The Plus “Community” is In Shambles – A Recap of My Thoughts

Let’s chat plus community. If you’re a reader of my blog, you know I touch on a variety of topics. The issues within the plus space (I don’t even want to call it community because it isn’t one) are ones that I discuss because I exist in a plus body. Back in February I penned an article that discussed that this new trend of “all inclusive” was just that; a trend. And for the most part, there was no real merit behind most of the brands choosing to capitalize off that term.

There were rumblings amongst plus influencers and bloggers; mostly from larger fats because we suffer from the lack of inclusion the most in the plus fashion industry. There wasn’t much support from the smaller plus influencers because many of them drink the kool-aid about “it takes time” to extend sizes, and “we’re just grateful to have” when all the while it’s just not their concern because it doesn’t affect them.

Within the past few week, 2 big things happened in the plus space that have brought the this slow burn to a rumbling hot boil. The first is that Saucye West has started a movement called #FightForInclusivity. At the same time, there was an exchange between digital content creator AshleighChubbyBunny and Sasha of FlawsOfCouture that truly exposed just how divisive the non existent plus community is.

So let’s get into it.

Who is Saucye West & What is the Fight for Inclusivity Really All About

I first stumbled upon Saucye West a few years back before I knew her name. She was in some pinup inspired photographs and I remember being so impressed because seeing fat bodies in photos that celebrated the feminine figure was not all that common.

Saucye is a plus model and is well known in the plus community whether people want to acknowledge it or not. From what I’ve learned so far by her presence on social media is that she is a plus woman fed up with the performative actions of many brands, influencers and bloggers and is using her voice to affect change in the plus fashion industry.

#FightForInclusivity has now entered the chat.

I’ll be honest in saying, at first I was skeptical. Not that she wasn’t right, but wondering if this would be enough to make any true change. I knew plenty of people felt like this, but I wasn’t sure how much these brands actually cared. I think these brands are very intentional with the lack or inclusion of visibly larger fat bodies. We are the undesirables of society and they only care when it can benefit them. I also believe in holding plus brands accountable for their actions, not brands who have no desire to include us. I refuse to beg to be accepted anywhere. And lastly I believe the bigger issue is brands using the term inclusive and not truly being inclusive. If a brand doesn’t want to extend their sizes that is fine with me; but don’t be out here lying.

But two things happened that helped me understand Saucye’s view point a bit more.

The first is that I realized I don’t truly have a solution. After all, I’ve always done my best to support brands that were inclusive because not too long ago, I was a 34, 32, 30. I only recently became a 28 again. I’ve shared openly how that accessibility to fashion has shifted for me because of the change in size. But just because it’s changed for me to some extent does not mean that it has for everyone else.

The second thing? An exchange occurred on social media between digital content creators Ashleigh Tribble (ashleighchubbybunny) and popular plus influencer Sasha (flawsofcouture). This exchange exposed a line of thinking that many in the plus space have. This exchange unfolded almost simultaneously with the fight for inclusivity boycott. And in that moment I thought…maybe it is time for this conversation to explode.

Ashleigh vs. Sasha

Ashleigh Tribble aka @ashleighchubbybunny is probably best known for her “weird girl” aesthetic, advocating for sex workers and calling out fatphobia. I don’t really remember how we found each other on the internet, we don’t know each other personally, but I always thought she was pretty and appreciated her candor. Sasha aka @flawsofcouture is a an “influencer” and what some would call a motivational speaker creating TikToks and Reels to encourage women to “love themsevles and all their flaws”. She also owns an online boutique.

I’ll be honest in saying I don’t follow Sasha and I only became aware of her when a video she posted about SHEIN stealing from her arrived on my explore page last year.

I genuinely felt for her and reshared the video and moved on with my life. She didn’t really surface on my timeline again until she announced an upcoming collaboration with SHEIN. Now, my initial thoughts were how does that make sense? But I’m not too much into minding the business that doesn’t pay me so I didn’t go digging for answers. I do hope she is aware that SHEIN is STILL stealing from other small creators and businesses specifically people of color. Not everyone has a large platform and is receiving reparations by way of a collaboration.

The next time she surfaced on my timeline was not in a pleasant way. I’m going to share the thread and encourage you to use caution if you decide to read because it is unpleasant with strong language.

And then other well known influencers began to chime in solidarity with FOC…

Lives were had, mean girls showed their true colors and the chasm between larger fats and smaller fats in this so called community were exposed on a grand level.

What Does it All Mean?

Unfortunately, these conversations are not new. Smaller plus bodies have long understood that being thin adjacent or having proximity to desirable body politics puts them at an advantage in the plus community. They are more likely to be given representation and accessibility to fashion. However, many (not all) smaller plus bodies, specifically those who are self proclaimed influencers and content creators often don’t like to acknowledge that privilege. It’s almost like they have this desire to pretend that the oppression they experience is on the the same level as those who are considered extended size or infinifats.

There was recently a Reel (which I’ve been unable to locate) that came from a smaller plus influencer. She has a desirable body type. She stated that there is no such thing as small, mid or larger fat; we all experience the same struggles. While I understood her intent, it was tone deaf. To dispute that having varying sizes and body types doesn’t affect the fat experience you have is like saying pretty privilege or white privilege don’t exist in their perspective spaces.

In a perfect world all plus bodies would be created equal, all body types would be treated the same in plus and non plus spaces. But that’s just it, this isn’t a perfect world. It doesn’t help anyone to kick this kumbaye rhetoric unless they plan to do the work to make sure it happens, even if that means speaking up on behalf of those who don’t look like you.

Reality Check

At the root of it, I can’t say that extended size fats are not as tone deaf either. I’ve seen plenty of conversations in which they’re trying to completely erase the smaller fat struggle. While their struggle may not be as heavy as ours (all pun intended) it doesn’t discount their struggles. And please don’t let me get into the anti intentional weight loss folk who constantly dismiss other people’s experiences because they don’t align with their message.

I wish that all fat folks could hold hands and be of one accord. But the truth is that the plus “community” is only a microcosm of the world we live in. Hierarchy exists, social standards are set and there will always be a fight for the pecking order. And even when the most noble of intentions are put forward in changing the status quo; it almost always creates another problem to be contended with.

The fat experience is not a monolith. Internalized self hate, cultural and geographical differences as well as gender play a huge role in shaping that experience. I believe those things alone determine what side of the plus space people will situate themselves.

The truth for me? I’m tired of it. Whether it’s well meaning self proclaimed fat liberators, bodi posi warriors, anti diet culture fighters, self proclaimed good fatties, smaller fats with privilege or larger fats with the gumption to speak up – we’re all a little wrong and all a little right. But no one wants to concede to that because everyone is more focused on their own idea of what is important and very little effort to communicate and bridging the gap in understanding is being made.

The Wrap Up

Holding space in the plus community or whatever you want to call it has been exhausting for me. I fail to fit into any one particular mindset and I’m not radical enough not to see validity in some of the arguments the divided community has to say. I’ve chosen to excommunicate myself from it all because I honestly have no desire to be a martyr. I will always speak to my truth, my thoughts and experiences; but a revolutionist I am not. As I’ve said so many times before, I’m not apart of any particular movement.

Autonomy is my flagship and that is where I remain. IF you disagree with that….

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