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.

DON’T Talk to Me ~ Free Desktop Wallpaper

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Read. My. Body. Language. Don’t talk to me!

As always, you can buy this artwork as a print or on products like cushions, phone cases and more in our Society6 store! Plus, scroll down to see it in a range of desktop wallpaper resolutions.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

Hair Positivity: From Hot Combs to Lace Fronts, Afro Sheen and Afro Puffs

Inspired by my piece, Natural Hair Journey: One Woman’s Perspective on ‘Going Natural’, I decided to do my senior thesis on the politics and history of black hair back in 2012. Every senior at Purchase College must complete a yearlong project, or senior project in order to graduate. As a journalism student, I decided to do a documentary. It would go on as one of my biggest projects to date and something I’m truly proud of.

Hair Positivity: From Hot Combs to Lace Fronts, Afro Sheen and Afro Puffs, is a little over an hour documentary on the history, politics, and cultural significance of hair amongst black women and how the newly reemergence of the natural hair movement is slowly breaking down barriers in a mostly European-centric beauty culture.

Check out part 1:

You can watch the entire documentary, here.

How I Went From Mall Rat to Plus-Size Pin Up

I started off this Spring season searching for the perfect Summer bathing suit. Shopping, as a size 22/24 meant learning to navigate the fashion world was a skill, as well as a necessity.

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I might have began my bathing suit search once the sun made it’s first appearance after Winter, but I was, truly, many moons late in starting.

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It wasn’t until I laid eyes on the most gorgeously constructed, cherry print, masterpiece of a bathing suit, that I knew it was time to close all my “maybe-this-is-the-one” browser tabs. Pin Up Girl Clothing, affectionately referred to as PUG, was the shining light between two heavy rain clouds. Based in California, and run by a team of strong women, PUG has been one of leading forces in body positive and all-inclusive femme fashion. Creator and in-house designer, Laura Byrnes, has a special understanding of what the plus-size customer needs, without specifically catering to plus size fashion.

In Byrnes’ own words, she “never had to overcome the misconception that a plus woman was a different type of customer who needed a different style or shape of clothing. It simply isn’t true.” PUG is a breath of fresh air, in the way that both in-house designers, Byrnes and Micheline Pitt, realize that they’re creating clothes for a specific aesthetic style, not body size or ethnicity. Their inclusion is seamless, with several plus size site models and a wide variety of POC models and employees. “I don’t care what your background or ethnicity is,” says Byrnes, “well made clothing is for everyone. But if I believe that, I need to have models that reflect that belief. So I do. If you believe something is bullshit you need to step up and prove that it is bullshit.” Within every package shipped out, is a set of PUG trading cards featuring their most popular outfits worn by their diverse roster of models. On all platforms of their company, they are constantly reminding new and loyal pin up girls that they are for every body.

While I love, celebrate, and fully support plus-size-only independent shops and designers, like Domino Dollhouse and ReDress, I’m jaded about having the fashion made for my body be continuously disjointed from the broader sense of style. I lean towards purchasing vintage reproduction styles because there is more of a chance of them carrying my size. PUG might be one of the first companies to offer classy, yet sexy, clothing to a larger range of sizes, but vintage inspired brands across the globe are opening their eyes to the fact that an hourglass figure is adorned by both a size 2 and a size 22. It feels so damn good to drape a dress over my head, slide it on my body, and watch the fabric translate to my curves. It feels even better knowing I saw it advertised on a straight-sized body when I fell in love with it, and that I didn’t have to search for ages to find a similar version in a size fat, because the company already carried the exact garment in my size. While googling around for rockabilly dresses, it’s rare to find an e-commerce site that doesn’t go up to a 2X and most, like PUG, reach up to a 4X or higher. For the brief moments when I’m shopping in this specific corner of the internet, I completely forget that I’ve been kicked out of most brick-and-mortar shops due to my size.

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Just last week, ModCloth celebrated their one year anniversary of selling a wider range of plus size options. Business Insider is praising ModCloth for aiding a “revolution” in the plus size clothing industry. The revolutionary action is not to start separate stores with different cuts on trendy clothes, made specifically for fat people. The revolution is the wild idea to sell the same clothes, with the same cut, to all bodies. Eshakti is another widely loved vintage-inspired e-commerce site, with brilliant marketing, cashing in on this “revolution,” and their sizes go up to a women’s 32. Drooling over each of these companies and their inventory has become more routine to me than checking my email. 

Other than PUG, ModCloth, and Eshakti being vintage-inspired shops, they have one other very important thing in common: They thrive on customer reviews. Natalie Alvarado, Laura Byrnes’ assistant and PUG plus size model, explains “our team really listens to our plus size customers. Women leave comments all the time on our Facebook page telling us what they want, and PUG is really great about making them happy.” PUG launched a contest about how their clothes changed people’s lives, and received over 800 heartfelt entries, from customers who have been impacted from the company’s body positive tenacity.

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Dear plus size retailers, the most successful business model ever created is right before your eyes: The customer is always right. When someone says the ancient proverb, “size fat, please,” you should make that piece of clothing in a size fat. They’ll buy it. They’ll tell other fatties to buy it. You could have every fat body in the world advertising your dress, revolutionarily made in plus sizes, by letting them buy it in a size that fits them. Byrnes points out, though, that this might be the problem, as well as the solution. She says that other brands “didn’t want to feature people of color because they didn’t want to be mistaken for an ‘urban’ brand. In their mind, there was only one type of ethnic customer, and it was the same person that bought these ‘urban’ brands.” It really boils down to companies not wanting a certain type of shopper in their clothes and being extra conscious of making sure that shopper is invisible from their advertising, as to keep them out of their brand.

Commercial companies like Old Navy and Target have kicked most of their plus size shoppers out of their store, making their larger sizes exclusively online. Shoppers like me, above a women’s size 12, feel more comfortable shopping online because clothes in our size are more readily available on the web. I didn’t choose to stop going to the mall. The mall chose to stop giving me a reason to take my wallet there. I’m not finding clothes off the rack, and instead I’m retreating to endless nights searching for the perfect outfit behind a screen. It’s not as classy as Cher Horowitz’s computer-generated closet, but it means that just because certain companies have erased my body from enough store fronts that I no longer shop in physical stores, doesn’t mean I’m not spending my money on nice clothing. It means that when I’m grabbing my vanilla iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m bragging about the quality of a different brand, as a I pat and smooth out my dress, which the cashier just complimented.

Point blank: It’s better for business to be friendly to fat bodies. While ASOS is frustrating their plus costumers by not featuring plus models for their plus clothes, and Target takes forever to replace the gaping hole that used to house their well-appreciated plus section, Pin Up Girl Clothing has magnified into a multi-million dollar business simply by providing and representing a wide range of bodies. Natasha Estrada, PUG’s public relations representative, adds that “where most companies just try to make money, PUG has really built a community and brings women together.” It comes full circle, because the more open they are to having plus size customers and customers of color, the more customers they have. More customers will be purchasing their clothes to wear and love, instead of as an weight-loss incentive piece to hang in their closet and cause them grief. By connecting the sales of straight and plus size clothing, it eliminates the need to pit sizes against each other. The phrase “REAL women have curves” can FINALLY be thrown in the garbage and flamed to ashes. While I wiggle my booty into my Marilyn Monroe-style cherry print bathing suit, designed to fit bodies of all shapes, I’m reminded of all the reasons I love my body, and that’s because beauty like mine looks good in any size.

Portrait of a Bitch: Kim Selling

There is never a “defining moment” on the journey of self-love. I didn’t see a poster on my therapist’s wall that said “you’re really pretty, just the way you are” and suddenly believe it. It has taken me years to look at myself in the mirror and fall in love with what I see. (Spoiler alert: I’m still working on it.) Mostly, it takes reenforcement from people like me, reminding me what this whole crazy journey is about.

Kim Selling’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” was one of those inspirations. Kim Selling is that inspiration. She has taught me so much about my body and how political and radical having positive body image can be. While I normally love to interject my own opinions and thoughts within interviews, everything Selling said to answer my questions are too important for me not to include. Below, you can watch her performance of the poem that changed my life and read the full transcript of the interview. I encourage you to let her seep into your heart and to let her strength guide you.

  • Your poem “Fat Bottomed Girls” spread like wildfire through the net and it’s still getting passed around frequently via tumblr. How do you feel about its success, being that it’s personal, edgy, angry and part of what our society might deem as “radical” thinking?

Oh lordy, ‘radical’. Well, firstly, I never expected anything to happen at all. I wrote that piece alone and bitter-drunk at maybe 2am at a bar across the street from my shitty apartment. I had been talking about body image with a friend earlier that evening and I got real hyped up about it, because I was raised within a family founded on immensely fractured personal security, and everything is so complicated when it comes to developing separate types of confidence as an adult – and it’s especially difficult when you’re trying to communicate such complications to someone who is coming from a completely different perspective. And then I just regurgitated twenty-one years of violence onto a couple of cocktail napkins.

As far as success goes, I was mostly surprised by the overall reaction because so many people are deeply apathetic – or sometimes outright hateful – towards poetry. So, just from a format or delivery standpoint, I couldn’t believe that, like, 50,000+ people would spend three minutes of their day watching me talk about myself. That concept still feels so foreign to me. There were even two reddit threads dedicated to me for a while: one was kept alive by a bunch of people who obsessively loved the piece, and the other thread was a group of people who thought I was the spawn of something terrible for even suggesting that a fat queer woman be confident and comfortable and visible. Thankfully, both those threads have disappeared (I think), so now I only have to deal with dichotomous tumblr messages.

When it comes to the actual subject matter of the piece, I never intended to be shocking or radical or offensively political. I never intend to be radical, I just am. This isn’t a statement of character; it just so happens that many people cannot handle the things I say or how I look without proclaiming me deluded or sick or slutty or really anything perceived as shameful by the mainstream. Presenting or using a fat body in any manner that denotes power or love or enjoyment is such a crazy thing for some people, that I need only to leave my apartment and walk around to be considered radical sometimes. It’s absurd. My only intent for almost everything I do is basic and candid honesty: this is what my life is like, and don’t you ever try to erase or compromise my experiences.

But also, I am an angry person. I’m angry and tired and frustrated, and there are so many things I want to change, and it deeply worries me when other people aren’t angry because, I feel like, if you’re not enraged about certain deeply fucked up things, then you’re not paying attention. Or your level of privilege is so elevated that you don’t need to change anything. So when someone tries to tell me that I’m wrong, that my body is wrong, it doesn’t seem radical at all for me to do everything in my power to stand up and protect myself. It seems like the only natural reaction.

  • “Fat Bottom Girls” was the first thing to teach me that living my life unapologetically was a political statement. Was there a pivotal moment in your life that highlighted this idea for you? Or, how were you inspired to see your art as political?

There was never a specific moment. Over time, I just decided that I was tired of being miserable, and that it was worth it to do exactly what I wanted because, either way, I was going to get negative, and often violent, feedback. Like they say, you can’t please everybody. And there’s no real point in trying to please anyone if you’re not happy with yourself first.

My family is full of strong women. I’ve always seen the actions of women, both public and private, as political. I think it just took me until high school to realize that I was a part of that group, and that I could affect change as well in my own way.

  • Do you identify with specific communities or words? If so, what does that identification mean to you?

If I’m nutshelling, then I simply identify as a fat white queer woman – not always in that order, but you get the gist. With that being said, I am not aligned with everything that happens in fat or white or queer or female-identified communities. Delineating how you identify as an individual within a specific space can be a powerful moment, and it can also be terrifying, and I frequently take issue with certain treatments or prejudices I witness, especially within white queer and white female-identified spaces.

At the end of the day, the most important things to me are visibility, accountability, a candid attitude, and honest behavior. As long as I’m holding on to those four things, I feel secure in my identity.

  • I’ve seen your badass OOTDs on Tumblr and your perfectly sassy Facebook statuses. I’m convinced you’ve got a super power of talent in every medium. What’s your favorite to make art and/or speak out on body politics?

I mean, sexting is probably my favorite medium, but it would take a hell of a lot of money to convince me to publish that oeuvre. Also, most of the dudes who send me badly lit pics are typically pretty terrible when it comes to discussing body politics, so that’s out (but they are really good at sending responses like ‘haha’ and various winky-faces).

I don’t know, honestly. In theory, something like Twitter would be best since I tend to coast on the brevity of pointless sentiments, but I hate Twitter, so that’s out. The only other social media outlets I’ve used that I’ve enjoyed are Facebook and Tumblr, but I would be deeply bummed if my life amounted to little more than collated printouts of my vaguely quippy Facebook statuses.

Talking to people is what comes easiest to me, more so than writing or music or styling or whatever else I do. It would be great if I could just be the Bob Ross of minimal thought on my own public cable access show, but that would probably turn out to be more like the Chris Farley Show, and everything would dissolve from there. I’ll stick to random social media outlets for now.

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on in the past year?

Without a doubt, my favorite projects have been the pieces I’ve written for Filmme Fatales, which is a publication about women in film edited by Brodie Lancaster (who happens to be one of my favorite radical fat ladies). My first piece focused on the stereotyping of fat women in popular films, and then I did an examination of J.Lo’s acting career (I just watched Selena and The Cell over and over again), and my most recent one centered on how certain women within David Lynch films practice self-care in order to cope with their daily realities. It’s the best. Not only do I get to write about topics I love, I also get to work with talented, beautiful women whom I deeply respect. Total dream gig.

  • What can your fans expect from you in the next year?

Woof. Maybe financial security? I have no idea. I’m doing my best to not plan anything; 2014 has been super bizarre for me already, so I’m trying to keep my artistic options open. I would really love to get back to singing and making music with friends, but I say that all the time, and not much has materialized lately. So, maybe I’m just a lazy asshole.

I’m definitely going to keep writing for Filmme Fatales and whatever else strikes me. I continue to write poetry and other small pieces, but I’m not raring to attempt to get published or be featured anywhere. I work three-ish jobs, and I’m constantly distracted by Seattle social stuff, so it’ll be a miracle if I manage to organize even just my writing goals for this year. Or, actually, setting writing goals would be a miracle in itself.

  • When you’re looking to inspire yourself, who do you turn to?

The people I love, every time. My sister, my friends, my incredible bosses – all of them keep me sane and challenge how I work, how I create, and how I see myself. As stimulating as the E.T.-one-finger Tumblr feed scroll is, my only real inspiration comes from spending time with people I know and care about, and learning more about them and myself. That sounds super Oxygen Channel, but it’s true.

Sometimes it also helps to go into a private music k-hole. If I spend a night flipping through my records and cleaning my apartment, I’m usually hit with some good ideas. It just takes like nine hours of industrial goth-gaze and a shit ton of Lemon Pledge to get my brain working.

  • How do you feel about selfie culture?

It’s your camera, it’s your body — go buck; I don’t care. You’re not wasting my time by taking pictures of yourself. Most people are dangerously self-involved as it is (myself absolutely included), they might as well have some cute pictures to show for it. If anyone tries to shame me for taking selfies, I’ll just take more.

Visibility is such a huge thing for me, and since I don’t often see people who look and dress like me in major media outlets, I always feel the need to force my way in. If fat women aren’t getting legitimate and positive visual representation opportunities, then I’m going to photograph and record everything that I do and throw it out into the world. You think fat people are dumb and lazy and gross? Well, (first of all, fuck you, but also) here are a thousand pictures of my face and body looking good all over the internet. How do you like them apples.

What I really take issue with is the fact that many people and most media sources pinpoint teenage girls as this vast and rapidly spreading plague of selfie-taking, egotistical zombies, like the necrotizing fasciitis of the internet age. If taking pictures of yourself and posting them online reminds you that you are present and involved in your own life (and also your hair looks hella cute today), then take as many selfies as you want. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a generation of girls (or anyone else, for that matter) learning how to appreciate themselves within the public sphere.

  • Do you have any predictions about the “next big thing” or movement in body politics?

In a perfect world, all political and social movements would be intersectional rather than racially/financially/physically/sexually divisive. I really just hope that more people start realizing how pointless body shaming is. As far as predictions go, I don’t want to sound like a buzzkill, but progress on a grand scale is slow and painful, so probably not much will change this year. Maybe NBC will finally cancel ‘The Biggest Loser’ and we can all take a victory sip.

  • Are there any projects you’re working on now or have worked on recently that you’re especially proud of and want/need the world to know about?

One of my jobs right now is social media and website coordination for a new record label in Seattle called Help Yourself Records. It was started in 2013 by four close friends of mine, and has since done incredibly well – especially for a small, independent label in a huge music scene. I feel so fortunate to be involved with something I love, and I’m a huge fan of every band we’ve put out records with this past year. If I’m excited about the future of anything in this dumb town, it’s definitely Help Yourself (and you can visit us at helpyourselfrecords.com or on Facebook, obviously).