Plus-Size Student Fashion Blogger Embraces Fat Acceptance Movement
Natalie Craig is a Columbia College Chicago senior, an impassioned fashion blogger and a confident plus-size woman. She is open about having hips and curves, proudly confirming, “I am a size 14 and don’t look like Kate Upton.”
As she writes on her blog Natalie in the City, “Although I was a fashionista at an early age, I grew up receiving backlash for my full-figured shape, and the thin standards of the fashion world didn’t love my body as much as I did. It’s hard out here for a plus-size fashionista, but it’s also the most amazing feeling to be able to rock an ensemble that takes time, effort and creativity to master.”
Craig, 22, is also currently taking time to spread the word about the increasingly popular and mainstream Fat Acceptance Movement, “which means celebrating and embracing a woman’s curves rather than shaming them.”
According to a recent column by Craig in The Columbia Chronicle campus newspaper, “The Fat Acceptance Movement exists because women like me are content with their curves and choose not to be subjected to the Photoshopped beauty standards that consume Americans and society as a whole. … I have no desire to be skinny, but you will never catch me shaming the size-two girl next to me at the gym. No matter what size you are, I believe in loving your body. If this attitude is the cause of a movement that stands for loving yourself more, then people have a right to feel confident and be a part of any movement they want.”
For her confidence, publishing prowess and fashionista status, Craig was recently invited to appear on Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show. She modeled a bikini alongside 15 other women as part of a segment aimed at positively “displaying the unconventional side of beauty.”
In the exclusive Q&A below — part of CMM’s esteemed College Media Geeks interview series — Craig, a journalism major from Boise, Idaho, describes the Fat Acceptance Movement in greater detail. She also discusses the challenges she faces as a plus-size fashion blogger and offers advice for students of all shapes and sizes seeking to break into the fashion media universe.
Simply put, what is the Fat Acceptance Movement?
The Fat Acceptance Movement empowers plus-size women to embrace their curves and love their bodies. Curvier women have not been represented fairly in the media or in society. This movement provides plus-size women with a community, strength and the inspiration to love the skin and body they are in.
If the same football team goes to the Super Bowl and loses every year, then comes back to win the next year, that is what it feels like to be a part of the Fat Acceptance Movement. I feel like plus-size women are the underdogs. We have been neglected in the media, in magazines and in fashion, but now with the Fat Acceptance Movement we are finally winning. The movement has gained so much momentum through social media and I am so proud to be a part of that.
However, there is a crucial point that needs to be made that isn’t being discussed as much as the movement itself is. That point is “body positivity.” The Fat Acceptance Movement’s mantra is about having a positive body image and self-esteem by loving and embracing your curves, which translates to “body positivity.” Recently, powerful women in the music industry have been coming out with songs shaming skinny women and condoning plus-size figures. There are also social media posts following in those footsteps. Women need to realize that society and the media have scrutinized the female body image — no matter the shape or size — since we have existed.
We are women. We need to stand together against the harsh scrutiny and societal beauty standards that every single one of us face every day. Plus-size women do not need to put down skinny figures, and skinny women should not put down plus-size figures. Instead, we need to acknowledge that a women’s shape comes in many sizes, each one beautiful in its own way.
You mention in your Columbia Chronicle column a Thought Catalog piece posted earlier this year by Carolyn Hall expressing confusion about “why fat people have been glorified for having a personal positive body image on blogs, social media and the Fat Acceptance Movement.” What’s your response to her lack of understanding?
To completely understand the Fat Acceptance Movement, you have to be a part of it. Just like I have no idea what it is like to be skinny, the same is true the other way around. I understand her confusion about the movement given the practical health concerns she raised, but some women like myself are comfortable in our curvy bodies. The fact that other people can’t let us be satisfied with the body we choose to live in is completely wrong and contributes to bullying, a negative self-esteem and depression.
Society, the media and even other women have made it extremely hard to be a proud plus-size woman. The skinny image is glorified and has been for a long time. However, the Fat Acceptance Movement is starting to be something that is widely celebrated on social media. As a plus-size woman, it feels amazing to have my body and my curves represented by other women who are confident in their curvy figures. While I realize my figure will never be accepted by everyone, I have accepted my figure and that has allowed me to accept other women’s figures — large and small. My main concern with Carolyn’s article is not about the Fat Acceptance Movement, it is about body positivity. Whether you agree with someone’s weight or not, you should encourage people to love themselves regardless. …
My fear is that young girls are going to continue to grow up under the extreme pressures of society, the media and their peers who bully them because of their differences. Girls are going to grow up to think that it is OK to bully girls who are overweight. Children are not as strong-minded as adults are. They can’t shake off a nasty remark, an article or societal beauty standards.
For those interested, how do you join or take part in the movement?
The best way to become part of the Fat Acceptance Movement is to first learn to accept and love your body, whether you are thin or plus-size. Having a “body positive” mindset makes it easier for people to understand that there is more than one body type or shape in this world and that we should celebrate all of them. Becoming a part of the Fat Acceptance Movement is a great thing. Women can participate by sharing their journey of learning to love their body and they can also express their confidence and support for the movement through hashtags on Twitter and Instagram such as #CelebrateMySize and #HonorMyCurves.
“When I started my bog in 2013, the biggest obstacle I foresaw experiencing was acceptance. I think anyone who chooses to put himself or herself out there for the entire Internet to see and criticize is brave. You get this pitter-patter in your heart and then this feeling in your gut of vulnerability and fear. … It can be a scary feeling, but it is also exhilarating.”
On a more personal level, what are the biggest obstacles you face as a plus-size fashion blogger?
When I started my bog in 2013, the biggest obstacle I foresaw experiencing was acceptance. I think anyone who chooses to put himself or herself out there for the entire Internet to see and criticize is brave. You get this pitter-patter in your heart and then this feeling in your gut of vulnerability and fear. Not only will you be subjected to critiques from your peers, co-workers, family and friends, but now the entire world has the power to determine if you are successful or not. It can be a scary feeling, but it is also exhilarating. My dreams are bigger than fear, so regardless of the risk I decided to take the leap and start blogging.
There were days I wanted to quit blogging because I received some criticism and my job and education were my first priority. There were many times my blog would fall to the side and I would think no one really cared because my body wasn’t the typical image people wanted to see wearing their favorite designers. However, one day I started receiving emails from women who did not feel confident in their own bodies and they were asking me for style advice and how I learned to love and embrace my body.
It was then I realized I was helping people by putting myself out there and showing that curvy women can have style and be confident too. My blog became much more than just a place to chronicle my fashion endeavors. It became a tool, a resource and a place for other people to come and learn about how they can be confident and wear whatever the clothes they love. I was no longer afraid of being accepted or not. It was about the community I created and the path I was leading for other women.
Separately, what’s your advice for individuals of all shapes and sizes looking to follow in your footsteps and begin writing about fashion?
I have always encouraged everyone to start a blog, no matter what shape or size they are. Everyone has a unique perspective, style and experience that could potentially inspire people. It doesn’t even have to be about blogging — if you want something start working toward it today. Don’t wait until tomorrow because you will end up waiting until next month or next year. Find something you love to do, or something you believe in and run with it. Your dreams are bigger than your fears.
The fashion industry is cutthroat, especially for plus-size women. That doesn’t mean that you can’t show the industry who is boss and make a statement. The fashion blogging world has also expanded and I know many bloggers who have simply given up on their blog because they feel as though they won’t be successful. Just because it’s a giant world does not mean you can’t succeed. Determine what “success” means to you. Set goals and work for what you want every day. Most importantly, do not ever give up. People will always have something to say, both positive and negative. You have to develop a thick skin and follow the path you want for yourself, even if that requires breaking stereotypes or changing a person’s mind. Confidence is key.