When brands promote body positivity, the end result doesn't always seem to further awareness for fat activism or self-love. Instead, it can sometimes feel like a sales tactic above all else. JCPenney's new body positive "Here I Am" video, however, does the exact opposite by promoting a sense of fat empowerment that feels authentic, and that doesn't entirely focus on plus size style.
For its new video, JCPenney has enlisted a variety of icons from the plus size and fat positive communities to share their stories and their messages of hope for any and all types of fat people — not just the ones interested in fashion.
The video features blogger Gabi Gregg, plus size yoga practitioner and self-love activist Valerie Sagun, blogger and bestselling author of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls Jes Baker, Grammy award-nominated singer/songwriter Mary Lambert, and Ashley Nell Tipton, who is releasing a plus size clothing line with JCPenney this fall that will go up to a size 34.
These women are not only beautiful, but inspiring. They aren't just telling us that plus size people can do anything they want; they're living that truth. In the video, they each open up about the ways that people have tried to stop them from existing, participating, and succeeding in this world, while they each continue to prove the same people wrong.
Baker opened the video by asking a question almost every plus size — and maybe even straight size — person has likely asked themselves at one point or another: "Would my life be better if I were thinner?"
She seems to ponder it momentarily, before decisively answering, "No. But it would be better if I wasn't treated so poorly because I'm not." Although it's an answer that may seem simple, it's extremely powerful for anybody who has ever experienced fat shaming. (And not just the kind of fat shaming associated with body image, either.)
#HereIAm is about visibility. Here are five women from different walks of life, all linked intrinsically through their plus size status and a history of fat shaming — which tend to go hand in hand.
These women represent the diversity of our community, as well as the many different ways that plus size people can succeed. Even if your dreams lie in an industry as routinely full of body shaming as modeling or fashion can sometimes be, there's no need to be any size other than what you are in order to achieve them.
By saying, "Here I Am," JCPenney and these women are letting us know that here we are, too, and we don't ever need to be ashamed of taking up space.
Images: Courtesy JCPenney/YouTube