FAT MANNEQUINS AND FAT BLACK GIRLS ON BILLBOARDS? YASSSS
Hey babies. My name is Chidalu and I’m fat. Yep. And guess what...I don’t hate it anymore. It’s taken a while but I’m here and I kinda love being chunky.
I come from a family of fat beautiful women who spend a considerable amount of time trying to losing weight. Me included. I don’t hate that either. It keeps us healthy because we’re constantly exercising and eating healthy and detoxing.
But like right now, I think I’m the fattest I’ve ever been and even though I’m bothered by my clothes getting tight, I’m kinda just basking in it. This never happens. I’m usually constantly berating myself and just feeling generally trash every time I’m gaining weight so this is kinda nice. I need to start exercising again though because I miss having more energy in my body than I know what to do with. I can’t write this without mentioning my amazing friends and family (especially my nieces ugh. Love those babes) who always compliment me and make me feel beautiful 🥰
One of the downsides of getting fat is learning that a lot of people’s love is conditional. I remember vividly, that I was in secondary school, probably about 12 or 13 years old, when I started gaining weight, or filling out, as some people call it. I traveled home to Enugu for Christmas with my extended family, and it was honestly the most hellish thing.
One of my cousins saw me and with utter disgust on his face, he said “What happened to you?” and when I asked what he meant, he just laughed, shook his head and walked away. I was confused and instantly felt ugly. Was it that bad?
The entire trip was more of the same to be honest. More of the surprise and disgust and “Hmm don’t end up like your mother o” which was totally offensive because I think my mother is one of the most beautiful women I know. One of my relatives even said “Tufiakwa, look how fat you are” and I clearly remember crying myself to sleep that night. #ProtectFatKids.
If you can’t already tell, this is a very triggering topic for me.
Fatphobia is probably the only topic you’ll see me cussing people out on, right after Misogyny.
I was moved to write this essay because of Chika Oranika’s Calvin Klein billboard ad...which is hard as shit by the way. She’s radiating so much BDE. Love it!
What I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around is how such a beautiful ad can fill some of you with so much hate and vitriol (I’m not really struggling to wrap my head around anything lol, I know it’s blatant fatphobia.)
I find it unnerving that in this day and age, we still have to explain to 'rational' adults that fat people need clothing too.
The thing about fatphobia is that it’s so widespread and pervasive that we don’t know when we do it. Every single one of us.
It’s in the way you start to hate yourself a little bit every time you gain weight.
It’s in the way your fat friend says “I’m fat” and you respond “You’re not fat, you’re thick/chubby/chunky” (Well what do you think chubby is made out of, my darling little genius?) and we appreciate that. Truly we do, but sometimes we wanna be told “Yes, you’re fat and it’s beautiful. I love ya lil rolls and ya puffy ass cheeks.”
I mean the other day I saw a girl tweet a selfie and the caption was about how she loved her lil neck rolls and I looked at it again and I was like “Huh, they’re actually kinda cute.” and then I went to look at my neck rolls in the mirror and I was like, “Huh, they’re so cute.”
That was fun.
It’s in the way a fat person offends you and the first thing you think to say is “Go to the gym” or “lose some weight ugly.”
And most importantly, IT’S IN THE WAY YOU SEE A FAT GIRL MODELING FRIGGING UNDERWEAR THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS AND WEARS and say that obesity is being promoted. In very much the same way a certain demographic of people got mad at the fat Nike mannequin modeling exercise wear. THIS ONE IS ESPECIALLY WILD BECAUSE Y’ALL ARE CONSTANTLY TELLING FAT PEOPLE TO GO TO THE GYM. Well, what do you propose that we wear to the gym, Susan?
Do we somehow have it in our heads that if we deprive fat people of good clothing then we’ll cease to exist?
I want you to sit with yourself and ask yourself why fat people existing, being represented, having nice, beautiful things and looking happy bothers you so much?
Why do you want all fat people to be sad and ugly?
You know what, you don’t have to think too hard. I know how you hate to do that. I’ll just tell you the answer. It is fatphobia.
You don’t know how glad it makes adult me to know that a word now exists for this phenomenon because I struggled with internalized fatphobia for the longest time.
I’ve liked clothes and fashion and fashion shows for the longest time but I used to wear only drab, extremely roomy clothing because;
i) People wouldn’t know how big I actually was, and
ii) There was ZERO representation of fat people and that kind of makes you feel like it’s impossible to be beautiful as long as you’re fat.
I still walk into clothing shops with beautiful clothes in the show glass (on skinny mannequins) and feel disgust, anger and a tad bit of self-hate when I see the plus size options I’m presented with.
I find it SO hard to partake in mainstream fashion now that I’m aware of this phenomenon, because most of the fashion industry is still pretending that fat people don’t exist or would be impossible to style or made to look beautiful. That’s why Rihanna will always stunt on everybody. Bitch better have her money.
It's important to mention that not all fat people are fat because we’re lazy and gluttonous. It pains me to say this because I believe that all fat people should be loved and celebrated just because. Some people have actual medical conditions that prevent them from losing weight. Some people are just bigger genetically, no matter how much exercise and fruits we eat because I can tell you that I have healthier eating and exercise habits than a lot of the skinnies I know, but look at me, still fat.
For me (and the women in my family) to be skinny, I’d literally have to starve myself and exercise twice a day and honestly? Fuck you and fuck that. I will not be condemned to a life of suffering because I was born by a fat woman. I deserve to enjoy a donut or some ice cream or even some freaking breaded chicken without hating myself for finding delicious things, delicious. Life is already hard enough with capitalism and misogyny kicking my fucking ass. And minus all that, some people just love being fat.
BUT, even as annoying as the skinnies are, I’m actually really so full of joy. I mean, a fat black girl was just on a goddamn Calvin Klein BILLBOARD. The same Calvin Klein that while growing up was known for its perfectly sculpted white boy models with wild hair and intense eyes.
This is a really revolutionary time.
The fats are starting to get represented more in a positive light, not just as a before picture.
I cannot begin to explain to you how important this is for us.
I mean, my journey to loving my fat soft body started when I saw one of my favorite tweeters @SimoneMariposa post pictures of a nude shoot she did where she was covered in colorful glitter. I still think about those images because what it showed me was that fat bodies are not ugly.
We’ve just been socialized to celebrate and decorate skinny bodies while shaming, and covering up fat bodies in the drabbest, roomiest and meh clothing we can find.
Representation matters and we’re finally getting it. And as a result, we’re starting to love ourselves more, becoming more confident and coming for all our thingssss. Wearing less and going out more too. You can stay saltier than a cracker or you can make space for all bodies to be beautiful and celebrated. It’s already happening anyway with or without you.
Ya fave fat girl, Chidalu.
Peace and love be with you. And snacks. Don’t forget snacks.
*******Just wanna take a moment to tell you that there’s fucking crackheads in this world putting their babies on diets because they can’t stand having fat babies************
I was teaching a class of little girls how to bake chocolate cupcakes and one of the girls was so excited and she told us “My mom put me on a diet, so I didn’t tell her we were making cupcakes today.” I-😶
by Chidalu Akpa