Let’s be real. When you’re going about your day, you are crossing paths with multiple fat bodies.

-Briana Lawrence

By Briana Lawrence

Once upon a time, there was a nine-year-old girl who had to lose weight for her father’s wedding. She was gonna be the cutest flower girl to ever walk down the aisle, but only after she dropped a few pounds. With the guidance of her soon-to-be stepmother, she lost the weight, fit into her dress, and tossed flowers without a care in the world.

She gained that weight back after the ceremony and has been heavy ever since.

She grew up knowing that being heavyset didn’t sit well with folks. Grew up being made fun of at school. Grew up watching those special episodes of her favorite television shows where—gasp—the boy had to deal with a fat girl’s crush.

The flower girl is now a chubby adult.

And that chubby adult is tired, y’all.

Even in this age of self-love and body positivity, at times it still feels like it’s 1992. Like I’m trying to fit into a dress I’ll only wear once. Like I’m watching that Saved By The Bell episode where Zack Morris looks nauseous at the thought of going on a date with Wendy Parks, the fat girl of the episode (trust me, every 90s sitcom has an episode dedicated to one).

I could go on for centuries pointing out the media that reminds us fat girls aren’t welcome in these here parts. But the older I get the more my frustration actually becomes aimed toward media that is, supposedly, for us. The shows and movies where I know my fat ass ain’t welcome are one thing, but those rare, mainstream occasions that are supposed to empower me and end up falling flatter than soda left in a glass overnight? That’s the real knife in the back.

For some reason, when these stories are told, there’s one lone chubby girl living in a thin world. If she has friends, they’re thin, and they either belittle her (behind her back or in her face) or she envies them.

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Of course you can point to examples that break this norm. I will forever stan Living Single, for example, which centered on four Black women of varying sizes (one woman even gained weight throughout the series). These ladies perfected the art of legitimate friend banter, not hateful commentary meant to make fat girls feel like sloppy, chewed up gum. The problem is that this is a rarity, and the single lone fatty trope continues to be treated as the norm.

Let’s be real. When you’re going about your day, you are crossing paths with multiple fat bodies.

Maybe it’s a coworker. Maybe it’s someone else standing in line at the bank. Maybe it’s your mother. Maybe it’s your partner. But in mainstream media, where’s the plus-sized woman with other plus-sized friends? Where’s the plus-sized woman on her way to work, surrounded by other chubby men and women? Where’s the plus-sized woman with a friend circle of various sizes, a friend circle that spends their time waxing philosophically about the season finale of that show they binge watched and not their friend’s love handles? Where’s the high school full of fat bodies? Where’s the middle school full of chunky kids?

It ain’t here. Because it’s easier to tell the fat girl don’t love herself story if she’s isolated from the rest of society. If you actually show her among other fat bodies, folks will be forced to reckon with how normal fat bodies are.

That Saved By The Bell episode I referenced? I should add that little miss Wendy told Zack Morris off, sending him into a spiral of guilt before he decided to apologize—twice, because the first time he put his entire foot right in his problematic ass mouth. The episode ends with the two sharing a dance, apparently making amends, but it doesn’t really matter because we never see Wendy again.

It’s a typical sitcom formula—solving the problem in thirty minutes or less, but body positivity is not a 30 minute issue and deserves more screen time.

A good chunk of these stories spend countless amounts of scenes exploring how we’re depressed, being made fun of, and trying to change ourselves. Eventually, the part comes where we say eff that noise and we find our self-worth… for about five minutes.

It’s about time we got to the self-worth part quicker, or hell, we kick things off with that self-worth part. If a movie is two hours, do we have to spend an hour and a half on the low point? Does conquering fat and/or learning to live with it always have to be our struggle?

It’s not just mainstream media that loves the self-loathing fat girl. As a fat, Black, queer woman, I fall into a bottomless pit all the time. I don’t mean the normal bouts of self-doubt. What I mean is me retelling the same bullying story over and over again and getting high off my own victory against haters.


Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic story. I’ve given talks about that story. I’ve written articles about that story. But for a while I wouldn’t get to the good part. I’d regurgitate my Internet harassment story from 5 years ago, how I responded to it, and how it made me feel a sense of accomplishment.

That’s great, Bri, but what about everything else in your life? Because that moment on Tumblr, that’s not my whole story. That opening paragraph about being nine and trying to fit into a dress? That’s not my whole story, either.

But that’s what I talk about the most.

I fail to mention that I had a group of fat girl friends from childhood to today. We aren’t as close as we used to be because we don’t live in the same state anymore, but as kids we were the friends who didn’t have to ask permission to go over to each other’s houses. Yet when I talk about my fat girl adolescence, I often forget to mention these parts.

Because the world stans an insecure fatty more than a happy one.

The fat girl story needs some tweaking, not just in mainstream media, but in our personal interpretations of our tales. So, here’s my fat girl story:

I’m a 35-year-old Black, queer woman in a loving relationship of 16 years. We live with our three butthead cats, travel the country to promote our books, and spend date nights playing video games and watching anime.

Oh, and I’m fat, and I’m already at the good part.

Briana Lawrence is a freelance writer and self-published author who’s trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series’, or the pieces she writes for various websites. When she’s not writing about diversity, she’s speaking about it at different geek-centric conventions across the country, as she’s a black, queer, nerd girl at heart. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of comics, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to JRPGs. Check out her website, her Facebook, and follow her Twitter adventures over @BrichibiTweets!