The Internet can sometimes be a sunken place; to say we get a lot of bad news online is an understatetment when the terror of death can be streamed and put on constant replay. But today, I’m thanking the Black God who created the Internet for allowing me to discover Lady Essence’s Fluffy Gal Anthem. I can’t remember who shared it, but thank you too.
Who else but a Black God could provide this empowering shout-out to the plus-sized woman at a time when I’m my heaviest weight and struggling to feel beautiful in this body? Oshun, girl, was that you??
To contextualize, Fluffy Gal Anthem is an ode to fat women who take pride in their size The video demonstrates, as the song says, you can be “fat but fit.” Released in time for Barbados Crop Over in August, the bashment soca tune encourages women to be unabashed in their movement. Lady Essence, herself plus-sized, gathered a group of “fluffies” who showed out in the video doing flips, splits and head stands. The song’s quintessential Caribbeaness speaks directly to me because as much as I like Jessamyn Stanley, I’m quicker to wine than do yoga.
Some may say that we’ve had soca songs celebrating thick women before, like Mr. Killa’s 2013 Rolly Polly. Rolly Polly was cute or wateva, but there’s so much more to this message when it comes outside the male gaze. The Fluffy Gal Anthem is by women and for women. This is feminism. The Fluffy Gal Anthem is rachetness as praxis.
Being thick or fat in the African Diaspora is complicated. Throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the West, you find black communities with beauty standards favoring large bottoms and hips, Coca-Cola shapes. There’s a limit to the thickness that’s acceptable, however. If you’re fat, but don’t fit that Coca-Cola mold you become open to ostracism. I was teased for being chubby from elementary to high school only to go through old photos earlier this year and notice that I haven’t actually been fat until recently. Simultaneously, as a teenager my larger size and voluptuousness made me appear older and attractive to adult males.
Now, I get a pass sometimes because even with all the weight I’ve gained in the past five years, I can still fit the mold. But it’s perfectly normal for taxi drivers to tell me I’m too big to ride in their cars or try to get me to pay for an extra seat. It’s also normal for other passengers to say things like, “Yuh big and fat, yuh go squeeze meh.” Last year, around Christmastime I was eating a cupcake I got at a store in a giveaway while walking near High Street, San Fernando. A random man looked at me and said, “You don’t need anymore of that.” This isn’t just my story. This is the story of many women with a size similar to mine.
Experiences like these make my confidence fluctuate, but today, Fluffy Gal Anthem has fully restored my faith in this fat body.