon Derriere

I was so over being the tokenistic hire. I was so over hearing producers say, "There aren't any fat performers, POC dancers, or disabled artists”.


If you ask anyone who grew up in the 2000s about what they remember most about the era, they're likely to recount a few things. One might be discovering the bounty that was downloading music illegally off Limewire. Some might say it was heading to Blockbuster to rent the latest action franchise that had just been released on VHS. Others could probably recall pretty vividly the blatant fatphobia.


You could be innocently walking through a grocery store only to get hit with how a starlet had "gained 20 kilos while on holiday" on the cover of a tabloid, or having to sit through movies and TV shows where fatness was literally the punchline to every joke. In short, it was inescapable, and millennials and elder Gen Zs have a lot of trauma to unpack from the era. 

Fast forward a few years, and social media came through to really throw a spanner in the works. While the discourse around “body positivity” and “empowerment” may have found a place online in recent years, the overwhelming message of apps like Instagram and TikTok has been ‘conform to societal standards of beauty, and you’ll be rewarded in clout and money’. 

On top of this, considering the current buzziness of supposed wonder drugs like Ozempic and the rise of 'heroin-chic' again, it's fair to say we've got a long way to go before larger bodies are wholly accepted and celebrated in mainstream media - which is why activists like Demon Derriere are so important. 

Demon is the brains behind Big Thick Energy, a space dedicated to body positivity and liberation through movement, creativity and community. We spoke to Demon to better understand what fat liberation is and how we can all unpack our own internalised fatphobia.


VICE: How would you describe what you do?

Demon: Here are some buzz words: Performance art, strip-tease, activism, filthy, provocative, interactive, radical self-expression, questionable, exciting, co-design, community-driven and audience dependant!

What made you want to become a leader within the fat activism movement?

It was my lived experience of ‘otherness'. Being bullied and fat-shamed by friends, family and society, and then missing out on creative opportunities in my early 20s for being fat and mixed race and silenced by social media, lit a fire up my ass.

That hate and discrimination fuelled me to prove them wrong. I guess I'm stubborn! Plus, the lack of role models and representation for being like me. Within the queer community, I rarely saw folks like me. Fat and disabled folks are not well represented within the queer spaces, and I felt I was missing out.

Queer folks always talk about chosen family, yet why can I only count the number of visible fat queers on my hand? This is controversial because I see the queer community as my fam, but I just want to sit and chat with them about accessibility and true inclusion without them feeling like I'm attacking them. This is a sensitive topic…

What's the reality of being an activist like? What are the ups and downs?

My activism, drive, loudmouth, and creativity helped produce creative opportunities for me. It validated me as a performance artist to be booked for professional work, not work on projects for 'exposure'. Yuck.


The connections that helped develop within the fat and disabled community are beautiful. I’ve made true friendships through my activism. However, while I feel like a 'role model' or 'leader' within the fat community and the disabled community, it is exhausting, repetitive and emotionally draining. People expect me to know the answers to everything or do extra work for them.

For example, people slide into my DMs asking how to make their events accessible, to share their events with folks within my community, and which Auslan interpreter they should book. When that happens, I think, “Hey, doll, sounds like you need to do some serious community engagement or hire an accessibility coordinator! Pay me.”

What is the difference between body positivity and body acceptance?

Body positivity is a term commonly used which has now been capitalised (thanks to media). However, body acceptance holds more range. Sometimes I don't feel 'positive' about my body, especially when I experience fat shame or discrimination. Instead, I can feel all different ways about my body and accept it.

Body acceptance isn't to be confused with body neutrality. Which, for me, I'm hardcore against.

Can you explain the ethos of Big Thick Energy and what it sets out to achieve?

It created work opportunities for me during Covid-19. It was a chance for me to be my own boss. It’s a way to connect with the community. It feeds my OCD and is the fun side of my fat activism. BTE is all about breaking stereotypes, raising awareness, educating folks, and celebrating and connecting all bodies and communities in a judgment-free space.


I was so over being the tokenistic hire. I was so over hearing producers say, "There aren't any fat performers, POC dancers, or disabled artists”. This was a way of me calling BULLSHIT and basically spoon-feeding them. I decided to lead by example.

Ultimately, BTE is a space to express radical self-love through dance, workshops, art, live performances and some retail therapy at our pop-up markets. So basically, if you don't feel like ripping your pants off at the end of the night, then I'm not doing my job right.

Has society evolved at all when it comes to fat acceptance?

Yes, there are more fat role models for all, especially youth. I've also noticed more progressive language within the younger generation around body image. There should be more positives here, but society is moving very slowly on this one.

How can individuals each work on their own internalised fatphobia?

It takes a whole lot of work…and it's continuous. We need to break the myths we subconsciously hold, thanks to the patriarchy and the corrupt system. I would recommend all of these activities (which are aligned with self-love activities). 

1 - Read: ‘My Body Is Not An Apology’ by Sonia Renae Taylor. It is my all-time favourite book!

2 - Learn: Do workshops and classes run by like-minded folks. For example, sign up for a dance class run by a fat dancer (Your standard Brent St classes can be problematic and even heighten competitive body image myths…..OOPS! Am I about to be sued?!)


3 - Journal: Write your feelings, discoveries and your gratitude.

4 - Language: Be kind to yourself. Avoid negative self-talk. Cut out words like; ugly, annoying, gross, too much etc. Replace them with positive or neutral language. And for crying out loud, stop trying to use ‘fat’ as a bad word. Reclaim it. “I am fat!” AKA fabulous and tenacious.

5 - Fatten up your social media: Follow Fat activists, body-accepting influencers and like-minded babes. Some of my favs are @faternize @thebodzilla @bigthickenegy_ (OBVS), and many more.

6: Get rid of your shit friends: Reassess who you share your sacred energy with. Pay attention to your friends' morals and beliefs. If they don't align with yours, then it's time to take a step back. Do your ‘friends’ comment negatively on your body, health and eating habits? Do they show a lack of support and encouragement for your success? Say bye to your jealous, fatphobic, diet-following friends and focus on building your self-esteem and new friendships….You can easily make new friends at Big Thick Energy! I got you, boo.

How do you think social media is benefiting the fat activism movement?

ABSOLUTELY! Social media, specifically Instagram, has helped me connect with fellow fat activists, allies, and progressive thinkers. It’s a great space to educate and be educated, link up with the community and express my views with like-minded babes. But, of course, some trolls try to bring us down, but simply BLOCK and DELETE, doll!

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