In the age of women's magazines and sites regularly featuring articles about losing weight, contouring your face and not looking "fatty", it's pretty damn refreshing to find a magazine like FeTT Magazine. The Swedish website, which can be roughly translated into Fat Magazine, describes itself as a publication passionate about plus-size fashion and everyone's right to their own body. I spoke to one of the founders and editor, Christina Lövgren, about fat activism, chub rub and fat-phobic fucktards.
VICE: Hi Christina! So, what exactly is FETT Magazine?
Christina: FeTT Magazine is an online magazine that started off writing about fat acceptance and plus size fashion. But since we've evolved, the magazine has begun to include more articles about other topics such as traveling, interior design and food. The most important thing about our magazine is that NO article can include any type of negative body image issues. No article is allowed to be about how to look thin or how to lose weight. We want our magazine to breathe body acceptance and to make the reader understand that all bodies are okay and that nobody should be pressured into having to change their body.
What made you guys decide to create this online magazine? How did it all start?
All the editors of this magazine – Ann-Charlotte Måned, Thina Grotmark and myself – have been plus-size bloggers. We've all written about FATshion and fat acceptance as well as struggled with the social norms regarding larger bodies. What drives us to make this magazine is our will to change the norms of what society thinks a body should look like. All of us who work here have been discriminated against or been met by prejudice because of our fat bodies. People have told us stories about not receiving proper medical care, being bullied and being denied jobs because of their weight. That's not OK – it's basically structural oppression and it's something we want to change.
Fashion shoot from FeTT Magazine. Photograph by Susanne Melin
Are mainstream magazines a part of that oppression?
Definitely! A lot of the women's magazines out there write about how wrong it is to have a body like ours and how it should change. If a magazine for some reason does have women like us in it, it's done in a dramatic fashion or in some kind of statement. We wanted to create a magazine that would not only ally bigger women but would also spread stories of discrimination against fat people.
So reading a standard women's magazine wouldn't cut it for you?
I wouldn't get anything out of it. Us fat women can't identify with the models in mainstream media and we certainly can't identify with the messages and values in those magazines. Take fashion spreads for example: in a standard magazine, we would never feel included because they would never show any clothes that would fit us. Imagine how great it would be if you could open up a magazine and see a photo shoot with models with different body types, and not just different sizes: I'm talking about including people of different ethnicity, people with disabilities and LGBT people as well.
I listened to your podcast Tjockpodden (which in English can be roughly translated to The Fatpod) and I love it. Each episode has a different theme, such as "Traveling when you're fat" or "Fat at work". What has the overall reaction been to the podcast?
We've gotten great response from our readers. It's because we bring up topics and problems that a lot of our readers and listeners can relate to: from how to deal with chub rub and which leggings to wear, to more serious matters such as discrimination, sexualization and hate against fat bodies.
Sweden is one of those countries where being beautiful is often linked to being skinny. Did you ever feel out of place growing up?
I totally did. I've dieted and hated my body for not looking like "everyone else's". So when I found the fat acceptance movement online it was revolutionizing for me. I realised that my body has as much right to exist as the next one. It was wonderful to no longer feel alone when it came to everyday problems we fat people have to endure I just got so much more secure and strong in myself when I felt that I was part of a bigger battle.
Like you said, in your magazine you write about everyday topics such as interior design, beauty and fashion. How do you get fat activism into those standard themes?
The basic thing for us is that no article can contain anything that resembles any type of body discrimination. For example, if we do an article on beauty we wouldn't write about "how to contour your face to make it look skinnier" – or if we publish recipes we would never say "try to avoid too many carbs". That's just not what we're about. Besides things like that we also publish content totally unrelated to fat activism, with themes such as traveling, books and music. We're always on the lookout for writers, by the way *hint, hint*!
There seems to be a very strong awareness from the editors when it comes to keeping the articles balanced with humour and seriousness. How do you decide on how to tackle an issue, such as being met with fat phobia?
We feel like even though we write about the struggles of being overweight, we need to find the humour in it. We think it's quite funny to expose how bizarre societal norms are when it comes to fat discrimination. It's like if someone would sit and say, "Arghh, I hate my zit, I feel so ugly when my skin isn't clear" in front of a person with severe burn marks on their face – that shit happens to us fat people. Someone will fully sit next to a fat person talking about how they're not eating carbs because they're scared of getting fat.
Wow. Have you guys gotten any negative responses, like the typical "YOU'RE PROMOTING OBESITY" kinds of comments?
Of course! We monitor our comments section so that we can keep our site free from all that body hate. But we still get e-mails about it. There's this man who keeps writing these long e-mails about how unhealthy it is to be fat. He's even bought a domain where he's published a photo of a severely obese woman with the caption "If you want to be fat and ugly click here" and then linked to our site.
Yeah, we kind of laughed about that for a whole editorial meeting. In a way it was pretty nice that he had put so much effort and money into all of it.
Just so weird.
Yeah. But we also have the other commenters who write that they are "worried about our health" and that we shouldn't glorify obesity. Those are the people who just want to keep living in their own little world that rejects larger bodies. We tend to forget that there is a big industry behind the norm of being skinny. People are making money out of women's self-hate and if all of us would stop hating the body we're in, big companies would probably crumble.
For a lot of people the word FAT sounds negative. Are you guys taking the word back and redefining it?
Hell yeah. We're reclaiming the word FAT and BIG. It's been looked down on for a long time but they're just describing words you know. So many people feel awkward when we call ourselves fat. They're like "You're not fat, you're pretty…" but that's the problem. We can be fat AND pretty, you know.
Thank you Christina and good luck!