Being the Funny Fat Person is Serious Business

Funny fat people squeeze their way into the tight pigeon hole of stardom by fulfilling fat fallacy. There is a sense of security and empowerment in the notion that when we’re in charge of the fat joke, it’s ok for the audience to laugh at fat bodies. Similarly, I learned that to survive the playground bully calling me fat, all I had to do was laugh with them, making it possible for me to be in on the joke rather than the victim of it. I latched on to being the proprietor of laughter, getting to the fatty punchline quicker than my enemies. My biggest hit as a 12 year old chubby girl was making a funny face where my double chin multiplied into 12. While I never wrote a joke, I could always make a whole room laugh at my body as a caricature of fatness, so that my audience could be comfortable with the “elephant” in the room.

Garnering laughter for positive attention kept space between me and harmful insults, but they both shared my body as the punchline. Coming into fat-acceptance consciousness often stares directly into the face of learned coping skills. Once one realizes that telling self-deprecating jokes feels just as shitty as being hurled insults, the laughter loses its feeling of security. After the laughter fades, a more serious fat performer is left standing under the proverbial limelight sans jolly material. The audience is uneasy if and when they realize they are laughing at the body and not the joke.


Healthcare starts with a focus on height and weight. It’s the first recorded stats after a baby is born. There are no less than one thousand reasons health is focused on thinness as a virtue, so it’s no wonder that thin people (and some fat people) see fat people and wonder, “What went wrong?” The assumption is made that everybody, especially women, is working to attain and maintain “health.” Health is in quotations because “health” is usually a code for “thinness,” as BMI and the social constructs it inspires dictates. Those who haven’t reached their “healthiest” peak are constantly pressured to present and perform.

Natalie, the plus size influencer and fat activist that makes up Nataliemeansnice, recently asked her audience, “Can you imagine being as unbelievably talented and having such an incredible career and list of accomplishments as Adele does and all people can talk about is your weight?” When fat people are surrounded by comments about how proud spectators are of Adele’s weight-loss, it serves as a reminder of how much weight conformity and thinness is valued over anything else. “Good for her,” comments are made from an assumption that Adele’s thinner body is not only an improvement of her health, but also an improvement of her overall wellbeing. There is no proof that either of these assumption are true. Adele has not made her any comments about her weight-loss and she does not owe anyone an explanation. The only thing these assumptions do is inform the fat people who hear them that you can have more Grammy Awards than your fat arms can hold, and people will still praise you more for becoming thin.


Even when I was holding a big foam finger to my fatness, I knew I had other talents that were more impressive than simply living hyper aware of my “shameful” body. However, no matter how I packaged my skills, like singing or making art: unless I was exclaiming that I was doing it in spite of my fatness, my audience would tell me how brave I was. Which was also to tell me, “you’re so brave for not waiting to lose weight before doing this publicly.”

The demeaning undertone of calling a fat person “brave” is unintentional, based on one’s own relationship with their body and the virtue of thinness. Since healthcare in the United States relies on weight being maintained against the Body Mass Index, we are conditioned to believe that those who fall outside the chart are doing a poor job with their health. When a thin person who values thinness sees a fat person, their internal bias informs them that this fat person has already failed at something: Attaining thinness. I’m using the term “internal bias” because most fatshamers lack the intention to hate or harm fat people. However, unintentional bias like this can act as an insidious undertone in communities, causing real harm to fat people in a systemic way. We should be encouraging to call out internal bias by its true name: Sizism.

Fat folks who don’t care to conform to thinness are pushed into harmful, hateful stereotypes like “lazy” and “careless.” If a fat person wishes to be taken even remotely seriously, they must be well-groomed, reserved, and working towards “health” as others see it. If a fat person wants to be respected, it seems that they must let the world know they are aware of their fatness as a problem.

I find myself working several times harder as a fat person than many of my thin counterparts to shed the lens of failure. When I was bullied in grade school for my size, I learned to find personal pride by finding value in myself that wasn’t informed by how I looked. I threw my heart and soul into vocal training. I enrolled in a tech school to get my cosmetology license. I ran for president of an extracurricular program and won the election. When I graduated high school, I finished with three degrees in my hand. These documents served as an exhaustive list of qualifications on why I should be respected. On paper, I was no less than perfect.

Perfection is something I’ve been practicing and performing as an indicator of my worth since I stopped telling self-depreciating jokes about my weight. I don’t speak without being certain that I’m well-informed because many people link fatness with low intelligence. When eating in a group, especially around new people, I’m hyper vigilant that the food on my plate is well balanced because many people link fatness with gluttony. Whether health studies or social constructs are recognized as classist and fatphobic, many fat people learn to play the part of the “Good Fatty” to protect themselves from criticism because no matter how talented we are, there is no escaping thinly-veiled fatphobia masking as health concerns (pun intended.)


Sometimes, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that my personality and strengths are a reaction to abuse. My eternal need to achieve is because I see my value through my accomplishments, which have to outshine others in order to been seen before my fatness. Dedication to peak perfectionism has reared its ugly head in ways I didn’t anticipate, too. I am committed to being the perfect friend, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect employee. Anything less than perfection feels like a big fat failure, because my productivity and how I can be of use to other people informs how valuable I am. Each time someone accepts a piece of what I have to offer, I feel rewarded with approval.

Understanding that fat people are often painted like failures regardless of any of their hard work is not to say that being a high achiever as a coping mechanism is bad. Coping is a way to heal, like a bandaid protects a wound. There’s a voice in my head (re: my therapist’s voice) that reminds me that being committed to being a good friend is a positive trait to put energy into. However, there are times when an obsession with perfection that’s fueled by running from failure has turned positive traits into harmful addictions.

A Plump Wife and a Big Barn Never Did Any Man Harm

With no exaggeration, I’ve been so distracted by the need to be perceived as successful to others that I burned myself while cooking a four course meal for a large dinner party I felt I needed to host. I didn’t realize I had permanently scarred myself until the next day. I’m embarrassed to say that the burn felt like a trophy of what I’m willing to do to love those around me. It’s proof of how hard I worked, but I also now realize that it’s also a piece of me I’ll never get back.

The need for fat people to fulfil a lifelong quest to collect accolades or use humor to be in control or is exhausting and violently tolling, even if it can also feel rewarding. I’m quick to write stories about my resiliency as a fat person because maybe it will offer a piece to someone else’s puzzle in their own advocacy and self-discovery. I stand with open arms willing to give pieces of myself away because giving benefits whoever is receiving and it represents their approval of my high worth. If I am useful to others, there is a hope that a part of my personality will take precedence over any misconception about failure that is tethered to my fat body.

There are positive stereotypes about fat people, particularly fat women, that we hear about far less than the negative ones. Positive fat tropes are born out of actions fat people take to be valued. Fat women are often the emotional sounding board for their friends and loved ones, often welcoming and warm-hearted, and often open books about our struggles to build community and camaraderie. Fat women are healers. Our need to use humor to be accepted by others was just one way we proved variance in fat stereotypes. It is but one facet to a history of fat nurtures taken for granted.

I often dream of a world where my wheels don’t always have to be turning at full speed to prove that I’m not failing. I have wondered what it would feel like to stand still and breathe in success in the moment, rather than continuing to push forward towards a new achievement. I wonder if I stop climbing towards greatness, I will also lose all the worth I’ve built up. I feel conditioned to consistently and unrelentingly work hard be seen as successful, even though it’s rarely a compliment I receive from the thin people in my life. I hope for experiences where I feel wanted and adored without having to give parts of myself away to be worthy of it.

I like being the serious friend, even if it’s emotionally heavy sometimes. I like working towards awards and high ratings. I like being the smartest person in the room. I like feeling worthy in a way that highlights the things I’ve worked hard for, even if it exhausted me to do so. By recognizing the amount of energy I use in my quest for knowledge or greatness, I can hold boundaries in how much I give away to others. I can know to check-in with myself to make sure I didn’t give too many pieces of myself away in order to feel purposeful. I can also make sure that when I’m useful to someone else, they appreciate it instead of expect it. Knowing some people will always see me as a failure simply because I’m not thin has also helped me recognize how privileged I am to have the affordability to hold virtue through other classist structures, like academia and the arts.

The strengths and accomplishments I’ve harnessed as an entertaining, funny, smart, fat woman were built from trying to prevent the pain of disrespect. Being an accomplished person is still a complicated mess conceived from a need to be valued by others. As a serious fat person, I’m not as easily likened to a punchline. I am in control of my own narrative in a way that feels important, even if there’s more dismantling ahead of me. At least now when I tell a joke, no matter how cheap, it’s one I find funny, too.

Intersectional Instagram: Beauty Bloggers for the Feminist Makeup Lover

In an industry dominated by thin, cis, white bodies, it can be difficult to wade through to find intersectional blogs and influencers in the beauty industry. Listed below are some fabulous Instagram accounts that focus on beauty and makeup that break through the stereotypes of beauty standards, so our newsfeeds can be as intersectional as possible!

Thuy Le (@xthuyle)

With flawless skin and a wide array of colourful looks, Thuy Le is a makeup artist from London who not only blogs about makeup, but also skincare rituals and hair. Going from strength to strength, Le has been jumped 20,000 followers in just 2 weeks; take a peek at her page, and you will see why. 

Kristi (@RawBeautyKristi)

Kristi is a self-taught makeup blogger who not only shows off her glamorous looks, but also dabbles in special effects makeup. She placed in the Top 6 for the NYX Face Awards, dazzling us with her detailed and unique work. Her 31 days of Halloween series is pretty amazing, which is available on YouTube (trigger warning: gore).

Heather (sokolum)

A page littered with makeup, fashion, piercings and tattoos, you’ll want to follow Heather to get your dose of alternative beauty. Original and colourful, Heather finds a fine balance between wearable, everyday beauty and out-of-the-box designs. A fantastic page to follow, even if it’s just to appreciate her ever-changing hair colours!

@queenpeaa

This talented professional makeup artist is not only a beautician, but also a licensed hairstylist! With stunning pictures of her clients before and after the makeup application, this is a great account to follow if you want to see lots of different styles in one place (especially bridal makeup). 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOnXShejqqL/?taken-by=queenpeaa

Ascher Lucas (@spectredeflector)

Destroying the stigma of boys’ wearing makeup, Ascher Lucas is a talented makeup artist, cosplayer and stuntman. Creating works of art of his face, this account has a very relaxed ambiance to it. You can also donate to Ascher’s fundraiser, which is raising money towards his top surgery (link in his Instagram bio). 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BM3_lOOASRm/?taken-by=spectredeflector&hl=en

Fifi Anicah (@fifi.anicah)

Described as a “modern day Frida Kahlo”, Fifi Anicah is a London based model, taking the world by storm, one “power brow” at a time. Fifi Anicah’s account will not only showcase her own modelling work, but will also show you how to constuct a full, natural unibrow that even Frida Kahlo would be envious of. 

Sabina Hannan (@sabinahannan)

If you crave glittery, glamorous makeup looks, this is the account for you. With an incredible YouTube channel to partner her Instagram account, Sabina Hannan’s makeup is always flawless.Sabina challenges the stigma of wearing makeup within the Muslim community. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BO0PjsPBVNC/?taken-by=sabinahannan&hl=en

Habiba (@makeupholic_moon)

A DIY godess, Habiba seems to be able to make a beauty remedy out of everything from your kitchen cupboard. Not only does she showcase some incredible makeup looks, she also will help you DIY your way to clear skin, using natural products you can find in your own home. She also reviews some wacky beauty tools, so be sure to check those out!

Shalom Blac (@shalom_blac)

An exceptionally talented artist, Shalom Blac fashion and beauty account has something for everyone. A burns’ victim, Shalom’s mini tutorials include a wide array of brands, ranging from high end to drug store; so no matter what your budget, you can follow along too!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMwlxAxAFMD/?taken-by=shalom_blac&hl=en

Tania (@whentaniatalks)

A lifestyle and beauty blogger, Tania’s Instagram is beautifully minimalist and constructed beautifully. Mainly working from her blog of the same name, Tania balances out her beauty posts with lifestyle posts, updating her followers on her health, her journey with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, food allergies, and lots of other interesting things happening in her world.

Size Matters: How Fashion Carelessly Cashed in on Body Positive Activism

These days, it’s cool to be body positive. It’s trendy to rock a “beYOUtiful” slogan along with your #SelfieSundays. Body positivity—at least the kind that is advocated for online—has become an integral part to “moral fashion” and an easy fight for fashion activists and the like to jump in on.  Brands and companies are cashing in left and right on style at all sizes. Target, for example, has gone from vanishing plus size lines from stores, to creating an entire line designed by and for plus sizes. The fashion industry is seeing companies build campaigns that rely on the idea and feature heavy copy of body positivity, which is beautiful through a wide-scale lens. Though, if you focus on this much-needed turn for “moral fashion,” it’s the same commercial consumer-based facade we’ve continuously been sold, disguised as something shiny and empowering. Many long-time body positive activists and writers, along with myself, are hanging out in our fat bodies, still feeling a major part of fatphobia. We’re facing the need to defend ourselves when we try to express the sentiment that one token fat body in a major campaign doesn’t feel like enough for us.

It feels relevant to me to compare this type of campaign strategy to Hillary Clinton. I’m a feminist and I support women, but I struggle with the idea that Hillary does not represent intersectional feminism the way it needs to be today. Even so, her feminist reputation is built on the fact that she’s a woman and women should support her. Replace “Hillary Clinton” with any visible “Love Your Body As Is” campaign, and those are my thoughts. I don’t hate Hillary Clinton and I don’t hate moral fashion ideals. I simply don’t relate to them, they don’t represent me and my fat body, and they’re not the full package of what I need.

ashley graham

There are many models, like Ashley Graham, who speak about body politics as if they are the first-born leaders of self-love. While I don’t disagree that these women are inspiring and are certainly making waves, they’re not the first big girls to love themselves. In fact, “Fat Acceptance” has been a major movement since the 1960s. Further more, most of the women getting public praise for their work in body acceptance are US sizes 12 to 16, and do not experience that fatphobia and size discrimination the same way that a US size 26 or 28 would. Many of these women who are speaking about general body politics such as self-love and self-care, only just learned about those nuanced subjects a few short months ago. It’s hard to realize that there is more to body politics and fat space within fashion when you’re still in the 101 class. While their work is important, their voices are often heard over many larger size women, especially women of color, that have been speaking out for a much longer. It’s very easy to get side-tracked on self-love stimulation when you’re a size 12 and still seen as conventionally beautiful and you still are a vision of health in the public’s eye. These women may have had to learn how to love themselves, but they still look like the bodies we’re already being sold, just on a slightly larger frame, and it’s important to be critical of their publicity and what it means for the fat community.

Lane Bryant has been one of the most pivotal disappointments during this brand-building utopia of size acceptance. Their #ImNoAngel campaign was built on the idea of tearing down Victoria’s Secret’s supermodel brigade of tiny tummies, but their #PlusIsEqual campaign quickly backfired when Lane Bryant showed up to live events with T-shirts promoting the cause and only offering up to a size 1X and their audience refused to eat their psychobabble about inclusivity.

Many smaller-size fats, or generally average body types, are really keen on these campaigns. Once a year, around swim suit season, we’re bound to see a campaign of differently sized women standing next to each other. (I work for and have been featured in one of these swim shoots.) It feels great to be in or see this representation. What Lane Bryant, and so many other companies, fail to realize is that we need more than one image to keep us going. While body positive campaigns are all the rage, these story-specific campaigns are allowed to show much more variety then they are on their product photos and on-site promotions. This is where we are reminded that all these body inclusive photo shoots stand for is consumerism. Women shopping for clothes are still seen as people shopping for an ideal image. While my size 24 belly is looking at a slim size 14 model in a dress I’m drooling over, I’m forced to imagine myself in her shoes, as if my belly could ever be flat and my collar bones would protrude just by purchasing the garment. Purchases based on these stretches of mental imagery always end up with me standing in front of the mirror, in a lose-threaded polyester trash bag that is somehow too tight around my waist and big in the bust.

With the mid-size-white woman-fronted moral fashion campaigns, my big belly hangs low in shame. Sometimes it really feels like the larger one’s body is, the smaller the hole they have to crawl inside is. To add insult to my injury, many “plus size” models and designers have admitted to using padding in their shoots to create curves in all the “right” places. As Brittnee Blair said when speaking with Bustle, “Is it realistic? It depends. If you look at it as artistic, then I can respect it. But, as an ideal for women? It’s unhealthy, because not a lot of women are going to look like that.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 7.44.44 PM

Beth Ditto, one of my personal faves in both music and fat politics, took to the high-fashion market to combat the lack of options in larger-size fats and also the often low-quality sacks plus sizes are flooded with. Her focus was on higher quality fabrics, more extended range of sizes, and hard fashion. When her clothing line launched, it was obvious that Ditto let the clothing speak for itself and didn’t use any flashy body positive gimmicks. Miraculously, the size chart goes up to a US 28. Though I agree that there could be more rolls on those models, and definitely more models of color, it shines as a great example of what shopping as a larger size should feel like. Eloquii also offers up to a size 28 and has adorned some of our most beloved fat celebrities on the red carpet. (i.e. Gabourey Sidibe and Rebel Wilson) Eloquii has shown some serious representation with using Emmicia Bracey for their extended size lookbook. Other retailers seem to think  if they are stocking sizes above a size 12, they are making fashion accessible for all sizes, even when that fashion is a sad sack excuse for a shirt. This type of reinforced and regular representation definitely matters, because I will be buying clothes that I know work for me the way I want them to. With bodies like mine selling clothes in my size, I’ll stop purchasing with something similar to a death wish.

Many newly body positive companies feel like they’re already doing so much for us and by having a plus size woman on the front of a swimsuit magazine, they feel like they are already doing their part. Their media specialists are quick to dismiss the way they tokenize women of color and fat women because these organizations feel like small glimpses of representation are enough to prove the point, so they’re still catering to smaller-sized customers by making sure they feel comfortable shopping with them.

When we ask for more, such as  larger sizes in physical stores, visible women of color who are also fat, or accessible clothing for handicapable bodies, we often  are treated like we are asking for far too much. There’s that one mid-size white model featured in an online clothing campaign and that is supposed to blanket all of our needs, but it fails to combat many of the negative and incorrect stereotypes that little-to-no representation continue to influence.

 As studies over 1993 to 2014 show, fat women are less likely to be hired for jobs simply because they are fat. If fat women are hired, they are likely to be offered less pay than their thin counterparts. With an influx of representation of midsize women as body positive warriors, it creates a larger dichotomy of healthy-size fats vs. death fats. (or, Good vs. Bad Fatty)

People like Meghan Trainor, who sing songs about “all that bass” are celebrating a small feat within standards of beauty, and promoting a body positivity that still focuses on women as objects and beauty as the most important thing that we could have. I want more, but the world isn’t ready for me to ask for that. Especially when I’m a size 24 to 26. Especially when my belly hangs over my legs. Especially when my double chin is very visible from every direction. I’m not packaged with a bow on top, and so my politics are not as visible as those glistening in glitter and perfect cleavage. My ever-glowing bright stretch marks are not “tiger stripes,” as young mothers pun around about, because to them, my fat isn’t a victory, it’s a lost battle.

“Change requires intent and effort. It really is that simple.” – Roxane Gay Illustration by Susy Cirina

Let’s look to activists like Marilyn Wann, who educate on body diversity and fatness within social justice. Let’s buy clothing from those including higher-range sizes and that come from big thinkers, like Re/Dress, Jibri, and the much anticipated Ashley Nell Tipton. Let’s read body politic literature by Roxane Gay.  It’s cool to be body positive and I think it’s time for everyone to jump on that bandwagon, but for this thing to keep moving, we have to build a foundation on our strong body politic thinkers and motivators. Fat acceptance is more than a consumer-driven ploy to buy more clothes only because they come in our size. It’s time that moral fashion find its compass and let the big girls lead the way.

How Boys Will Be Boys and Lazy Writing Will Make Fat Women Cry

It took me years to become a free spirit. I’ve had my heart crushed by a cheater and have gone through many states of true life regret in return. I wondered why the same person who cried on my couch because they missed me so much would, in turn, continue to have another partner outside of our relationship. We talked out our problems, we progressed at a slow and steady pace, and we supported one another’s individual goals. In the end, it came down to one realization: I was only ever a character to my partner, and never an actual person. This made it easy for them to envision me as disposable affectionate income.

The MPDG stereotype is not new to any film-lover or feminist, and it’s no secret to either group that the stereotype is damaging to how women are viewed in society. Men see that they have the right to walk in and out of my life at their own discretion because if I were to have any negative reaction to their flighty-behavior, they can write me off as “crazy.” (This kind of name-calling is also a form of gas-lighting.) I’ve taught myself to go-with-the-flow because women who confront men are labeled as unstable and not to be trusted. As every high school social status warrior told me, fat women who confront men are likely cranky from lack of sex and lack of food, so it has been in my best interest to accept any treatment I have received from men. My ability to keep a smile while being mistreated has often been mistaken for being a free spirit and wildly unaffected by the world. Growing a thick exoskeleton for mistreatment has only further boxed me into a badly written role.

I have been a fat girl on a pedestal. Most movies depict the fat girl as a disparaging, sad sack. While the fat stereotype is also one-dimensional like the MPDG, she is rarely a love interest and more often a punchline. I’ve had the privilege of being cool and feminine enough to rise above the character-“poverty” line and gain some serious meet-cutes within my twenties. I’ve dated around, dated plentiful, and dated again. I’ve allowed myself to enter a vicious cycle, where I dated those who treated me kindly until it was no longer their priority, and I kept them around with the hope and memory of when they were good.

Fat girls are expected to be thankful for any date that comes their way. Fat women are the subject of jokes where they should be thankful for the people who rape them, because no one in their “right mind” would have sex with them otherwise. These comments socialize me to feel proud of feeling wanted, because as a fat girl, I should take what I can get. As it turns out, there are thousands of people who are not in their right mind, and I’ve been wanted by all genders, body types, and social standing. My sexuality has been built off of being thankful for each one of them, which makes it really hard for me to say no to a date. One of my biggest goals in life is to make every jock question their sexuality, since they were always taught that fat women aren’t women at all.

louis-ck-and-sarah-baker

There are many hurdles one must get over to love a fat girl in a visible way. My favorite example is the character Vanessa in the episode, “So Did The Fat Lady,” from Louie. The entire episode, Vanessa is built up to be a confident and forward fat character who is effortlessly cool and kind, despite the treatment handed to her. Louie CK highlights that she is only unwanted due to her size. With her persistence, along with an undying optimistic outlook, Louie agrees to a casual date. On this low-pressure walk through the park, Vanessa has her history making speech. At first, this was empowering. Yes! Fat women are frustrated! We deserve more! Though, this revelation ends on a sad note: she just wants someone to hold her hand in public.

In the physical world, it’s not all that hard to get someone to want to love a fat girl. I’m well over 200 pounds, and I’ve had many partners entwine their fingers with mine. I’ve had some kiss me in front of their friends and introduce to their families. Even though the term “BBW” (a highly sexualized term meaning Big Beautiful Woman,) makes the top ten most searched term for porn in many states, fat women are still being written as exceptions to a rule. When written into television shows and movies, the fat character knows they are not worthy of a committed relationship, they just want someone to hold our hand in public. Though viewers responded positively to see Louie corrected on his own show, holding Vanessa’s hand can be seen as placating the fat girl. The gesture shows how much Louie has accepted her, because she is now more down to earth, since she acknowledges her many years of romantic rejection. She admits that she’s aware of her fat, she has overcome it, and now he can learn to accept it, too. After this episode, his lesson is learned, and her character does not return as a love interest.

The last person I dated told me that he liked it better when I laid still when we got intimate. I was the girl who he was envenomed with because my character chart matched his. I was a book-worm who loved vintage style and was confident. In the practice of trying to fall in love with me, my real thoughts and emotions interrupted fitting me into his perfect description of a partner. A few short seconds into this experience, I knew I deserved better than this.

Most teenage boys have their first experiences talking with women as their mothers, sisters, or fictional characters. Even when defending the rights of women and trying to rally men on our side, the argument is often “what if this was your daughter?” Men have trouble seeing women in any way other than how we relate to them. We are accessories to men’s lives, and though sometimes we can make them cute, give them flair, and make them feel important and loved, it can often leave us feeling left high and dry. Vanessa taught Louie some valuable life lessons about judging a women by her stature, and once his lessons was learned, she was no longer needed. When I got intimate with someone who didn’t see me as an independent being, it was too much for him to let me lead for a little bit. I needed to be silent and still, just as the picture they visioned me as.

Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation, on the other hand, is a strong black character who has had many male suitors drop at her feet. What makes her character successful and fun to watch is her element of surprise. Her confidence defies all we’ve ever seen from fat women. She does perpetuate black female stereotypes, with her “sass” and other words designated for the Fierce, Independent Black Women, but in this light, viewers accept it as inspiring. Donna did acquire love, probably more times than depicted on the show, but we have to remember that Parks and Rec is a comedy. Donna’s ability to be in charge of her sexuality and date any man of her choosing is meant to make you laugh and feel good. Look at the fat women living proudly! What a spectacle! Fat women can forever hashtag “lifegoals,” because this lifestyle is a figment of a comedian’s imagination, and not actually attainable for any fat body. Donna may not have been able to seduce so many interests if she wasn’t so dominating. She treats men like men treat women, which makes her an incredibly well-written character, and is also another level to this thick-written joke.

We are so focused, as feminist minds, on how media portrays women that we forgot how that makes people treat women in the real world. Women, and people in general, are so quick to accept blame for being treated badly because we think we could have stopped it by acting differently. Women who are written as one-dimensional in scripts teach others to treat women as one-dimensional in the physical world.

When men hurt the women in their lives, boys will be boys. Boys will be boys when they hide their feelings. Boys will be boys when they don’t acknowledge their partner. Boys will be boys when they put themselves first.  Boys will be boys when they break our hearts. Girls will be girls when they are hurt by it.

I am worthy of being seen as a human being. I do have experiences that have shaped who I am and have given me a unique personality. While I’m proud to ascribe to the “like other girls” category, there are many ways in which it doesn’t matter whether I remind someone of their mom, sister, wife, or grandmother. I am a person, with experiences and feelings. I am a mixture of all the inspiration I’ve ever known, which includes the things that have happened to me and the memories that I’ve lived through. I am not manic for acknowledging my feelings. I am not defined by the relations I’ve had or haven’t had. I am confident because I am privileged enough to have had support in my positive attitudes. I am emotionally strong because I have chosen to fight when there were firing squads against me, and when I have fought, I have won.

Women do not need to change to be treated as more than a stereotype.  Scripts must change. The way that media allows women to be seen needs to improve. Women are doctors, lawyers, heroes, thinkers, believers, and anything that can be under the sun. Women are powerful, sensitive, intuitive, and unique, and deserve to be written to reflect all the wonderful ways which women can be. It is time for women to choose to fight, because there are firing squads writing against us.

Fattitude’s Big Fat Summer of Love

My favorite days in school were when you’d walk into the classroom and see a TV already rolled in to the front of the room. You knew you wouldn’t have to answer questions for the day, only sink in and learn from a tape. Most history classes have shown interview style documentaries about war and languages classes show movies based off of books you should have read. One of the best ways we learn is through listening to other people’s accounts and experiences. I’ve truly become addicted to social documentaries, and have become passionate about feminism through them. Watching one of Bitchtopia’s original contributors, Lindsey Averill, begin the Fattitude project was like watching the TV stand being rolled in to the front of the classroom.

fattitude

Fattitude, a feature-length documentary about fat prejudice within pop culture, has finally finished the filming stage, and I could not be more excited. On June 15th, Fattitude announced its Summer campaign, “Fattitude’s Big Fat Summer of Love,” as an effort to raise funds to finalize editing for this groundbreaking film, which would educate people on how fat bodies are represented in media. During this Summer campaign, Fattitude will release 48 clips of never-before-seen footage, which include will the voices of Ricki Lake, Chastity Garner, Lindy West, and Andrew Walen.

At this time, fundraising is one of the last steps to solidify Fattitude as a positive, educational resource on how to carry a conversation about fat bodies. For every $1,000 raised, Fattitude will issue a giveaway to a randomly selected fan from their mailing list. Fattitude interviewees and supporters have donated prizes, such as Skype book clubs with authors, personal messages from famous people, or signed copies of DVDs.

“Fattitude’s ultimate goal is to change the national conversation about body image so that it

focuses not only on issues of self-acceptance, but also on legitimate questions of systemic

cultural prejudice,” said Lindsey Averill, Producer of Fattitude. “We hope to gain mainstream

distribution and shake the very foundation upon which fat hatred is built.”

This production could make a huge difference to the way that media and pop culture have been rolling out. We’ve seen body positivity at the forefront of advertising, and plus size bodies are beginning to become more visible in a positive light. With this documentary, more fat voices will be heard. More importantly, the voices featured will be all across the spectrum on race, size, and gender. Size Acceptance has a very long way to go, and this project is going to open the doors and push the dialogue about self-love to a much larger audience.

In order to complete production, Fattitude needs to raise $100,000. This will go towards video editing, color correction, graphics, and musical score.  Fattitude is fiscally sponsored by the Independent Film Project and accepts tax-deductible contributions electronically at http://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/754/Fattitude/.  To get involved, visit Fattitude’s website  or social media pages: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Lindsey Averill explains, “I am trying to get them to see that bodies are individual, some are fat, some are thin, some are healthy, some are unhealthy, some are short, some are tall, some are gay, black, white, brown, hetero, trans – it doesn’t matter. All bodies deserve kindness and respect.” This film will not only solidify why we latch on to anthems like, “All About That Bass,” but also explain what songs and trends like these can do to both support and hurt body positive spaces.

The Price of Plus Size Clothes?

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Recently, I was given a gift card for Land’s End,  a store I was unfamiliar with,  but I figured they would have a dress or tights that I would like. As I was scrolling through the sales selection online, I start to notice every time I click on my size (a “regular” according to them), the price doubles. I am 5 foot 9 with an average build so I mostly buy clothes sized medium and large. I decide to investigate a little more and I saw a petite dress that is advertised for $9.50. As I click on the plus size price for this dress, it states that it’s $44.99. You’re telling me that a plus size dress calls for almost 5 times as much than a petite? Not a baby version but a few dress sizes apart. I went through this site and without fail the “regular” and plus size prices were doubled, tripled and so forth.

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.

 

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Land’s End is not the only company charging unreasonable prices for larger sized clothing. Adding a few extra dollars for materials  is understandable but it should not requires those who wear them to pay 5 times as much.

Has anyone else noticed this immoral practice in other brands? Is there a logical reason for this?

 

 

How the “Inspiring” Good Fatty Hurts the Body Positive Movement

CNN, The Talk, Huffington Post and many other valuable media outlets have finally caught on to how “inspiring” a plus size body can be in the spotlight. Each conversation, blog post, and promotional spot featuring a women with no thigh-gap has one thing in common: they mention how that person is healthy and beautiful. As if their only reason for being accepted as a true fat-bodied hero is the fact that they are “fat but healthy” or “full-bodied and gorgeous.” These large-scale media outlets have opened up the gates to reveal a new cliché, “The Good Fatty,” that disparages a good cause similar to the trope of the manic-pixie-dream-girl. When Ashley Graham’s Sports Illustrated campaign is discussed, even by the model herself, they’re quick to mention  that they “know my [her] curves are sexy.” Graham’s social legitimacy is directly linked to the fact that she embodies an acceptable form of attractiveness. Her perfectly hour-glass proportion will stand the body shape test of time, and for that, her body is praised as brave, real, and is crowned as the new ideal.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY KRISTIINA WILSON; MODELED BY KRISTA COHEN AT JAG MODELS.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KRISTIINA WILSON; MODELED BY KRISTA COHEN AT JAG MODELS.

The Good Fatty was created in contrast to the stereotype of the lazy, animal-like, obese sad-sack, or otherwise known as The Bad Fatty. The Good Fatty is visibly plus size, fashion-forward, and most importantly; publicly “cares” about their health. However, The Good Fatty isn’t always the villain. In fact, most of the time it’s the media coverage of the fat human that throws the “health” cloak over an already existing political body. As discussed in Lonie McMichael’s Acceptable Prejudice?: Fat, Rhetoric and Social Justice, being aware of good health in our society is viewed as holding oneself to a higher moral standard. McMichael goes on to note that “by proving that individuals can be fat and fit, fat acceptance is more likely to gain ground.” The Good Fatty trope fixates on the “right” amount of fat a representative of fat bodies can have, and the moral stance that these smaller-size fat supermodels are motivating brave new standards. As long as a person is “healthy size fat” or “sexy size fat,” they’re generally accepted into higher beauty ranks and invited to clique of societies’ big girl heroes. (i.e. Nadia Aboulhosn, Meghan Trainor, Ashley Graham, etc.)  As It turns out, many plus size retailers have been using the assistance of body-padding on their models to create a more smooth, fuller look for their clothes, which only further proves how far a company will go to jump on to the body acceptance band wagon, while simultaneously damaging their customers’ self esteem by pushing forward images of “the right kind” of fat. By deeming these models as “real,” our media is alienating the bodies who aren’t glowing white, able-bodied, smooth-skinned, and only slightly chubby. In fact, it creates a bigger fear of becoming a less “real,” larger-size-fat. In these moments, women are prone to compare themselves to the heroic plus size “real”-bodied models and recognize their own body as either the safe kind of fat or the undesired kind of fat.

There are times when I’m truly mesmerized by the social shift our media is taking and I am really proud to live in a time where ads featuring women with visible fat rolls are going viral, but there is still a part of me that knows having pride for these “brave” promotions can be seen as the equivalent to selling my soul to the devil. The body positivity that is sold to us by Dove is consumer based, and still heavily relies on the public knowing that the fat bodies pictured are both healthy and sexy. In any commercial, when the size 8 “plus size,” ethnically ambiguous model traces her freshly shaved, bare leg with her dainty, polish-free finger, the viewer is reminded that she is ours to look at. We are made to see that she is touchable, soft, pure and clean. Words like “nutrient” and “glow” buzz through the speakers of your T.V. and you assume that she is healthy.

What brings me down off of my body positive cloud 9 is the language which is used to report on the hour-glass, white, fat bodies versus the “other” larger fat bodies that do not represent conventional beauty. Gabourey Sidibe has climbed her way as a top actress, with her roles in Precious and American Horror Story, but Huffington Post does not use the word “brave” when reporting on her effortless style, bold intelligence, and immense success (I dare you to find the fat joke–because it’s there.) That article is vastly different from Huffington Post’s coverage of Tess Munster (now Tess Holliday) announcing that she has signed with MiLK Model Management and #effyourbeautystandard’s success. Where Sidibe’s coverage started off explaining a controversy over her weight, Tess’ coverage calls the model a “body-love activist” and praises her for “help[ing] other women to feel confident in their bodies, regardless of their size or what society tells them is beautiful.” Race and body shape do play a role in the difference in their depictions, and it’s obvious that the pale hourglass is seen as the fat to be confident of. Tess’ body love also comes attached to many “inspirational” moments where she goes public about her weekly exercise and healthy habits, which only validate her success and size as a fat woman.

In “body positive” campaigns promoted by advertisers, we are inspired to believe that it is OK to accept any womyn’s body, as long as it is feminine, healthy, and still adheres to most of our standard beauty conventions. While watching an advertisement for soap, we are given a look into a stranger’s medicine cabinet.

I believe in the radical notion that my doctor’s notes should not be public domain in order to be given respect. I’m eager for our current “Body Positive Era” to break free from the shackles of  “boys like a little more booty to hold at night,” so that women can start learning that our worth is not reliant on how we are received by the world. Our acceptance as “real” bodies in this world should not have any relevance to our political stance on dieting or workout worship. We do not need to prove our health status in order to be treated like people. Our blood work is no one’s business but our doctors’ and our own. Our bodies should not be compared to any disease, in either defense or offense.

I am a human being, deserved of respect, love, adoration, and tolerance as much as the next person and it just so happens that I am also fat.

I have felt that sometimes, my background of working out at the gym and loving to swim for fun helps me stay accountable as a fat person. In the past, I used to astound fat-health naysayers by reminding them that I work out several times a week. Sure, there were some people who thought I was lying because I was still fat, but I still would announce the facts to prove to them my worth. Now that I’ve blossomed into a blissful young adult, I’m living paycheck to paycheck and I’d rather spend what’s left of my hard-earned money on a nice lunch out rather than a gym membership. I wonder if I’ve lost all credibility as a person, while I eat ice cream out of the carton on my couch while binge-watching Gilmore Girls.

I’ve only recently figured out that I’m not 16 years old anymore. I’m an adult. I determine my own credibility as a person. I live on my own, I cook my own meals, and most of all: it’s 100% my choice whether I’m going to do some Wii U Boxing or lounge with a movie and some ice cream. It’s my choice. Every day, repetitive affirmations [with feeling,] “It’s my choice.” With this realization, I’ve become more sensitive about reading “healthy and curvy” copy because I am aware of the social implications it can have on how fat people identify with their own fat.

In order for the Body Positive era to stick around and be successful, there needs to be more accurate representation. A fair portrayal of fat bodies comes with any other additive you can imagine. Disability, hormones, stress, or just being built that way are a few examples of things that can affect weight. It is harmful to a  self-love slogan to have a marriage between fat and “good” health because some people need to learn to love their bodies through their not-yet-good health status. Some people are not privileged enough to be born with all their limbs or all perfectly working organs. Some people are not granted medication to fix hormone imbalances because they’re only “slightly” off but not “fully” off. Some bodies are not born with the parts they should have been born with and some bodies do not feel like the right bodies just yet. Those bodies deserve love too. This doesn’t just apply for the fat girls, this is for all girls. It just so happens that fat bodies are the most commonly linked with bad health from non-doctorate holding citizens of the world.

While not every campaign or example of representation can feature every type of body, we cannot put limits on where the body acceptance ends. “The Good Fatty” is a supportive example of a positive representation for women, but also serves at a cap-off of where self-acceptance is made to end. It is completely alright to be critical of the generally positive social shift because it will help the era to grow. Fat bodies are finally getting some limelight, and it is about time for us to shine. While people are quick to make jokes about the space that larger bodies take up, they are slow to give us that space to live.  There are plenty of different kinds of fat, and there are plenty of different kinds of fat people. We are fat and human and worthy of taking up all the space we need, and it is okay to celebrate each and every type of us.

Body Shaming of Latinas

By Abbie Bevan
By Abbie Bevan

I have never been skinny. There is a common misconception that Latinas get a “free pass” to be curvy or larger, yet my experience as someone growing up in Puerto Rico has been far from that. I grew up being an awkward, chubby girl and was teased for being bigger than my female classmates. At the age of 11, I learned to loathe every aspect of my body. I hated my flabby arms, my fat rolls, my love handles, and my round face. I developed an eating disorder at that time and everyone around me encouraged it. Teachers, family members, and peers praised me for my weight loss. I had a teacher who even told me to continue to do whatever I was doing to be thin, as long as I didn’t get too skinny—meaning that losing weight this way was okay as long as I didn’t end up in the hospital. I enjoyed the control I had over my body. I liked punishing it for bringing me so much emotional pain. I starved myself and exercised until I looked like someone who was deemed acceptable by society, yet still didn’t feel confident enough.

I began to eat again and gain weight when I was 13. My mom complained about it and said that she didn’t like that I was gaining weight. People stopped praising my body. I began to receive criticism of my body again and would look at myself in the mirror and cry. I desperately wanted to look just the way I did when I had an ED. I began trying to make myself puke whenever I felt too bad about my body. I started using laxatives. I felt like I would never be able to be happy unless I was skinny. My ultimate goal in life was not to be skinny, yet I felt like I should have made it a priority so people would like me. Over the years, I had plenty of “friends” and family members point out my weight. I cannot express how many times I’ve been told “You would be perfect if you lost 20 lbs!” or ” You should diet. You need it.”

It certainly didn’t help that eating disorders became trendy in high school. Girls would congratulate one another for their weight loss, even if they knew that the weight loss was caused by unhealthy habits. The thinnest girls would be idolized and admired by the rest. The guys also seemed to prefer girls who looked like this because they resembled models. A friend once told me that the preferred body type differs in the island according to socioeconomic class. This might be true, however, I’ve seen women of different economic and social backgrounds worry about their weight to the point where they’ve taken extreme measures to live up to society’s standards. I’ve heard too many of my friends who are many sizes smaller than I am exclaim “I’m so fat!” and bully themselves into going to the gym, even when they don’t feel physically well, simply because they want to be thin.

Strangely enough, I experienced being in a body positive environment for the first time when I moved to the States for college. I was surrounded by people with different body types who were not shamed by their peers. Sure, many of my friends have insecurities but the pressure to be thin wasn’t as bad as in Puerto Rico. It was refreshing to be in an environment in which I could feel more confident and wear whatever I wanted without fearing being criticized by someone. Unfortunately, while my college may have been a safe space for people of various body types, this is not typically the case.

The desire to be thin comes from the media’s constant fat shaming and promotion of the idea that thinness equals success. It is so difficult to find someone who looks like me on television, film, and magazines. I vary from sizes 8-12, according to the brand and style of clothes. Even if I’m not considered plus-sized and can buy straight-sized clothes, I’m still considered a “fatty” by society. Anyone who doesn’t fit the mold of the ideal body image is shamed. I would love to be able to love my body and feel confident. I would love to be able to love myself and proudly wear a bikini and not worry about something so trivial as having “fat” arms or a tummy that isn’t flat. All I hope for is that someday society will accept that we all have different body types and they’re not meant to look the same. Health should be a priority, not thinness, and it’s about time this changed.

‘Report Inappropriate’ and the Policing of Women’s Bodies on Social Networks

‘Report Inappropriate’ was originally a very short series of self-portraits (which I’ve now reduced to just one self-portrait) made in response to the misuse of Instagram’s ‘Report inappropriate’ option. Looking back at pieces of your artwork a few weeks/months after you’ve made them can be really quite useful. I’ve done this recently and found that certain works were more effective if they were just one image, rather than a series of images. It also helps you to evaluate whether you feel that a piece of work is successful or not, particularly if you’re not too sure about it at the time when you produce it.

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‘Report Inappropriate’ is inspired by a photo uploaded to Clandestine Collective’s Instagram account that was later reported as ‘inappropriate nudity’. The photo that was uploaded was my ‘Good Enough to Eat’ piece, which explores the idea of genitalia being a taboo subject in society. The fact that this was reported by a user and then deleted by Instagram proves exactly why I made the piece of work in the first place.

At the time I remember feeling really frustrated, I thought ‘why follow a feminist art collective if you’re so easily offended by pubic hair and vaginas?!’ I felt that my frustration would be put to better use by making a new piece of work, hence why I produced ‘Report Inappropriate’. When I first made the work, I wanted it to centre around my breasts, bum and vagina, three things that are thought to be inappropriate to be revealed online.

Body policing is something that happens a lot online, as well as in real life. The main sources that I’ve witnessed intense online body policing are on Tumblr and celebrities’ Instagram accounts. I used to see people I followed on Tumblr receive disgusting messages like “you’re fat”, “you’re so overweight, it’s disgusting” and “you’re fat, you’re ugly and no one likes you. you should just go kill yourself”. And as much as people can tell these individuals to ignore the hateful messages that they receive, as they build up they start to have an impact.

As I said, body policing happens in real life too. I’m sure that every woman will have been involved in, or overheard, a conversation criticising either your weight or someone else’s. It’s incredibly easy to fall into picking out all of your supposed flaws like a ‘muffin top’, ‘bingo wings’ or an ‘overhang’, it’s something I’m definitely guilty of. This is then heightened by you comparing your weight to the weight of those around you. I’ve always been ‘average size’ (if that’s what you want to call it, I personally don’t agree with the use of terms ‘normal’ or ‘healthy size’ about weight) but I had, and still have, a lot of very slim friends. I still compare my weight to theirs and end up thinking “they can pull off those types of outfits so much better than I can” and “they can wear a short dress without tights, whereas I can’t” and so on. Criticising yourself then develops even more as you start to exaggerate your supposed flaws, all because you’re looking through the “i’m fat” glasses, when in reality there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.

It’s probably obvious, but there are all kinds of different body shapes, although this might not appear to be the case if you look at what’s presented as the ideal body shape by the media and the fashion industry. Each of these body shapes is perfect, none of them deserve to be scrutinized. It’s like that age-old saying “the world would be boring if we were all the same”, and as cringey as that statement is, it really is true if you think about it.

Although it’s important to outline the negative impact that sources like the fashion industry and the media may have on women, it’s also just as important to allow women to make their own choices in relation to their own body. If a slim woman wants to start exercising in order to tone up or just because she enjoys it, she should not be criticized for doing so. In the same way, a woman who is labelled as ‘fat’ or ‘overweight’ should not be criticized for exercising or choosing not to exercise, particularly when people say cruel things “Why’s she exercising? She’s not going to lose any weight.” It’s your own body, if you want to tone up or lose weight because that personally makes you happier, then do it. Alternatively, if you don’t want to lose weight and are totally happy as you are, then that’s absolutely fine too. We need to learn to stop policing women’s bodies and begin to reflect on our feelings about our own bodies, where these feelings come from and how to overcome some of these negative feelings.

We Need Your Submissions!

Dear wonderful readers,

I wanted to take a break from our hard-hitting articles and fancy photos to remind you that we run off of your submissions. We love having a group of regular contributors, but also thrive off of one-time submissions. If you’d like to join our team or just share a piece of art work from your collection, send us an email at Btopia.Mag@gmail.com. You can also find us on twitter, @bitchtopiamag

Don’t worry– we’ll be back to our regular scheduled posts tomorrow at 12:01am!