It’s hump day, Bold Babes! And, we’d like to get a little risqué with you (today? Why not, right?). Surely, you remember our dear friends Lou and Sarah who began the #Fatisnotaviolation movement. We told you we’d sit down with them and we did! Fat is not a violation has already amassed over 1,000 Instagram followers in the past two weeks, ever since @katanafatale and her post that sparked the discussion. Now, THAT is serious. We have been begging Sarah Hustle Rosen and Lou Xavier to sit down and make some time for us and they immediately made sure we were a priority. What a bunch of humble beauties! Well, we asked them our famous ten questions and they answered tremendously. So, without further adieu, here we go:
Bold Magazine: Okay, it’s clear what the hashtag is all about. But, in your own words…. what are you hoping to accomplish?
Sarah: The ultimate goal is to have Instagram acknowledge and resolve the flaws of their system that is deleting and censoring photos and accounts of plus size, fat, and/or large bodies that are well within the guidelines while not deleting accounts or photos from “thin” or straight sized bodies, that most definitely violate their guidelines for nudity/pornography, as well as harassment & bullying. We want ALL bodies to be have the same freedom of expression, to be able to use their social media accounts without fear of censorship, deletion or shadow banning, and to not be marginalized in their own spaces.
Lou: We’re hoping to end the stigma that fat bodies are not worth seeing and that they need to be censored and deleted off of the internet. We’re working to show people that all bodies are good bodies. Reporting us or deleting us because you don’t like what you see is unfair, disrespectful and discrimination because of the size of our bodies. We’re aiming to stop the removal of the same types of pictures (bikinis, semi-nude with all bits covered) of fat women that thin women and even men get to keep posted. There is absolutely a bias against fat bodies online and especially on Instagram.
Sarah: Beyond Instagram’s policy, if we can reduce negative opinions of large bodies, help provide positive representation of fat bodies, give people a caring and supportive environment, and help people in bigger bodies recognize their value, I would be able to consider this movement a success.
Bold Magazine: We are ALL for it. So, how did it all start?
Sarah: It wasn’t long after I became involved in the Fat Positive & Body Positive community on Instagram that I became aware of this issue. An account called @MisfitsofIG was started in order to bring awareness to this very same problem, and that was when I first realized just how prominent it was and how often it was happening [Editors Note: we’ve linked up with the Misfits and love what they stand for]
Lou: I have an Instagram friend who has been continuously getting their pictures removed. She has never showed a nipple, genitalia, bare buttock (all of the things that Instagram say she’s doing and that violate guidelines). She posts semi-nude, covering everything she should so her pictures would be allowed. But they continue to get deleted.
Sarah: Then when @KatanaFatale’s beautiful picture of her in an outdoor shower in Hawaii was deleted, despite it being very obvious that she didn’t violate any of the guidelines listed in their notice, it boiled over for Lou and I. @KatanaFatale posted a side by side of her outdoor shower photo and a revealing photo of Kim Kardashian. The difference between the two? Kim K’s had a thin body and 2 million likes. While @KatanaFatale’s had a fat body and had been deleted.
Lou: Tell me how that’s fair? And it has nothing to do with Kim K. being a celebrity. It has everything to do with fat bodies being seen as inappropriate while we’re just trying to live and be humans and love our bodies the same.
So I posted about it because I was very angry. Sarah saw my story and came up with the stellar idea that we needed to really do something about this and flood Instagram on a particular day with fat bodies to show that we will not be silence, we will not go away. And that we are NOT breaking any rules by what we are doing. So that’s where #fatisnotaviolation started.
Sarah: Lou and I both follow her and we started talking about her profound post, venting to each other and discussing our frustration with this seemingly discriminatory policy. We wanted to make a statement by bombarding IG with photos of fat/large/plus size bodies and #Fatisnotaviolation was created to easily and clearly broadcast our message and help us keep track of support. I wrote up some text, Lou made up some graphics with the text and we were officially up and running.
Bold Magazine: So organic. So awesome! What has the response been?
Sarah: The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and overwhelming in the best ways! We have had so many amazing participants share moving & inspirational stories, beautiful photos & art, and loving, helpful support. There have been posts that made me laugh, cry, and fill with pride for our strong supporters.
Lou: The response has been overwhelming! We were hoping to get maybe a hundred or so people behind us and at the end of Friday the 5th, the hashtag had almost 1,000 public posts. And these were visible, not including any private accounts, deleted posts, or shadowbanned accounts. We have had two articles written about this, and have created a legitimate movement! I, myself, have had a photo removed WITHOUT any notice from Instagram, and I am currently shadowbanned. So no one who doesn’t follow me can see my account in any public hashtags, including this one. Which is extremely frustrating. I warned people about this, and knew it could happen, but to actually experience it is very upsetting, and my visibility is now extremely limited because I showed a little bit of my body.
Bold Magazine: Ugh! We hate that! How did you two meet? What’s the history there?
Sarah: Funny enough, Lou and I haven’t met in real life yet! When I started to dip my toes into the ocean of body positivity on Instagram she was one of the first accounts I followed. I liked that she was a fellow Oregonian and I felt like we were both in those early-ish stages of sharing our fat & body positive self love & acceptance. She was further along than I was, and I admired her confidence and unapologetic representation of herself. I shared my support of her in comments on her posts, she would often reciprocate on my posts as well. We connected over having Instagram friends in common like Kimberlee aka @therelatablefatgirl and built a rapport, which has turned into a friendship.
Lou: [Sarah] started following me earlier this year as my account was just picking up speed and followers. I am currently starting out as a plus size model in Portland, doing runway and more. And she had been one of my number one supporters. She was one of the first people who really continued to encourage me through my posts that were stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing the norm to show fat bodies as good bodies. So we’ve been friends on Instagram since, and just have yet to meet in person. But living so close, and now with this new endeavor on our plate, we’ll be seeing much more of each other!
Sarah: We are finally meeting on Sunday for the first time at a work party for a local fat positive, plus size vintage & consignment clothing shop, Fat Fancy. I’m really excited and looking forward to meeting my co-founder!
Bold Magazine: Love it! Let us know how the meeting goes! We’ve noticed some BIG names using your hashtag. Who has surprised you most?
Sarah: For me Corissa Enneking @Fatgirlflow made me freak out inside a little (ok maybe a lot, don’t judge me). As well as her partner J @comfytravels. Saucyé West @saucyewest surprised me a lot, as well as Yazmin Fox @yazminthefox
Marcy Cruz @fearlesslyjustme for @plusmodelmag was a big surprise too, at the time we only knew about Bold publishing anything about FINAV (Fat is Not a Violation). Which leads me to…Bold Magazine, of course! [Editor’s Note: YAY!]
Lou: Honestly, they all did. They’re incredible humans and they do what I work to do as well, but I have just started out. I never thought this hashtag and movement would reach them, but it did. We had reposts from Corrissa @fatgirlflow and her partner J @comfyfattravels. The amazing Saucye West @saucyewest, and then an article written by Marcy Cruz @fearlesslyjustme.
I was most definitely fangirling that these amazing people were all on our side. And they’re all WONDERFUL people and those that I look up to and am inspired by every day. I am still blown away that they took to our cause. But it’s because they know the struggle themselves. They are here to show that our bodies are JUST as good as everyone else’s.
Sarah: And quite a few people I follow & admire personally like @fatgirlshiking and Angelina @fiercefatfemme
just to name a few, lol. But we were honored by each and every single post. I just never imagined that some of the accounts I have been so inspired by and that have made such an impact on me personally would even see us let alone post about us.
Bold Magazine: Some of our absolute faves! We’ve chatted and written about so many of them! What’s the next step for this movement? We’re excited!
Sarah: We are excited too! For right now we are still in the planning stages. We are looking into building a website, and brainstorming the right content for that and our Instagram. We will be featuring supporters stories & photos, helping their voices be heard. And finally, we are researching how best to gain Instagrams attention to hopefully have that conversation with them about why this movement had to be started and how we can help them remedy the problems we’re facing.
Lou: My goodness. I honestly didn’t know there would be a next step, but we have created an Instagram @fatisnotaviolation to showcase and repost the amazing people using the hashtag. We are going to be starting a website as well and work to make fat bodies visible. Keep Instagram from deleting us. My goal personally, is to look further into what shadowbanning really is, what really triggers it. And also, strategically and civilly attempt to reach out and speak to Instagram to see what is really going on. Any information I can find out and help to advocate against the deleting behavior, I want to do. I don’t know if I’ll receive any responses, or what will happen, but it would be really great to get an actual answer from the platform that’s doing this. I don’t want to address it cruelly, but I want to address it properly to gather what I can and really fight for everyone to be seen the same way.
Bold Magazine: What are your day jobs? We always love to know.
Sarah: I have been taking time off work to focus on my health. But before that I worked as an Executive Assistant and Customer Service Representative.
Lou: By day I am in the financial services field. I work full time at a financial institution in Portland and I love what I do. I’m here to advocate for people who need help, and I feel like I bring that into my social media as well. I also have a side gig of plus size runway model.
Bold Magazine: If you could quit them and do this, full time, would you? What would be the first thing you did?
Sarah: I would absolutely do this full time if I was able to make a decent living. I’m not really interested in being an influencer, but an activist. I don’t have thick enough skin or the entrepreneurial & self promotion mojo that it seems the influencer lifestyle requires. But I could see myself writing about fat positivity, activism, advocacy, and helping people who run into discrimination or bias. \
Sarah: The first thing I would want to do as a full time, paid member of Fat Is Not a Violation is plan some sort of an event to show appreciation to all of our supporters. Their support is everything, and it would be a dream to get the opportunity to show them how much it means to us and hopefully even get to meet a lot of them.
Lou: If I could quit my day job and be a full time blogger and influencer, I sometimes think yes, and I sometimes think no. I am still a very sensitive person and the internet is a shark tank. I don’t know if I could handle it yet, but some days I feel prepared to do so. It mostly comes down to being concerned with what people in my personal life may think when they see me. But in the end, I want to inspire and advocate for those who don’t have a voice or are afraid to use theirs. So yes, I would love to do this full time if I could live a comfortable life doing so. And the first thing I would do? Get a new fluffy friend and companion for me and my fur baby. She needs a pal while I’m away.
Bold Magazine: An event, huh? Hmm… we should talk! What do you think it says about the plus size community that we needed this? How can we do better?
Sarah: I feel that the plus size community needing this movement says that we still have a long way to go before we’re treated as equal. Yes, we have come incredibly far already but we still see huge corporations, doctors, politicians & more, unafraid of revealing their fatphobia in public. Yes. body positivity is making waves in mainstream media but mostly using examples of straight-sized bodies. Yes, Tess Holiday turned the world upside down on the cover of Cosmo. But until the world doesn’t get turned upside down by seeing a size 22/24 model on the cover of a mainstream magazine, until we regularly are represented in a positive light (i.e. not the butt of jokes, not the “fat best friend”, not “the before”, not the slovenly food obsessed lonely mess, etc), until the statement that fatphobia is the last socially acceptable form of prejudice holds no truth we need the movements, the activism, and the advocacy.
If you want to do better and you’re not in the plus size/fat community you can start by educating. Educating yourself and educating those around you on fat & body positivity. You can research ways to be an ally. Google will provide you with a wealth of articles, blogs, and columns with answers, all for free! You can read about Health at Every Size & the toxic effects of diet culture. You can support plus size figures, at work, in media, in any avenue available to you.
I think Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body Is Not An Apology should be mandatory reading in schools. We need to debunk common myths about fat and teach people that a human being’s value is not derived from their physical appearance. Hopefully the more the world becomes educated the better our chances the world will become more fat friendly.
Lou: The fact that we needed this says that we are fierce but we are silenced. The plus size community has been working for so long for inclusion. We’ve been pushing for size inclusion in clothing, and respect in society. We are strong and we know our worth, but other’s still see fat bodies as something that needs to be policed and hidden. And we’re working against that. As a plus size community, I think we can do better in educating people about why this is unfair, wrong and discriminatory. Rather than lash out in anger, even though a lot of this is genuinely enraging. Anger towards others is never the answer. We can be angry, but the approach towards others needs to be done properly, and kindly if we wish to see results.
As a society, we need to be accepting and inclusive of all bodies. If we work so hard to include all races, genders, gender identities and abilities, why do we still overlook the fat people? I understand that a lot of people see our bodies as ones that can be changed, and the others are not, but that doesn’t make us any less. We are marginalized because we are different and people don’t like us, and we need that to change. I’m not asking that everyone like us, but if you don’t, please keep it to yourself. And please let us live and be on social media and thrive!
Bold Magazine: Lastly, ladies, what makes you BOLD?
Sarah: I’m a caretaker and an empath by nature. So I have the unique ability to empathize with situations and experiences I’ve never had. Which has given me perspectives I might not otherwise have, and a better understanding of people and why they do the things they do. It’s kinda like my super power, because it gives me the ability to feel deeply and intensely for people, oftentimes complete strangers.
Lou: I have become a tad reserved as an adult because I’ve always been unsure of myself in this world, especially being a fat woman. But deep down there is the girl who has always been sure of herself and always been loud, but was silenced through her life. So now I’m tired of being silenced and I have found myself and my voice as a woman in this world. And as a fat woman in this world. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing things I didn’t think I would do, but honestly I have always been capable of. I may be loud and obnoxious at times, but I’m using that as my advantage to speak my mind and advocate for others and myself.