Left to right: Nicci Nunez and Alex Stewart. Photo provided.

Nicci Nunez was scrolling through Spotify looking for a podcast on plus-size dating, but she couldn’t find any series that truly reflected the fat experience, so she took things into her own hands and with her friend Alex Stewart, created the “Swipe Fat” podcast.

Swipe Fat is exactly what it sounds like – a podcast about dating while fat. Nunez and Stewart switch between the terms plus-size and fat (usually based on what their listeners or guests feel comfortable with) and they were each other’s first “fat friend.”

“We started coming up with topics and I messaged Alex and said, ‘ok, we need to do this,” and Swipe Fat began.

They just celebrated their one-year anniversary and are ringing in the holiday season with “A Very Swipe Fat Holiday Party” on December 8 at Paradise Park. Stewart shared that tickets are almost sold out, but don’t lose hope, they plan to do more events in the New Year.

Because Nunez and Stewart became friends only two years ago, their friendship is still evolving.

“Listeners get to also see the journey of our friendship,” Nunez said. “People have said it feels like they’re in the room with us having a cocktail and talking, and that’s really what it is.”

Nunez and Stewart also created a private Facebook group for fat women dating in Chicago where they bounce ideas off one another and share struggles they endure, one that is always brought up Nunez and Stewart said is “fatfishing.” For listeners in the page who have “straight-sized friends,” they may not understand this fear, as Nunez and Stewart said it is only something fat people have to think about, especially fat women.

“We’re all so scared that as fat women we aren’t representing ourselves well enough on dating apps and somebody will show up for a date and be like ‘oh you fooled me,” Stewart said. “It’s a big concern, and no one really talks about it.”

Stewart said she has been set up on dates in the past but that her straight-sized friends often don’t think about size preference. “They never have to think about the look,” she said.

“We all know the look that you get when you show up on a date and they don’t realize you’re fat even though you’ve done all of the work to make sure that they know, they still somehow miss it,” Nunez explained. “It’s this look of disgust – some will appease you for a drink and then quickly leave, some leave right away, and I think when it first happens to you, you think it’s just you, but once you find out it happens to other people you feel less alone.”

While Nunez and Stewart feel empowered by their bodies, as all people should, it isn’t that easy. Because of the fatphobic society we live in, even the most confident of people can feel undeserving insecurity based on fat bias.

“I might not feel insecure, but the rest of the world has made me feel like there is something wrong with me,” Stewart said. “So, I have had to be like ‘so he knows what I look like?’ before dates and then they say ‘what, no, you’re so beautiful,’ but I never said I wasn’t beautiful, I’m saying does he care that I am plus size.”

Many listeners have brought up similar experiences to Nunez and Stewart and shared that Swipe Fat helps validate their experiences in ways they never had prior to listening, just in the same way that Nunez and Stewarts’ friendship did for one another.

“The comments are always like, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t think anyone else felt this way.’ Before I met Nicci, I didn’t have any fat friends so when we met it was like, ‘Okay you go through this too,” Stewart said.

Part of the podcast is also reclaiming the word fat, which is why they decided to put the word fat in the title even though there is still stigma that it is a “bad word.”

“There’s still so many people who aren’t comfortable with the word fat, some people just aren’t there yet,” Stewart said.” “It’s hard because body positivity got taken over by straight-sized bloggers and influencers. It started as a fat Black movement but has now become a thin white girl movement.”

To learn more about Swipe Fat and listen on your favorite streaming service, follow this link: https://linktr.ee/swipefat

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Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is the sexual health and reproductive justice fellow for Rebellious Magazine and a freelance journalist based in Chicago covering gender and social justice issues. Follow her on Twitter @samstroozas.