Originally published August 15, 2012 in PQ Monthly.
By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
Baring skin at the pool can make even the most confident folks feel a little self-conscious. But for people of size, what should be a relaxing summer ritual is often a source of ridicule.
Lucky for fat Portlanders and their friends, there’s Chunky Dunk. Organizers rent the Penninsula Park Pool in North Portland on summer Sundays and attendees offset the rental cost with their $5 sliding scale donation.
Chunky Dunk was started a few years ago by Stacy Bias, creator of FatGirl Speaks, and is currently organized by NOLOSE board member Amithyst Fist and her friend Domi.
“People come up to Domi and I sometimes with tears in their eyes saying they haven’t been swimming in 10, 15, 20 years,” Fist says. “It’s really magical to be able to give folks a space to feel a little safer.”
Though the swims were designed as a safer space for people of size, all are welcome. Chunky Dunk even holds a trans-specific swim once a year, recognizing the body policing faced by transgender folks.
“As long as you are respectful of all people at the swim you are more then welcome to join us,” Fist says. That includes children, though the event tends to attract mostly adults. “The trans-focused swim will be on Aug. 26.”
While Chunky Dunk typically gets rave reviews from attendees of all sizes, in a recent edition of the Portland Mercury “I, Anonymous” column, one woman shared her negative experience at an unnamed “fat acceptance” swimming event. She claimed that the other attendees made her feel unwelcome because she was too small.
Fist says she is unaware of anything like that happening at Chunky Dunk.
“We have always had all different body types at Chunk Dunk, including some of my very close friends who are thin people and they have never felt like this,” Fist says. “We would not stand for this kind of behavior and I strongly encourage this woman to reach out to me because I would like to speak with her.”
The final Chunky Dunk of the summer takes place Aug. 26, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at the Peninsula Park Pool, 700 N. Rosa Parks Way. For more information, visit chunkydunk.org or find Chunky Dunk PDX on Facebook.