We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Snyder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Twelve-year-old me would say that risk taking was being in any situation or implication that I was the F word- FAT. Flash to fat me today- I was fat. I am fat and I LOVE MY FAT SELF. Self-love as risk taking? Fat liberation as risk taking? Yes. A gentle jelly roll- yes. Risk taking is unapologetically letting yourself be authentically you. In my case, it has been putting my self-confidence and self-love radically out there for the world to see through visibility. Loving my fat body is a daily revolution and a risk. A battlefield of society telling me I should hate it, I should have shame, I should change it or want to change it. Every day that I walk around confident, I am fighting the beautiful society that wants me to*want* to change myself. I grew up, as many of us did, not seeing my body represented in a positive way in the world. This led to years of diets, thinking if I was only thin enough- my world would change. I would be liked. I would find community. It wasn’t until 15 years ago when my self-love journey started. I was living in Northern California going to grad school for theatre, still hung up on not being labeled fat, still trying to blend in. I went to an immersive gathering where I was seen- I was seen for my big fat beautiful body and I was celebrated. I looked in the mirror and cried for all of the times that I tried to deny my fat/ plus size/ XXXL/ body. I tried for so many years to not take up space, and then I was celebrated for being *the* space. Falling in love with myself was my liberation. This led to opportunities to hold space for others, to build other people’s confidence and probably most importantly, to be the person that takes off her beach coverup first so that the other fat people on the beach do not have to go first. Living confidently in a fat body fueled with confidence and self-love is my life long risk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My creative spaces bubble in activism, community building, storytelling/performing through: images, stage, groups, 1:1 and speaking to communities or individuals about self-love, confidence building and fat liberation. It is still wild to me that I have these opportunities- to share, to be received, to live fully in my authenticity. Leading with vulnerability has been my joy point. I love being able to connect with others through a shared experience. Self-love and fat liberation is my daily challenge- every day I work through getting to a place where I love myself. It has taken many years, many many emotional tools and some days I do not get there and that is ok. I want the world to know that loving yourself exactly how you are right now is the most important role or relationship you can ever be in. I also want other fat people questioning their art, their visibility, their life to know that they are so incredibly enough. Fat is beautiful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A dreamy LA day to me would be starting with a gratitude practice. We name three things we are grateful for and set an intention of joy for the day. Next, we cruise to get bagels at Hank’s Bagels (shout out to the Valley-underrated). After a nice dose of shmear, we head to the beach- Zuma in Malibu is where I live out my Baywatch fantasies thinking I am the fat girl Pam Anderson and unapologetically having a photo shoot, body surf and sunbathe like a lizard from Jurassic Park all while looking out every few minutes to the Pacific Ocean and saying- aren’t we so lucky? We’ve built up an appetite and stop by Malibu Seafood before cruising back, we take a cat nap- throw on some Lizzo and get glammed up. We are dressed for each other looking fabulous and feeling sexy. We hit a live performance in the NoHo Arts District and grab a drink in the area after- surprise- we theatre hop to another show. We stumble on live music and dance until our feet hurt. We end our night with glitter and feathers in the Uber becoming besties with our driver. Before we get out of the Uber we all reflect on a moment of joy from the day. My moment of joy is that I have the opportunity to be my most authentic self.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
What a great prompt, thank you:) A very big shout out to my incredible family & chosen family for loving me just the way I am and always building me up. Within that group, my beautiful Mother who always told me to not care what people thought- your compassion, beauty and generosity to others fuels me to listen, hold space and put it all out there.
Shoutout to my incredible sister who taught me what being a Goddess is and was so patient with me all the times I was hurt over not feeling enough.
To my furry kitty son, Moses Roses- my exodus from loneliness. You brought me back to life after a year of feeling the most alone.
Love to the fat women who came before. Venus, Mo’Nique, Oprah & Rosie for paving the way and normalizing fat bodies on screen. Love to drag queens who inspire me daily and whom I model my confidence & style after:)
Love to all the incredible women over the years that have joined in hard conversations, coming together as a community, wiping each other’s tears and getting extremely vulnerable over our bodies and self-worth.
To the Jewesses, Goddesses, Queers, Weirdos, you fuel me, you made me feel a part of something. I love you.
To the fat spaces and fat Jewish spaces that have existed, welcomed me and been unapologetically present when I have needed you the most- thank you. Especially Fat Torah- check them out.
And finally, shout out to all of the fat people reading this- you are beautiful, you are enough, and I see you.
Emily C. Petrie