By Martha Hewett @martha_hewett
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Videographer / director: Scott Hoon
Producer: Martha Hewett, James Thorne
Editor: Cecilia Brunelli
Tiffany-Patrice Hunter, 21, is a primary caregiver for her mother and grandmother.
But in her spare time, she turns her attention to her Instagram page.
With over 40,000 followers, Tiffany’s brand, ‘Fat Girl Royalty’, promotes body-positivity and self-love regardless of your shape and size.
Tiffany told Barcroft TV: “For so many years, people like me were told that we couldn’t wear a two-piece to the beach, that we can’t wear this outfit, we can’t eat that but you can – I can and I will.”
Growing up, Tiffany suffered from body image issues – something she later channelled into confidence for her daring pictures.
“I really couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror and one day I just got so tired – tired of being depressed, I’d just had enough.
“I think when I was about 15, I made an Instagram and it was like, ‘wow!’– I started seeing other women who were like me,” Tiffany added.
After joining Instagram, Tiffany felt empowered by the other women she was seeing on the platform.
She said: “This was the first time that I was actually exposed to seeing women who were like me – my shape and size.
“That’s when the whole body positivity thing was introduced to me and I just felt it was so exciting, it really helped me on my self-love journey,” she added.
Seeing other people putting themselves out there inspired Tiffany to do the same.
Soon, she started posting revealing pictures in lingerie.
“I definitely think people seeing me in more revealing outfits contributes to the message that I’m sending – ultimately, it’s just a body and I don’t see it as something super revolutionary.”
One outfit in particular that gained a lot of attention was a black lacy one-piece, which encouraged a mixed bag of reactions.
“That one is kind of infamous. I don’t want to say that this got me in trouble but it made a lot of people angry – let’s just say a lot of people had a lot of feelings and emotions about it.
“But that’s not my problem.”
Tiffany is no stranger to people criticising her online, but she does have a unique way of dealing with it.
“I came up with this idea that I was going to utilise the hate comments to help build me a thicker skin – if somebody called me stupid or fat, I would like the comment and then reply, ‘Thanks for your input, I hope you have a good day!’”
Tiffany then goes one step further to really throw the haters off guard.
“I will then go to their page, follow them, like their photos and put nice comments – then they will come into my inbox and write me a soliloquy as to why they’re sorry!”
A common misconception people have about Tiffany is that she’s promoting obesity, something she firmly rejects.
“I think it’s absolute bull crap – that’s not what I’m doing. What I’m saying is you can love yourself in the now,” Tiffany explained.
“There’s definitely a lot of misconceptions about me and my size.
“People think we’re dirty, that we don’t care about appearances, that we don’t look the same, that we have no will-power, that we’re lazy – I don’t know who cultivated it but they’re wrong.”
However, this attitude doesn’t stop people from ‘body policing’ Tiffany and other women.
“I think it’s kind of hilarious – weight doesn’t automatically equivocate to health. I’m not promoting anything, I’m not telling anyone what to do or put in their body.
“I’m saying it’s okay to be okay with how you are in the present moment.”
You can find Tiffany posting videos of her dancing on her Instagram, something she has doing enjoyed since a little girl.
“It was never something I took seriously, never something that was choreographed – I would just dance because it felt right and it felt good.
“As I started getting older, I started getting bigger and I stopped. I got self-conscious and thought that it wasn’t for people like me, that I didn’t fit the frame.” Tiffany said.
And it wasn’t just dance that her body image impacted.
“I stopped moving my body in any way that was recreational because I didn’t want to be seen and didn’t think I was supposed to be seen.”
This period created the foundations for Fat Girl Royalty – Tiffany wanted to make something that her younger self would have benefited from.
“I want to encourage everybody of every background to just be okay – just to live unapologetically and not feel so sorry for taking up space, just to not feel sorry for breathing,” Tiffany says in reference to her brand.
“I just want people to remove the pressure to be perfect, to remove that whole mask and be who they are unapologetically.”