It’s important to have plus-sized representation because when you see yourself represented in the world, it proves that you exist. It’s also important, however, to represent the whole spectrum of fat people
Words and pictures by Elana Emer
“Fat” is not a bad word, and anyone who says differently is selling something.
When I was putting together this photo essay, I thought a lot about what it was I wanted to depict and what my intentions were. I realized all I really wanted to do was take pictures of fat people. But I didn’t know if that would be enough. And I realized it’s because I’m so starved for plus-sized representation, that just seeing photos of fat people is enough for me.
It’s important to have plus-sized representation because when you see yourself represented in the world, you’re validated—it proves that you exist. It’s also important, however, to represent the whole spectrum of fat people. Plus-sized models are usually white and usually women—which is dishonest. It doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the plus-sized community and all of the intersections that come with being fat, even if they aren’t inherently physical traits. The models you’ll see in this essay, that we don’t often see, are fat and trans, fat and queer, fat and people of colour.
As for when we are represented, there are a lot of things you’re “not supposed to do” with plus-sized models.
You’re not supposed to dress them in bright colours or bold patterns. You’re not supposed to shoot them from below, and you’re not supposed to pose them in a way that accentuates their fatness. In other words, you’re meant to make them look smaller, quieter and as much like a thin model as you possibly can.
I call bullshit. Fat people spend a significant chunk of our lives trying to look like everyone else. Why, when it’s our turn in the spotlight, must we still do that?
Fat people can wear whatever we want, and be as loud and unapologetic as we want, without consequence. So quit telling us to hide because you don’t like looking at us.
Fat people deserve to be seen. And now you see us.