On the heels of Lane Bryant’s I’m No Angel campaign; Sports Illustrated’s most recent swimsuit issue featuring a plus size model; and EBONY’s March “Body Brigade” cover, mainstream society appears to be realizing something many of us have known all along.
Big girls rock.
While voluptuous sisters are indeed awesome, embracing the fact that we rock doesn’t mean that we are denouncing the idea that skinny women rock too. That last point is why I found myself rolling my eyes when I scrolled through my Facebook timeline earlier this week and happened upon a comment on a friend’s post about Curvy Style with Timothy Snell.
Curvy Style is a series on CentricTV that documents one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrity stylists on his fashion-forward journey to help thicker-than-a-Snicker celebs, and everyday women, feel beautiful, confident, and comfortable in their skin. This is a beautiful thing.
The show is a beautiful thing, because for as long as I can remember, plus size women have typically been excluded from dialogue surrounding fashion and beauty. For years, we’ve consistently been told, both verbally and nonverbally, by the style industry that we dare not have the audacity to feel beautiful or sexy.
Sadly, many others agree. I vividly remember having to curse some folks out over their reactions to Gabby Sidibe’s love scene on Empire. I actually had to remind people that fat girls have sex too! I also remember being excited about the Broadway show, Hamilton, holding auditions for non-white actors, only to have that enthusiasm destroyed when one of my fellow plus sized Broadway babes told me they weren’t casting our “type.”
Translation: “Yes. They are casting Black girls. Just not fat ones.”
I guess Alexander Hamilton can be Latino, but the possibility of one of his love interests being a fat girl? Absolutely not!
We are still working very diligently towards changing the perceptions and negative stereotypes surrounding being a big girl in our society. So it goes without saying, that my heart leapt with joy when I saw the video snippet of Timothy’s show on my friend’s Facebook post. I giggled delightfully at all of the “Yasssssss!!!!” and “Oh my God! I can’t wait for this!!” comments by other women.
I found myself giving virtual high fives to many of the sisters in the comments section because I could relate to them. I could relate to the sense of pride and excitement they all felt seeing someone on screen with curves and thighs and hips, just like them. I could relate to their excitement for the show because I could also relate to the former shame about my body that helped make a series like Curvy Style necessary in the first place.
Which brings me back to the remark that made me roll my eyes. The comment was from a woman who lamented that this new movement should do more to be inclusive of skinny women who have difficulty gaining weight.
What we are NOT going to do today is All Thighs Matter the Body Brigade movement. We shan’t. And the reason we shan’t is because thin women in our society are not subjected to the same level of body shaming that big women deal with. Recently, folks showed a lot of love to #BigGuyTwitter, but I couldn’t help wondering how quickly things would go left if the hashtag was about big girls.
For several decades, the style industry has placed thin women at the forefront of how we define beauty, and they have done so with no regard, whatsoever, for a thin woman’s ability or inability to gain weight. Furthermore, if thin women who have had extreme difficulty gaining weight were more outspoken about their struggle and the ways in which it can be relatable to women who have difficulty losing weight, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for a separate movement.
But let’s get real. If the fashion and beauty industry was more inclusive of ALL body types, there wouldn’t be a need for a series like Curvy Style in the first place.
So, no. We are not gentrifying or All Thighs Mattering the curvy movement. Perhaps this can be a teachable moment, for all us, on the importance of speaking out against exclusion and discrimination. Because when the beneficiaries of the privilege of inclusion choose not to speak out against the exclusion of others, they run the risk of one day finding themselves feeling left out as well.
Fat thighs matter. And while I don’t dispute the truth in the statement that ALL thighs matter too, we’re talking about fat ones right now. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Frenchie Davis is a singer, Broadway performer, social activist, and educator. She is originally from Inglewood, California and attended Howard University in Washington DC, where she earned a BFA in Theatre. When she is not performing, she teaches in the Washington D.C. area and is currently enrolled in graduate school pursuing her MBA.
Follow her on Twitter and instagram: @frenchiedavis