When Does “Fitspo” Become “Thinspo”?

“Thinspo” stands for “thinspiration” and is a commonly tagged word on Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media sites. Thinspiration posts are designed to promote the idea that thinness is desirable, and that it must be pursued relentlessly regardless of consequence. Thinspo has become a contentious tag in social media contexts, and several sites are banning content associating itself with the thinspo label.

YAY! Huzzah! Let’s get this unhealthy, body-hating term out of Internet-Land, far away from our sensitive ears!

Unfortunately, there are always work-arounds.

On Pinterest, what I would previously see tagged under “thinspo” I am now seeing tagged under a new term: “fitspo”.

Fitsperation.

Upon initial contemplation, I loved this idea. Let’s make it NOT about body type. Let’s shift the conversation over towards a healthy lifestyle! Activity! Movement! Self-love! However, if you search for “fitspo”, you will be disappointed.

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a Pinterest maven, and The Fat Word Pinterest board is a repository of such body-negativity propaganda.

Initial rage thoughts:

  • Losing weight should NOT be tantamount to addiction. The idea minimizes the struggle of actual addicts while promoting the idea that losing weight is something so desirable that once you start, you need an intervention to stop. If it is actually an addiction, it’s called anorexia. Or bulimia. Or disordered eating. Or activity disorder. Not exactly inspirational cat-poster stuff.
  • Speaking of fluffy cat -posters, Ryan Gosling might be a little miffed that his image is being used to make people feel bad about themselves.
  • Writing letters to your fat gives it agency. No longer do you view it as part of you, but an enemy to fight. In reality, you’re just fighting yourself.
  • Society wants you to think that “you’ll still be uglier than you want to be in a few months, but if you keep self-hatin’, soon you’ll be even LESS ugly than you are now!”
  • Hotness does not equal fitness, especially when it’s measured primarily against other women.
  • I wear skinny jeans. And mini-skirts. I have crop-tops and short shorts. I almost exclusively wear bikinis. I get cat-called. I have fun. I am a confident, happy, healthy, satisfied person.

I need a mental antacid.

There is another key term out in Social Media Land, called “fatspo” — fatspiration. Not that the “fat body type” is necessarily something to work towards or cultivate, but that we can be fat, fit, happy, and beautiful.

That’s more like it. That’s what inspiration is supposed to feel like.


UPDATE

We have been receiving a lot of feedback on this article. Check out our responses!

Why I Haven’t Written My First Fat Blog

I’m too busy. It’s conference week. I’m working through some family stuff.

The truth is, I don’t like the word fat. When I saw the web site up, IT, FAT, had the ability to shock me. I found I didn’t want the word associated with me. It surprised me how strongly I felt. I was feeling uncomfortable with the political tone, the “right speak” that some of the articles had for me. I felt stifled explaining why. I LIKED what Jennifer Lawrence said. She’s not stupid. She knows laws won’t be changed. But calling people fat and remarking on evening wear based on how they fit is mean spirited and should be stopped. She’s annoyed that so many of her interviews are based on body image and frankly she seems bored and would rather talk about something else. I found the phrase used to introduce the piece, “I love you, now close your mouth” really condescending. Is there only one correct way to support body positivity? Are we going to say close your mouth if someone is approaching the topic from a different angle?

I live in my big body every day. I enjoy adorning my body with fashionable clothes. I get tattoos regularly and am comfortable with dropping trow or unbuttoning my shirt, as the occasion requires. I found exercise – dance classes that I enjoy. I didn’t always do these things.

I had a horrible break-up and in that period of reinventing, I found I put most of my joys “on hold”. When I lost more weight, I would get a tattoo. When I could fit in a leotard, I would find a class. I found I was doing nothing. I changed my no to yes and my later to now. This has stood me in good stead; all that saying “yes” has developed into a pretty positive attitude. I think that’s why Shiloh asked me to join this blog.

Yeah, I live with my fat, I dress to flatter my fat, I exercise to keep my fat healthy, but I don’t think about my fat daily and I found I don’t like to TALK ABOUT MY FAT! Well, hell, why would I be writing a blog? I have bright pink hair that I wear curled in a Marilyn bouffant everyday. I don’t go out without my eyeliner and fuchsia lipstick. My demeanor says, look at me! I’m definitely not a beige plus-size matron.  More importantly, my demeanor says, define me by something other than my weight. I’m saying it, I don’t know if people are hearing it.

The day the first Spanx article came out, I had just received a package of really sexy, really comfortable shape wear, real “date lingerie”, (I’m an online shopper extraordinaire.) Usually, I’d pop in to Shiloh, and show off my swag to the appropriate oohs and aahs. Now I find I’m editing myself, are Spanx not cool? Is shape wear not ok if I’m body positive? I LIKE shape wear. I don’t wear it because I feel bad, or I am trying to fit into a fashion mold. I want to wear a favorite piece of clothing that clings and I think looks better over a smooth layer. I’m not fooling myself into thinking I look significantly smaller.

I enjoy following haute couture. I subscribe to Vogue.  When I see a look or a trend works on a tall thin model, I either, as a consumer, decide that look is not for me and move on; or as a designer and seamstress, I change it and make it work for me. I don’t feel anger towards the industry that they idealize young, thin, tall models. I don’t feel old, fat, and short. I’m looking at the clothes, the drape of the fabric, the artful photography, and the lush surroundings. Do I celebrate when they use a big model? Sure, but I won’t like her ad or the clothes she is advertising any better, if the skinny model’s clothes are better designed or that spread is better photographed. I personally feel excited and inspired when the big September issue comes out. When on vacation in New York, I like visiting the big name boutiques. And you know, the sales clerks treat me with respect, even if I can only fit into the handbags and scarves. I don’t feel unwelcome. I’m a consumer; they are the product providers.

The last “fat issue” I want to touch on is weight loss. My size travels between 18 and 24. When I’m at my best, running up and down stairs, sleeping well, good skin tone, standing straight and proud; I am exercising regularly and I am eating less-processed, nutrient dense food. When I’m at a low point, I’m too busy to exercise and I’m eating junk. I could be PC and say that at my smaller size I just feel healthier and happier, but you know? I also think I look better. I want to be smaller. Is it ok to admit that? I like big, bountiful curves, rather than floppy, bulgy bulges. But I don’t want to wait to do anything until I slim down. I’ll continue to say “Yes, now!” instead of “Later.” I want to talk about healthy lifestyle choices on this blog without fat-shaming or skinny-shaming, and to exercise the option of not really caring about it at times.

I think I can add some badass fashion, food, and positivity articles to this blog. Does my viewpoint gel with you? I don’t know. Does my viewpoint sound modern, cool and politically correct? I don’t care. Will I research numerous articles and cite experts in the field? Uh, no, not even a little bit. I want to be the Do It Now Girl! Try something new! Have fun! Look fierce! Give yourself a break! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Fat, Foxy Style — A Pinterest Roundup

Adorable animal clothing need not be relegated solely to the closets of cute, thin hipsters. Fat hipsters must also have access to such adorableness. We need not shy away from attention-grabbing graphics and dresses with cute prints.

How cute is this skirt? Fox in the flowers, indeed! What I really like about this skirt is that you can layer and downplay it, or you can feature it prominently by just wearing colorful flats and a long necklace.

The majority of fox-themed clothing I found involved jumpers. This sassy sweater has a large graphic and would look good with a simple pencil skirt or skinny jeans, with some brown, strappy booties.

See? Jumpers. I love this casual, unisex look. The flats pull the whole thing together.

The animal-print leggings and stilettos really make this outfit. I also love the bold, collar necklace.

The addition of the midi skirt and cute pumps supports my assertion that sweatshirts can be classy.

This dress is perfect for spring. Add some combat boots, a belt, and a military-style cardigan, and you’ll be good to go.

In terms of whole-outfit completion, a Fat Fox over at Tumblr really killed it with this little number:

SHE EVEN HAS A FOX PURSE! AND A SNOOD!

I own a lot of clothing items with birds on them. Do you have any cute, animal-themed clothing?

Whitney Thore on the Today Show versus the Concern Trolls

My Fat Girl Soulmate Whitney Thore was on the Today show last week, talking about her “A Fat Girl Dancing” videos. Overall, I think the appearance was a net-win for body-positivity activism, but I definitely had problems with the segment.

First of all, they didn’t have Whitney actually dance on the show. They showed brief clips of the videos, with two comments: “shaking it” and “she’s got the moves”. The rest of the interview wasn’t about her dancing at all. The website article did link to an in-studio clip of Whitney dancing via the Today Show Instagram account, but it was very short.

My second gripe was how the interviewers described her before she gained weight, saying “you were obviously very athletic”. Guess what, gals? She’s STILL obviously very athletic.

Thirdly, we have my biggest frustration: the concern trolling.

ConcernTrollisConcerned

WW: “My co-worker Jared picked [the video] and he said, you know what, Whitney? Fat girls are popular on the internet and dancing is popular and good music is popular. Put that all together and go do your thing. Then I started to embrace it and I think it is really important for me. I like being called fat. I don’t like it when people say, oh, you’re just curvy or fluffy. Let’s call a spade a spade. There is a lot going on here and it is fat. I like to juxtapose that word with these videos because I think I’m breaking down some stereotypes and the stigma that is placed on fat people because I’m being active and happy and I’m dancing and I think I’m talented. And I’m fat, too.”

TS: “You’re all those things. Do you think you’re healthy? Are you convinced that at this weight you’re still as healthy as you should be?” (emphasis added by author)

WW: “No. Luckily for me, I’ve never had high blood pressure , not high cholesterol , nothing like that. I’m very active. But if I stay this weight, for sure, I’m going to develop health problems.”

TS: “What’s your plan?”

WW: “My plan is to lose 100 pounds, which I already did once, but I gained it back.”

And thusly, dear readers, this interview was highjacked by the Health Concern Troll. What was supposed to be a piece on body positivity, self-love, and self-expression, became a curiosity on whether the health problems associated with obesity negated the message of body positivity.

I love Whitney Thore and all that she is doing. I can’t legitimately expect the Today Show to stride confidently into the realm of EQUALITY FOR ALL. I just resent the casual dismissal of Whitney’s message. If you also feel angry, or want to support Whitney…

Tweet the @TODAYshow and let them know what you think, OR

Tweet @WhitneyWay and let her know you support her message.

Where are the fat Disney heroines?

An online petition exists, created by a high school junior in Virginia, asking Disney to feature a plus size heroine in one of their movies. Specifically, the petition mentions making “plus size princesses in Disney movies”, but I find the “princess” concept in Disney to be generally anti-feminist and wearying. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy this new music video about the real messages our classic Disney princesses send to girls (even though Frozen isn’t exactly a beacon of feminism itself):

I thought I would go through and just do a roll call of fat female Disney characters, in either a major or at least visible supporting role:

As you can see, we have a stunningly diverse array, ranging from soft, grandmother-types, all the way to vengeful, angry, exaggerated villains. Oh wait, those are just two types. Oooh, we also have a little girl! (An aside, Lilo and Stitch is my favorite animated Disney movie. It’s perfect in every way.)

My Ursula ears from Disneyland

My Ursula ears

Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ursula. She’s always been my favorite villain, and I honestly think she’s a better role model for female empowerment than the vast majority of princesses. She knows was she wants, she pursues it ruthlessly, she’s a business woman, she’s powerful, and she’s persuasive. All of this brings me back around to my original point: Where are the fat heroines?

Well, some people flat-out claim it is a bad idea for “health” reasons, like Kathryn Darden, the author of this ugly article from theexaminer.com. A plus size female role model would “only enable and encourage the obesity problem” because girls would emulate the character and subsequently overeat. Darden compares having a plus size heroine to having one who smokes, abuses pills, purges, or cuts on herself. Sorry, Ms. Darden, but your article kind of makes me want to do all four.

Anyhow, we should be happy with what we’ve been offered by Disney so far. They’ve already thrown us fat chicks a few bones:

“Disney has already created Merida with her “plus-size” face, so it’s not like all Disney heroines are stick thin. Snow White is also usually portrayed with a soft, round face. Apparently these heroines are not fat enough…”

Oh, how stupid of me! How could I not think face shape and body type were the same thing? I mean, I should really just stop complaining, because while none of the female characters look like me, at least they don’t ALL look like yard sticks. Maybe the obesity epidemic in America started with Snow White. Everyone saw her fat face and immediately started scarfing down popcorn so they could emulate her. Maybe that’s why movie theaters started upsizing all their snack offerings; they needed to keep up with the Snow White Fat-Face Fad.

Okay, back to the petition. I am signing it. This is my rationale, which I included on the petition itself:

I am signing this petition, not because I actually believe that these sorts of internet petitions actually result in the desired change, but because I want the issue to be considered and discussed. I am a plus size, body positive blog writer, and I strongly feel that all people deserve to feel loved and valued regardless of appearance. Whether or not someone is fat should not impact whether they live “happily ever after”, or are deserving of a Prince Charming to love them unconditionally. In truth, it never really bothered me too much that all of the female leads had cartoon Barbie bods until I read this petition, followed by all the counter arguments. Disney is a mega-corporation in the business of making money, and unless they think a decision will be financially rewarding, they won’t make it. What really pushed me over the edge was the hate. Every argument I read against this petition screamed “FAT IS BAD FAT IS UGLY OMG GROSS”. People are making fun of fat people, curvy people, and even the thoughtful girl who wrote this petition in the first place. Detractors are disguising their prejudice and condescension as “concern” by setting up straw men labeled “Health” and “Obesity Epidemic”. People need to see this hate, READ this hate, and know that it is, in actuality, hate.

I hope you will take the time to go and sign the petition as well, if for no other reason than to promote the dialogue.

Chromatophobia Exposure Therapy: Fat Girls Wearing Cobalt Blue

Spring is upon us, and we will soon run out of excuses to wear our black-on-grey-on-black outfits. A lot of bigger gals shy away from bright colors for two reasons:

  1. We are ashamed of our bodies and don’t want to draw attention to them, and
  2. We just can’t find cute clothes in bright colors (society’s silent legitimizing of the first reason).

Well, this week I would like us all to open ourselves up to a new color possibility: Cobalt blue. This ain’t no navy, folks, nor is it a pastel. It is ultra-blue. BLUE. Check it out:

Now that’s BLUE.

Let’s start with bottoms. Most of us stick to neutral bottoms, jeans and the like. We get a lot of flack for wearing leggings (even I was in the “leggings aren’t pants” category for a while). However, I have changed my tune because I SHOULD BE ABLE TO WEAR WHAT I WANT. Not everyone agrees. Beware, I am ’bout to post things I’ve found in the comments sections of various websites:

ye certain clothes look better on a certain shape, leggings also would not suit the bigger girl, depending on your height i think, anyone between 5foot and 5″5 anythin from size 6-12 is perfect. and taller can pull of the 14 anyone ouve them brackets is bordering on overweight alright. some big girls like certain clothes that would defo do nothing for them ye sure they might be fashionable clothes but would just look dreadful on them.

The idea that tight bottoms are inappropriate for fat people is classic fat shaming. I am 100% sure that the following leggings would look slammin’ on just about every gal I know:

If you wanted something a bit more substantial then leggings, you could go for skinny jeans:

If you’re feeling extra-sessy, consider a pencil skirt:

Cobalt is an ass-celebration color! In fact, it’s a celebration color, period. This bright blue can make you stand out at shindigs, rather than blending you into the background shadows.  Of course, not everyone thinks we should wear cute dresses:

they don’t think they are fat lol
they think its okay to show off their bodies even if the rest of us don’t want to look at their cellulite and fat rolls
they want to dress like other girls- when really you should dress to flatter your body
Ugh, what a douche. Guess what? I have big thighs. Guess what else? I have a less-than-flat stomach. If I want to wear a short dress with a small waist, I will do so and receive tons of compliments from my friends and loved ones who aren’t shallow and insecure. Here’s a douche-antidote:

It’s not quite warm yet up here in Seattle, so we still need jackets. You know what we need more? Blue, ruffly jackets:

If you aren’t quite sold yet, let me show you MY chevron cobalt legging realness:

ONE MORE BONUS DRESS:

Stay tuned for future informal chromatophobia therapy sessions. Want to see a color featured? Shoot me an email or leave a comment!