Mid-fat? Infinifat? There are a lot of terms that have made their way into our vernacular as fat women over the past few years, popularized by something called “the fatness spectrum.”
I want to make it clear I don’t have any issues with people using this to define their body types, but the fatness spectrum, to me, is perhaps more polarizing than I think a lot of people admit. As somebody who respects bodies of all shapes, sizes, and races, the fatness spectrum has a few flaws to me which I’ll go over in detail here.
what is the fatness spectrum?
The origins of the fatness spectrum are still a little unclear to me. Here, the Nolose community, which was as far as I’m aware an annual conference/meet-up held for gay, fat people, coined the terminology in 2008. The spectrum was basically created to associate being fat with positive vibes. Nowadays, you can easily see infographics and the like explaining the fat spectrum, but here are the sparknotes.
brief rundown of the levels of fat
Someone who isn’t overweight.
This is a term that’s risen to fame on Instagram/TikTok a lot in recent years. Some people feel they don’t fit into a fat category, but at the same time they’re not super skinny. Generally their dress size will be around a 12/14.
By dress size, this is someone who’s a size 18 or below. They’re technically overweight, but can still shop at most normal stores.
This ranges from a size 20-26.
A size 26-32.
This was coined by the Nolose community that I made reference to earlier. It is used by people with a dress size of 26 and up, and is intended to be a positive spin on being “obese.”
I kind of like this term’s vibes, as someone who is no longer ashamed of being fat. It was coined by Ash of The Fat Lip podcast, and technically refers to anyone who’s a size 34 and above.
Okay, so, that’s it in a nutshell. I’m going to get kind of militant here, but that’s one of the reasons why I started this blog anyway, so buckle in or whatever.
the issues with using dress size to denote levels of fatness
Fat is not a dress size. I get it’s fun to create “levels” of fatness so you can feel included, but ironically, taller fat bodies, or height in general, is not included in this chart.
As a tall BBW, there are certain challenges you face that shorter BBWs won’t, so where do we fit in on this scale? I’m nearly 5 foot 11. My legs are really long, and big. As a result I am very heavy, probably heavier than most think. I guarantee you that I weigh more as a size 22/24 than a lot of “large fat” women, who are technically in the category above me on the spectrum.
One of the factors the fat spectrum champions love to mention is weight as a barrier to doing things. My weight has restricted me from using exercise equipment, among other things, but what I get when I read about the different levels of fat is that other fat bloggers don’t really feel much empathy for people in this “mid fat” range.
Fat is not a dress size. It’s being bullied for being a “hippo” because you’re bigger and taller than everyone else, and this will happen to girls growing up no matter which “range” they fall into.
the issues with creating boundaries in the first place
It’s very ironic that, as fat people, we’ve created our own barriers for fatness. I’m telling you, as a tall plus, it’s wrong.
The very fact that fat people have created a chart, carving out a box that they can neatly “fit in” and identify with is sadly ironic, at best. As fat people, particularly growing up, we were constantly told we don’t fit in anywhere and it was the absurd boundaries created by a weight-loss obsessed society that ultimately made us feel left out.
nobody has a patent on being fat
This is something that I’ve started to notice a lot more of late, with fat women in our community become more “militant” about fatness.
The messaging on some fat blogs is that women who are small, or even medium fats or under don’t really have anything to complain about because they can mostly shop at traditional stores and being overweight doesn’t affect their life.
As myself and the other writers on this website can attest to, it is incredibly difficult trying to find clothes full stop if you are plus size and tall. It is a serious challenge trying to find jeans with a 33 inch inseam that will fit my size 24 ass. Sarah, my friend who also contributes to the site occasionally, is over 6 feet tall and a size 20. According to a lot of fat bloggers, she shouldn’t have anything to complain about, but she can’t shop at most regular stores at all.
Who, honestly, is to say that trying to find pants in a 34 inch inseam and a size 20 is more difficult than trying to find pants in a size 32? We need to stop trying to claim things to make ourselves feel better, and acknowledge that if you are over a certain size, clothes, working out, doctor’s appointments, and life in general is going to be tough.
everybody love everybody?
I’m not “bashing” those who use the fatness spectrum, but it is a very rigid guideline and can be looked at as a mechanism to isolate others who don’t quite fit in. We are fat. We’ve all faced derision and obstacles in this society as a result.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how fat you are, all that matters is you respect all body types and don’t discriminate based on physical appearance or anything else, for that matter. In the immortal words of Jackie Moon: ELE; everybody love everybody.