This is a guest post written by our friend Beth at Big Girls Ride Too.
We’ve all seen them: side boob-sporting vixens draped over sport bikes and waifishly thin blondes seductively straddling cruisers. Images like this are prevalent across social media and other motorcycle-centric outlets. Now, I’m no prude, but pasties aren’t going to save you when you eat shit.
The frequency of these types of sexualized images was a big turn off for me when I was considering buying my first motorcycle. I work in the beer industry, and I’m fed up with the cheap advertising methods people still, inexplicably, turn to in order to sell a lifestyle and products in male-dominated industries. I have a lot of confidence, but the fact that this “type” of girl seemed to dominate motorcycling culture made me feel like I wouldn’t belong. I’m nearly six feet tall, just south of 200 pounds, and my shoulder width can only be described as “linebacker-esque”. I can pour myself into size 12 pants on a really good day and to top it all off, after I had my son, my already laughably small boobs withered away into a handful (at best). My tattoos aside, I’m about as anti-stereotypical rider chick as there is. Where do I—where can I— fit into this culture so dependent on aesthetics?
“Where do I—where can I— fit into this culture so dependent on aesthetics?”
It’s taken me a few years of riding and a few different bikes (I currently have a 1977 Honda CB550), but I finally came to the realization: I can fit in anywhere. I ride with tiny Asians daredevils who can barely reach the pavement, but far exceed my experience level (and cuteness level). I ride with thick women donning long gray braids, lace-up leather vests, and enormous Road Glides. The common thread is that we ride. Sure, there are a few actual women riders who are blessed with amazingly symmetrical faces and single-digit pant sizes, but there are tons more who, like me, have to shop in the men’s section and have dangerously squeezable muffin tops.
That’s why I started Big Girls Ride Too. I don’t post that often—with a 16 month old, I don’t get as much time to ride as I’d like—but my goal is to show that there are real women with real bodies who really ride. (Don’t even get me started on the pushback I’ve gotten being a motorcycling mom—I’ll save that for another post!) It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the hyper-sexualized advertising stuffed down our throats, but hopefully it’s a small contribution to the women intimidated by “the uniform” of female motorcyclists between the ages of twenty and forty. We aren’t all Redwing booted, Captain’s hat wearing, denim vested babes with full sleeves and crop tops. And if you are, I’m super down with it! Some of us are frumpy, flat assed, frizzy haired weirdos with double chins and astigmatism. But we’re all beautiful.
Body positivity doesn’t mean skinny-shaming. It means loving and accepting who you are and not judging people who are different than you. It’s feminist, it’s intersectional, and when wielded properly, is totally empowering. When wielded improperly, it can be damaging. (I recommend reading the Racked link I include below for more information.) It’s about freeing the nipple, whether it’s to breastfeed or just let those puppies air out without being afraid of being assaulted. It’s about offering plus sizes in your clothing line and being ADA-compliant during events. It’s about supporting women who choose to bare it all instead of exploiting them. It’s a fine line, but it’s one we all need to be aware of, inside and outside of motorcycling.
Fat, skinny, classically hot or not, I finally realized that as long as I love the way I look and love the ride, that’s all that matters. I hope that BGRT helps inspire other fellow chunksters to take the plunge and feel the freedom. If you’re interested in learning more about the intersectional body positivity movement, here are some good places to start—but I encourage you to do your own research to find your own voice: