Taurus: Virgie Tovar
YALL! This is the first in a series of Existing Together Interviews, that will serve as the introduction to the horoscopes once a month. Each interview features a writer whose birthday is during that month - someone who is an inspiring expression of that sign. Astrology is best understood by seeing it embodied / enacted, so this is another way to learn about the signs. It's a way to include the perspectives of each sign that I couldn't provide myself and it's a union of this horoscope / astrology project with my other life project of interviewing and publishing other people's writing and thinking.
We, you and me, are THE LUCKIEST because Virgie Tovar responded to questions right here. I could not be a bigger fan of what she does. Here's her bio:
Virgie Tovar is an author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp, a 4-week online course designed to help women who are ready to break up with diet culture, and started the hashtag campaign #LoseHateNotWeight. She pens a weekly column called Take the Cake. Tovar edited the ground-breaking anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and The Feminist Press will be publishing her forthcoming book of non-fiction, You Have the Right to Remain Fat (August 2018; now available for pre-order <<< www.feministpress.org). Find her online at www.virgietovar.com.
Follow her in all the ways, read what she writes, take Babe Camp even if you don't think of yourself as someone who is invested in diet culture, it thoroughly exposes an oppressive sea of thoughts you've inherited that you might not even have known you can cast off! Watch her ted talk, read her prolific online publishing, buy her book!
On an astrology note, Virgie, as I see her, embodies an incredible mix of Taurus, Aries, and Gemini - the embodied, practical, pleasure-seeking earth energy of Taurus, the quick-witted intellectual magic of Gemini and the confidence-spreading tendencies of Aries! Read this interview to see what I mean.
1. Under what conditions do you experience the most joy?
Imagine my thinky face here. Well, the first thing that comes to mind is when I get to have a snowy plover from Andytown. For anyone who lives under a goddamn rock, a snowy plover is (1) a beach bird that is cute and chubby, but (more germane to this question) it is also (2) a drink comprised of espresso, brown sugar and bubbly water and topped with homemade whipped cream. First, I love the, like, Marxist queer worker-centered vibe of Andytown. And that kind of vibe also brings me incredible joy. Like in general, any human-centered, artistic, bohemian place filled with fat people and gay people and feminists who don’t smile and people of color is going to bring me joy. Tiny, ridiculous hats bring me joy. Talking about how liberals are actually not the awesomest people – contrary to popular belief (lulz) - brings me joy (on that note, a friend of mine just introduced to me to the song “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” and everyone should listen to it). Talking loudly about dicks in a café filled with tech bros brings me joy. My feet touching the grass or the sand brings me joy. Also: tiny dogs or any dog in a dog wheelchair, babies waving at people or eating, seashells, finding huge earrings for under $5, the feel of a new pedicure, a stranger’s kiss, gaudy necklaces, tiny dresses covered in flowers, lipstick on coffee mugs, having pie with my lady friends, talking shit, Nutella, the way my legs feel right after I shave them and put oil on them, the way jasmine smells, seeing a new place, buying the last amazing-looking cookie, inscrutable high theory, swimming pools and hot tubs, rose quartz, finding someone the perfect gift, sending postcards, putting on butterscotch scented Prada perfume.
2. Do you ever feel that your personal needs are somehow in tension with larger social justice needs?
In general, no. I’m a huge proponent of adopting an activist/justice practice that nourishes you and my own practice mirrors that. I’m a brown fat woman and so taking care of my needs *is* justice work. If you’re marginalized and/or traumatized taking care of ourselves is sometimes the only justice work we have capacity to do, and that’s more than enough, I think. I will say that sometimes I feel like I’m not challenging my worldview or privilege blind spots enough – and I can’t tell if this is a moment for self-compassion or if I need to push through because this is work that I need to really do.
3. If you do feel this tension, how do you deal with it? What helps? (If not, what advice would you give to people who do feel something like that?)
I encourage people to look beyond traditional modes of activism and see what they already do well and are naturally drawn to. That’s the heart of your justice work – what already makes you thrive. I want to tell this little story about something that inspired the shit out of me the other day. I was in Waterbury, Vermont at the Ben & Jerry’s factory. I went for the ice cream, but I discovered on the tour that they are actually a rad company. They are politically involved with issues like climate change and LGBT rights, they work to create better lives and work practices for people who provide their ingredients (like being conscious about the impact on farmers who source their cocoa powder and hiring low income people who need jobs to make their, like, 30 tons of brownies), and they even mix all their discarded ice cream with manure in order to make clean energy! Their guiding question as a business is: “How can we make the world better with ice cream?” And I mean, this is the power of the human heart, right? Like, two dudes thought this up. To me, this means ANYTHING (even, like, Chubby Hubby) when done with loving intention can be part of our justice work.
4. Describe how you see your "spiritual life." What does that phrase mean to you and what are your favorite expressions or practices of it?
Well, I’m super woo. I talk to plants. I listen to Stevie Nicks. I talk to rocks. I see and hear, like, mystical truths in unexpected places (like when I’m listening to music that has no lyrics). I touch trees because they are obviously full of wisdom. I know that we are all connected – plants, animals, rocks, trees, the ocean, humans, the stars – and made of the same material. I believe the universe naturally moves energy pragmatically and ever toward a universal synchronicity and healing. Lately I have been doing more witchy work than ever before, strengthening my work with stones (my favorites right now are rose quartz, smoky quartz, citrine, and selenite). I keep them near my bed with my flowers and my tiny cactus, Lumpy. I spend a lot of time looking at the sky, the moon in particular. I’m very connected to nature and I’m finding more and more space to see other people – like, really, see them (their hopes, dreams, fears, why they do or say weird things, what I can do to make them feel safe and loved). This is about intuition and trusting your body even when your head doesn’t understand something.
5. Who or what makes you laugh the most and why?
My friends make me laugh the most – they’re so weird and observant and smart and introspective and vulnerable and witty and real. We talk about our lives and our feelings constantly – like, before we’ve even processed the feeling we’re talking about it (often we’re talking in order to process a feeling) and it’s done with such art even though we’re dealing with really hard stuff. Like my friend whose life advice to me almost always starts with “you’re really being a heterosexual right now” and ends with “what might this situation look like if you were less invested in heternormativity?” Like my single friends who literally can’t meet a normal human to save their lives, I love their stories about dealing with a Tinder date who talks about being attracted to their mom or the humiliation of getting ghosted by someone who hosts a podcast about marijuana or trying to hide a Coffee Meets Bagel alert after just having had the monogamy talk or what happens when someone who has spent an hour bragging about making 6 figures asks them to go dutch on their duck fat croquette sandwiches while in the BiRite checkout line. Just today I was texting with a friend who was telling me that he’s decided not to go on the tenure track market when he finishes his PhD (which is a really hard decision after dedicating so much time to one discipline) and then we started comparing academia to being in an abusive marriage with a rich dude. Or, like, my friend is going through so much right now trying to raise two kids and so the other night we got together at Mission Pie, smoked weed and talked about the people we’d dated who loved our butts. Or the other night my friend came over to help me clean my closet and she always makes up phrases and then tries to popularize them. This month’s is “toking the daffy,” a reference to when your co-worker smokes too much to do his job properly.