Navigating Social Media as a Plus Size Influencer
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
In my early days as a blogger, I avoided writing directly about my weight due to a lack of confidence.
When I finally did find some - I hesitated to be proud of my size publicly for fear of backlash from people who felt that the idea of "body positivity" was an illogical idea for women like me and chose to live silently in an intersection of identities and important issues that I wanted to speak on publicly - being fat, a woman, and Afro-Latina.
When I'd open my social media apps - I'd see influencers whose content I was inspired by. Influencers who worked hard for their followings and who had positive content and spaces. I loved following them. I still do...but 99% of them looked nothing like me. Travel and fashion blogs (and the pages that supported and reposted them) consisted of women with bodies that fit societal norms. The beach bodies. The runway bodies or perfect hourglass shapes.
I'd see swimsuits I loved but no bodies that could provide a frame of reference for how I'd look in them. I'd see women killing it at the gym and instantly tell myself that I couldn't do the same publicly. Travel blogs always posted the same looking women lying on a beach in a swimsuit. Carnival pages constantly posted smaller women in costume - even though I knew from experience that the majority of women participating in island carnivals were plus sized.
No women of color. No plus size women. No women with disabilities. No true representations of what my world really looked like.
I started to internalize the feeling that if I wasn't seeing women like me in these photos - in those spaces - that meant I didn't belong there.
I began to feel like creating content and being an influencer was pointless. Who would care about an outfit post if they believed that the body wearing the outfit was ugly? I'd want to post about a swimsuit I wore on a recent trip and hesitate because I didn't want to make people uncomfortable. On top of the difficulty of being plus size came the notion that only CERTAIN plus size bodies were acceptable - the smaller framed, hourglass shaped, cellulite-less ones. I just wanted to post a picture or document my life on Youtube, but I always constantly felt tied to the negativity I knew was coming.
Things have changed slightly since I first began blogging, and more plus size women have become more visible on social media while unapologetically promoting messages of body positivity. I finally found my bravery to join them, but it doesn't come without its difficult moments.
I still receive harassing comments and messages on Youtube - especially on my fitness themed videos or swimsuit lookbooks. I remember a woman sending a lengthy message once about me not being able to give anyone tips on being healthy or fit if I was fat. She was plus size, just like I was.
Direct messages on Instagram sometimes come from strangers who either attempt to shame me for my weight OR harass me sexually as a part of a fetish for bigger women. I'm told constantly that I should not be encouraging women to love unhealthy bodies or that I'm somehow doing myself an injustice. I've faced difficulty when attempting to work with certain brands because I don't fit the mold of what their influencers normally look like.
It still bothers me that fitting into a space that should already INCLUDE me is a battle that I have to fight every day - but I continue to push myself in so that other women can begin to see themselves on social media. We spend so much time scrolling our feeds every day, shouldn't it feel a bit more realistic?
Sadly, we have to make a conscious effort to customize our feeds to reflect the things we want to see every day. I make an effort to follow more women of color, plus size women, disabled women, LGBTQ influencers and body positive pages instead of following influencers who make me internalize unrealistic expectations. This, of course, is no shade to average sized influencers or influencers who fit the status quo. If you work hard and post great content - I support you as well and appreciate what you do.
I just no longer believe in resizing myself to fit the world.
The world should be big enough for my big ass to be in it.