Well butter my arse and call me a biscuit: fat women are doing something that doesn’t involve Gok Wan with a pair of Spanx and people are freaking the fuck out. Must be a day that ends in whiskey.
I presume the handwringing over the fatkini hashtag – in which chunky chicks post bikini pics of themselves to Instagram and Twitter – is because photos of fat bodies are usually reserved for the obligatory cautionary whale pictures used to illustrate hard-hitting articles about the rise in diabetes, heart disease and cancer. We’re not used to seeing fat people unclothed in any other context.
On the day it was published, I read Daisy Buchanan’s article in The Debrief about #fatkini and frankly, I lost my shit – we’re talking Rubyyy-Jones-fucking-a-shoe-shit-fit, and I’m not even that fussed about the #fatkini movement. This blog post isn’t written as a direct response to Ms Buchanan’s work and I have no interest in picking her article apart, stitch by flimsy stitch, because anyone reading this is probably adequately engaged with body politics to do that for themselves. I could write a book on the bullshit packed into such a short piece, but this one line in particular made me want to smear myself in buttercream and run naked through the streets of London screaming “I AM NOT A FUCKING FETISH”:
“Fetishising fat is no more healthier or more admirable than fetishising thin.”
Think about that for a second, think about the context of that statement in regards to the #fatkini photographs. Fetishising, she says. Fetishising, as if the sole purpose of #fatkini is to bring the sexy back to fat, to prove to the world that we’re still fuckable in our size 22 swimwear.
How about, when we look at an image of a joyful woman, throwing her arms in the air and having a laugh in swimwear, we try not to instantly and exclusively see her as a sex object? How about that radical feminist chestnut in which we acknowledge that women don’t exist to be looked at, to be spunked over, to be fetishised and fantasised about? How about we keep our fucking boners to ourselves instead of chastising those naughty women for flaunting every curve and every ripple, every dimple and every fold?
“Essentially I think #fatkini is exacerbating an existing problem,” says Ms Buchanan’s ‘naturally slender’ pal Jenny, “where we’ve ended up thinking it’s very important to praise the attractiveness of bigger people, at the expense of everyone else, to be politically correct.”
Here’s the kicker: we aren’t asking for your fucking approval. We don’t need anyone to tell us we’re fucking fierce. We don’t need to be patronised or pandered to and this ridiculous notion that bigger bodies are being exclusively praised above all others is such utter nonsense I can’t – I actually can’t – damn well deal with it.
These photographs are not for you to fetishise or critique, they are not for you to condemn. We aren’t sharing our bikinied bodies to inspire a debate or to give you a hard on for faux-concern about our health. It’s about our own agency to do what the fuck we want with our bodies, because here’s the crux of it all: whether we’re in bikinis or – as Ms Buchanan so delicately put it – body bags, we’re still fat and that fatness is with us all the time.
If sharing a photograph of my body is “glorifying obesity”, where’s the line? Am I “glorifying obesity” by wearing a bikini in public? Is ASOS Curve “glorifying obesity” by selling bikinis in bigger sizes to begin with? If a fat woman in a bikini takes a photo of herself in a forest and she has no internet reception to post the picture online, is she still glorifying obesity?
Is it so ridiculous, such a wild fantasy, to imagine that these photos are expressions of confidence, of happiness? Is it beyond comprehension that the purpose of these photos is not to inspire mediocre think pieces from liberal journalists, but in fact to instil confidence in other fat people, to encourage them to learn to love themselves, to enjoy their lives without shame or self-hatred? To go to the beach and wear gorgeous swimwear, to be happy with their silhouette and to trust that the love they receive from the world is legitimate, deserved and allowed?
Because listen, those of you who are so concerned about the health of fat folk: it takes confidence to go to the GP, it takes confidence to sign up to a gym, it takes confidence to jog in public and keep your head held up high when faced with the open hatred and ridicule hurled from total strangers at the sight of your jiggling booty as you run. Sometimes it takes confidence to get out of bed, to leave the house, to go to work, and sometimes that confidence just isn’t there. And do you know something? Confidence and happiness are better bedfellows to good health than shame, self-loathing and depression.
It’s possible to love your body and take good care of it whilst carrying extra weight. The complete disregard for mental health in the face of faux-concern for physical health would be laughable if it wasn’t so fucking heart breaking.
Must I remind you that unless you’re some kind of fat whisperer, able to silently communicate with fatties through clairvoyance, you have no way of knowing what an individual’s lifestyle is like without actually asking them about it, so perhaps it’s best we keep our opinions on other people’s health to ourselves.
Now here’s a picture of my fucking tits:
Arched Eyebrow – Life Doesn’t Start When You’re Thin