That’s Cat Oake on the left, with me affectionately pawing her as we wait to get our tapas on in 2015. This afternoon we heard from her brother that Cat has left us.
Cat was such a significant part of my fat acceptance journey. And the journeys of many, whether they know it or not. I’m so grateful I got to hang with her in recent years, both here in NYC and at her home in Las Vegas. And I’m glad she knew she was the primary inspiration for the Adipositivity Project. There were predecessors I was not yet aware of, but Cat was the first fat woman who posted nude photos of herself online which made me feel they were created for the gaze of other fat women. She did it with artful whimsy and maybe just a smidge of fuckyouism. I’d never seen anything like it. I’d never seen anything like her.
Over the years she gave me camera advice, chastisement aplenty, and often made me laugh until I ached, without ever cracking a smile, herself. The woman kept a tally of every alcoholic drink she’d ever had in her life! Last time we shared cocktails together, it was in the 300s, I believe. Maybe 400s. She was adorable. She was a character. She was a force.
Halloween will never be the same.
To all who’ve benefited in any way from seeing images of happy, unapologetic, naked fat women, please pause and offer a moment of appreciation for Cat. Even if you’ve never heard her name, she has influenced your life. Trust that.
I just pulled up our most recent exchange of messages. I guess to visit with her again? We’d been talking a lot about medical things, as she’d been in and out of the hospital for months, and Cat allowed me to be a bit of an information go-between for a couplefew folks who were concerned but reluctant to ask. Even when things got real, Cat was always fascinated by the science of everything going on with her health. She sent me diagrams! Jesusgod, I love her. Anyway, one of the last things I said to her in these messages was when she’d just been released from the hospital. Inspired by my favorite Italian toast, “Cent’Anni,” I said, “Another hundred years to you.”
We didn’t have another hundred years with Cat. But if we keep her in our hearts and minds (and toasts), maybe we can have the next best thing. Next time you wear something you wouldn’t have worn a year ago, or you pause to admire your reflection, or you refuse to postpone any part of life in hopes of attaining the unattainable first, I hope you’ll think of Cat. I sure will.
And I hope we’ll always have this. Cat’s website. The site that launched a multitude of multitude. www.catay.com
Now it’s time for a good, hard cry.
ETA: A few of us are gathering in Manhattan to raise a glass to
celebrate Cat’s life this Thursday 9/21 at 7pm. If you’d like to join us, email
me at adipositivity “at” gmail for the location.