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Being a Fat Girl On Instagram
Being a fat girl affects all aspects of my life. That includes my existence on Instagram. Being fat on Instagram is different than being a thin person on Instagram. I posted a picture of my big belly on Instagram today. So far, only a few family members have hearted the photo. Still, posting this photo of my belly took a lot of courage. Much like real life, being fat on Instagram isn’t easy.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms. Over 1 billion people use Instagram. That number is growing daily. Instagram allows users to share photos and save space on phones by uploading pictures to the internet. Honestly, I can say I’m glad I use Instagram. It’s been more of a social media boon than a burden.
However, there are burdens that go along with being a fat person. Fat people can’t exist anywhere without being shamed or harassed. Fatphobia is everywhere. Social media is no exception. Hence why I’m writing about being fat on Instagram.
I often take selfies of myself. As a fat autosexual and autoromantic, I enjoy taking pictures of myself because I like looking at myself. People don’t expect a fat girl like me to love myself, but I do. Taking selfies has helped me learn to appreciate my appearance, double chin and all. I often use hashtags like #fatgirl, #plussizefashion, and #fatshion to attract other woke fat people. I’ve connected with great people and influencers through these hashtags. On Instagram, I get more compliments on my appearance and fashion than insults. I’m sure it’s because of the fat positive hashtags I use.
Still, I get insults. Nearly all of them are fatphobic.
Based on my lived experiences, I basically expect rudeness from strangers for being fat. The first time I ever got insulted on Instagram, a man commented the following on my picture: “Typical antifa pig.” I’ve gotten messages from men who feel entitled to a response from me. These men will continually send me messages despite me showing no interest in talking to them I almost never exchange messages with random men because they act pissy when I reject them. These men seem to take rejection from a fat woman more personally than the rejection of thin women. Apparently, it’s because they don’t expect a fat girl like me to reject them. When I didn’t respond to one guy, he said “fuck u” before he stopped messaging. (Thank gods. We all know how much worse it could be.)
I rarely posting revealing body positive photos because I don’t want to deal with the negative comments that will follow. However, today, I decided to post a picture of my belly. Earlier this morning, I was appreciating how soft and rotund my belly is, so I made it a point to take a picture. I also included a note to the personal fitness trainers and weight loss gurus following me: “I’m not interested in your services. You can kiss my gut.” Shortly after, my cousin left an encouraging comment. So I’ve gotten nothing negative yet, but the possibility is always there. It’s just part of Being Fat In Public.
I think body positivity is a great thing the world needs more of. Personally, I enjoy looking at body positive instagram posts. If seeing my photo makes even one person feel better, I’ll be happy. Once I gain more confidence and courage, I’ll post more pictures of my body. I’ve found that as a fat person, being proud of my body takes a lot of effort. I applaud fat social media influencers like Virgie Tovar (@virgietovar), Corissa Enneking (@fatgirlflow), Riona O’Connor (@mrsrionaoconnor), and more for inspiring fat people like me to be open on Instagram as well as social media in general.
One of my Instagram friends is a plus size woman who posts nearly naked pictures of herself. She does this for body positivity. She says she gets more fatphobic DMs and negative comments than encouraging responses. I’ve noticed more people expect me to cover up more because I’m fat both in real life and online. It’s as though people think a fat body is more obscene than a thin one. People expect me to hide my fat behind angles (including the dreaded Fat Girl Angle Shot) and baggy clothing. The truth is I’m free to exist however I please, negative comments be damned.
Whenever you’re fat and proud in an Instagram photo, thin people accuse you of “glorifying obesity.” They’re politicizing our bodies with their perception. To them, any portrayal of a fat person as complete, happy, or beautiful is encouraging other people to be fat. No, Susan. We’re encouraging fat people to not hate themselves. It’s humanizing fatness in the public eye. Fat people rarely see ourselves represented in media. Social media gives us the opportunity to create our own representation of ourselves. I think that’s a good thing. It furthers the agendas of body positivity and fat liberation.
Another unique experience I have as a fat person on Instagram: personal fitness trainers and weight loss gurus randomly follow me. Sometimes, they’ll message me and ask if I’m interested in their services. I use fat hashtags to describe my pictures. However, I mention nothing about wanting to lose weight or diet. They seem to think I’m inviting their presence by being fat on the internet. When I’ve asked thin people if they have this experience, they say it doesn’t happen to them.
People are cruel, especially on the internet. Unless I hide my appearance, people think that I’m asking to be insulted by simply being fat in a public space. Social media is a public space. I want to inspire other fat people to show themselves off without apology on social media and everywhere else. I don’t mind dealing with negative comments if it means I can reach someone in a positive way. Fat people shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies taking up space, even when the space we take up is an online space.
I think fat people deserve representation like other marginalized groups do. Whenever a fat person takes pictures of themselves and posts it onto social media, we’re contributing to that representation. We’re also being brave by exposing themselves to trolls and criticism. The next time you see a fat person on social media, please be kind to us. We go through a lot.
Follow me on Instagram (@angel0fthe0dd) for more #fatgirl and #bodypositive posts on your feed. If you’re not an asshole, you’re always welcome on my Instagram page.