by Isa Meyers //
The term FUPA became popularized back in 2018 when Beyoncé’s fourth Vogue cover spread and story were published. The interview focused on her recent pregnancy from 2017 after she gave birth to her third child. In her interview, she begins to discuss her body postpartum. She said: “To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.” Beyoncé is no stranger to empowerment; this sentiment of coming to terms with your own body is not new. But what this interview does not elaborate on is what exactly is a FUPA.
FUPA, ie. fat upper pussy (or pubic) area is pretty self-explanatory: it refers to the layer of fat right above a woman’s pubic area. It is medically known as a panniculus. Fat in this area is very common for women, especially women who have had children. The fat serves as a protective layer and is often inevitable after having given birth or gaining weight in general.
Beyoncé, in this one sentence, draws attention to an occurrence that even celebrities are incapable of avoiding: pregnancy changes your body. And this isn’t something to be ashamed of, as she states in her interview. And even if your FUPA is not a result of pregnancy (which is also incredibly common), it’s normal.
The FUPA has been discussed on social media as well. While this Tweet (below) has since been debunked for its inaccuracy regarding anatomy and where the uterus is actually positioned in the body (it’s tucked behind the pelvis, not in front), the sentiment it contains is correct in pointing out that there is a general lack of information regarding female reproductive organs and how the body naturally stores fat. Further, it highlights that the problem is not just misinformation, but also beauty standards that require a flat abdomen, and often exclude postpartum bodies in their definition of beautiful. The person who wrote this Tweet mentions that she “almost killed” herself trying to obtain this standard of a flat, toned stomach. Body standards, social media, and diet culture have created a society that privileges skinny women: women without FUPAs.
Further, the coining of the term FUPA itself is gendered and reflects how the media treats women’s bodies—especially versus men’s. For example, women are expected to and praised for losing their pregnancy weight, and frequently complimented for getting their figure back. Yet when men gain weight due to aging, as well as becoming a parent, they are not considered less physically attractive. For example, in 2019 when photos of Nick Jonas showed that he had gained some weight, media outlets praised him for achieving an attractive “dad bod.” Buzzfeed writer Ryan Schocket’s article was even titled “Nick Jonas Is Currently Thicc And He Is Now My Father.”
Male bodies also come with beauty standards, but these standards pale in comparison to the physical and emotional labor that women are expected to put into their appearance and especially into managing their weight postpartum. The female body is constantly a spectacle, even after something as intimate as childbirth.
It’s about time we eliminate the stigma of postpartum bodies and having a FUPA. And this can only happen if we take the time to learn about our bodies and challenge how fat is weaponized in the media.