‘Swipe Fat’ embraces ‘fat’ label and creates sense of community

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Photo courtesy of @swipefat on Instagram

Nicci Nunez, left, and Alex Stewart, the founders and hosts of “Swipe Fat.”

Being insecure about weight brings a whole new dynamic to the dating scene, which is something that influencer Alex Stewart and her friend Nicci Nunez quickly bonded over. The two felt comfortable talking about their dating lives together, which is something they felt they couldn’t always share with their straight-sized friends — what they call someone with a thin build — due to the complexities that fat-identifying women experience when dating.

After griping about the unique elements of dating while overweight, Stewart and Nunez realized the podcast world didn’t have a place for plus-size women to call home when talking about their unique dating experiences. This eventually led to the creation of their podcast “Swipe Fat” which can be found on Spotify and iTunes.

“It’s important for people to know that their experiences and feelings are valid,” Nunez said. “That other people go through the same things as they do. We’ve created a community of women that don’t feel alone and that feels special.”

For the podcast, Stewart and Nunez often sit down together, drinking rosé while having a typical conversation — just with a microphone running. Being plus-size made the two women feel as if they were different from society’s standards, so they aim to show how they are the same as everyone else, and that these conversations are normal. Not only that, but Nunez and Stewart hope to help inform the straight-sized on the unique challenges that plus-size women face.

“It’s equally as important for people who aren’t in marginalized bodies to realize what we go through dating as plus-sized women,” Stewart said. “One great thing I’ve felt that has come out of doing this podcast is that a lot of my straight-sized family and friends now realize that dating for me is just a tiny bit harder than if I were in a thin body. Thin privilege is real, and this podcast has helped people in my life see that.”

 

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During the pandemic, people were isolating themselves to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As a result, not many people were meeting up and starting new relationships, which made finding a new romantic partner all the more difficult. Eventually this led to a rise in popularity for online dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. These apps create new challenges for plus-size singles.

“It’s more stressful because we have to go through more steps than a straight-sized person,” Nunez said. “We can’t post pictures that are too flattering because then we’re a fat-fish [also known as] a fat catfish.”

Stewart and Nunez have implemented several strategies to ensure they don’t create any false impressions on their profiles.

“We have to make sure we have full body shots, photos with our straight-sized friends to show proportions and then have to decide if we want to put a fat warning in our bio just in case they don’t realize we’re actually fat from our photos,” Nunez said.

Despite these challenges, Stewart and Nunez are full of laughs and create a lighthearted vibe for their podcast, hoping that plus-size women will understand that they are not alone in their anxieties about dating.

“Even though I have never so much as seen the screen of a dating website, I found myself nodding along, fully engaged because so much of their content is relatable to me as a fat woman, regardless of my relationship status,” blogger Katie Cloyd wrote. “I even felt myself getting a little jealous that they get to be friends in real life and I have to be just a listener. Alex and Nicci are the totally honest, funny ‘fat best friends’ I’d love to have in real life.”

In addition to tackling dating issues, the two co-hosts work to spread body positivity, showing that being plus-size is perfectly okay and normal. The two co-hosts are taking back the word “fat” to combat the negative connotation it holds.

“We say fat in our show because we are trying to sort of take back the demoralizing [and] dehumanizing way it is now used in society,” Stewart said. “We have women who ask us why we use ‘fat,’ when they prefer ‘plus-size’ or ‘chubby.’ To us, those [are] just the same words as fat just made to seem nicer. Why does fat need to be a bad word?”

“Swipe Fat” hopes to bring a more relaxed approach to plus-size dating, taking the added pressure off plus-size people from the comfort of their streaming service. 

“I think also remembering that the people you are going out on dates with are just people too,” Stewart said. “They also have insecurities and are nervous and just want to meet someone great. I think we as fat women usually go into the date thinking, ‘I hope he likes me.’ We are conditioned by society to think no one will. In reality, we need to be looking at this like an opportunity for him to wow [us] too.”