Life is short. A cliché, but very true. I made plans to do things this year that I never had before. I was a part of a pudding wrestling event, I modeled in my first run way fashion show, I broke a foot and got my first cast (that was very unintentional and not something I recommend), and I was featured on the cover of a magazine based in the United Kingdom! The latter was definitely not something expected.
I woke up last Thursday morning and was checking my phone when I first saw it. I was tagged within an instagram post, which isn’t all that uncommon. I clicked on the link to find a post made by my friend, Erin. It was the cover of a magazine; a tabloid you would typically peruse while in line at the grocery store to kill the time. But there we were; my friend that posted the picture and myself in the lower left hand of the cover. It was a picture of us on our fourth of July vacation in Oakland, California with the headline: “Should ‘FATKINI’ girls be proud or ashamed?” Not even a month ago on August 10th, I had broken my foot the day prior and was bedridden when I first saw we were featured in a Buzzfeed article. Then the following day it was the UK Mail. I was getting messages that we were featured on E! News’s #fatkini piece, as well. My friend and I had gone to sleep one day as semi known personalities through our blogs and tumblrs, to waking up plastered on a variety of news sites.
She originally agreed to Daily Mail posting our picture, but not for the media onslaught that followed. I recently found out we were featured in a segment on Inside Edition regarding the fatkini phenomenon through the posts being made about our involuntary freshman magazine cover photo. It was strange to be on a magazine I had never heard of, from another country, was selling magazines and making a profit from our photo. I did not mind being a part of a lot of the online articles and pieces in some respects because I feel like there is the potential for some positive discussion regarding body acceptance.
I never thought by taking a picture poolside with one of my dearest friends, we would become figureheads for a movement. Nor be fodder for some click bait articles. You can look at it from all different angles, but we posted that because we were having fun, we looked amazing, and we wanted to document it! Not unusual behavior for our thinner counterparts really, but because we are fat girls that are confident; our society finds our bodies to be something shocking— and dare I say it? Refreshing. The term fatkini was coined years ago by a famous blogger named Gabbi Greg. I know seeing women like Gabbi enabled me to embrace my body bit more and do what to me was unthinkable for years: wearing a bikini in public. It was one of the most liberating acts I had done for myself in years when I stepped out at my public pool in my black two piece suit. It was the first time I had worn a bikini since I was in second grade.
I understand the struggle because I went through it and came out of it. If pictures of myself and other women strutting our stuff with pride in our bathing suits is able to help other people feel more comfortable with their own bodies; then this was a success. I haven’t bothered to read the comments in the articles and websites. I know that for every positive comment there will be a handful more of negative. I have been prepared for it since being active in the fat acceptance community. I don’t really care what people say about my body and their faux concern. My health is not really your concern and it is rather presumptious to assume due to my size that it is poor. It is the only standpoint a lot of people can take in fear they don’t come off like a horrible person that is opposed to someone simply for being fat. They don’t want to come off as a shallow and cruel person, so it makes them feel better about themselves and makes them look like caring people. I know it comes from a place of pure terror and fear. It is scary when someone breaks the mold and conventions that so many just blindly abide to.
It was not one shocking at all when the fitness expert quoted in the magazine piece who felt we should be ashamed and disgusted with ourselves was a middle-aged white man. It is interesting that he would be telling women how to feel about their bodies, especially since his job depends on women feeling insecure about their bodies. A whole industry could crumble and cease to exist if women were not convinced they are not worthy and unlovable depending on their pants size. We would no longer hold ourselves to unrealistic standards if we were taught to be completely content with our bodies and society celebrated, instead of being disgusted by, dimples of cellulite and waves of soft fat.
It took me years to get such imperviously sturdy confidence. I struggled with problematic thinking- I believed I was not good enough because of my size. I fear for the young girls that read these body shaming articles. I hope they will come upon our smiling faces and see it is not absurd for a girl their size to be happy and proud of their bodies. Maybe that image will be stronger than any of the negative things being said about us.