When San-Francisco author Robbie Tripp took to Instagram to share an ode to his ‘curvy’ wife, the response that he received was not one he was expecting. Celebrating Sarah’s ‘thick thighs, big booty, [and]cute little side roll’, Tripp’s post received over 30,000 likes and more than 4,000 comments, many of which praised his ‘beautiful’ words and branded him ‘awesome’. In fact, his open letter received so much attention that he followed it up with another post a few days later, thanking those who had commented and messaged him for their positive feedback.
Not everyone on the Internet has been so supportive, however. Many people are not convinced by Tripp’s claim that he has fully educated himself on feminism. Claire Cohen, writing for The Telegraph, calls him a ‘nice guy misogynist’: and I am inclined to agree. As she so rightly puts, ‘women don’t exist purely for the pleasure of men’, and while I am perfectly willing to accept that Tripp did not intend to patronise his wife – and, inadvertently, women everywhere – by reassuring us ‘girls’ that we don’t have to ‘fit a certain mold to be loved and appreciated’, he perpetuates the attitude that a woman’s physical appearance is ultimately defined by how it measures up to the expectations of men. I’d like to reiterate that I am not denying that Tripp’s message comes from a good place. I’m just saying that it’s not a particularly liberating one.
What is also troubling about Tripp’s post is the way in which he paints himself as some sort of hero. Recounting his teenage struggles as a boy who was ‘teased’ by his friends for being attracted to ‘girls on the thicker side’, Tripp seems to almost be congratulating himself for rising above the ‘average (basic) bro’ and, in an act of self-sacrifice, loving a woman whose ‘shape and size won’t be featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan.’ Having – seemingly singularly – evolved past ‘what society has told [men]what [they]should desire, he implores his male comrades to do the same’. Numerous Twitter users seem to be in agreement about the egotistical tone of Tripp’s post, with one dryly commenting: ‘That Robbie Tripp post gives me hope that one day I too will find a man who fetishizes my weight to make himself feel like a hero. #sobrave.’ I’m sure you meant well, Robbie, but you aren’t the first man to have a ‘curvy’ wife, and you won’t be the last either.
Further alarm bells start ringing for me when Tripp says that his wife ‘fills every inch of her jeans and is still the most beautiful girl in the room.’ The ‘still’ here is pretty problematic, as it implies that he finds Sarah attractive in spite of her ‘curvier’ physique, rather than because of it. In fact, although it is very likely that Tripp did not intend his post to come across in the self-righteous way that it did, it is almost as if he believes he has done his Sarah a favour by marrying her (despite the ‘stretch marks on her hips’ and the ‘dimples on her booty’). This does not only add to the list of things Tripp invites us to congratulate him for; it is also contradicts his entire message about the beauty of his plus-sized wife and other women like her.
My intention here is not to depict Robbie Tripp as a misogynistic boor: I just find his understanding of feminism a little misguided. I’m sure his love for his wife is nothing but pure, and his heart was in the right place when he published this open letter, but there is no escaping that a lot of its undertones read as the opposite of feminist. As a matter of fact, the overriding feeling I have when reading Tripp’s post is that of being patronised. From a position of some kind of authority – presumably one he earned from being the saviour of curvy women – he tells men to stop finding ‘thin, tall, lean’ women attractive (apparently personal taste isn’t appropriate anymore), and reassures his female audience that ‘there is a guy out there who is going to celebrate you for exactly who you are’ (even if your bum and thighs do jiggle when you walk).
Once again, whilst I’m more than happy to accept that Tripp meant well when he wrote this post, perhaps he should rethink how he demonstrates his unconditional love for his wife next time. All I know is that I wouldn’t be too pleased if my husband took to Instagram to announce to the world that he loved me just the way I was, ‘cute little side roll’ and all.