“Check yourself and your fatphobia at the door please.”
If you’re not already completely in love with Gabi Fresh, let us introduce you to the woman who calls herself the “OG fat girl.”
She is one of the most popular influencers out there, having started blogging in 2008 before launching her popular plus-size swimwear collection in collaboration with Swimsuits for All. More than 689,000 people follow her on Instagram, with a further 64,000 on Twitter.
Gabi has released her latest collection of swimwear in time for the coming summer months and it couldn’t be cuter. Think: gingham prints bikinis, lemon-yellow stripes and cut-out polkadot numbers serving some very Pretty Woman realness.
Her favourite piece from the collection is a colour blocked set featuring a mustard yellow top and high-waist bottoms in stripes of colour ranging from ochre to burgundy. “Come on Barbie let’s go party,” Ashley Graham commented on the set. “Stop please!” one fan wrote. “I literally just bought like six of your swimsuits. I can’t no more!”
Jameela Jamil is another of Gabi’s fans. The actress and activist shared the image of Gabi’s bikini to her Instagram and Twitter followers with the caption: “GUYS… have you seen the new collection of curve swimwear from Gabi Fresh? She is my obsession.”
Then she added a further comment: “ANYONE BRINGS UP THE HEALTH OF THESE WOMEN WILL BE DELETED. This is a post about beauty not health. I’m almost definitely less healthy than these women. And you don’t say SHIT to me when I post a nice picture of myself. So check yourself and your fatphobia at the door please.”
Predictably, the comments on both Jamil’s Instagram and Twitter include all the disappointingly prevalent criticisms of plus-size women. Such as comments that women like Gabi promote unhealthy lifestyles and obesity, and that they can’t possibly be healthy at their size.
“So frustrating/disappointing that I have to include these messages alongside beautiful photographs of bigger women because people can’t seem to help themselves.” Jamil wrote on Twitter. Nobody accuses pictures of big men on the cover of magazines as ‘promoting obesity’. What is our problem with big women?”
This is the eternal question that all plus-size women have had to face. Just think of Tess Holliday, for example, who has had her health questioned publicly so often that we’ve lost track of every instance.
Most famously, though, there was the image of Holliday in a bikini that was banned from Facebook because it showed “extremely undesirable” body parts that did not comply with the social media platforms ‘Health and Fitness Policy’.
Holliday’s response was on point. “Just because we’re plus-size, doesn’t mean we have to prove that we’re healthy, just as someone who is smaller than us or average size doesn’t have to prove they are healthy. We should be able to exist in our bodies,” Holliday wrote on Instagram. “I am technically healthy, but my body is no more valid than someone’s who isn’t.”
Plus-size women continue to be treated with so much contempt even as they go about their lives, planning sun-drenched beach holidays – as many women do – and dreaming out the swimsuits they are going to buy and wear, as many women do. And yet they are subject to dangerous and damaging fatphobic comments in the process.
Gabi shared a few of them on her Twitter, like the person who DMed her on Instagram to say: “Ever wonder why you never see old people, men or women, who are your weight? Because they are dead. Take care of yourself.”
Gabi usually mutes her mentions but, occasionally, she responds sarcastically – as she did with this particular troll. “Oh thanks so much I will be sure to have my agent cancel my elementary school fat-promo tour immediately,” she responded.
We need to stop policing women’s bodies and judging someone’s health on how they look. Because if you have a problem with someone else’s body, especially someone else that you don’t even know, it probably says less about them than it does about you.