What about the fatties? Feminist ramblings on @PostBigFines

A woman featured on @PostBigFines.

As a card-carrying member of Black Twitter and a self-identified (and sometimes non-consensually labeled) fat girl, I have a love/hate relationship with @PostBigFines. This Twitter account — originally named @PostBigBitches — follows the trend of admiration sites like @PostBadBitches, @PostBadTatts, and my personal favorite @PostBadBeards (swoons). As mentioned in their bio, PostBigFines is a place to admire women of “all levels of thickness.”

For Black Twitter, PostBigFines (PBF) is sort of a direct response to PostBadBitches, which has set the standard for which women are “bad” and those who aren’t. Many of the women on PBB are light-skinned women of color, adorned in contrasting Louboutins and/or Forever 21 dresses, and definitely under a size 10. PBF is where curvy and full-figured women — most of them also women of color — are spotlighted as beautiful and attractive. My complex relationship with the site comes from a few concerns: about how we use social media as a space to openly critique bodies; how we are defining attractiveness for feminine-identified bodies; and — the question that is forever on my mind — what about the fatties? 

Contextually, the name change from PostBigBitches to PostBigFines is important. This marked an important shift for the page. Under the old title, the page featured more fat women. Simply put, the women were bigger when the page was called PostBigBitches. On the flip side, the images were also more pornographic (with the exception of follower submissions). I could write an entirely different piece about the fetishization/hyper-sexualization of fat women. It seems that when it comes to images of fat women, the bigger they get, the less likely you are to see them in spaces that are not sexualized. The only framework we have for talking about fat girls is whether or not we would fuck them. After the site changed to PostBigFines, the image content shifted to plus-sized women in real-life situations (mainly in mirrors taking selfies). That tradeoff is perhaps the most important in shifting the way we think about thick girls.

Which brings me to my next issue, which is how the male gaze manifests on social media and reinforces limiting beauty ideals. Men operate PostBigFines and PostBadBitches. Women submit pictures of themselves, and the site owner selects which pictures make the cut for the site. Men and women engage with the photos that are posted. But that doesn’t erase the fact that the criteria being used to analyze the women in the pictures is whether or not they are attractive to a broader male audience. I’m not suggesting that women’s bodies in a public space (online or otherwise) are only ever the object of a male gaze. But in the case of PBF, where the shift to more “inclusive” site meant smaller bodies, it is evident that women’s bodies are almost always subject to that gaze. Let it be known that PostBigFines is not far from the mainstream when it comes to body-type diversity. It’s not the place to go if you want to see love handles, rolls, discolored thighs, stretch marks, or more than just a dash of cellulite here and there. Almost all of the women featured there have defined waists and round butts, or are wearing really good body shapers. You have to have a certain shape to be both big and fine according to PBF.

​But scrolling through their PBF’s mentions, you can always find women who express gratitude for the space that heralds them as the baddies for a change. That has to count for something, even though some of us are clearly excluded. And despite how I look or identify, I am not the authority on fatness. Someone I may not label as fat might still identify as such. Despite how far deep I might be in my own feelings, it is not for me to define who deserves to be uplifted. Especially when I know the dangers of being visibly fat in public spaces.

So for now, I accept PostBigFines with a shot of whiskey and a prayer that this isn’t as far as we go in accepting and celebrating a broader range of women’s bodies. And I’ll continue to admire the women who are highlighted there, because, most of the time, they are actually fine.

Avatar Image Sesali would like to state for the record that she has been big and fine since before it was cool.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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