As women of size and curvaceousness, particularly women of color, and specifically Black women in America, we are often shamed for existing and our fatness (yes fatness is a pride word here) is billed as the ultimate in undesirable. Existing as a lifelong fat black femme, I have never been thin or close to thin, I received messages early that I was the fat one or Fat Celeste. I was identified by my size for as long as I can actively remember. By age 10, Fat Celeste was labeled as unworthy of living life-Fat Celeste tried every fad diet and ended up sick. And still fat. But one day Fat Celeste realized being fat was not an anomaly or a justification for abuse.
Though it is a daily struggle, I resist anti-fatness in all it forms, in as many ways as possible. It is okay to take up space and demand to be treated with respect. I recently read an article about the Black fat girl trope in media. It described the fat, thirsty, desperate, attention whore who accepts any bones thrown her way. Most of my fat femme friends online or offline are none of the things mainstream society assumes that we are. We are human beings. You would think that would be an obvious statement. I mean because you have before you flesh and blood. Clearly, we are humans. But, society in its systemic and structural disgust for fat bodies has dehumanized us.
Fat women and femmes are viewed as empty voids for stereotypes to be inserted into. So much so, that I routinely find people to be shocked that I actually have feelings and emotions NOT in spite of my fatness. To be a fat femme who is not the tragedy expected is resistance. I am clearly not the exception. By connecting many times on social media to other fat femmes; it is obvious, Fat femmes are LIVING, loving, and thriving. In my city, there are not many, if any, explicitly fat positive organizations. I found that me often being the lone super fat in the room was empowering and powerful. And slowly but surely, I see more and more fat-identified femmes coming out–being seen and claiming space all while being visible, being fierce, and openly experiencing bliss.
Newsflash: Fat femmes like to fuck, like to smile like to dance, and do all the things anyone else would. However, spaces are not set up to accommodate us or even to see us as our full selves. I cannot even begin to implore the importance of fat friendliness in space. Fatphobia in any form is violent and intolerable. If you want my fat dollars, you had better consider spaces where all bodies receive dignified attention and service. That is a whole other topic.
Fat, Femme, and Fly 412 was born out of my need to connect and engage my fellow fats in a celebratory way. My vision is to consistently and intentionally create spaces that are celebrating and centering fat bodies. Spaces where fat bodies are holy and sacred. On a moment-to-moment basis at times, we receive messages that tell us we are undesirable and disgusting. Invisible until we commit to losing weight or getting as close to thin-ness as possible to be seen. Isolation becomes the norm. Someone actually said to me that they would rather be dead than to exist in a fat body. Unacceptable. I have begun to do small things for myself, like wearing what I want to wear. Ignoring cues that say things are not for “my” body type. Bright, vibrant colors versus the slimming black that someone was always trying to force me into. Form fitting clothes. Yes, I even bought my first crop top this summer. As a self-care tip from a dear friend, I now pick a part of my body that is ostracized like my large belly and love on it. Take pictures of it exposed and make them visible. Ritualizing radically loving myself and being seen doing so. I twerk in public. Yes, I do. And by me doing this, other fat femmes have responded with love and an audible sigh of relief. Wow, they have told me, I am allowed to martyr myself for existing in a fat body. I can face the world without having to endure advice not asked for about my size from people who do not even care to know who I am as a person. Yes, it is your birthright to exist in a way that makes you feel whole, no matter your size.
I thought hashtags like #FatLivesMatter, #FatBodiesareHoly and #ILoveFatFlyFemmes should become the new normal. To say this is easy would be idealistic and untrue, but every time I do it, I get stronger and bolder, and I am able to encourage another fat to do the same. So, it becomes a manifesto, a create-your-own-existence movement. Fat femmes are at the forefront and are not settling for mistreatment. Why should we have to? No longer will we come into spaces and be hidden in corners. Bellies, bottoms, hips, thighs, all of our bumps, nooks, and crannies in this space are holy and sacred. We will be centered and celebrated. Anti-fatness is no longer the acceptable norm. We demand more and if society won’t celebrate us, we will celebrate ourselves fully and wholly, in minis, skinny jeans, leggings, and whatever makes us feel fat, femme and fly. And whoever does not want to witness us in all our fat brilliance, it’s truly their loss.
Check us out in the centers of the rooms, not the corners, twerking in all our fatness and lovin’ it. Donning bright colors and bodycon dresses sans the Spanx. We are worth it and always have been.
— Celeste Scott
Celeste Scott is committed to an agenda that aims to take down fat shaming and promote self love for femmes of all genders. Celeste identifies as a black Pansexual radically loving fat femme. She is an organizer and activist for many causes including black femme liberation, reproductive justice and police brutality and is currently working on housing justice. As a single mother of a teenage son, supporting black and brown mothers empowerment is also her passion. She is founder of Fat Femme and Fly 412. Find her on Facebook and check out her earring collaboration Etsy.