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9 Ways to Make Your Business More Size-Inclusive

Female entrepreneurs of all sizes know how it feels to confront stereotypes. You know how much of a difference it makes to be seen and valued as a whole, complicated person. That’s why you put so much work into making your organization somewhere that everyone feels welcome. You uplift women, call out racism, and make your spaces disability accessible. But have you made your business size-inclusive?  

August is Fat Liberation Month. Whether you’re a body-positive pro or you’re surprised that someone would call herself ‘fat’ on purpose, now is the perfect time to prioritize size inclusion in your leadership. 

What is Fat Liberation Month and how can entrepreneurs get involved? 

Fat Liberation Month is all about fostering fat joy, fighting weight stigma and celebrating fat people’s achievements, including their entrepreneurship and leadership. Fat liberation and other forms of fat activism have been around for decades, but Fat Liberation Month is new. Inspired by Pride Month, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) celebrated the first Fat Liberation Month in 2021.  

Why fat liberation? Because anti-fat bias is widespread. Research by Dove showed that 90 percent of women living in larger bodies have been shamed because of their body size. Seventy-eight percent said they experienced size discrimination. One-third of American adults are fat, so that’s a lot of shame and discrimination to live with. 

Entrepreneurs and business owners can help make those statistics less awful. Some simple changes to your space or company policies can significantly improve your fat customers’ experience. 

It can also bring in more business. Because weight stigma is so common, a size-inclusive organization is a refreshing rarity. If you make bigger clients or customers feel welcome, they will post about you on social media and recommend you to their friends. Communities of fat people are strong referral networks. 

How to make your business more size-inclusive for customers 

If your business isn’t size-inclusive, you’re either missing out on a lot of customers or making a third of your customers quietly miserable. Here are a few ways to change that. 

If you have an office or other physical space, make it accessible for all sizes:

  1. Have chairs without armrests. An armrest-less chair accommodates wide hips without pinching. 
  1. Know the weight limits of your equipment. From chairs to massage tables to MRI machines, most equipment has a weight limit. It might surprise you how low that limit is. Invest in equipment with a higher weight limit wherever possible. Not only are those options more inclusive, but they’re also more durable. 
  1. If you aren’t already, be accessible for disabilities. For example, if your bathroom is too small for wheelchair users, it’s also too small for fat people. 

Make your products and services size-inclusive: 

  1. If you sell clothing, accessories, or anything worn on the body, prioritize a wide size range. The average American woman wears a size 16, yet most clothing lines stop at a 16 or 18. Cutting off half your potential customer base is silly. 
  1. Safety test vehicles and medical devices for more body types. From the 1950s until 2011, American auto manufacturers used only male crash test dummies. As a result, women in a car during a crash are 47 percent more likely to be injured than men and 17 percent more likely to die. If you think that’s ridiculous, know that fat crash test dummies didn’t hit the market until 2017. 
  1. Eliminate stigmatizing language on food and fitness products. Food and fitness are for everyone, not just thin and aspiring thin people. Steer clear of product copy and imagery about dieting and weight loss. This includes calling your delicious baked goods “sinful” – food has no moral alignment! Consider referring to Health at Every Size principles to guide your messaging. 

Include fat people in your branding and marketing efforts: 

  1. Hire fat models. Showing a wide size range is especially important for clothing brands. For a great example, check out clothing retailer Universal Standard. The “See Your Size” feature on their website lets shoppers see how a clothing item looks on models from size 0 to size 36. 
  1. Use size-inclusive stock photos. Most stock photo sites only have a few pictures of fat models. For a beautiful photo library of diverse fat people doing everything from office work to yoga, check out photographer Lindley Ashline’s Body Liberation Photos
  1. Include fat people in your market research and product testing. If fat people will use your product or service, you need to know their opinions. Don’t rely on weight-based stereotypes when marketing. Instead, ask actual fat people what they care about and want! 

Resources to get smarter about size inclusion and fat liberation 

If you’re not sure where to start on making your organization more size-inclusive, or still not sure you get the point of fat liberation, take some time to learn more. We suggest: 

  • The Body Liberation Guide by Lindley Ashline. This weekly newsletter covers a variety of fat liberation topics, from representation to diet culture and much more. Ashline gathers tons of useful resources for fat people and their allies in one place. 
  • Your Fat Friend blog and the book What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon. Gordon writes about weight discrimination and fat acceptance, discussing the realities of anti-fat bias and providing concrete examples of how we can make society more equitable for fat people. 
  • The podcast Maintenance Phase by Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes. This podcast debunks the junk science behind health and wellness fads, covering topics like the keto diet and myths about fat people.  
  • The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). This non-profit fat acceptance organization has been on a mission to end size discrimination and make the world a better place for fat people for more than 50 years. NAAFA has resources about anti-fat bias, anti-racism in fat activism and more on its website. The organization is campaigning to add height and weight to anti-discrimination laws – you can get involved by signing the petition and contacting your legislators

This August, let’s celebrate fat liberation by making our businesses more size-inclusive! In a society where anti-fat bias is still widespread, even a small change like putting up a “no diet talk” sign or adding armrest-free chairs to your waiting room can be the difference between ruining someone’s day or helping them breathe a sigh of welcome relief. 

About the author

Ray Bernoff

Ray Bernoff (he/him) is a writer, content marketer, freelance photographer, and artist living and working in Worcester, Mass. He writes copy for Carlton PR & Marketing by day. By night, he writes and edits fiction, collects houseplants, and creates slightly off-kilter art at his local makerspace.

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