Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls

A Handbook for Unapologetic Living


By Jes Baker

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Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is a manifesto and call to arms for women of all sizes and ages. With smart and spirited eloquence, veteran blogger Jes Baker calls on women to be proud of their bodies, fight against fat-shaming, and embrace a body-positive worldview to change public perceptions and help women maintain mental health.

With the same straightforward tone that catapulted her to national attention when she wrote a public letter addressing the sexist comments of Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Jes shares personal experiences along with in-depth research in a way that is approachable, digestible, and empowering. Featuring notable guest authors, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is an invitation for all women to reject fat prejudice, learn to love their bodies, and join the most progressive, and life-changing revolution there is: the movement to change the world by loving their bodies.


what in the world is body love, and why does it matter?what in the world is body love, and why does it matter?


If you’re wondering why the hell I would take the time to write an entire book about things no one will tell people about their bodies, you’re not the only one. And if you’re skeptical about the fact that I place so much focus on something as seemingly vapid as our appearance, you’re not alone.

People ask me all the time, “Why are you so superficial, Jes’ca?!? Why isn’t your focus on inner beauty? Why aren’t we talking about what we contribute to the world? Why aren’t we discussing how marvelous our souls are?”

My personal conclusion goes something like this: We are more likely to be told by the world that we are good people than anything else. Funny, creative, intelligent, communicative, generous, maybe even extraordinary. What we are not told is that our bodies are perfect just the way they are. Like, ever. We are taught that our outsides are flawed, and not only that, but the majority of our worth lies in our physical appearance, which, of course is never “good enough” according to our society. They love to show us examples of unattainable physical perfection while demanding that we become the impossible, and because of this our bodies and our relationship to our bodies affect everything else in our lives on a monumental level.

We become too embarrassed to meet up with the friend we haven’t seen in years because we might have gained weight. We sabotage relationships by thinking we’re unworthy of physical affection. We hide our face when we have breakouts. We opt out of the dance class because we’re worried we’ll look ridiculous. We miss out on sex positions because we’re afraid we’ll crush our partner with our weight. We dread family holidays because someone might say something about how we look. We don’t approach potential friends or lovers because we assume they will immediately judge our appearance negatively. We try to shrink when walking in public spaces in order to take up as little room as possible. We build our lives around the belief that we are undeserving of attention, love, and amazing opportunities, when in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our bodies are installation art that we curate publicly. Our bodies are the first message those around us receive. Our bodies are our physical bookmarks that hold space for us in the world. Our bodies are magnificent houses for everything else that we are. Our bodies are a part of us, just as our kindness, talents, and passion are a part of us. Yes, we are so much more than our outer shells, but our outer shells are an integral part of our being, too. This is why I focus on them. The way we view our bodies impacts the way we participate in the world . . . and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could lose the bullshit we’re taught and love our bodies for the perfect things that they are?

I just read a really great article in Bitch Magazine called “Pretty Unnecessary” where Lindsay King-Miller rightfully questions the focus on the importance of beauty within the body positive movement. She says, “While I’m in favor of encouraging women to feel confident and happy, I worry that today’s body positivity focuses too much on affirming beauty and not enough on deconstructing its necessity.” She goes on to share an experience she had on Facebook: A friend published a post that said, “I’m not pretty and I’m fine with that.” What of course followed was a barrage of comments from “misguided” though well-meaning friends who insisted she was being “ridiculous” and of course she was pretty. Lindsay describes her discomfort with and defensiveness about this type of forceful response: “Here was a woman moving away from an oppressive and harmful hierarchy, and with the best of intentions, her friends were trying to drag her back in.”1




do all the things!



Look for these challenges throughout the book, drawn from my satirical blog post series, “25 Things Fat People Shouldn’t Do.” All the items on this list come from ridiculous corners of the Internet where apparent “experts” have decided what fat people should and should not do. They range from the absurd to the profoundly shameful, from ridiculous things like doing a cannonball to making art. To this I said: “Fuck that noise! I’m doing them anyway.” I “broke” every single one. But know this: If your size makes you feel too uncomfortable to do some of these challenges, that’s okay! You do not need to actually do them to know that you’re allowed to live a full life just like everyone else. However, if you want to give the middle finger to the part of society that says fat bodies aren’t allowed to participate in certain activities, you’re more than welcome to. All of this is your choice. That’s the point here: You can and deserve to do whatever makes you happy. Including: live.

Now, let me explain how I break this down in my world. The words “beautiful” and “pretty” mean two different things to me. Beauty is something that is everywhere. The sunset is beautiful. Human connection is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Bodies are beautiful—all of them. Beauty is ubiquitous, inherent, and found in all of us: on the outside and the inside.

The word “pretty,” however, when used to describe a woman’s physical appearance, signifies to me a physical ideal that’s fabricated by companies to make you believe that you’ll never be enough until you reach it. Pretty is what they want you to believe in. Pretty is what causes women to battle each other. Pretty has been created to always be exclusive. Pretty is a made-up lie created to line the pockets of money-hungry assholes. SO. FUCK. PRETTY.

Reclaim beauty.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel attractive, and part of learning to love your body usually includes learning how to feel good about your appearance, defining your romantic and sexual identity, redefining what attractive means to you, and yes, maybe even feeling “pretty.” Many women find the body positive world while chasing their need to feel “pretty” and there is nothing wrong with this! I’m cool with whatever it takes to bring us all into this magical realm of body lovin’! But at the end of the day, body acceptance and positivity are about so much more. I think Lindsay has a point in that allowing our quest for feeling attractive to be our only defining factor or goal doesn’t get us far enough towards our end destination.

You feel?

So regardless of why you may have started (or want to start) your body love journey and what you’d like to get out of it, it’s important to also see the bigger picture: Body love is critical to the health (mental, emotional, and physical) of our whole world on a big scale. Learning to love your body is ridiculously complex, and it affects more than just ourselves and those immediately nearby. It affects the entire globe and all of its venerable systemic issues; a world that starts to invest in body love has the capability to shift to a more equal, compassionate, and kind place.

Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of The Body Is Not An Apology, addresses this notion in the comment section under “Pretty Unnecessary”:

[The Body Is Not An Apology is] not invested in whether people find themselves “pretty” or “attractive.” [It is] is an international movement committed to cultivating global Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment. We believe that discrimination, social inequality, and injustice are manifestations of our inability to make peace with the body, our own and others. Through information dissemination, personal and social transformation projects and community building, The Body Is Not An Apology fosters global, radical, unapologetic self-love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world. We are most concerned with how our relationship with ourselves serves as the foundation for interrupting body based oppression. We indeed believe in the inherent “beauty” of all humans but as Lindsay shared, not from a lens that is about aesthetics but about inherent value and worth.2

To which I say: YES.


Sonya perfectly encapsulates why body love is so important: When we foster appreciation for and love ourselves, we start to contribute to the world in a way that allows equality, inclusivity, and all forms of kindness.

Part of my job includes speaking to all kinds of college groups, and I often circle back to this exact concept: Loving your body can change the world. Not just your world (which is super important and reason enough), but the entire world.

It sounds farfetched, I know, but I’m sayin’ this with a straight face.

In my lecture, “Change the World, Love Your Body: The Social Impact of Body Love,” I always begin by asking how many people in the room would feel comfortable looking me in the eye and calling themselves beautiful. Beautiful/handsome/attractive, whatever the word of choice is for them. Consistently, a small percentage shyly raise their hands. I’m always thrilled to see the hands, but never surprised by those who don’t feel confident enough to join in. This group is most certainly not alone in their insecurities. Globally, the statistic of women that would call themselves beautiful is 4 percent.3 Four.

Holy shit, y’all. You following this?

Now, the study uses the word “beautiful” to mean “pretty,” and, as we know, “pretty” is a social construct. But we’re going to meet the world where it’s at and go with the terminology they use. The purpose behind this question is to ask who feels physically valid. Confident in their bodies. “Enough.” With that in mind, 4 percent makes me incredibly sad.

But wait. There’s more! We also see devastating statistics around this issue and the fear we have about being the opposite of “pretty,” which is most often associated with thin.

Here’s the state of our world’s body image issues in five bullet points:

     81 percent of ten-year-olds are afraid of being fat.

     These ten-year-olds are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of cancer, war, or losing both of their parents.4

     In a survey of girls nine and ten years old, 40 percent have tried to lose weight.5

     91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting.6

     And 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.7

So essentially, we have the majority of our fourth and fifth graders terrified of a body type that we’ve told them is wrong, and they’re more afraid of becoming this shape than of most anything else. They’re also dieting to avoid a vilified body before their body has even had a chance to develop. That doesn’t go away, as the vast majority of grown-ass women don’t like their bodies and actively try to change them by dieting. But most of this emotional pain and distress is for naught, because only 5 percent of women have a body type that could ever give them the chance to look like the model we’re all striving to emulate. Which (by the power of very simple math) means we can safely assume that 95 percent of women’s bodies will naturally refuse to become that which we see portrayed by the media as desirable, no matter what they do. Which leaves almost all ladies stuck in a cycle of trying and failing and trying and failing to become something they physically can’t.

Now if that above paragraph isn’t fucked up, I don’t know what is. And I just might have more fucked-up-ness for you. What do we see happen to people’s lives because of those five statistics I shared above?

We develop low self-esteem. People have really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days . . . just because of their perception of their bodies.

As a result, we suffer employment losses. Those who have low self-esteem make considerably less money than their confident counterparts. They also take fewer risks, and I would imagine with that magnitude of insecurity they are far less successful in reaching their goals.

We put our lives on hold. How many of us have waited to do something until we’ve lost weight? I’ll buy jeans AFTER I lose ten pounds. I’ll do family photos AFTER I . . . I’ll start dating AFTER I . . . We painfully stunt our lives because we have decided that our bodies are simply not good enough to work with now. The progress that’s lost because of this? Tragic.

We establish poor relationship skills. When we dislike our bodies, we tend to feel unlovable and undeserving. Feeling this way can affect our relationships in a lot of ways, from not approaching those we’re interested in to staying in abusive relationships much longer than we should.

We can create or trigger mental illness. Extremely low self-esteem and self-hatred can often trigger larger mental issues, and perhaps even cause a mental disorder to develop that is significant enough to smother happiness and growth. Although many mental disorders (including but not limited to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and yes, depression) are the result of biological imbalances, we’re capable of escalating such imbalances and impeding our emotional and mental growth. Eating disorders included.

We commit suicide. And sadly, there is case after case of this: people who would rather die than live in the body the world has told them is inferior.

All this is certainly cataclysmic, but let’s take a moment to think about the flip side of each of these issues . . . if people LOVED their bodies, they might have higher self-esteem. They could grab life by the horns and go after their goals right now. They could feel lovable and have healthy intimate relationships. They might feel more confident at work and take more career leaps. They might be able to temper or even eliminate a self-triggered mental disorder (even though disorders won’t ever go away entirely, those triggered by self-loathing would surely be fewer!), and ideally, they would celebrate life instead of ending it, because they would truly believe they are good enough just the way they are now.

Now, that’s all great, but imagine if not only one person, but everyone started doing these things. Living, loving, taking risks, investing in themselves and others . . . billions of people doing this together would most certainly shift the face of the world we live in. This is what Sonya Renee Taylor was talking about in her comment. Body love really can contribute to the elimination of hate, competition, inequality, oppression, invisibility . . . creating opportunity and space for all.

Believe it.

So, my goal in life as an advocate is not to necessarily make you feel “pretty” (though if you need permission to go ahead and feel pretty, it’s yours!) but rather to inform, educate, and empower so you can make decisions about your body that are comfortable and right for you specifically. THIS IS WHAT BODY LOVE IS. When people feel in complete control of their bodies, minds, and worth, body love has truly come to stay. When we find total body autonomy for every individual, those magical things mentioned above really can happen. And that magic will ripple out until it affects everyone in a positive sense. It’s that big of a deal. I’ll say it again: Body love has the capacity to change the world.

Hopefully this book can be a game changer for you, but it is by no means the be-all and end-all of body image exploration; far from it. It’s not even the ultimate book of empowering things for fat chicks. The body activism world is multifaceted, and there is a lot of information out there that I suggest you find and ponder. This particular book is a collection of my realizations, epiphanies, and aha! moments interspersed with facts and thoughts that I wish I’d known and had earlier. I want to share these things with you because after embracing body love I have found considerably more fulfillment, purpose, love, and sense of worthiness.

Listen up, because this is important: You deserve to have these things, too. Your size is irrelevant to your ability to find fulfillment, purpose, love, a sense of worthiness, and the ovaries to not give a fuck.

I deserve it and you deserve it . . . so read on, my friend. Read on.

start now, GODDAMNIT: waiting doesn’t workstart now, GODDAMNIT: waiting doesn’t work


Sorry I yelled.

It’s just REALLY that important.

One of the traps we fall into as humans (flawed creatures that we are) is the one I mentioned in the last chapter, the one where we decide we’re going to (fill in the blank with important life activity) AFTER we lose x number of pounds. Or maybe instead of losing pounds, it’s building muscle. Or burning fat. Whatever it is, the issue is that we limit our lives because we refuse to do something good, great, or needed until we change our bodies.

There are a lot of fucked-up things about this situation, y’all.

I did a phone interview for a confidence website written by teens, and after a chat about the basics of body love, the young interviewer shared her personal story with me. One of the things that resonated with me real hard (and will for many others, I’m sure) was when she said, “I kept telling myself I would do this and that after I lose weight, and I just got so tired . . . so tired of making myself promises that I knew I could never keep.”

OMG I KNOW THAT EXHAUSTION. The skyrocketing hope that lasts for sixty seconds because this time you’re gonna become a better version of you and THEN everything will be okay. And then comes the exhaustion after trying so hard yet still feeling inadequate, which only reminds you how much you truly hate yourself.

It’s a really sad thing.

Real talk: Your life is not going to become more amazing, happier, or more successful after you lose those 10 pounds. Or 20 pounds. Or 50 pounds.

The saddest part is we do this to ourselves over and over again. Things I hear often: I’ll take those family photos once I lose 10 pounds: I’ll look better then. I’ll start dating again once I lose 10 pounds: More people will reply to my profile. I’ll join the gym, but only after I lose 10 pounds on my own first: I don’t want to be embarrassed. I’ll buy this dress, but only after I lose 10 pounds: I can’t bring myself to buy something that big.

Real talk: Your life is not going to become happier, more amazing, or more successful after you lose those 10 pounds. Or 20 pounds. Or 50 pounds. Because the pounds aren’t really the issue. Your state of mind is.

Here. Allow me to illustrate with a super-duper personal story. Because that’s what I do best.

While searching for some old college essays a little bit ago, I stumbled upon a forgotten online photo album that held forty-eight pages of memories from my last ten years. I was thrilled to find this photographic treasure chest and eagerly clicked through, reliving every moment I had captured. It’s so strange, the things old photos can evoke. I could somehow remember the smell of my dorm room, the dust in the abandoned apartments upstairs, that particular monsoon season, those nights smoking cloves in a hoodie, that visit to a park in Baltimore, those tears shed on top of a parking garage, that drive to nowhere, those feelings of hopelessness, that moment of ecstatic joy, that trip to the museum for the Renoir exhibit, that afternoon spent listening to Jenny Watson and drinking High Life in the backyard, that week spent on the circus train, and that cup of espresso in Venice. The evolution of me becoming who I am today was laid out in front of me: my many faces and multiple facets. It all came back to me with such force, it nearly knocked the breath out of me. It was unexpectedly powerful.

Then I noticed how beautiful I was in all these old pictures—and I immediately connected this with how much thinner I used to be. I wasn’t skinny, but I wasn’t fat, and this shocked my nervous system in a way I can’t explain. I became hyperaware of how uncomfortable I felt sitting in my current body, and how I didn’t see that body reflected in any of the photos on my screen. I was instantly attacked by those cruel teachings of society that I’ve internalized my entire life. I wasn’t necessarily fat back then—maybe just bigger than some. So why did I remember always feeling like I was twice the size that I was? How was my body dysmorphia (exaggerated or imagined perception of one’s physical flaws) so extreme that I felt like I was an embarrassment to those around me? Why did I hate myself so much when I looked that great? How could I not see how beautiful I was back then? Maybe I’m even more of a failure now than I was then, and maybe I should lose weight to become like Old Me again. Maybe I would meet more people if I looked like Old Me. Maybe I would succeed more if I looked like Old Me. Maybe I would be happier if I looked like Old Me. Maybe Old Me was better.

And then I caught myself.

I realized that Old Me hated everything about herself. I can see the beauty so clearly now, but she had no idea. She loathed every part of her body and wished she could trade it in for anything else. Anything. Her self-esteem was nonexistent, though she pretended this wasn’t the case. Old Me wanted to die instead of live in that body, and I wish I could have hugged her and told her how exquisite she was.

And then I started to sob.

I sobbed for the girl who was so beautiful on both the inside and the outside but couldn’t see it. I sobbed for the girl who spent years missing out on magical parts of life because her perspective was poisoned. I sobbed for the girl who repeatedly punished herself for not being good enough. And I sobbed for every other girl out there who believes the same lies that she did. I sobbed because these lies destroy lives.

And then my answer came. Retrieving the body of Old Me wouldn’t change a thing. I’m fatter than I have ever been yet somehow happier than I have ever been. I have a career and a mission in life. I have more fulfilling relationships. I am solid in my beliefs. I have more positive attention. I have people who love me, a lover who wants me, and goals that I’m achieving.

I am the happiest I have ever been, and this simply proves that happiness is not a size. Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is about finding what you love about yourself and sharing it. Happiness is about taking what you hate about yourself and learning to love it. Happiness is an internal sanctuary where you are enough just as you are, right now.

A webcomic site called Toothpaste for Dinner has one comic that shows a fat man who says, “I hate myself.” The next frame shows him as a skinny man saying, “Nope, that wasn’t it.”1 Every time I read it I smile at that profound truth. All too often we decide that we’ll love ourselves “just the way we are” . . . but only after we change. The reality is our dissatisfaction with our bodies isn’t a physical issue; it’s a mental barrier, and until we address that root problem we will find ourselves looking in the mirror with a frown on our face no matter our size. Complete and total body acceptance is the key to changing our perspective on life, and it starts on the inside.

We can’t treat our minds and bodies well until we learn to love them. Nothing good comes out of finding the flaws and harboring resentment towards ourselves. I was conventionally stunning and hated everything about my body, hurting it repeatedly on purpose. I am unconventionally beautiful now, and I find myself with more good days than bad. I’m loving myself. Just the way I am. Right now. And I am happy.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Well, it is for me.


On Sale
Nov 17, 2015
Page Count
224 pages
Seal Press

Jes Baker

About the Author

Jes Baker is a positive, progressive, and magnificently irreverent force to be reckoned with in the realm of self-love advocacy and mental health. She believes in the importance of body autonomy, TYPING IN ALL CAPS, strong coffee, and even stronger language.

Jes is internationally recognized for her writing on her blog, The Militant Baker and for the “Attractive and Fat” campaign. Her extensive body advocacy work has continued to garner attention from hundreds of national and international media networks.

When not blogging, Jes spends her time speaking at universities, taking pictures in her underwear, writing for online publications, working with plus size clothing companies, attempting to convince her cats that they like to wear bow ties and trying to beat her best time when playing The Quiet Game. Jes’s record is currently a respectable 15 seconds.

Learn more about Jes at

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