All photos courtesy of the #FatAndFree campaign.
There’s a new hashtag campaign for this Spring/Summer season, and it encourages its participants to do just what it says: simply live #FatAndFree. Created by plus-size model and fat liberation advocate Saucyé West, the campaign beckons participants to shed their expectations, internalized fatphobia, and self-loathing.
The photo series is the brainchild of West. We joined the model and her team to greet 30 plus-sized women and femmes who were participating in the shoot at American Steel Studios in Oakland, California. The large warehouse is a hub for artistic creation and events, perfect for housing such a shoot.
Joining the team was Portland-based body-positive photographer Suma Jane Dark. Dark snapped gorgeous photos of the participants, ranging from professional plus-size models and performers to stay-at-home moms.
When the pleasant buzz of the shoot settled down a bit, we caught up with West to learn more about the campaign and how to bring #FatAndFree into your life.
Ravishly: Tell us about yourself. How long have you been modeling? What got you started?
Saucyé: My name is Saucyé West, and I am your favorite fat girl! I am a model, a fat activist, and a body positive influencer. I have been modeling for almost seven years. I got started as a promo model with Full Figure Entertainment, for plus-size nightlife, which lead me to venture off into fashion. Fashion is something that I have wanted to do since I was a little girl.
I wanted to get into modeling so that I could be a representative for plus-size women everywhere. What I didn't know was that I was a minority in the industry at a size 28. I didn't realize that I was in for a battle in terms of discrimination. But since then I feel like I have tackled a lot of the barriers that were put up against me. And there are a lot of other models who are on the front line, and it is very empowering.
Ravishly: What inspired the #FatAndFree campaign? How does each event differ?
Saucyé: #FatAndFree came to pass because of a moment of hesitation I had posting a picture on social media. I was actually questioning myself, and I quickly had to check myself because I feel that I have the utmost confidence and I have never done that before. So I posted the photo and put the hashtag #FATANDFREE as a declaration that I am no longer bound by the rules of what society has placed on my body as a fat woman.
We as fat women no longer have to be afraid of what people think. We don't have to explain anything. We don't have to justify our health to anyone. We are free.
I wanted to do events, so that fat women have a safe space to be together and get encouragement, have fun, and get that recharge that we need to be fat and free. For some, it is a process, so if I can help in that process, then that’s what I want to do. There have been two photo shoots and two popup shops, and each one has been such an amazing experience — meeting and enjoying people, all coming together for the same goal, and that is total body love and freedom to love it.
I love events because I get to be hands-on with them. I love to shop, and drink wine and just be social. Nothing is more empowering than a group of beautiful women, taking up as much space as we can and having a good time without caring what people say. The events are geared toward overall fun, fulfillment and again, giving women a recharge.
Ravishly: How do you hope it will help others?
Saucyé: I hope by the end of the year that I will help that woman who was afraid to show her arms. I want to inspire that young girl who wants to model but is scared of what people will think. I want to help that girl who is afraid to go out and be social. I want to continue to let the fashion industry know that it is okay to showcase visibly fat bodies in campaigns and on the runway.
I want this to be a time of awakening and rejuvenation and most of all empowerment. I want this to become a way of life. So you don't even have to think about it. It's just what you do. It will be the way you carry yourself. You will truly be #FATANDFREE
Ravishly: Where do you hope to see the campaign go?
Saucyé: I want this to be global. I want this to be a movement that has staying power. I want it to be a mantra. I want it to be everlasting. It's such a beautiful thing to be free. And to be free loving your body it just the best feeling. I want people to be able to experience that freedom.
I want to challenge the norm. I want it to be the new normal and for people to just let us be... FREE! I want this campaign to kill all the fears that women have and the issues that we have with our bodies and just love ourselves without apologizing for it.
Ravishly: How can fellow plus size babes be part of the movement?
Saucyé: The first thing you can do is easy, use the hashtag #FATANDFREE. Let's just flood the internet with beautiful fat bodies! If you see a #FATANDFREE event in your area, come through! Bring your friends, enjoy yourself. Or just live.
Don't ever think twice about your worthiness. About the love and happiness you deserve. We don't have to give anything in exchange for our freedom. It's yours! Wear what you want, do what you want, eat that cupcake. You don't owe anyone an explanation on why you love yourself. Be #FATANDFREE