On Being Visibly Fat and Influencing

I responded, “So, in effect, you are telling me that I am too fat to work for your company. Intriguing.”

This is the story of that experience and the internal discourse that transpired afterwards. It was hard, yet made me a stronger, more resilient person on the Internet + in real life. 

 

Y’all —

I have publicly stated that taking pictures of my food saved me from an eating disorder. Food photography taught me to love, to thrive, to live, to laugh, to learn, to be humble, to savor, to enjoy the moment. I didn’t create JCP Eats — JCP Eats created the new, fully-realized version of myself. For that, I am eternally indebted. You can read more about that journey here.

When I started my account, I didn’t think anything would come of it; in fact, I was sure of that hypothesis. What actually transpired was a job, a space that I get to share with so many amazing people (from Kentucky and around the world), and an arena where I can showcase my life as food-loving, plus-size male.

With the business aspect comes job opportunities with national and local brands – which is awesome, but can, at times, be a struggle. Why?

I don’t fit the mold of a social media influencer + blogger.

I’m a fat male; I don’t look like your typical online personality.

While I am proud of this fact, it automatically disqualifies me from working in some professional realms.

 

Recently, a national company reached out to me via Instagram to collaborate with them on a campaign. They will, for the purposes of this post and from hereafter, remain anonymous. Their Instagram team said that I was authentic and that they’d love to work with me; likewise, I shared the same enthusiasm. I share this story not out of hate, spite, or with the intention of throwing shade; rather,  I want to share the transformative experience it induced with y’all.

After bouncing ideas back and forth and semi-planning our posts, I got an email from the “big guy” — their boss. They not-so-kindly told me that they respected my work, but after further review of my social media presence, my lifestyle and dietary choices did not match up with their brand image.

I responded, “So, in effect, you are telling me that I am too fat to work for your company. Intriguing.”

 I left the conversation feeling defeated. Hurt. Unmotivated. Unworthy.

 

I later asked myself, “Am I too fat for my following online? Am I a viable influencer to work with, despite my weight/size? Do brands value my body the same as other bodies? Is the space that I occupy online as valid as my thinner counterparts and colleagues?”

After some self-evaluation, I realized how wrong my thinking was.

I am not too fat for my following online – hell, I talk about food all day long!

I am a viable influencer to work with and I am eternally grateful for each and every brand/restaurant/business that has worked with me in the past. The best is yet to come!

If a brand doesn’t value my body as an equal, I DO NOT want to work for them. I refuse to work with them. Just as my page is a diet-free, hate-free, love-filled zone… JCP Eats is a jerk-free platform. Case closed.

My space is just as valid as my skinnier counterparts and colleagues; in fact, I’ve chosen to own every inch of it. Movin’, groovin’, jigglin’, wigglin’ — and I’m going to celebrate it!

Thank you to those that have helped me reach this business + personal + spiritual understanding.

My dear friend and “big sister”, Rev. Jacqueline Hope Derby, provided me with these strong, powerful words: “It’s not just about taking up space, but also creative power. You can influence brands, people, the way money is spent, not in spite of your size, but WITH your size as a part of your power.” She continued, “That’s a revolutionary idea: larger bodies have more power when they don’t waste that power on trying to be less.”

I agree wholeheartedly.

 

So, to that company, I say this:

Shame on you.

Shame on your fatphobic ways.

Shame on your narrow, uneducated view on body image.

Shame on using your power and influence to exclude, marginalize, and disenfranchise.

 

And to all other companies/businesses/brands, I say this:

It is important to represent a wide array of body types in your social media outreach. We are not all carbon copies of one another; however, we all share in the same worth.

 

While this brand will forever be off of my radar, I thank them.

I thank them for catalyzing me to have real, deep, important conversations with myself.

I thank them for helping me realize my worth.

I thank them for their rejection

I learned so much more from that than I have any other business deal.

 

 

As always, happy eating!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JCP

2 thoughts

  1. I hate that this happened to you. It’s absurd that we’re still dealing with multiple types of discrimination in 2018. Thank you for bringing attention to this – I applaud you for not naming the company. I’m not sure I’d have enough class to exhibit such grace.

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