So my lovelies I’ve been umming and ahhing about writing / publishing this piece for a while. Warning up front there will be a lot of usage of the F word. I have to say out of all my posts, grief and child loss ones included, this has probably been one of the most difficult to get from my brain in to words. I know it shouldn’t be because it is something that is frequently discussed within the plus size community but still I think the question has to be asked…Has BoPo been hijacked?
I totally get that there is no black and white answer to this question. It will depend on what bopo means to you specifically because I think it means different things to different people. I think it will depend on your size. Where you are in your journey to self acceptance. Lots of different factors.
I’ll start by telling you a little about my discovery of the bopo movement. It was probably about 3 or 4 years ago now I noticed a shift in visibility of plus size images on social media. I noticed there were more places to chat freely and openly about plus size life thanks to facebook groups.
Growing up choices for me were limited. There was Evans, Evans and some nondescript black tent like garment and if I was really lucky they might of stuck a butterfly print on it because of course every fat girl wants a butterfly print don’t they. I should also add just in case the butt hurt crew get a bit upset at my shade of the butterfly print, if you love it then great for you, but as a 14 / 15 year old it wasn’t my go to fashion choice. I wanted to have choices like my friends did.
Fast forward 20 years and the choices are unbelievable. In both fashion and imagery. I still think we have a long way to go when it comes to the mainstream and industry but thanks to social media there are so many more ways to view plus size gorgeousness. To see a body like mine. And that, in a roundabout way, gets me back to my original question.
I think, for me, when the movement started it was intended for fat bodies. Those that felt marginalised and not represented in the public eye. Whether these were bodies of colour, bodies of size or bodies with disabilities or disfigurements. It was a fat positive / acceptance movement. Fat people, largely women, trying to say “I am fat and it is ok for me to exist and take up space”. The unapologetically fat.
However at the time people were not ready to hear or see that. So surely it was better to get part of a message out rather than no message at all. It was far more easier for people to accept a fat body if it was termed body positive rather than fat positive right? But has that diluted message actually served its purpose for the plus size body? Are people genuinely more accepting of fat bodies thanks to the bopo movement? Or is it just that they more accepting of flat bellied, wide hipped, curvy white women than they used to be?
Now don’t be all shy and coy and make out like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It is the gorgeous Instagram girls who have to virtually fold themselves in half to squeeze out a couple of those delectable little belly rolls, or their airbrushed on tiger stripes (just letting ya know there are plenty available with the bonafide thing). All the brands that get bigged up for being so diverse using a white size 14 model. Yup that kind of representation.
I’m sure now is the perfect time to address the fact that I have no issue with the bopo movement. I love and appreciate all bodies and all sizes. You have just as much right to exist as a size 0 as you do as a size 32. Love and nourish and nurture your bodies and your minds. Any struggles you face as a size 10 are not diminished by my struggles as a size 24. It’s not a struggle pissing contest because our struggles are entirely different.
Going in to a shop and not finding a single item of clothing you like is completely different from going in to a shop and not finding a single item that will fit you. Having a bad day because you are “feeling” fat is different from having a bad day because you have actual fat. But I’m smart enough to know that how you feel about your body is not reflection on how you feel about mine. All I’m saying is don’t claim to be on your crusade, doing it for the fat girl.
Do I think we are any closer to not being accused of promoting obesity when we share a picture on social media. No I don’t. Will all the faux health concern trolls shut up anytime soon? No they won’t. Are we closer to having a major brand use actual fat bodies in their marketing? I don’t know, they sure like to talk like they do a lot but are they really? Are they though? Are we anymore fat positive than we were 5 years ago? The honest answer is I’m not 100% sure.
What we are doing, thanks largely in part to social media, is creating more environments and more spaces and more images where fat women can get inspiration from on a daily basis and that can only be a good thing.
So who are you favourite social media accounts and brands to follow? Those that are spreading the fat message. Two amazing brands who consistently kill it for representation are Plus Equals, Apples & Pears Clothing and Topsy Curvy. Some of my fave social media accounts, who for me are doing it right, are:
Anyway I’ll stop chatting inanely now and look forward to you “who I should follow” recommendations and hearing your opinions.