Outspoken, fearless and uncompromising, never before has there been a woman like Shay Neary. If you’re in any way affiliated with the body positive community, then Shay is surely on your radar as being one of the most badass trans plus-models out there. Here, I talk to her about “Shay Butta”, her trans sisters and why we shouldn’t take anyone’s shit…
Summer is fast approaching, and that can only mean one thing. The diet tribe. As soon as the sun comes out, the airwaves are thick (like my thighs) with talk of diets, fitness regimes and achieving that ‘perfect Summer Body’. All of this means that society has fallen into the rhythm of believing that plus-size women shouldn’t wear/be seen in/even think about wearing, a bikini in public. But here are 12 plus-size babes showing us otherwise…
The media would have us fooled that being fat is the worst thing that you can ever be. Being fat is seen as one of the least desirable attributions in our culture, and growing up – I believed it. I would envy the girls at school for their slim figures and would have given anything to be the same as them. It didn’t matter if they were an unkind or mean person, because being slim was the thing to be if you wanted to be successful, attractive and respected.
Unlike delicious Instagram-worthy oats, self-love is not something that can be conjured up overnight. After listening to society drone on about the ideal body image for most of our lives, it will understandably take some time to undo the negative effect that the media and ‘friends’ have on our self-esteem.
There is more to learning to love yourself than just the ‘power of positive thinking’ (although this does help) – so here are my 7 Tips For Self-Love in Action. Continue reading
You might be forgiven for thinking that plus-size women have low self-esteem, given the amount of crap that we’ve had to put up with for most of our lives, but you’d be wrong. This tweet hits the nail on the head: it is so tiring that the go-to reaction when someone meets a plus-size woman, is that she must have low self-esteem. Continue reading
Over the last few years the body positive movement has been phenomenal in the progression of bodily acceptance. As a society, we are acknowledging the presence of more body shapes and sizes in mainstream media – and this movement is one that has been a long time coming. People across the globe are making a stand and declaring love for their bodies in spite of everything that we have been told my the media, and subsequently, we are deconstructing and reconstructing our own body image values and ideals – can I get a hell yeah?! Continue reading
As a plus size woman living in a world where fatness is still seen as an oddity, the stigma of fat bodies as being everything but desirable still remains. People try their damnedest to disarm fat women of their sexuality, regarding it as a joke or as a fetish – in my book, that’s not okay. Continue reading
The logistics of movie making are beyond me, but as a film lover there is a startling fact apparent that I can’t not blog about for much longer. I am well versed in the genre of rom-coms and romantic dramas, some of my favourite films even fall into these categories, but I’ve come to notice something. And its been bugging me. Where is my representation? Where are all of the fat characters in love? When films approach the subject of fatness, it is never genuine, raw or real. That’s not to say that films don’t give fat men and women some visibility, it’s just the wrong kind. For both male and female fat characters, the road from opening titles to closing credits is tumultuous, more so when the subject of love is the focal point of their story.
I take umbrage to the idea that fat men and women can’t fall in love before losing weight first. Many films tend to follow the same structure: a fat character is overlooked by the object of their affections, said fat character loses weight, and then gets the girl/guy. Take the character that Ryan Reynolds plays in Just Friends, Chris Brander. As a teenager, Chris is hopelessly in love with his (blonde and slim) best friend Jamie, but Jamie blindly continues their friendship – until they meet some years later and Chris has had his braces removed and shed the weight that he carried. Then she’s interested, funny that. Similarly, Renée Zellweger’s portrayal of well-loved screw up, Bridget Jones, focuses intensely on Bridget’s desire to lose weight and get the guy (all whilst just toeing the line of curvy, I hasten to add). It would be refreshing to see a fat character in love – not in spite of their size, but regardless of it.
Shallow Hal and Hairspray, although to be applauded for their attempts at subverting the stigma surrounding fat relationships, still make some mistakes. Rosemary, Gwyneth Paltrow’s fat-suited character, is ridiculed, bullied and demeaned throughout, until Hal (played by chubby favourite, Jack Black) finally sees her size and overcomes cultural obstacles to fall in love with her in spite of her size. Not a million miles away from this, Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, smashes through social stigma to become a dancing sensation – oh, and she gets the guy. These films, in my eyes, are pioneers of fat character acceptance: but they still fixate on the size of their fat characters as an entity to overcome, something that has to be acknowledged, discussed and conquered first.
When a fat character is not at the centre of a love narrative, but appears as the ‘token fat character’, they often fall into two categories.The Parody: plus-size favourite, Rebel Wilson, is seen in Pitch Perfect as Fat Amy. Come on, do I really need to explain why this is a bad move for fat character representation? I’m all for progression and acceptance where the word ‘fat’ is concerned, but when a character is literally defined by their size so obviously, it becomes somewhat absurd. The Manly: comedic genius, Melissa McCarthy, is often at the pinnacle of this category. In Bridesmaids, she plays uncouth and grotesque Megan, in button-down plaid shirts, with no make-up and ‘slacks’, she is presented as a caricature of a fat woman. We see Megan flirt obscenely with most men that she comes across, to no avail, she is meant to be seen as an unattractive joke for her slimmer counterparts to pick fun at.
Sometimes, fat characters are expected to accept this representation for the sake of comedy. The Inbetweeners is non-PC lads ‘banter’ and we are expected to excuse the fun poked at those who are not privy to mainstream acceptance – fat people included. When crude Jay falls for fat Jane, he hides behind his emotions by bullying and demeaning her publicly, before subsequently reconciling with her when he realises how he really feels. There is so much wrong with this fat relationship ideology that I don’t know where to start: after being fat shamed, the character of Jane willingly accepts a relationship with Jay. If an impressionable fat man or woman saw this presentation of fatness, they would take only one thing away with them: that it is okay to embark on a relationship with someone who thinks it is okay to bully you, because that’s all you’re worthy of.
Romantic stories for fat characters either don’t exist, or are ridiculed. But I don’t want to live under the precedent that fat people can’t have wholesome, loving relationships any longer. I want to see fat men and women involved in romantic comedies and dramas without reference to their size being made; I want to see fat men and women be real and genuine; I want fat men and women to be acknowledged as real characters, not as parodies or as a joke; I want to see fat men and women in love.
I want to see my happily ever after, Hollywood.
If you’re dating a fat girl, you’re probably more than well acquainted with the negative body issues that crop up every now and again. But if you find that you’re constantly putting your foot in your mouth where your lovely lady is concerned, here are my top five things that you should never, ever say to your fat, feisty and fabulous girlfriend.
“Should you really be eating that?”
Do not, I repeat, do not comment on her eating habits – bringing attention to the amount that someone is eating is dangerous. If, in your eyes, you think that your lady is eating too much or not enough, it’s (quite frankly) none of your business. That kind of negative
talk about food stuffs is the kind that encourages bad relationships with food, not only that but it could endorse a potentially harmful eating practice, especially when someone has a delicate relationship with their body already. The last thing you need to be doing is focusing on something that could send someone on a downward spiral. Let her eat cake!
“That outfit isn’t very flattering…”
You are not allowed to put down your lady’s outfit choices. If she has chosen something that pushes social boundaries, you should be building her up, not bringing her down; if she has endeavored to show off her arms or wear a tummy-clinging dress, then you should revel in the confidence that she has to shun society’s expectations of fat girl fashion. You have no right to decide how she should dress; you have no right to tell her what she can and can’t put on her body. The only thing you should be doing is praising how she looks, and if you think that something isn’t very flattering on her body shape, then you need to question why you think that way in the first place.
“You’re not fat!”
The thing is, your significant other probably knows that she’s fat. She may comment on her size, she might even use the ‘f’ word, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. We’ve been socially conditioned to view the word ‘fat’ as a negative entity – if you are called fat it is often meant as an insult, it is meant to offend, upset and demean, but it is only because society has given it this negative power that it holds this stigma. If your
lady calls herself fat, don’t jump to her defense! “You’re not fat” when directed at a fat person, is bullshit and she knows that it’s bullshit – mollycoddling her by using words such as curvy, voluptuous and cuddly (anything but the dreaded ‘f’ word) can end up being detrimental to her mental health and knowing that people are lying to your face can hurt more than the acknowledgement of your size.
“Are you sure you can do that?”
Given that society has deemed most things unachievable for fat women, one of the worst things you can do is question her ability to do something. Fat women have long been taught that they can’t succeed at the things they set their hearts upon due to their size, they have been conditioned to believe that their size will restrict them, but that’s not so. The plus size community and fat visibility have come along in leaps and bounds in recent years and the ‘can’t do’ preconception is slowly being banished. There have been numerous women who prove that fat woman can become a success in the workplace, that they can model, that they can push fitness boundaries, hell, they can even zip wire over a frozen lake if they so wish. But their abilities are not confined to their size, and you shouldn’t think that they are either. If you question your partners ability to do something or effectively complete a task they’re undertaking, then you cannot reap the rewards or join in the celebrations when they DO succeed. Your doubt eliminates you from enjoying the achievement, you don’t deserve it… she does.
“Just ignore them!”
Fat women have heard it all. Let’s face it, if an insult is going to be thrown at a fat girl about her size, she’s more than likely heard it before and over time, we tend to build up some kind of intolerance to this kind of thing. It’s incredibly easy to brush these things off when you’re so used to them, but occasionally these things can slip through your body loving shield and hit you right in the heart. If your lovely lady receives these kinds of comments and if she becomes upset or angered by them, the worst thing you can tell her to do is to ‘just ignore’ her perpetrator(s). She needs your support at a time like this, she doesn’t need to feel that her feelings of worthlessness are stupid or intolerable, she doesn’t want to feel like an emotional burden – so don’t dismiss how she feels. You haven’t lived in her fat body and you don’t know of the emotional experiences that she’s lived through, besides the relationship a person has with their body is complex, and all you can do is build someone up again when they’ve been knocked down and that means dealing with it, not brushing it off.
I stand in awe of my body, and you should stand in awe of yours too. Your body is remarkable and it is not given the credit that it deserves.
The culture that we live in focuses so highly on praising those who are aesthetically pleasing, that it forgets to acknowledge the other (more important) aspects of what a body can do. Yes, all bodies are beautiful and no, they don’t need to prescribe to ignorant ideals to be seen as such. We do not take enough time to appreciate the absolute wonder that the human body is – this vessel that we have been given to exist in is demeaned and ridiculed by a society that values beauty and attractiveness over anything else. In spite of ourselves, most of us believe the lies that swarm our way, but we can’t help it, it is what we have been conditioned by society to believe. There is no-one to blame and no-one to hold responsible – but if, as a collective, we try to remember the mind-blowing things that are bodies are capable of, we might be able to challenge societies preconceived ideas about what a body’s best attribute is. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that beauty doesn’t even come into the equation after these…
The human eye is so sensitive that if the Earth were flat, you could spot a candle flickering at night from up to 30 miles away.
But the human eye is still being told to focus on the darkness and negativity of self-hatred.
When you blush, the lining of your stomach blushes too.
But we are told to contour, cover up, hide and mask our real and genuine skin.
An adult is made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms. There are ‘only’ 300,000,000,000 (300 billion) stars in our galaxy.
But we are taught that our bodies are nothing special unless we fit into societies ‘ideal’.
A full head of human hair is strong enough to support 12 tonnes.
But we are told to perfect salon-worthy hair, if not, we are not worthy.
Human bone is as strong as granite. A block of bone the size of a matchbox could support nine tonnes of weight.
But we are told that our bodies and minds are weak.
For every pound of fat or muscle gained, your body creates seven miles of new blood vessels.
But we are told that we cannot mentally grow with our bodies.
Your body produces 25 million new cells each second. Every 13 seconds, you produce more cells than there are people in the United States.
But we are told that unless our bodies succumb to societal pressures, not to value ourselves.
Humans shed 40 pounds of skin in their lifetime, completely replacing their outer skin every month.
But we are told not to admire or love the skin we’re in.
Your stomach manufactures a new lining every three days to avoid digesting itself.
But we are told to watch what we eat.
There are more than 600 individual skeletal muscles and 206 bones in your body.
But we are told that the only things worth noting are the size and shape of our bodies.
These are just a handful of the facts out there relating to the human body, and all it takes is a quick Google search to discover all of the things that your body is capable of. I think it’s about time that we stopped hinging our worth on the way that we look, and instead shift the focus to the things that we are able to accomplish because of our inconceivably fascinating bodies. I stand in awe of my body, because it is capable of things beyond my wildest imagination.