Plus-size people are often marginalized so much that they feel like the sidekick in the story of their skinnier, more conventionally attractive friends' lives. It's a stereotype reinforced regularly in film and TV shows, and one many bigger people unconsciously ascribe to.
But body-positivity activist Michelle Elman is literally calling bullshit.
Elman recently took to Instagram to debunk this stereotype.
"There's a stereotype around being the 'fat girl' in a friendship group.
"She's the one who sits on the sidelines and never joins in. She's the one perpetually single and sits silently while all her friends discuss their love life because god forbid, if she actually find a boyfriend, she would never be comfortable naked or in the bedroom. She's the insecure one, the one constantly complaining about her body and talking about diets.
"I couldn't call bullshit more on this stereotype."
Elman's words are paired with this striking image, a photo she shared from an outing with her skinnier friend. The two of them look jubilant and are unapologetically enjoying their adventures with their tummies out. Along with the above quote, she expanded:
"Since the age of 11, I have always been the 'fat' friend but I have never been THAT girl. Even with all my insecurities around my scars, and my body in general, I was never the girl who sat inside - I refused to because of my pride and ego and my surgeries never let me be the person who missed out on life."
Time and perspective have changed all that for Elman.
"The difference between now and then is that there's no hesitation, there are no second thoughts and when my friend suggested jumping in the Fjord, I was all 'Hell yeah!' Before I would have said yes reluctantly, spent the time hiding as much of my body as possible until the last moment, definitely worn a top and definitely wouldn't have taken photos, let alone been in them.
"Now, I'm the one suggesting photos, I was the first to whip off my top and the thought that my body was different wasn't there."
The worst thing you can let that fear do to you, according to Elman, is hold you back.
"The fact that I know many girls, fat or skinny, would miss out on opportunities like this is what fuels my body positivity. Body positivity isn't about being able to take underwear selfies, it's about not letting your underwear or your swimsuit be the reason you aren't taking part."
Most importantly though, if you surround yourself with positivity, you'll get it back ten-fold.
"...ultimately when you are around the right people, you won't EVER feel like the 'fat friend.' I don't look at these pictures and see me as the odd one out. I look at the pictures and see the memories and the three bodies that we had fun in!"