Pretty Porky and Pissed Off

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Pretty Porky & Pissed Off around 2001
Pretty Porky and Pissed Off
Known forFeminist, queer, and LGBT politics and activism
Notable work
"Pissed Off." Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession
StylePerformance art
MovementFat activism

Pretty Porky & Pissed Off (PPPO) was a Canadian fat activist and performance art collective based in Toronto, Ontario from 1996 – 2005. They used their bodies as modes of resistance against discriminatory language, cultural and social practices and policies. Their feminist, queer, and LGBT politics were part of the DIY ethics of punk rock and the Riot Grrrl movement, and feminist activism. PPPO was a Canadian trailblazer in the international fat liberation movement.


Pretty Porky and Pissed Off was founded by Mariko Tamaki, Allyson Mitchell, and Ruby Rowan in 1996, when they gathered friends and allies and staged their first performative political action on Queen Street West in the heart of Toronto's fashion district.[1] As fat women playfully dressed in bright colours, polyester and camp, they asked passers by, “Do I look fat in these pants?”[2] While this street performance called out a lack of desirable plus-sized fashion available to fat people it was furthermore the humble beginnings of what was to become a long-term, collaborative, grassroots art activism project in the fat liberation movement that engaged radical ideas about the body at various intersections (including dimensions of the personal, political, physical, spiritual, emotional, as well as class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, health and size).

Pretty Porky and Pissed Off's membership grew to include Lisa Ayuso, Gillian Bell, Joanne Huffa, Abi Slone, Tracy Tidgwell and Zoe Whittall. Together they collaborated on political and creative projects using performance, writing, and visual art. Known for both their satirical and sincere works as well as for their use of queer spectacle, they employed dance, skits, writing, spoken word, collage, crafting, zine-making and self-publishing, community organizing, photography, film and video in their works.

Fat politics and influences[edit]

Pretty Porky and Pissed Off took up feminist fat politics to challenge mainstream ideas about fatness and health, fatness and beauty, fatness and social worth to affirm that the fat body, and in fact every body, is desirable. "EVERYbody is a good body," was a PPPO catchphrase.[3] PPPO celebrated the fat body with pride and politicized it too by refusing diets and denial.[4] PPPO's radical approach to understanding the body was groundbreaking in Canada however they were inspired by many international fat activist including the Fat Underground, Judy Freespirit, Mama Cass, Elana Dykewomon, the FatGiRL Magazine collective, Max Airborne, Sondra Solovay, Charlotte Cooper, Kay Hyatt, Beth Ditto, Nomy Lamm, and Stacy Bias.

Art and culture[edit]

PPPO was dedicated to political aesthetics through art, craft and performance. They were also dedicated community builders who regularly organized clothing swaps, parties and gatherings in Toronto and beyond.

PPPO played to American audiences including NOLOSE[5] and at New York City's queer experimental film festival, MIX,[6] but it was in Toronto's queer arts scene that they found enduring popularity. PPPO collaborated with many Toronto artists including Keith Cole, Ina unt Ina, John Caffery (of Kids on TV), Will Munro, Kaleb Robertson, R.M. Vaughan and Christina Zeidler. PPPO performed at events like Cheap Queers, Strange Sisters, Inside Out's Local Heroes Party, Lisa Merchant's March of Dames at The Second City, Nightwood Theatre's FemCab, and Toronto's infamous queer club night, Vazaleen. In 2004 PPPO staged a multimedia theatre show, Big Judy, at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Zoe Whittall dedicated her edited anthology, Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws: Short Fiction, to PPPO: "For Pretty Porky & Pissed Off - the best group of outlaws a girl could ever run with".[7]

Allyson Mitchell's film, Free! Bake! Sale! (2004) documents Pretty Porky and Pissed Off's take on International No Diet Day outside a busy cafeteria.[8]

Allyson Mitchell's 2013 installation masterpiece, Kill Joy's Castle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House featured a graveyard of tombstones of feminist organizations past including one for Pretty Porky and Pissed Off marked "Pretty Porky & Pissed Off. Look young. Stay fat."

Pretty Porky and Pissed Off was also engaged with education, giving workshops and lectures. In 2003-2004 they were artist in residence for the Mayworks in the School Program for Toronto's Mayworks Festival of Working People in the Arts,[9][10] In 2003 they gave a guest lecturer at Concordia University's series, University of the Streets Cafe: Feminist Controversies, giving a talk, "What's wrong with a little fat?").[11]

Select bibliography[edit]

  • Mitchell, Allyson. "Pissed Off." Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession. Eds. Don Kulick and Anne Meneley. New York: Penguin, 2005. 211-226.
  • Oona Padgham. "Pretty Porky and Pissed Off and the Turtle Gals too."
  • Pretty Porky and Pissed Off. Double Double.
  • Pretty Porky and Pissed Off. Double Double II.
  • Rundle, Lisa. "Now the feminists will play with your mind." The State of the Arts: Living With Culture in Toronto. Eds. Alana Wilcox, Christina Pallasio, Jonny Dovercourt. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2006. 100-105.
  • Slone, Abi. "Funny Girl: An Interview with Mariko Tamaki." Canadian Theatre Review, vol. 149, Winter 2012, ed. Moynan King. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


  1. ^ Mitchell, Allyson (2005). Don Kulick and Anne Meneley (ed.). "Pissed Off." Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession. New York: Penguin. pp. 211–226.
  2. ^ Pretty Porky & Pissed Off (2002). Double Double. Toronto. p. 2.
  3. ^ Wark, Jane (2009). Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance Art in North America. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queens Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-7735-3066-9.
  4. ^ Johnson, Josée; Judith Taylor (2008). "Feminist Consumerism and Fat Activists: A Comparative Study of Grassroots Activism and the Dove Real Beauty Campaign". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. The University of Chicago Press. 33 (4): 941–966. doi:10.1086/528849. JSTOR 10.1086/528849.
  5. ^ NOLOSE. "2004 Program Performer Bios".
  6. ^ MIX. "Baby Got Back Program". MIX New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival.
  7. ^ Whittall, Zoe (2003). Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws. Toronto: McGilligan Books. ISBN 1-894692-07-1.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Allyson. "Free! Bake! Sale!". CFMDC.
  9. ^ " | Festival of Working People and the Arts". Retrieved 2017-04-16.
  10. ^ Padgham, Oona. "Pretty Porky Pissed Off and Turtle Gals too". Rabble.
  11. ^ Fitterman, Lisa (May 12, 2003). "Yup, you look fat and damn fine, too!". The Montreal Gazette.

External links & references[edit]