A plus-size woman who went viral after posing in a lime green athleisure outfit told BuzzFeed News that she hopes that one day we can get to a place where fat people buying clothes isn’t considered revolutionary.
While plus-size mannequins have generally been embraced by brands and celebrated by activists as a step in the right direction for body acceptance, the sight of one didn’t seem to have the same impact on one conservative British TV host.
“This, in a Regent St fitness store, is what obesity looks like. Flabby curves highlighted in hideous lime green velour,” tweeted Isabel Oakeshott, a GB News presenter who describes herself as a “professional feather ruffler.”
The commentator criticized the window display at a London branch for Fabletics, which featured a plus-size mannequin dressed in a velour three-piece set, and called the body positivity movement “dangerous.”
In response, Sophia Tassew, a content creator and business owner from London, served up the best reply when she shared a photo of herself looking fantastic in the “dangerous” outfit, which she went out to purchase for herself.
“That was my statement in itself,” Tassew told BuzzFeed News.
“It's like, you guys are gonna have to get used to us. Thanks for sharing the fit. Now I'm going to cop it, and life goes on,” she said.
The 24-year-old, who designs and owns a jewelry brand, wants it to be known that she “genuinely just liked the outfit.” She didn’t intend her response to be a major clapback, but Tassew said she recognizes that simply existing as a fat woman is seen by some as a statement.
“Me, just being a plus-size person, I want a new outfit, and it's caused all this commotion, and it really shouldn't actually be that way, but it is,” Tassew said. “It's still seen as something that's a big deal, revolutionary, when we just want a new pair of leggings.”
The reaction to her post has largely been positive, she said, noting that the store manager of that specific location told her that the mannequin in question has often prompted an emotional response from customers.
“She gets people coming into her store crying because of the mannequin, and I was like, wow. So as long as it's done more good than anything, then I'm completely fine. I'm happy,” Tassew said.
Her post, which has more than 400K likes and over 30K retweets, prompted other women to share photos of themselves in the outfit.
Tassew said that she no longer identified with the body positivity movement, calling them buzzwords and a movement that had been co-opted. Now, she champions the right to a quality of life.
“I think my thing now is about fat liberation and just trying to understand how fat people can move around the world freely because obviously the world is not designed for us,” she said.
The business owner has previously worked with the likes of fashion retailer Asos as a style insider and influencer, routinely modeling and creating content highlighting the best pieces for plus-size consumers.
Since Tassew went viral, representatives for Fabletics have reached out to her. Fabletics, an athleisure brand cofounded by actor Kate Hudson, is routinely championed for having an inclusive offering, with sizes ranging from 0 to 24.
Tassew is hopeful that her influence can be channeled into representing what it means to be fat in a world where anti-fat behavior persists.
“It's so much deeper than just taking selfies to show your rolls,” Tassew said. “We're affected in so many ways that people don't actually realize, whether that be medically, financially, or socially.”