Somewhere between burning our bras and freeing the nipple, many women found liberation in accepting and even celebrating lingerie as a form of empowerment. The idea of dressing up sexually for yourself and not the male gaze aligns itself with body positivity as a way of reclaiming and celebrating your body – especially if yours isn’t typically celebrated by the media.
For plus-size influencers, sharing images of themselves scantily clad (in swimwear, in lingerie or in nothing at all) gets the most engagement and attention of all their social media posts.
Sifting through the comments – a mixture of aubergine emoji from accounts dedicated to BBW lovers and praise from other plus-size women – it is worth asking whether the objectification has come full circle. Are lingerie selfies empowering for a fat blogger’s following or is the increased engagement due to a sexualisation of this imagery by the men for whom lingerie was designed to entice? Whether or not the objectification is worth it to boost representation is down to the women who post these pics. We asked three women who know what it feels like to have a picture go viral to tell us about their experiences...
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Who else is the Queen of Never Taking Their Own Advice? Because i know I am. I emphasise to everyone around me the importance of being kind to yourself, but so often I catch myself being so hard on myself, being self deprecating, feeling like I am nothing or worthless. I was speaking to my counsellor about it and she said ‘your so thoughtful about others, and care so much about friendship and how your friends feel, but have you tried being your own best friend?’ Pals, I have not tried being my own best friend, but I’m making a lot of effort to try to be right now. Today was not so great as I’ve not been so kind to myself, but tomorrow is a new day. So I’m gonna give you all the same homework my counsellor gave me. Try and be your own best friend for a week and see how it goes. Be kinder, be softer. Think about your self-talk - if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself! You deserve kindness as well! Now, seeing as you’re going to be best friends with yourself this week, what is something you’re going to do differently? What is something you’ll stop saying to yourself? To me, I’m going to be easier on myself when I feel like I’m not ‘enough’ (to be honest, easier said than done right now! But I’m gonna try!!). Comment below your first act of self-friendship - I want to hear! ♥️♥️♥️♥️ #inbetweenie #plusmodel #curvemodel #style #curves #bodyacceptance #stylediaries #midsizestyle #goldenconfidence #rolls #honormycurves #loveyourbody #instadaily #selflove #bodylove #plusisequal #bodypeace #instafashion #cellulite #curvesreign #glow #selfcare
Kitty Underhill is an unsigned plus-size model and body confidence ambassador
"This picture ended up on the [Instagram] explore page, where I was talking about trying to be my own best friend in the name of self-care. I didn’t expect it to get the reach that it did, let alone 6k likes. However, if you look at the comments, there are so many annoying comments from men using various emoji, and I think that’s the reason it did so well, which is incredibly frustrating – my caption is about body acceptance, challenging fatphobia, self-love, feminism and other issues. And yet, cis men assume that the post is for them purely because I’m wearing underwear. It’s entitled, annoying behaviour. My body, my platform and my profile are not for cis het men.
"Lingerie and swimwear photos usually end up getting either double or triple the amount of engagement compared to photos of just my face or a fashion post. Instagram makes up a lot of my livelihood and it can feel really disempowering when you just don’t get any reach unless you’re not wearing clothes. It feels like your voice doesn’t matter, because people can’t hear it unless you’re in a bikini. Thankfully when Instagram doesn’t help me out I know that it’s not me or my body that is the problem – the algorithm is the problem."
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Sis if you fuckin that mans with your t shirt still on you shouldn’t be fuckin him!!! He knows you’re fat so you better get that damn fupa out n smack him in his bitch ass face with it. He knows wtf he signed up for mamas so get that damn jiggle out n change his mother fuckin life. If he dies he dies. 2019 you ain’t fuckin with ya shirt on no more get ya gut out!! N if you take your shirt off and he don’t like it then you done yourself a favour now get that lil dick energy out ya life babe
Lauren McKenzie is a 21-year-old fashion and body positivity YouTuber from Liverpool
"These are my most liked pictures on Instagram – I tend to notice that if my pictures wearing swimwear/lingerie have a meaningful caption, talking about my body or my story, they receive more interactions... I have posted swimwear pictures in the past with a boring caption and they don’t do as well. I feel like when people can relate to you and your posts, they interact more. When I post those type of pictures, I receive so many messages from women telling me how much I’ve helped them in loving their bodies. I also get a lot of people telling me I’ve changed their lives, which is so surreal to me.
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Swipe 👉🏼 ... ANGLES. I used to wonder just how I could get a flat stomach or even make myself look like I have one in pictures, but I realise how that I can’t... when I lay down I am fat, when I stand up I am fat, from the side I AM FAT. A flat stomach from any angle just isn’t in the cards for me and I’ve accepted that and learned to love my stomach from all of these angles. The “flattering” angles and even the “unflattering” angles. We see so many pictures of petite stomachs and flat stomachs but we need to see stomachs will rolls, stretch marks, stomachs that hang.. stomachs with the little pooch it now has from carrying LIFE for 9 months. This is my belly from every angle a belly I hated, a belly I would look at in disgust especially from these angles, but a belly I now adore. I love my belly 🖤✨
"When putting yourself out there on the internet, you KNOW the trolls will come and attack. I get a lot of messages telling me I’m promoting obesity, that I’m gross – even to the point of people telling me I need to die because I’m fat. I’m just existing, you know? Like I said before, I’m comfortable enough to not let it affect me and I know that if you feed something it will only grow so I tend to just ignore it. I put myself out there because I know I’m helping other women and when I was struggling with my body image there were no women in the media that I could physically relate to. I find that being the person I once needed is really empowering to me. Even if I only help one woman, it’s one less woman who hates herself."
Emma Tamsin Hill is a plus-size influencer, vlogger and TV presenter
"This post went viral on Twitter after a girl uploaded it saying I was promoting obesity; it received roughly 20k likes before she deleted the tweets. The worst reactions are people having fake concerns for my health from taking one look at my body and telling me what I should do with it. People thinking I’m sharing myself for male attention, and also males thinking that because I am semi-nude it warrants their sexual advances and makes it okay for them to treat me like a sexual object, to fetishise me – it’s gross.
"But I think for a lot of girls, seeing a woman who looks similar to them in swimwear or lingerie helps them feel more at ease with their body and can be empowering. Just the act of being bare on the internet resonates with some people and they want to support that. For years I hid my body and was so ashamed of who I was, thought I was unworthy of love and respect because I was fat. Reclaiming my body and caring only about my opinion of it changed my whole world. These photos of me accepting who I am not only help me love myself but help other women accept themselves, too. It’s nice to feel the acceptance after you have been publicly vulnerable."