Love is big and strong
To the body-positive chubby girls who don’t want to be fat girls, and the fat girls surrounded by them (I’ve been both)
If you’re not as fat as me, it’s too easy to start loving people your size… and stop there.
Our culture has a rough, sliding scale: the smaller you are, the more acceptable. We internalize prejudice toward fat people—and carry it into body positive work.
As smaller fatties and thin women embrace body positivity, I’m one of the larger women pushed to the side. I’m not wild about the terms SSBBW or Death Fat. I call us Superfat, AND I’M PICTURING CAPES.
I was a chubby girl. I felt huge. Some people told me I was. Other people look at pictures and say, “She’s not even fat!” But I experienced years of fat shaming. That’s why I blog a range of fat bodies at Big Happy Beauty. We all experience body policing, though larger sizes carry fewer privileges. As I grew, I experienced more harassment. At my high weight, I was denied access to public spaces, jobs, and health care.
The bigger you are, the more armor it takes to walk through this world and keep loving it. Like I said, we’re super.
The body positive movement is being divided and conquered by internalized fat hate. We’re carving ourselves into fake subcategories. What does fake “body positivity” sound like? It sounds like a thousand blogs declaring “I support healthy bodies” and “healthy body types.”
TIME OUT. Supporting “healthy” bodies is ableist. Good luck living a life of 100% health 100% of the time! If you succeed, it will be luck, not moral superiority.
But what are phrases that limit body positivity to “healthy” bodies really about? They’re code for “I support chubby girls but not superfats.” Because superfat = unhealthy. Guys, you can’t tell someone’s health from their appearance. Look at the websites Fat Can Dance and Fat Chicks Who Love to Exercise.
Superfat badasses who climb mountains and do splits—not me, I couch-surf—can also be photographed at rest. We all have times when we’re sitting around being gorgeous and someone says, “Get the camera!” You could show those pics (I look excellent couch-surfing), and nobody would, like, die. It would actually be body positive.
There’s another way to do “body positive” wrong—or, if not wrong, then incompletely. It’s taking inclusive, loving terms and applying them in a way that excludes already-oppressed people. Some celebrate “curvy” and “”thick” women but only show hourglass shapes. Others say, “I like big women, just not too big,” or “I’m doing body positive weight loss,” and only show smaller fats.
It’s easy to leave people out without meaning harm. For example, my instinct is to reblog girls who look like me. They help me feel better about myself because I readily identify with them. But I’m contributing to a conversation, so I make sure I don’t blog straight white girls exclusively. The awesome bonus is that stretching who I blog stretches who I identify with.
Nobody has to reblog me, or be sexually attracted to me. But if you blog body positive, please notice if you only show certain body types, and think about the messages you send to yourself and your readers.
A bunch of my followers have “body positive” weight loss blogs. They don’t reblog superfats with mean comments… they just don’t reblog superfats. Many only reblog small fats with hourglass figures. Just catalog models and pinups, girls with professional makeup. The message I get is: they don’t want to look like me. That’d be awful.
Fat ≠ unhealthy, but sometimes people need to lose weight. You know your health best, like I know mine. Do I think some of you are trying to have your cake and eat it, too? Yes. Feels like there’s a mix of body love and fat hate. It stings, but you’re welcome here.
Your position in a fat-hating world will change if you lose weight. I hope you won’t lose body positivity. Body positivity is just love, you guys. Love is big and strong.
Love who you are right now. That person in the mirror deserves your appreciation and respect. Anything you do, anybody you become, she’ll be the person who gets you there. It’s not the fantasy Barbie in your head. It’s you. If you change, remember her. If you don’t change, good news! You love that girl.
Internalized fat hate is the enemy within the body positive movement. I won’t be divided. My younger, smaller fat self is beautiful. My older, bigger fat self is beautiful. And so are you. We’re in this together.
—Anna Kinder, BigHappyBeauty.com