#FatSideStories Offers Women a Place for Healing

August 11th 2016

Taylor Bell

It's no secret that society can be pretty critical of women's bodies, and now dozens of women are using the hashtag #FatSideStories to help expose just how brutal those unfair beauty standards can be.

The hashtag was originally created by Twitter users @Artists_Ali and @femmina to highlight the lack of accurate portrayals of overweight women in media.

"I think it's important for people to see an unfiltered view of what fat people's experiences are like, from our viewpoints," @Artists_Ali, whose real name is Ali Thompson, told ATTN: in an emailed statement. "It's important for fat people to know they aren't alone and for thin people to really SEE us —not just how we are seen through a media lens that is almost often very biased and dehumanizing.

The hashtag received even more attention when another Twitter user named Your Fat Friend tweeted it and encouraged "fellow fats" to participate.

Women answered the call.

While some of tweets pointed out the harsh reality of being overweight, others addressed some of the commonly held assumptions about overweight women.

Thompson told ATTN: that creating a space for where "fat" women can talk freely and share their experiences is empowering.

"I think it resonates because many fat people have experienced the same issues, the same bullying and stigma and shaming, down to almost the exact same stories coming up over and over again," she said. "And when fat people have a space to talk about these things, it can be very healing. Being alone with the level of shame that is heaped on fat people by our culture is a soul shredding experience. Speaking on the experiences that we are supposed to hide can be very powerful."

According to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, out of "1,016 major television characters, 14 percent of women and 24 percent of men were overweight or obese, less than half their percentages in the general population." In the U.S., more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.