‘Obesity is a disgusting word… it’s just used to scare people’

In 2007, when she started her first blog, Nerd About Town, she wrote extensively on body confidence and mental health.

Then in 2010, she discovered the body positivity movement. But, ten years on, however, she has serious issues with the turn the movement has taken. Created to promote the acceptance of all bodies, regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance, it is now failing to be as inclusive as it should be, she believes.

Yeboah explains that it’s neglecting to advocate for black plus-size women, many of whom pioneered the movement, saying it has been “incredibly whitewashed” and “completely eradicated black voices.”

She adds: “I don’t associate myself with that movement, because it’s not a safe space for people who look like me anymore. It’s a bit of a free for all, and everyone is claiming body positivity. In a sense, it’s lost its meaning completely.”

If Yeboah is on a journey, she’s brought many others along with her: her Instagram following has grown to more than 175,000. Her book is dedicated to some of these people – she calls it “a love letter to plus-size black women” – and contains advice on how to live life unapologetically and with confidence. It also lays bare the identity crisis that crippled her over the last 18 years, and weaves in the stories of other black plus size women from around the world.

These are set in context by a thoughtful exploration of the historical and social aspects of body image and everyday misogynoir (misogyny that specifically targets women of colour) – something of which she herself has plenty of experience.

Yeboah sits within all the intersections that, in her words, “are seen as disgusting, ugly and grotesque at every level. I’m not only a woman, but a plus-sized woman. I’m not only a plus-sized woman, but a black woman. I’m not only a black woman, but a dark skinned black woman.”

She is happy to use the word “fat” to describe herself, too. “It’s not an offensive word, but a descriptive word for a body shape,” she says.

“Unfortunately people have taken this word and used it in a horrible way, substituting it for ugly. For me, it was all about taking the power out the word. If that’s the worst thing someone can say about me, then I think I’m doing pretty well being a decent human being.”  

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