Body positivity is a social movement intended to empower individuals to love their bodies in their current state no matter their age, size, gender, race, or abilities. In addition to self-love, being body positive also requires you to respect the bodies of others, no matter how far they deviate from societal norms or standards. Unfortunately, like so many things, the movement that was created by Black women to spread the message of self-love, respect, and inclusion, has been hijacked and become whitewashed.
In an interview for the October issue of Vogue, cover star Lizzo addressed how the body-positivity movement has strayed from its original intent. “It’s commercialized,” she said. “Now, you look at the hashtag ‘body-positive,’ and you see smaller-framed girls, curvier girls. Lotta white girls.” She went on to say, “I’m glad that this conversation is being included in the mainstream narrative. What I don’t like is how the people that this term was created for are not benefiting from it. Girls with back fat, girls with bellies that hang, girls with thighs that aren’t separated, that overlap. Girls with stretch marks. You know, girls who are in the 18-plus club.”
Like Lizzo, we are glad the conversation has gone mainstream but it is beyond problematic that so many women are intentionally being excluded and underrepresented. The reality is there are a number of Black women over the size of 18 who built the very table from which others now so freely eat and that they, in many ways, now find themselves fighting to keep a seat.
In light of that reality, we are spotlighting a few of those badass, body-positive Black influencers because, like Lizzo said, it is time to “normalize fat bodies.” If you don’t know these women, you should.
1. Naomie Chaput
Naomie Chaput is a Montreal based plus-size model that was shaking the room long before it was a Tik Tok challenge. Known the world over as Nao, this beauty rocks her platinum blonde hair, gold teeth, and curves without apologies. She even went to war with rapper Future when he allegedly requested “No Fatties” be allowed in a Miami club where he was partying.
2. Tokyo Vanity
If big bih energy was a person it would definitely be Tokyo Vanity. This New Orleans rapper known for her viral hit, “That’s My Best Friend,” has made it mainstream as a star of Love& Hip-Hop Atlanta. This young, goal-oriented cutie with a booty has millions of followers and tremendous influence, but we’ve yet to see her land a major fashion campaign with a plus-size brand. My question is, How Sway?
3. Saucyé West
This photo shows the unfortunate reality for many Black women in the plus-size community: lack of representation. However, fat activist and model Saucyé is up for the challenge, regularly speaking out on the changes needed to normalize being fat and Black and showing up in spaces where she is the only woman who looks like her.
While promoting the hashtag, #wewearwhatwewant, Simone does just that, refusing to allow society to determine her attire. Simone began modeling in 2015 and has gained the respect of plus-size women and brands by using her voice to address the needs of the women she represents. Simone is currently showing curvy girls how to pop style as a brand ambassador for Fashion Nova.
5. Kellie Brown
OG influencer Kellie Brown has been at the forefront of plus-size body positivity since the start and is an authority in the plus-size community. She created the hashtags #andigetdressed and #fatatfashionweek to celebrate plus-size style and fashion while building awareness in spaces like New York Fashion Week where inclusion is still an issue for plus-size and Black women.
Lorna is a DMV-based influencer from Atlanta who is very vocal about health issues that many Black women face like Polycystic Ovary syndrome and Uterine Fibroids. She also advocates for inclusion and serves her curves (FUPA included) unapologetically and in style for brands like FILA, Eloquii, and Lane Bryant.
7. Ashley Wall
If fat Black girl joy was a person, it would be Ashley Wall. This plus-size influencer spreads positive vibes everywhere she goes and refuses to buy into society’s standards for plus-size women. Ashley is a Virginia girl who loves God and enjoys traveling the world, sharing her experiences as a way to encourage curvy girls to catch flights, not feelings.
8. Shainna Tucker
Being tall and plus-size isn’t easy. Many times, the longest of garments fail to accommodate tall girls with curves. However, influencer Shainna Tucker makes it look easy and she uses her experiences to help other tall girls shop. Shainna continuously spreads her messages of self-love and self-awareness all over Beyoncé’s internet in an effort to energize women who look like her.
9. Danielle Young
While Danielle is an amazing journalist, she also has a strong influence among plus-size women. Many admire her free-spirit and willingness to be present in spaces that don’t intentionally make room for fat girls. Affectionately known as Dani, her larger than life personality and her style are very aspirational for women and girls who desire to work in media.