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6 Black Influencers Who Are Fighting Fatphobia

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Marathoner LaToya Shauntay Snell isn’t sold on the idea of anyone actually fearing fat people. 

Fatphobia is a joke to me. That’s why I love calling it ‘anti-fatness.’ You do not fear me when you see me walking down the street. You are not scared of my body at all. You might be scared of my words when I know who I am, you might even be scared of what my body can do. But you are not scared of me.” 

When the sociopolitical history of fatness is considered, however, fear can be recognized as a familiar vehicle. In her book Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fatphobia, sociologist Sabrina Strings traces this history, uncovering various layers of bigotry. From the insistence by white scientists that Africans were slow, lazy, and greedy, to the body of Sarah Baartman being reduced to a paid show, to the prevalence of body mass index (BMI) in Western medicine, Strings connects the dots between the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the idea that fat is something to dread. “Relatedly, scholars have shown that the fear of fatness commonly targets low-income women of color, and especially Black women,” she wrote. 


As the ways of a colonized Western world persist, it has been Black women in media and online communities who have worked to reclaim the narrative, through language, fashion, travel, and joyful movement. Here are six fat-positive Black voices that are continuing the mission to take up space.

Annette Richmond

Annette Richmond
Stella Kritikou & Team

Annette Richmond, Founder of Fat Girls Traveling

When Annette Richmond started Fat Girls Traveling in 2017, the travel industry didn’t cater to plus-sized globetrotters and people weren’t calling themselves “fat.” Seven years and many international experiences later (she lives in Mexico, was assaulted in Myanmar, and referred to as several different Black celebrities in Malaysia), Richmond actively holds onto joy. “I’m not gonna ignore that I deal with racism, that I deal with fatphobia, that I deal with sexism. Yeah, that stuff does come up. I don’t sugarcoat it, but I also try not to harp on it because in the end, travel is so joyful. It is a blessing. It’s a luxury that so many of us never get to experience.” Instead, energy and effort are put toward facilitating gatherings like Fat Camp, where she fondly recalls memories like “a daughter in her thirties and a mother in her sixties both coming to my retreat and leaving with the same message: that it’s never too late to just start accepting yourself.”


LaToya Shauntay Snell

LaToya Shauntay Snell
W. Eric Snell, Sr.

LaToya Shauntay Snell, Ultra Runner

LaToya Shauntay Snell grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where the rise of icons like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown exemplified that a Black woman’s body image was a common topic of debate. During her own encounter with weight loss in 2013, she felt the sting of that very lens. “When I look back to who I was in 2013, I wish someone would have just told me gently that ‘you are okay in the body that you’re in.’” She ran her first marathon a year later, and the perception continued. “Even when I lost the weight and I went down to like 150 and 160 lbs, people were still telling me I was too fat to be a marathoner.” Her brand Running Fat Chef is a series of descriptors, and so is her intersectional experience: Black, queer, neurodivergent, chronically-ill. But there’s one label Snell has lovingly given herself. “That’s the label I gave myself: changemaker. That was the hardest one for me to embrace because all I kept saying to myself is, ‘I’m doing this for me.’”

Roz The Diva

Roz The Diva
Jeremy Cohen

Roz The Diva, Certified Trainer/Fitness Instructor 

Roz “The Diva” Mays doesn’t go pole dancing because she wants to make a statement. “Like there’s not really anything super profound behind it besides, I think it’s fun.” But as the myth that Black women don’t work out endures, Mays conquering what she calls “gym-timidation” still holds so much power. “The irony is that external people will yell at us and tell us to go work out, go exercise, you know, lay off the snacks and do all the stuff, assuming that we’re not doing any of the above,” she noted. “But then when we do show up to the gym, some people are still like, ‘Well, I want you to work out but not in my gym,’ you know, ‘not in my backyard.’” For over a decade, Mays has been helping to create safe workout spaces for clients of all sizes with practices like true exercise modification. “Nothing that I’m doing is exclusive to me. And that’s what I want from people. If they were to see me working out, that’s what I want them to see and to feel, is that they can do it too, because I don’t have a special type of muscle that somebody else does not have.”

Chastity Jernigan

Chastity Jernigan
Jess Baumung

Chastity Jernigan, Beauty/Fashion Blogger

A recent partnership with Olay made it all sink in for influencer Chasity Jernigan. “I’m this Black, plus-sized, natural hair-having woman representing this brand. And that in that moment, was like, ‘Oh, this is a win for not just me, but this is a win for all of us.’” By just being herself — a wife, football mom, and full-figured fashionista — Jernigan offers a different narrative. “We’re always made fun of. We’re that person that the boy doesn’t want, you know. We’re the reject, we’re the ones sitting around eating because men don’t want us on the TV show. And I just want to show the world that plus size women are lit.” As one-third of the Southern Curve Collective — a joint platform she shares with fellow influencers Faith Lasha and Bianca Gale — Jernigan also wants to have regional impact. “Just living in Alabama, Mississippi, being a regular small-city girl, I can show the world that we have dreams as well,” she said. “That you can have big dreams, live in a small city, and still do amazing things.”

Sydneysky G.

Sydneysky G.
Sydneysky G.

Sydneysky G., Writer & Fat Liberationist 

For Sydneysky G., there is a distinct difference between what influencers do and her work as a fat liberationist: capitalism. “I think liberationists like me aren’t doing this as far as branding, as far as getting sponsorships, as far as selling something. I’m not selling a lifestyle, I’m not selling a product.” Rather, Sydneysky notes that liberationists engage with their online followings not to pay their bills, but to share information and organize. With writing at the forefront of her activism, she is intentional about trading neutrality for clear political sentiment. As isolation deteriorates the mental health of her community, Sydneysky isn’t mincing words. “I don’t want acceptance. That’s not enough. Like, that’s just not enough. And it feels like toleration; it feels like ‘fat people exist and that’s it.’ And it’s like, ‘No, I need more than that.’”

Tiffany BD

Tiffany BD
Tiffany BD

Tiffany BD, Model & Fashion/Travel Influencer

Growing up in Bermuda, model/influencer Tiffany BD’s plus-sized fashion choices were the same as 50-year-old women. “Every year my mom would fly to the States to visit my family, and I got to go into a mall and try to find clothes that fit me and what I wanted to wear. I still vividly remember going to my first time going into Torrid and getting to like, find something that wasn’t made for my grandma, but that was in my size.” She’s embraced the power of fashion ever since, recently modeling in an international swimsuit campaign. “I want girls to look at me like, ‘Look at her, she’s not an hourglass. She’s not, you know, conventionally what they want a plus-size model to be, but she’s still confident, she’s still serving. She’s still making me think I could wear that too.’” As she faces the realities of being a “triple minority” in the UK today, it is still fashion that anchors her confidence.  “I will always say, ‘Look, you might be smaller than me, but you ain’t never gonna out-dress me, period. Because one thing Tiffany’s gonna do, is turn a look.’”

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