To BBW or Not To BBW

Big. Beautiful. Woman. 

If you have to put the words big and beautiful together in that way, then you’re suggesting they don’t belong together in the first place. You’re saying that big people have to be told we’re beautiful. We actually don’t; we need to be shown it. We need to see ourselves in the world, and we need to be heard, and we need to be able to live without being belittled and humiliated, and we need to be fancied without being fetishized, and we need to be loved without it being a footnote. We don’t need to be seen as “big, but beautiful”; we can just be seen as beautiful. And we don’t need to be seen as big. 

By referring to someone as big, you’re comparing them to other bodies. Big is a relative term; I’m big compared to Victoria Beckham, but to a blue whale I’m frankly petite. I don’t know what your unit of comparison is when you call me big, but I’m guessing it’s a thin person and that’s insulting. It’s insulting because I don’t need to be compared to anyone, to be seen as an alternative, to be a before photo. My body is unique, as is every body. You can describe bigger bodies in a hundred different ways without using smaller bodies as a reference point. 

It’s insulting because people with thin bodies are never labelled that way; they’re seen as the standard. The normal. And therefore you make people with larger bodies the abnormal; the strange. 

Often, endearing and well-meaning can become patronising. You don’t need to tell me I’m beautiful using an acronym. You don’t need to tell me I’m beautiful simply because, or despite that, my body conforms to a particular type. You don’t need to tell me that big bodies are beautiful, because of course they fucking are. You don’t need to tell me I’m beautiful, because I don’t need it from someone who thinks they have to say it. I want you to tell me my body is beautiful, uniquely beautiful, without a but or a however or a because. 

Actually, beautiful is such an insipid term. What you should mean is, big bodies are sexy. Big bodies are stunning. Big bodies are Slap-You-In-The-Face-Gor-Geous. Whatever term you have to describe an attractive thin person is exactly the same one you should use for someone big. Personally, I like fit; fat people aren’t called fit enough, if you ask me. We don’t need special words or terms, because, again, that frames larger bodies as abnormal. 

And do I even need to do a whole paragraph about not assuming someone with some femme body parts identifies as a woman? 

Terms such as BBW help to homogenise fat bodies. There are acres of differences between one larger body and another, just as there are with thinner ones, but by lumping all our lumps together under one umbrella, the result becomes a more visible, acceptable version of fatness: the wide hips, the hourglass shape, the shelf-like bum. Bodies different to this, who don’t conform, are then marginalised, pushed to the extremes, sometimes called SSBBW, and othered even further. People think they know exactly what larger bodies look like, or should look like, without actually knowing a damn thing. 

I’m so tired of these terms existing. I’m tired of having to put a disclaimer on my body. I’m tired of having to explain it in terms that are palatable or attractive to other people. I’m tired of having to put terms like plus-size on my profiles to make people aware, as though it’s a warning. And I’m especially tired of asking “You know I’m fat, yeah?” to prospective dates, just to make sure it’s not a surprise when we sit down for dinner. 

I call myself fat, but you can’t. I like fat; it’s blunt and simple and to the point, like all the best words are (cunt, shit, wank). I have fat, I am fat. You can come up with other words, your own; look at me, learn my body, be creative, and be kind. 

Why do we even need to be labelled? Is it not enough that we just have bodies, bodies you can appreciate on their own terms? Wouldn’t it be more fun to come up with your own ways to describe my body, after you’ve explored every inch with your eyes and fingers and tongue? Can it not be a pleasant surprise, even once?

A black and white photo of a typical BBW (big beautiful woman) body, nude, and with one voluptuous thigh crossed over the other. The person's face isn't visible.

One thought on “To BBW or Not To BBW

  1. You are stunning.

    That’s the one word I’ve used to describe you before and I’m sticking to it.

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