NYC Hosts ‘Fat Beach Day’ To Celebrate Plus-Size Community

Jacob Riis Beach in New York’s Far Rockaway hosted a special event on Saturday, dubbed “Fat Beach Day,” to provide a welcoming space for overweight beachgoers. This event is part of a growing movement across the United States.

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

Underwood, a plus-size model and artist, claims she’s faced bullying due to her weight since middle school, which led her to start a blog at age 12 and become active in the “fat acceptance movement.”

Emma Zack, founder of Berriez, shared her excitement about the event. “I’m so self-conscious at the beach, and I’m never around people that look like me,” Zack said. “I’m excited we’ve created this space for folks with bigger bodies to have a good time.”

Fat Beach Day and similar events serve as a counter-narrative to societal trends that celebrate thinness and promote weight-loss drugs like Ozempic. Recent statistics highlight this issue: Vogue Business reported that only 0.8% of models for the autumn/winter 2024 season were plus-size, a decline from previous years. Additionally, a KFF survey in May found that one in eight adults in the US had used weight-loss drugs.

Reflecting on the cultural shift, Underwood noted, “In the 2000s, there was a strong anti-fat, intense cultural swing that really parallels what we’re going through right now,” citing how celebrities like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson were criticized for their bodies when they became overweight.

New York has taken legislative steps to combat “weight discrimination.” In 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed a bill banning weight discrimination in hiring and housing. Despite these legal protections, obese people still face criticism: “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, noting the prevalence of fatphobia on platforms like TikTok.

“Violent”? There’s something wrong here, and I’m not talking about society.