Last year, Sydney Scott started a new Instagram account on a whim. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she loved riding horses and obsessively reading Man Repeller to keep close tabs on all things fashion, both fairly normal activities for a teenage girl. But, because of her size, she was repeatedly met with discrimination, judgements, and an overall sense that she didn’t belong, even when she was just trying to express herself.
Finally, fed up with the injustice of how she was so frequently singled out — whether it was in the equestrian world or just the world at large — she started @Ohhhhhhhhhhoney as a platform where she could vent and openly talk about her experiences living in a fat body, all while helping others dismantle the discrimination and they faced.
“Fashion is a community that has tried so hard to reject me, but I am so stubborn that I’ve tried to push past that,” she laughed when we talked over the phone several weeks ago about the consistent surge of growth her account has had over the course of the last year. Today, her platform has over 14,000 followers and counting, and her emphasis on fashion beyond the bounds of rail-thin models or the plus-size tent dresses of old have made her a must-follow for plenty of women — of all sizes — who are interested in her perspective.
“I genuinely never thought that this many people would follow me in the first place,” she continued. “But I’ve seen the overarching problem of the accessibility of plus-sized clothes as well as the imagery surrounding plus-size people. And I don’t feel completely pessimistic about it because back in 2013-2014, I didn’t see any images of women my size on social media. Today, I feel like that’s kind of what I’m surrounded with.”
Sydney is part of a growing community of plus-sized influencers (for lack of a better term), who post about their lived experiences and showcase what fat bodies actually look like on a daily basis, including stretch marks, analysis of what brands actually make size-inclusive clothing beyond sizes 14-16 (spoiler alert: not many), and frank discussions around how damaging and disordered diet culture can be. As it turns out, people are actually just as happy to look at bodies of this size as they are thin bodies — sometimes even more so. It’s such a relief to see a body that looks like mine, and how clothes fit on a real human being.
I found Sydney’s account during a time of reckoning with my own body. I had just quit my full-time job to launch this magazine, and was working on a freelance story about the stigma around belly fat, while trying to make sense of my own 50+ lbs gain a few years earlier. This change hit in my late twenties when I finally stopped using running as my own personal crash weight loss method and recognized that my relationship with exercise was just as disordered as any other binging or purging method.
In the aftermath, none of my old clothes fit, and I was mostly unable to find anything that fit me in straight sizes, but couldn’t figure out how to make sense of the stretch marks and the rolls moving forward. Then, there was Sydney, styled, chic as fuck, and talking about all the same things, taking it even further by insisting her body was valuable and correct at the size it was, with whatever marks it had acquired to survive, and that it’s our culture that’s wrong. Even if some part of me had suspected that before, it certainly wasn’t a message I was getting anywhere else. I was hooked, and getting great ideas for how to dress myself in the meantime.
Repping for brands that do strive for inclusion, and posting fit and try on videos for her followers, Sydney is also serious about working within ethical fashion and shopping as strictly as possible with companies that have mindful, affordable and principled frameworks in place. And her account doesn’t just cover fashion, either, it veers into plenty of other topics, too, like skincare and makeup, horses, pop culture and music, and more.
“I’ve been pretty surprised by how much freedom people have given me to post what I want and switch up topics,” she explained. “It definitely contributes to the overall feeling of being welcomed, backed, and supported. I’ve also been really surprised at how open people are to having difficult conversations, like medical bias against larger bodies, quitting the cycle of dieting, and what to do if your parents don’t support that. Things like that. The sad reality is that when I do talk about them, those are the conversations that are the most interacted with and the most widespread.”
What’s even more impressive is that Sydney is both aware and leading these conversations at a fairly young age. She started the account when she was just 20 and though she recently turned 21, is still a college student studying marketing in between managing her still-growing new community. As her profile goes, Sydney said she’s interested in turning to Youtube or blogging to diversify her content a bit, but is still enjoying the brevity and interactive aspect of Instagram for daily use. She cites other women like @LaurenMarigold and @RoseyBeeme for helping her gain confidence and comfort with her own body.
“As my account has grown I’ve really appreciated having the camaraderie and friendship with these women, who have been in my corner and guided me in navigating how to handle things that I’m just not so sure about sometimes,” Sydney said. “Now I’m in the mindset of can I just keep this going? Because it’s such an amazing feeling to be able to participate in conversations with people who have the same values and struggle as you.”
Considering @Ohhhhhhhhhhoney had a little less than 500 followers when I stumbled upon it last spring, it seems like Sydney will have no trouble keeping it going. But here’s hoping that the conversation around plus-size fashion and the experience of living in a fat body continues to become something that the fashion industry — and the world itself — can no longer ignore. If Sydney can be as far along on that journey as she is at 21, then there’s hope for me to keep learning at 32.