Fat Girl Food Squad: Blogging has never tasted so revolutionary
Blogger Yuli Scheidt is hungry. And she's not afraid to say it—and show you, in dazzling photos, exactly what she's about to tuck in to. In her blog, Fat Girl Food Squad, she and co-founder Ama Scriver serve up mouthwatering tales of the city—Toronto, in their case. But since Yuli and Ama started the blog in the spring of 2013, "Squads" of other food-positive, self-professed fat girls have popped up in a handful of other cities across North America, posting about everything from chocolate-peanut butter doughnuts in Williamsburg to loaded baked-potato soup in Hamilton.
As part of our "Canada Blogs" series on great Canadian blogging, we chatted with Yuli about why fat is a feminist issue, the one (or two) things you should always include in your food shots, and the best pork chops she's ever tasted.
How did the blog start?
FGFS’s cofounder Ama Scriver and I had been writing for about five other blogs as a tag team writer-photographer duo for about a year when we moved from music writing to food. We were feeling restless and limited and also around this time began an important conversation about what it means to be a fat person working in media and PR. We started to feel like a break for editors was necessary to do the project we wanted to do, which has ultimately evolved into FGFS. #FatGirlFoodSquad started as a personal meme on Instagram between Ama and our friends circle but we soon saw that it could, and should, be more.
Tell us about the vision for the blog, "where food, fat and feminism intersect."
Fat is very much a feminist issue. Fat bodies are often not portrayed in a positive light. If they’re shown in media it’s not in a positive role, or saying or doing great smart things. Women are seen as weak if they can’t keep their weight in check, and it’s a moral failing when they don’t. One of the things I try to do is take pictures of us not only going out and doing all the smart, brilliant talks and workshops we do but also of us eating. We’re about to launch a brand new site and all our bio headshots feature us eating a food we love. For a person who lives a life in a large body it’s likely they’ve been made to feel shame about intaking food at all so it’s important to us to have fun and showcase that.
There’s a lot of deep rooted ideas on food, consumption, health, and love surrounding food. We want to help others and ourselves move away from disordered eating that disorder thinking can bring on. We champion the expansion of HaES (Health at Every Size) and non-weight loss-based approaches to health. The #1 negative comment we get is people saying we either promote obesity or that we better check our facts and that is just so simplistic and off base.
As a self-professed "fat girl," when in your life did you embrace this moniker?
Everyday. It’s important to use it in everyday language. It’s a reclamation of the word fat. For so long it was a word so clearly part of my identity but I wasn’t the one who had ownership of it. It was used against me. It’s a daily endeavour to make people around me realize I’m not just using in a self-deprecating way. I’m using it in the same way I would say I’m tall. No one gasps and tries to tell me, “no, you’re not tall. Don’t say that!”
The blog has now become a real community, with "Squads" in cities around North America and pop-up events. Can you talk about that evolution, and how the one (the blog) led to the other (the community)?
The Squads are key to the community part in all of this. The Toronto members interact with each other in person almost daily and we’re lucky for that. We’re also lucky that we can interact with a huge section of our readers here. But the Squads say in Denver, Winnipeg, or Hamilton (even if those are one-women Squads) help readers from those areas feel more connected. They’re the local bureau reporting on local place and happenings.
Meanwhile, the events came out of almost a self-serving desire to meet the people we follow online and wanted to meet in person. But mostly it’s because once we did one event we saw a need to do more. My favourite was the art show, Fat In Public, until we hosted the Plus Size Pop-up and girls were telling us they’d never felt so good about stripping down and trying on clothes, that they didn’t feel fat for an afternoon.
We have this dream vision that you just spend your days floating around Toronto tasting delicious food. What does a typical day really look like for you?
Like a lot of people my age working in the arts, I do have a day job working as a barista that sometimes has me up and out the door at 4 am. I’ll work until the afternoon, after which I’ll catch up on emails, my freelance work and edit some photos for the blog, then I’ll meet up with Ama or another writer to photograph an event. Some days are more stacked than others, where I have to be at three events in a night—after which I’ll go home do some more work, get to sleep at around midnight and then start all over again at 4 am the next day.
Your photography is eye-popping. Any tips for other bloggers out there on taking such sumptuous photos?
I’ve actually just developed some workshops on this. One for mobile food photography for Henry’s School of Imaging and one for all our contributors that I will eventually be filming to put up online for anyone to access. My best advice is use natural light wherever possible. Seek it out, request a table by the window, plan your meal to take place two hours before sunset. A bonus tip is that I love seeing hands in shots. Hands humanize the food. So often I go out and people wait patiently for me to get my shot and are shocked when I ask them to just go ahead and dig in.
What's the single best thing you've eaten and put on the blog?
This honestly changes day-to-day as I try new food and new places. The most recent thing to blow me away was the Salt Cod Inari at Yours Truly. We also took a cooking class at Le Dolci recently where we made the best breaded pork chops with green goddess sauce I’ve ever had.
All images courtesy of Yuli Scheidt and FGFS.