Many fat activists have been angered by the use of depictions of fatness under the thinspo tag. Fat bodies, often presented as just pieces of fat bodies, are used to produce a visceral response from the viewer. These pictures are meant to disgust and motivate. Some fat activists have found pictures of themselves used as thinspo (Lutes 2012). Pictures they have uploaded to encourage self-love, reject normative body standards, or inspire confidence in the viewer have been hijacked by users of the thinspo tag. Instead of being used as intended, these pictures have been used as cautionary tales by those lost in ‘the fantasy of being thin’ (Harding 2007).
To this end, some fat activists began promoting the use of a fatspo tag. By tagging representations of positive fatness as fatspo, they disrupted the discourse on what bodies are aspirational. They attempt to reclaim the narrative back from those who engage in fat shame. One such blogger, Brian Stuart of Red No 3, actually took this a step further and created the FATSPO Coloring Book (Stuart 2013, see also Lorenz 2011’s Fat ladies in spaaaaace coloring book). This book, available on the FATSPO Coloring Book Tumblr, is a collection of black and white drawings of inspiring fat individuals. Those interested may download or print the drawings and colour them in as they would an image from a children’s colouring book.
Figure 7.2 Brian Stuart (Red No. 3)
Source: FATSPO Coloring Book.
Images in the FATSPO Coloring Book include celebrities such as Cee Lo Green, Divine, Ashley Fink, and Beth Ditto. Famous faces in the Fat-o-sphere appear as well, like Amanda Levitt (Love Your Body Detroit), Kath Read (Fat Heffalump) and the creator, Brian Stuart.
Stuart’s FATSPO Coloring Book positions fat bodies as aspirational, as things of beauty. This is a rare thing to be had, on or offline. The thinspo tag is meant to inspire fear, guilt, and anxiety; it is meant to help those who believe that happiness may only be found through a low BMI. The fatspo tag is meant to inspire acceptance, assurance, and joy; it suggests finding pride in fat ways of being. The FATSPO Coloring Book presents an interactive way to queer fat. It flips the idea of thinspo on its head, and suggests that other bodies (in this case, specifically fat bodies) are worthy of celebration and crayons as well.
Used by permission of the Publishers from ‘Causing a commotion: Queering fat in cyberspace’, in Queering Fat Embodiment eds. Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes and Samantha Murray (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), pp. 82-83. Copyright © 2014