Size contrition, part 3: Fuck flattering

As we consider the concept of size contrition, let’s look at the “fuck flattering” trend that’s been sweeping the body positivity movement.

On its face, “fuck flattering” is a rejection of size contrition and the forbearance it can generate. There’s a great article by Alysse D’alessandro at The Body is Not An Apology that talks about “flattering” as a fashion concept and why people are rejecting it.

What I want to look at today, though, is why “fuck flattering” has remained a fashion strategy mostly limited to people who are smallfat and smaller. 

People who are in relatively small bodies have a relatively large amount of thin privilege and social capital to “spend.”

(This level of privilege is, of course, affected by all the other types and amounts of privilege — or lack thereof — that each of us possesses due to all our different intersecting identities.)

When our existing level of privilege is high, we can afford to “spend” some of it on refusing to perform size contrition, knowing that the penalty for doing so will be softened by our privilege.

(In fact, people in thin bodies can use “fuck flattering” to increase their already-high levels of thin privilege, by appearing rebellious against an oppressive system that affects them very little to begin with.)

However, people in larger fat bodies most often simply don’t have the privilege or social capital to stop looking contrite for any length of time. Our public contrition may be the only difference between getting and not getting the job we’re interviewing for, or commuting today without getting a nasty comment from a stranger, or receiving the medical procedure we need.

How much do you need to perform size contrition in your own life? Are you able to access “fuck flattering” in any meaningful way?

Part 1: Size contrition: the performance of a lifetime Β»
Part 2: The Mimi Exemption Β»

Every Monday, I send out my Body Liberation Guide, a thoughtful email jam-packed with resources on body liberation, weight stigma, body image and more. And it’s free. Let’s change the world together.

Hi there! I'm Lindley. I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work here at bodyliberationphotos.com.