When you live in a fat body, it becomes abundantly clear that the world really wasn’t built for you. Despite the fact that fat people have always existed, we are rarely considered when people are making decisions about the size, shape, and weight limit of everyday things. Since we don’t fit society’s ideal body size based on some random criteria that the powers-that-be have chosen over time, a lot of everyday spaces aren’t fat-friendly. The general feeling is that our bodies don’t “deserve” comfort and inclusion.
Thankfully, some companies DO recognize the need for fat-friendly products that accommodate larger measurements and heavier people.
Take, for example, Big Fig, a fat-friendly mattress company whose sole focus is creating comfortable sleep spaces for people in large bodies.
I spent an afternoon chatting with Jeff Brown, President of Big Fig, about their company and why it’s important to them to cater to the plus-size market.
Founded in 2016, Big Fig’s CEO, whose family was in the mattress manufacturing business already, recognized a gap in the mattress market. Plus-size customers were sleeping on beds that were not designed to support their weight, and their mattresses were wearing out more quickly than their thin counterparts’ mattresses were. Most mattress manufacturers were okay with this because it meant repeat business — but not the founder of Big Fig.
“He realized these folks weren’t being taken care of; they were being taken advantage of,” says Jeff.
Big Fig set out to design a fat-friendly mattress specifically created to properly support and accommodate large bodies.
They sell their mattress exclusively online, and for the last five years, their singular focus has been getting their mattress into the hands of the people who can benefit from sleeping on it.
“We don’t have other mattresses. We don’t have other brands. Our job is to take care of the plus-size community and make sure they’re championed, accepted and included in our manufacturing,” Jeff explains.
Big Fig knows that by creating a quality product designed to last for many years, they’re missing out on the chance to sell replacement mattresses every couple of years, but that’s the entire point of why they exist. Plus-size customers are often convinced to purchase the most expensive mattress in a regular mattress store, falsely believing that it will last longer than a more affordable option.
“People think that the more expensive a mattress is, the longer it’s going to last, and that’s not always the case. If your mattress is not designed to accommodate the weight or the way people sleep, it’s going to wear out,” Jeff warns.
Proper sleep is important to a person’s mental and physical health, and Big Fig believes that good sleep should be available to everyone.
Sleeping on a supportive mattress is also good for the body, reducing back pain, joint stiffness, and other pain issues related to sleep. Big Fig knows that, and they’re willing to accept smaller profit margins, and a higher cost of advertising to a community that might be skeptical of their claims.
“We think we’ve got a great brand and a great audience, but there’s still more work to do. I’ve been in consumer products for thirty years, and I’ve never seen a customer community so loyal and so clearly underrepresented by manufacturers. I hope more mattress manufacturers get into the business [of serving the plus-size community.]”
Big Fig isn’t the only fat-friendly company that keeps the plus-size customer in mind.
From clothing to exercise to eyewear, if people in big bodies look hard enough, we can find a way to live our best lives in the bodies we have right now. Here are just a very few of the fat-friendly companies helping fat people do just that.
Plus-size clothes are often expensive, and Eloquii is no exception. Their clothing is pricey, and their size range isn’t actually the largest in the biz. But they are on this list for a reason.
They have three fits for denim. Viola is designed for full hips and narrow waist, and Classic fit is meant for proportional bust hips and a defined waist. But it’s the Gena fit that made me put them on the list.
The Gena fit is made for people with larger waists who don’t need room in the hips and thighs. As a babe with a belly, this is exactly what I need. My shape is often forgotten in the plus-size fashion world. Eloquii gets a mention for remembering that fat bodies come in shapes other than hourglass. (They also run good sales and promotions. I got my first pair for $25.)
If you’re looking to invest in high-quality basics in a truly inclusive size range, Universal Standard is your answer; they carry sizes 00-40. They’re pricey, but I own three pieces, and I haven’t paid for any of them. Keep your eyes peeled for periodic giveaways. You’ll only pay shipping!
Riding a bike was my very favorite activity as a middle school student. I would take off for hours, and my parents just asked me to ride by the house every few minutes so they’d know I was okay. As a fat grown-up, I haven’t had a bike in years, but I’m dreaming about someday owning a Zize. This fat-friendly company was created by Joan Denizot in 2005 when she realized most bikes on the market couldn’t hold a rider much heavier than 200 pounds. Zize Bikes are designed with big bodies in mind (up to 550 lbs!) — not just when it comes to weight limits, but also when it comes to design. They also have a very limited selection of refurbished bikes once in a while for a little cheaper. YES.
Southwest Airlines “Customer of Size” Policy
Look, I know SWA has effed it up for fat people before (and so have most of the other airlines). Planes in general are just cramped, annoying, and not fat-friendly. But if you’re on a budget, you know that a lot of times, the Southwest ticket is the cheapest one available. If you gotta do what you gotta do, you should know about this policy. When you check in, ask for a second seat. They will give you a second boarding pass at no charge, and allow you to board early. You just put the extra ticket in the seat next to you when you find your seat, and nobody else can sit there. Easy peasy. I’ve used this policy twice, and it was a breeze both times. (Also, ask for the seatbelt extender if you need it! The time for being ashamed of the size of your body is over. You deserve to be safe.)
Joyn is an on-demand video service designed to provide opportunities for intentional movement to people in large bodies, led by people in large bodies. From yoga, to dance, to HIIT, there’s something for everyone, and they even include modifications for people who need to sit while they move. There is never a mention of weight loss — Joyn is about movement for the sake of enjoyment and to reap the benefits of keeping your body in motion. There is free content and a paid service, so you can give Joyn a try without spending a penny.
These are just a few examples of fat-friendly companies, and luckily, this is far from a comprehensive list! The world is starting to wake up and realize that fat people have money to spend, and we want to give it to companies that respect us and keep us in mind. Here’s hoping that more manufacturers and retailers will follow Big Fig’s example, identify gaps in the market, and make products and services designed to make fat bodies comfy.
Editor’s note: Although we only recommend picks we really love, our author received a mattress from Big Fig to test out.