I asked club photographers if they hate me because I’m fat
I have to take my own drunk pics and it’s not fair
Let's get something clear right from the very start: fat is not an insult. Me calling myself fat is not me feeling sad or wanting you to feel sad for me. Fat is a descriptor, an adjective, a bloody describing word. So if you came here to read a sob story, unfortunately I cannot provide it.
What I can provide, however, is an insight into why I only have one photo of myself taken by a club photographer, over two and a half years. Is it because I am fat? Yes, I believe it is.
My entire life I have struggled with my weight – I have always been a little bit bigger than all of my friends for as long as I can remember. I was the friend that could never share clothes, never wanted to go shopping, never wanted to be photographed. When I went on my first girls holiday when I first turned 18, all my friends were posing in gorgeous, size small bikinis and I was wearing a size XL, high waisted two-piece that took me about a month to mentally prepare myself to wear outside of my bedroom.
Since turning 18 and starting my new venture into the world that is going "out out" and wondering whether we are wearing dresses and heels or just "jeans and a nice top" – I have one photo, compared to my friends having no less than hundreds.
I absolutely love a night out. From pres to the dirty pints to the food-induced coma in the taxi home, you can't really beat it. But sometimes I can't help but notice the unsubtle differences between different body types for a night out.
For example, my friends are able to shop online in the "£5 going out clothes" section that is full of body con dresses, skirts and bralets; whereas I have to shop around for something that looks mildly acceptable without making myself look "too fat" – like my body's very existence in the club could offend somebody. Like my own body could offend myself.
I recently ran a survey for all students, asking a variety of questions all stemming around social media and the diet industry and how it makes us all feel about ourselves and our bodies. This survey ran across a range of the UK universities from Sheffield to Newcastle to Cardiff and more. If you want to take part yourself, click here.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't been living under a rock and I am well aware that social media isn't exactly always the confidence booster we are all after, but even with this knowledge, the results truly hurt me because I could feel every single response like I had written it myself. It really hit home what social media and night out culture is doing to us as students.
One student from Sheffield told us that social media pressures them to wear the skimpiest outfits they possibly can, which they do not feel comfortable with.
Every single question got mixed results, apart from one. When I asked whether, as students, we believe that clubs and night out promoters use a variety of body types in their promotion material – the answer was a unanimously no.
One student from Sheffield Hallam said: "I feel more pressure to look skinny etc and have the 'ideal' body type because you constantly see skinny people on social media."
This really got me thinking, do club photographers avoid bigger people in the hopes that when they publish their pictures people will see the ideal body type they have been conditioned to want so badly? Will this make us want to go to the club in the hopes that we could be ideal too?
With the average size of women in 2018 to be a 14/16 and the average size for a man to be a medium/large, it is quite alarming that club photographers seem to steer clear of bigger people to try and adhere to the ridiculous ideals that are drummed into young people every single day.
Using only "social media perfect" people to promote events is really damaging to our mental health because we see those pictures and automatically go searching for something, anything, that can make us as similar to the people in the pictures as possible. Sometimes this can have devastating consequences, with 58 per cent of students admitting to wishing they could have plastic surgery to be more social media acceptable and with others saying that this issue "pushed them to eat less" and how they have "wasted time worrying about food and weight loss, when they could have been out with friends".
Following these findings I reached out to the three most popular nightclubs in Sheffield: The Leadmill, Code and Plug for a comment on whether this is just an unfortunate coincidence or whether there is some truth in the matter.
Plug has not seen my message as of yet but Code and The Leadmill did reply.
Code said their photographers take two different types of photos, general dancefloor shots and also requests from customers for pictures of them and their group of friends.
Leadmill told me they don't tolerate or encourage discrimination and for their promotional material they "simply chose the best photos in which people look like they [sic] having the most fun."
So according to both of these clubs, students not feeling that all body types are used for promotion material seems to just be a coincidence for them and maybe it is for these particular nightclubs.
They really did seem to care and make it known that every single person is accepted at their night club no matter what – do I believe them? Yes. But do I believe that the problem of representation for all bodies is over? No.
Until every single person with every single body type feels comfortable enough to wear whatever they want to any club, jump in front of a camera and love themselves whilst doing it, not caring what ends up on social media because in the end it just doesn't even matter. That is when I will be happy. I want the post A-Level students joining Sheffield in September to realise that who they are and what they look like is not just good enough but is celebrated.
So not all hope is completely lost, maybe some photographers steer clear of bigger people but maybe some don't – I think the real underlying issue here is why aren't we accepting ourselves enough to just not even care in the first place?
So order that pizza or eat that cake, do whatever makes you genuinely happy, because we can change the world babes, one imperfect club photo at a time.