Sara Fishman

Aside from my parents, Judy was probably the greatest influence on my life. I remember first seeing her at the Los Angeles Women’s Liberation Center some time around 1971–I was shy and self-deprecating, embarrassed about my size, and there was Judy, fatter than anyone I’d let myself see before, absolutely radiating charm and kindness, right in the middle of the action. Until then, I had no idea that a fat person could be so strong, so appealing. Judy opened my eyes.

We were part of the same radical therapy collective. That was where I first explained the ideas I’d formed about fat oppression. Had it not been for her early, enthusiastic support, I’m sure I’d have kept the ideas to myself, and ultimately given them up as a personal self-delusion. Judy was the strength behind this movement that changed so many of our lives.

I recall a comment by another member of our RT collective, that each person has a gift that enables them to survive in the world, and that Judy’s gift was her personality. Looking back through the perspective of age, I realize that that personality must have been more than a gift; it was something she worked on to develop, to sustain, to advance. We’ve all benefited from her work. Me, especially. She was, and is, a very great soul.

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