From Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, declaring that his clothing brand does not cater to fat people, to the throngs of skinny models gracing the covers of popular fashion and women’s magazines—such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Elle, Glamour and W, to name a few— mainstream America is sending a silent message that “fat” is not only unattractive, but unmarketable, too.
Fashion aside, the entertainment industry has also adopted this credo. When was the last time you saw a scantily clad plus-size model in a music video? Who was the last heavyset personality that truly embraced their larger size, and did not conform to the norm and slim down to what the media feels is a more sexier and appealing persona?
Truth be told, I was disheartened when respected comedienne and actress Mo’nique, who co-authored the novel, Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World, lost over eighty pounds and began to mirror the “skinny bitches” she once declared war upon. Then there was Star Jones, who underwent gastric bypass surgery just so she could shed over 150 pounds. Vocal powerhouse, Jennifer Hudson, lost eighty pounds and became the spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. All of them, along with countless others, have helped perpetuate this cultural assumption that “fat” does not equal fortune.
Taking it one step further, I visited Barnes & Noble and noticed that the majority of books on its shelves featured skinny women as well. Even the more popular Plus Size titles such as, Big Girls Don’t Cry by Cathie Linz, Big Boned by Meg Cabot and After the Loving by Gwynne Forster, illustrated images of thin women on their covers when the synopsis advises that the main character is just the opposite.
As a big-bodied woman, writer, publisher and avid reader, I believe that change is coming. I’m sure the thirty-six percent of the population that fall into the “overweight” category will agree that it’s time authors who pen books about people who look like “us,” place those images on their book covers. I don’t want to pick up a book with a small-framed woman on the cover when the protagonist is over 250 pounds. To me, that’s false advertisement. I’m even more appalled that the only time a thick woman can grace a cover or be featured in a music video is when it takes a comedic or demeaning turn. Is this what it’s come to?
I want to change the conventional mindset and challenge others to advertise to and accommodate the heavier population—those of us who lead normal lives and are actually fine with the fact that we are not waif-like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging the “skinny” people, I’m merely trying to uplift those of us who don’t fall into that group.
I will showcase plus-sized models on my covers, because my books are geared towards women who look like me and experience plights similar to those I endure. I know what it feels like to think that a good-looking man is with me for every other reason but the right one, especially because society told him that I am taboo. I know what it feels like to be self-conscious about the extra curves and folds of skin I possess when I stand naked in front of someone. I know what it feels like to think that I am beautiful just the way I am, but second-guess myself because all the advertised images are of women half my size.
I hope others join in my fight to declare that this country is comprised of women of all shapes and sizes, and we should no longer glorify only those who fit into the “skinny” category. I walk these streets every single day and there are many women who share my physical makeup who are looking for something that glorifies not only what they look like, but also who they are underneath it all. I am lifting the “No Fat Chicks” ban, and challenging those who refuse to accept us as not only pleasing to the eyes, but profitable as well.