“Even the most body-positive influencer will still angle their selfies to hide a double chin, and it’s something we all subconsciously do when representing ourselves,” says founding editor-in-chief Ione Gamble of queer zine Polyester. For their upcoming eighth issue, the London-based queer zine is celebrating a body part many of us prefer to conceal: double chins.
For Gamble, the body-positivity movement has largely left double chins behind, despite the growing strides being made towards greater media visibility of fat people. “Double chins rarely appear in any editorial, campaign, or even Instagram picture,” Gamble says.
Both Gamble and photographer Jender Anomie have double chins, and the editorial shoot was a way for them to articulate their complicated feelings towards an often-maligned body part. “Prior to shooting we'd had many, many conversations about how we felt towards our chins respectively,” Gamble explains. “Trying to minimize that part of myself over the years has incited a lot of self-hatred, so Jen and I wanted to create some positive imagery that claps back at all the negativity and glamorizes double chins in a way they haven't been before.”
In styling the shoot, Gamble wanted to avoid the common tropes that often befall body-positivity beauty editorial. “Due to the lack of visibility for fuller faces, it can often feel like extreme makeup looks are exclusively for skinny people,” she explains. “I’m really bored of the only ‘diverse’ coverage of body types being extremely ‘natural’ in order to represent—and therefore make us love—our ‘flaws.’”
Instead, the shoot celebrates double chins with outré, outlandish makeup looks, pulling references from 1980s styling and channelling a Dynasty aesthetic. “I want to see fat women being over the top, ridiculously glamorous, sporting contours, eye creases, and dripping in diamonds,” Gamble enthuses.
On the day of the shoot, Gamble and her models—whom she exclusively recruited through Instagram—were jubilant. “The atmosphere was so positive,” she says. “It sounds cheesy but to have a group of women normally ignored by society in a room all together, basking in each other’s beauty, was pretty cool.”
Gamble is hopeful that the images will encourage those in the media to reconsider how they view double chins. “I hope this shoot influences those who peddle fat acceptance to reconsider their casting choices or selfie angles,” she explains. “There’s no reason full-faced women shouldn't appear in campaigns and wider imagery within the media.”
For Gamble, double chins are more than just a body part. They’re representative of how society treats fat people with revulsion and disdain. “I think double chins are probably viewed so negatively as society hates fat people—it’s really as simple as that. If you're not the right kind of 'plus-size' it's unlikely the fashion industry will acknowledge you exist.”
As a plus-size women in the fashion landscape, Gamble is candid about the pressures she faces. “The industry can really grind you down. But within Polyester I want to create imagery and highlight work that not only accepts fat people, but actively celebrates them as beautiful and worthy.“