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Roxane Gay Defends Writer Sarah Hollowell Against Fatphobia at the Midwest Writers Workshop

One would think that in the areas of academia, publishing, and literature, a person could be free from toxic, arbitrary beauty standards and fat-shaming. Alas, you’d be wrong, and writer Roxane Gay is using her name and platform to call out an institution with which she’s had a relationship … until they decided not to give someone a particular position for being too fat.

The person in question is writer Sarah Hollowell, who has worked for the Midwest Writers Workshop for five years. Gay herself was on the faculty back in 2013, and so is well-connected to its goings-on. Here’s what Gay had to say about Hollowell’s situation:

As of this writing, Gay’s name is still listed on the workshop’s Past Faculty page, and a cursory Google search yielded nothing to do with an apology from the Midwest Writers Workshop.

It’s one thing if there’s a specific dress code for a job, or if one’s grooming is lacking in such a way that it’s affecting others (like you never shower, or wash your clothes). It’s quite another thing to call someone’s actual physical form “disgusting.” You know what’s disgusting? A cabal of literary elitists sitting around a table in a closed meeting making disparaging remarks about a woman’s body. That’s disgusting.

Especially since Hollowell is apparently “so talented.” So, this person is good enough to take work from, but she’s not good enough to be treated with respect. GOT IT, Midwest Writers Workshop. GOT. IT.

P.S.according to Gay, this group of employers specifically did not give this woman a position because of her physical appearance. This could be a legal matter, depending on the workplace discrimination laws in Indiana, where MWW is located, and depending on whether or not Hollowell would want to pursue something like that. Just sayin’.

Gay then elaborated on the kind of work Hollowell has been doing for MWW:

Conscientious, compassionate, and inclusive. But she’s fat so, you know, we have to keep her in the closet with the rest of the trolls. WHAT?! 

One of the awesome things about Gay’s tweets is that, in the responses to them, someone asked about how people could support Holloway, and someone else provided an answer. Hollowell has a Patreon page for her fiction work, which you can visit HERE if you are so inclined.

And yes, Midwest Writers Workshop, we’re all still waiting on that apology.

(featured image: kellywritershouse/Flickr)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.