“Since fat bodies are so politicized, dressing them becomes a political act; I’ve talked to a lot of fat girls who choose to wear loud outfits precisely because they want to be visible in a world that tells them they should hide.” – Plus-size blogger/model, Gabi Gregg
This weekend, I spent an ungodly amount of time on Tumblr and Instagram following whatever bread crumbs could lead me to more plus-size bloggers, in order for me to flood my timelines with unapologetic body-positivity. There is something so liberating about having your social media curated to reflect your identity(ies). This is why we’ve created spaces like Black Twitter and Black Tumblr – they’re created not only for representation but to also have spaces to talk about issues that matter to us while feeling safe enough to do so.
I found that the plus-size community online gave me those things in addition to Black social media spaces.
[bctt tweet=”There is a new generation of large-size women who want to be seen and heard.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Plus-size blogging is generally new, even as far as social media is concerned, and it has been made necessary by the fact that the average size of women in the U.S. and the U.K. is a size 14, and most clothing brands don’t carry sizes past size 10 or 12. There is a new generation of large-size women who want to be seen and heard. Something as simple as dressing up is such a big deal in the plus-size community because that in itself is an act of self-love. Rather than creating blogs dedicated to weight loss journeys and women devoted to waiting until they’ve lost weight to wear they clothes they want to wear, many women have decided to love their fat bodies and adorn them just as they are while showing other women how to as well.
This all stems from a movement of body-positivity, which was created to dismantle Eurocentric capitalistic hetero- and cis-normative beauty standards to allow us to create our own.
[bctt tweet=”Something as simple as dressing up is a big deal in the plus-size community.” username=”wearethetempest”]
The best thing about big girls on social media is that we have radicalized our self-love. Rolls, stretch marks, VBO (visible belly outline), love handles, and all the trappings of fat female bodies are not only normalized but celebrated the way they normally aren’t in society. There’s something so revolutionary about a community that embraces what are considered imperfections to forge a culture that truly believes that everyone’s body is beautiful – a community where trolls are blocked or ignored, negative comments are promptly dismissed, and the word “fat” is not pejorative but empowering.
As a Black woman, it’s also important to me that these two worlds meet. You would think it would be simple considering that a large percentage of Black women are considered plus-size. However, the pro-Black community on social media is often guilty of epitomizing thin Black women with wide hips and large butts as well as perpetuating the general exclusion of unconventional Black beauty (i.e. dark skin, 4b/4c natural hair, non-curvy, etc.).
Women who are this far outside of Eurocentricity are often overlooked by white society. Women like Leslie Jones – who, until she took to Twitter to call out fashion designers for their shady silence, was unable to find someone to dress her for the red carpet. This was no doubt an example of misogynoir and sizeism in the industry.
It's so funny how there are no designers wanting to help me with a premiere dress for movie. Hmmm that will change and I remember everything
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) June 28, 2016
The Black community is supposed to be more accepting of bigger bodies, but often Black social media’s love for “thick” women is in reference to the Nicki Minaj’s rather than the Gabourey Sidibe’s.
Furthermore, this is not to say that the plus-size modeling industry is not equally as exclusive. Finding Black plus-size bloggers like Mo Handahu (@misslionhunter) and Jeniese Hosey (@jenesaisquoithe) who shine brightly and unconventionally and unapologetically all at once help to combat that.
Not only does representation matter, it matters how we’re represented. With social media, the advantage is that we can represent ourselves. Seeing these bloggers in their day-to-day lives, how they eat, how they practice self-care, their families, and their love lives makes us feel valid in loving ourselves or hopeful in embarking on that journey.
Whether your style is urban chic, bohemian, or goth, and whether you’re a size 16 or a size 22, there’s a blogger out there that you can see yourself in.
Nothing compares to how it feels when you go from “I wish I looked like that” to “Wow, she looks like me!”