Ambre is 28 years old and works in the audio-visual sector. Passionate about music, she also does some photography as a model from time to time. Ambre was one of the clients selected for one of our shoots. Ambre talks to us about a subject that many people still don't talk about enough: grossophobia.
Why did you decide to take part in an Elia shoot?
"I have a friend who m'sent the casting, like you were looking for models. I loved the fact that it was open to everyone. So I checked out this brand I didn't know. I loved the brand story, I thought it was really cool. I also wanted to switch to another sanitary protection system. So it was perfect timing really!"
You told us you wanted to fight against systemic grossophobia. Can you tell us more?
"Already, it's deeply rooted in the system, that is, people don't realize that they are grossophobic. They don't realize when they make memes, when they say 'don't stay on your couch during confinement, you'll get fat'. So what? What's it like to be fat? Is it bad to be fat? I mean, I don't know... No, I don't think so! There's also the fact that fat people are invisible on a daily basis. The fact that people who aren't fat aren't aware that it's discriminatory, what they say, what they do. The fact that furniture is not designed for fat people. Furniture which, for example, in a doctor's surgery, has armrests and you can't get into them. Or at the cinema. In airports, on planes, some people have to ask for extensions for fat people. People who pay for two seats instead of one! We also have to make fat people visible so that everyone thinks: "yes, what we're doing is problematic" "what's going on is problematic". When a fat person spends their time looking before they go to an appointment s'there's access for people with reduced mobility because sometimes overweight or fat people have difficulty getting around. It's all very simple stuff: elevator, PRM access, armrests on seats or not... You spend an enormous amount of time before an appointment checking all that out! It's a waste of time. When you could just indicate on a website "There's this, this or this". Show pictures of a waiting room. Up to date. There's also the fact that when you're fat, you already don't have your size in a store. It's very difficult to find a size above 44. And then there's the fact that fat people are invisible, because 46 in a store isn't really fat; sizes go up to 62 in France. Where are these people? Not in stores, because they're totally invisible. And that's part of the fact that grossophobia is systemic."
Can you do sport if you're fat? How do you deal with this injunction?
"I saw a few commercials where there were fat people doing sports, and I was too like, "But yeah, we're here!". It's true that for all the sports brands, you think, 'But actually, we don't exist. Don't you play sports when you're fat? Yes, we do!". I've been doing martial arts for ten years, so yes, I do do sport. I've been doing it for a long time, in fact I've been doing it all my life. I haven't only done martial arts, but I've been doing martial arts for about ten years. I'm in the mode: "uh guys, it's complicated to fit into your uniforms. It's not designed for fat people, because when you normally do martial arts, you're supposed to be muscular and fit. It's another invisibility thing to say that fat people don't do sports. Fat people are not lazy people. Being fat doesn't mean doing nothing and eating badly. That's a cliché. And the cliché of the fat person is the person who eats on the sofa and doesn't move his butt. This is totally false. That's not what being fat is about. People can have hormone problems, there are also people who have disease problems, it's morphology, it's a lot of things than being fat, it's not just being lazy!"
What's the best way to combat grossophobia?
"The fact that society is grossophobic means that people allow themselves to make remarks about our physique, whether it's weight loss or weight gain. And that's why, at some point, we develop eating habits that aren't healthy. We've become so used to the idea that being skinny is good, that we develop eating habits that aren't good for our health. And yes, those close to us have a lot to do with it. Maybe we behave in ways that aren't good towards those close to us, so it's really important to deconstruct this fat-phobia that we may have when we're fat, so that we don't develop fat-phobic behaviors ourselves."
Do you have any books, podcasts or people to follow that you'd recommend for s'informing yourself about grossophobia?
"To avoid repeating discriminatory behavior. We have to let fat people speak. Let them speak, let them testify, let them say what they have to say. And not speak for them. There are quite a few pages you can follow on social networks at least to deconstruct yourself on the subject of grossophobia. On the subject of "fat acceptance". The "fat activists" are there and they represent the milieu, so it's good to follow them and listen to what they have to say. For example, there's the "corpscools" page, which is great. There's the much-needed "stopgrossophobia" page. There's also a page I've been following for a short while, which I discovered recently scalled "toncorpsappelle". These are testimonials from people with eating disorders. I think it's a public service, and everyone should know about it. Because there are a lot of us out there with eating disorders, mostly caused by those close to us, by the comments of those close to us. Comments from doctors! Sometimes because we've been on a diet. Anyway, this kind of thing includes the fact that we're going to develop an unhealthy relationship with food and therefore develop eating disorders. This page, it's just necessary, so if you can go and follow it, that's cool. Otherwise, there's also an activist I love, who s's called Marine, who has a page s'called "metauxlourds" and for the record, she really talks about grossophobia, sexuality. Fat bodies also have normal sexuality, and we need to make that visible. What she's doing is really important."
To return to the subject of periods, how do you live your cycle?
"I used to have periods painful periods before taking the pill. Since I've been on the pill, I no longer have painful periods but on the other hand my periods are like clockwork. So I don't really have a problem with my periods. They're there, they exist, I deal with them... I've been on the pill for ten years now. In fact, I used to have extremely painful periods l 'Antadys, that wasn't enough. My periods were completely chaotic. Sometimes they lasted two weeks. I couldn't go on like that, because I couldn't know when I was going to get my periods. So anyway, it was better to put myself on the pill. When I went on the pill, I was quite young and didn't see a gynecologist. It was my GP who mput me on the pill. This GP was very... She was very grossophobic and abusive. She m'put me on the pill because it was easy."
Have you ever thought about going off the pill?
"So I've asked myself that question before, but I've never done it. I've wondered about changing my contraceptive, switching to an IUD, that sort of thing. But I've never taken the step of saying to myself 'I'm going off the pill', because it's just as convenient for me, in fact, to say to myself 'such and such a day, I've got my periods'."
What do you think of Elia's menstrual panties?
"I think everyone should switch to menstrual panties, already, basic, because it's so much simpler. In fact, 'basic' menstrual protection, like sanitary pads, tampons... There's stuff in there, we don't want to put that in our bodies! We don't want our bodies to touch it! It's not adapted to our body type, it causes irritation, it's just horrible! To switch to period pantsIt's just too good! It's hyper-practical for all those people who aren't comfortable with being regulated, transgender people, non-binary people, people not comfortable with their periods... It's such an easy compromise. You put on your panties and that's it! You don't have to change anything during the day. So there you go, it's really... too good!"
Do you have a piece of advice or a mantra you'd like to share?
"If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?"
If you had to sum up your portrait or your struggle in one word?
"I'll choose the word 'benevolence'."