In Spring 2023, an assorted group of social media influencers, content creators, models, reality TV stars, fashion industry employees, and others gathered for a day-long virtual conference to promote the bold idea that “fatness is not bad,” as participant Raffela Mancuso, “a mental illness and Fat Liberation activist who uses social media to destigmatize mental health and center marginalized bodies,” put it. The participants had gathered for The BodCon2023, the latest iteration of an annual event that started in 2021, “centered around all things body confidence, body positivity and self-love.” According to emcee Alicia McCarvell it is the “No. 1 body confidence virtual conference in the world.” Its aim is simple: “We want people to feel worthy in their bodies”—whatever those bodies might look like.
The conference included presentations on “Existing While Plus-Size”; “Not Your Body, Not Your Business: Let’s Stop Weight Comments”; and “Why Boundaries are Essential for Body Confidence.” Panels covered such topics as dating, traveling, and undergoing surgery while plus sized. Though the promotional art for the conference features drawings of many fat women, the f-word itself was scarcely uttered. Instead, throughout the event, people used a plethora of euphemisms: “people in bigger bodies,” “fuller bodies,” “plus-size bodies,” “plus-size people,” “people in fuller figures,” “more diverse bodies,” “diversified bodies,” “different body types.” Participants talked about what happens when your “tummy gets a little bit bigger,” you “take up more space,” or find yourself in “a bigger body that used to be smaller.”