Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What's in a Name?

The following is a part-quote from the 'Usage' section of Wikipedia's entry on 'Big Beautiful Woman':  'Although "BBW" may have been first used in the context of BBW Magazine, the term's usage spread over the years, to the point that even women who had never heard of the magazine began to refer to themselves as "BBWs".

Some women may adopt the term as a personal preference over the term Rubenesque, or full-figured, because they may not necessarily have large breasts or hips. Such terms, and others such as "queen-sized", "plus-sized", or "fat" may lead to feelings of marginalization or non-inclusion for some women. However, some strongly prefer the term fat over other words which they consider unnecessary euphemisms.'

I can't remember where I saw it and whether it was an image or just text, but I recently read something that said something along the lines of don't say "you're not fat, you're _____". I initially agreed with this but then started to doubt my decision...the trouble is, the word 'fat' is associated with negativity - that being 'fat' is a bad (or terrible, rather) thing. Well, I'm taking back the word 'fat' and so are many other people. I AM FAT. Fact. You don't say someone isn't black because there's still racism in the world, so why say I'm not fat because there's still weightism (for want of a better word)? It is what it is, a descriptive term. It shouldn't have to mean 'pretty' or 'ugly' in the same way that 'slim' or 'petite' doesn't (well, I think).

I first came across the term 'plus size' when I first started modelling in 2008. Technically, or as far as the modelling industry is concerned, the term is meant to apply to size 12 and above (to a 16-18 really). There are two issues with this - firstly, this means that ALL sizes over a 12 are represented typically by size 12-14 models, which is a significant misrepresentation. Secondly, there are some people who dislike anyone outside of said category using the term 'plus size' - I have seen it said many a times that 'fat' or 'obese' models are not 'plus size'. It annoys me that, as a size 22-24 model, it would appear to some people that I should market myself an obese/fat model instead of as plus size. Slim models don't market themselves as slim, models under 5'8" don't market themselves as short....it seems pretty one-sided and 'anti' to me. Larger models get a lot more 'stick' for breaking the mould than non-conventional smaller models do. Until there is a legitimate non-discriminatory category to apply to my modelling, I shall continue to use 'plus size' as a category and descriptive term, particularly as 'plus size' in the fashion world in general is used in what I would consider to be an appropriate way.

Last but not least...'BBW' or 'big beautiful woman' is a relatively new term in my view. It is being used more frequently and more positively than before, however, it still seems to be predominantly used by the adult entertainment industry (you only need to use google or look at the BBW tag on Tumblr to evidence this). I didn't really refer to myself as a BBW until I attended Big Girls Paradise in May 2012, and I only tend to use it online. As a term in general though, I like it - it doesn't seem to carry any negativity but instead celebrates the beauty of big women.

Whilst we're on the subject of names and descriptors...I may as well include a little bit about 'name calling' - or rather, bullying. I was bullied throughout the entirety of my childhood and only really escaped it when I left my home town (finding that those who bullied me in school would now bully me in the streets, in town, college, etc). I was called a lot of things, including Miss Piggy and Kelly Osbourne. I was mostly bullied because of my size and lack of feminine figure (or lack of breasts, to be honest). I find I get verbal abuse on the odd occasion even now, but it rarely happens and now it doesn't really bother me - if anything I get a bit annoyed rather than upset. I love Miss Piggy and find the relation hilarious now (can't say the same about Kelly, but not for any particular reason)...and in short, you can call me what you like, as I will more than likely use the word(s) myself. I have come to accept and start to love who I am and that includes being fat, plus size, a BBW, obese, big, large, whatever. I just hope that one day we can drop the negativity associated with some of these terms and be happy to be the way we are.

Image © Lauren French (Model: Big Fat Betty).

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Betty's First OOTD!

Good evening followers. It is a rare occurence that I don't look like a sack of potatoes in a novelty t-shirt, so I thought I would share my 'outfit of the day'! I have to say I have found posting this on blogger a bit of a nightmare, I've had to edit it upteen times just to get the font in the right place...still, got there in the end. Hope the photo size is okay?


Nails: Avon Nailwear Pro in 'Viva Pink' and L.A. Colours Art Deco (found in the 99p shop)
Bracelet: A present from a friend. Thanks Nykie <3 :)

Top from Matalan (ages ago), trousers from Next (£25)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

My Big Fat Fetish

Image © Channel 4 via SLiNK Magazine | Well, My Big Fat Fetish (on Channel 4/4OD) has certainly caused a lot of discussion, as well as an incredible amount of slander on Twitter, over the past few weeks. In contrast to the remarks on Twitter, I have noticed that there are a lot of positive comments/words of admiration on the Channel 4 page for the programme (as linked previously).

Before I start I would like to state that my comments are not to be taken personally and are not an 'attack' on anyone involved in the documentary or who otherwise may be offended (i.e. the feeder/gainer community). I am purely expressing my opinion and do not judge anyone as an individual..."each to their own" and all that jazz.

Firstly, I'd like to talk about the association between BBW and feeders/gainers - I feel this is overly strong, both in the documentary and in the website description (e.g. "big beautiful women - also known as gainers"). BBW are NOT feeders/gainers, they are two completely separate things. You do not have to be a BBW to be a feeder/gainer, and only a very small proportion of BBW are feeders/gainers. So, why the association? In my opinion this is just doing further damage to the view of BBW by society (in general).

I heard a rumour that Big Girls Paradise (BGP) were asked to be involved, but declined as they didn't want BGP to be associated with feeders/gainers - rightly so. From this point of view I am glad that they didn't participate, but I wonder if the documentary would have given a broader view if they had been involved - I mean, asides from a very small snippet on squashing/sitting, the documentary focused on feeders/gainers and not a lot else.

I wouldn't judge someone for being a feeder/gainer, nor would I dismiss anyone's friendship because of it, but I don't agree with it from a health point of view. Intentionally increasing your weight to excess (particularly over a short period) is not healthy - at some point it is bound to have a negative impact. The documentary shows this in the case of Patty, but doesn't really discuss any other health implications - I am sure that if it were about slim women not eating it would be an entirely different story, sparking international outrage.

Anyway, I did feel there were some positives/interesting points in the documentary. One is that it highlighted to me that each BBW has a completely different figure from the next - there were a few ladies in the documentary around the same weight as me (I'm 20st, in case you were wondering), but each had a different build. Though, I still appear to be one of few BBW that are not blessed in the cleavage department (42B)...

The second positive point, for me, was hearing about Lizzie's story. An absolutely stunning individual who is interested in modelling and not in feeding/gaining (for the time being, at least). Though I am somewhat sceptical as to the possible links to the feeding/gaining industry, given her modelling for Reenaye, it would appear from my subsequent research that there will be a separate (unassociated) website - perhaps more focused on modelling? I am following Lizzie on Twitter and look forward to following her journey and seeing exactly what the outcome is of this venture into the modelling world.

All-in-all, there are pros and cons. Watch the documentary for yourself, if you haven't done so already, and let me know what you think. I feel that a second documentary focusing on other, less taboo areas, would go a long way to restoring my faith in the media.

Last but not least, kudos to all the BBW that took part in the documentary. Regardless of my previously voiced opinion, you are all stunning and inspirational in your own ways.

Image from MSN TV.

Monday, 4 June 2012

A brief (for me!) introduction

I suppose this thing should start with some sort of introduction, right? I'll try not to bore you before I even get started. My name, or rather my alias, is Betty - if you're lucky enough to know my real name please have a cookie, otherwise go to the back of the queue ;)

I'm a 24 year old 'BBW' (that's 'big beautiful woman' - you'll see me use it a lot), living in scrumptious North London. I'm a full-time mature student studying BSc Social Policy & Youth Studies, so this blog is somewhat of an academic interest as well as personal.

I'm also what I call a hobbyist model - I do it because I enjoy it, not for monetary gain (though if someone wants to pay me, feel free). I quite often work with students and I am very lucky to have a few close friends who are also photographers/models. Anyway, I will go into more detail about this at a later date when I do a dedicated post on modelling.

You're probably wondering what this blog is about and why I've started it? Well, you might not be, but I'm going to tell you anyway. I plan to cover all things 'fatty' and have been asking my friends for feedback on what they'd like to read about - if you have a particular idea you'd like to see me cover, please feel free to comment and I'll follow it up.

I have recently begun to rediscover my confidence and once again feel comfortable in my own skin - a lot of things have helped this and a lot haven't, which is what I'd like to write about. One of the first things I will be covering is my views on a recent documentary, which spurred my 'need' to write and share my opinion with others - I would love it if you could comment, too, and we can start a debate about the subject. I am interested in your opinions as much as I am in sharing my own.

The main areas I will be trying to cover, as they are of most interest to me and also to my potential readers, are positive self image and prejudice/attitudes. As a newly confident BBW I have personal experience in both of these areas which I would like to share with you, as well as highlighting some other 'cases' and the views of others (bloggers, celebrities, etc). I would love to link in with other blogs, share guest entries and other such things, so if you are interested in forming some links please do get in touch!

Last but not least, I must give thanks to my good friend Lauren of ladyshambles for the awesomeness that is my blog layout. If you'd like to commission a layout from her (anything from just a header upwards), send her an e-mail at dearlauren@laurenfrench.com.

I'll leave the whole Gossip Girl style sign-off, for now... 

Image © Luci Alice Photography (Model: Big Fat Betty).