NYC holds ‘Fat Beach Day’ to create accepting environment for plus-size community: ‘A space for people to be themselves’

Jacob Riis Beach in New York's Far Rockaway is holding a beach day for all fat people to enjoy.
Jacob Riis Beach in New York's Far Rockaway is holding a beach day for all fat people to enjoy.

It’s one way to make a splash.

“Fat Beach Day” events are appearing across the United States, aiming to create spaces for the plus-size community to gather — including one Saturday in Far Rockaway.

“We’re going through something culturally that is impacting us every day on an individual level and a systemic level,” Jordan Underwood, the event organizer told the Guardian. “We’re really trying to open up a space for people to be themselves.”

“Fat Beach Day” events are appearing across the United States, aiming to create spaces for the plus-size community to gather and celebrate. DisobeyArt
“Fat Beach Day” events are appearing across the United States, aiming to create spaces for the plus-size community to gather and celebrate. DisobeyArt

Underwood, a plus-size model and artist, had a history of being bullied for her weight since middle school. This led her to start a blog at age 12 to document her experiences and begin her journey into “fat activism.”

Underwood organizes events throughout New York City and collaborated with Berriez, a Brooklyn-based vintage store “curated for curves,” to organize Fat Beach Day at Jacob Riis Park.

“I’m so self-conscious at the beach, and I’m never around people that look like me,” Emma Zack, who started Berriez in 2018, told the outlet. “I’m excited we’ve created this space for folks with bigger bodies to have a good time.”

In an age where weight-loss drugs like Ozempic are popular and thinness is celebrated as the ideal beauty standard, events like Fat Beach Day are seen by some as pushback.

In an age where weight-loss drugs like Ozempic are popular and thinness is celebrated as the ideal beauty standard, events like Fat Beach Day are seen by some as pushback against these norms. Mik122
In an age where weight-loss drugs like Ozempic are popular and thinness is celebrated as the ideal beauty standard, events like Fat Beach Day are seen by some as pushback against these norms. Mik122

Vogue Business reported that for the autumn/winter 2024 season, only 0.8% of models were plus-size, and 3.7% were mid-size, a decline from previous years.

A KFF survey in May found about one in eight adults in the US had used weight-loss drugs like Ozempic or Mounjaro, highlighting the societal trend.

“In the 2000s, there was a strong anti-fat, intense cultural swing that really parallels what we’re going through right now,” Underwood said, highlighting the decade’s insidious fat-phobia, as seen with celebrities like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson being labeled ‘fat’ at a size six.

Similar events are planned across the US. A Fat Friends Pool Party will be held in Chicago July 13, and a Bellies Out Beach Day in Los Angeles in a few weeks.

“Fat bodies and Riis are a match made in heaven,” Kleo Alana told the Guardian from Saturday’s event. “Jordan Underwood and Berriez have brought heaven to Queens.”

A Fat Friends Pool Party will be held in Chicago on July 13, and a Bellies Out Beach Day in Los Angeles in a few weeks. Diamond Dogs
A Fat Friends Pool Party will be held in Chicago on July 13, and a Bellies Out Beach Day in Los Angeles in a few weeks. Diamond Dogs

Recently, New York passed legislation to prohibit weight discrimination. In 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed a bill banning weight discrimination in hiring and housing.

But hate, especially online, persists.

“It’s a really sh–ty time, not just on the internet but in society, to be fat, and it feels really violent in a lot of ways,” Zack said. “You’d think it wouldn’t be such a thing because New York is so open, and you dress however you want. I always say I never realized how much people hate fat people until I got TikTok.”

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