A few weeks ago I received an email from Robbie Tripp about the release of a new music video entitled “Chubby Sexy,” which he explained was meant to serve as the “body positive summer anthem dedicated to confident, curvy women all around the world.”
My interest piqued. I was already familiar with Tripp who helps his wife Sarah who run the popular lifestyle and body positive blog, Sassy Red Lipstick. Yahoo Canada had featured stories about Sarah before, but my knowledge of Tripp was largely limited to a 2017 viral Instagram post that featured Tripp waxing poetic over his wife’s curvy figure.
Tripp, dubbed “The Curvy Wife Guy,” became both poster-husband and villain of the body positive movement (depending who you ask, of course). Although a polarizing figure, the attention grew the couple’s social media following to a combined 600,000 followers.
The music video for “Chubby Sexy” features Tripp rapping poolside, surrounded by plus-size women in bathing suits dancing to lyrics such as, “Her inner thighs chafe, she knows how they taste/ They say less is more/ I say more is great.”
I’m a neophyte to the body positive and fat acceptance world, so I’ve been candid about how educating myself on the movement and its intersections have unearthed some internalized fatphobia that I thought had been remedied. I winced at Tripp openly calling women “chubby” and wanted to paint the entire video with the brush of objectifying or fetishizing larger bodies, until hours later I caught myself singing the chorus and taking another listen.
My decision to reach out to Tripp and arrange an interview was due largely in part to the conversation the music video sparked between me and a close friend, who frequently self-describes herself as chubby. While I was initially critical of the song, my friend said she was happy that someone was finally talking about bigger bodies in a way that was both tongue in cheek and empowering.
In the hours following the song’s release photos of curvy women in their bathing suits began popping up on social media using the hashtag #ChubbySexy, along with articles criticizing Tripp once again for inserting himself in a movement dominated by women.
“I don’t ever worry about criticism or negative feedback,” Tripp told me. “I have a voice and I’m going to do that openly. I’ve always been unapologetically myself.”
I spoke to Tripp just hours after the couple, who will soon welcome a baby, moved into their new home in Phoenix, Ariz. I receive the Coles notes version of the couple’s love story: After meeting in college, Tripp helped Sarah launch her blog in 2013 before tying the knot a few years later.
When we get to 2017 in the Tripp Family timeline, I prepare myself for talk of the “Curvy Wife Guy” phenomena, fully expecting for Tripp to become defensive and not want to discuss the backlash he received. To my surprise, whether it be the passage of time or an inherent eternal optimism, Tripp doesn’t shy away from the subject at all.
“I think people had two misconceptions about that viral post,” he began. “One - that Sarah was kind of a meek, silent woman that was in the background and that I was the man on Instagram trying to cheer up or encourage his wife. Nobody seemed to have the context that Sarah is a very strong outspoken, independent woman that speaks in his body positive movement.”
Tripp explained that posts such as the one that garnered him both praise and scrutiny are simply a way he chooses to express his love and admiration for his wife, and not a ploy to gain attention.
“The second misconception was that I somehow knew that it was going to go viral,” he continued. “Some of the criticism was unfair, that I was just patting myself on the back or trying to give myself credit for loving a curvy woman - and that wasn’t the case at all. I was just writing a post about how much I love my wife, how attractive I love her and her curvy figure and celebrating curvy women in general. I had no idea. No one in a million years can predict what will go viral.”
With “Chubby Sexy,” Tripp anticipated the attention, both positive and negative, that the video would receive. Although he laughs off whether or not the song marked a serious foray into the music industry, he insists the music video was a celebration of women who are typically not represented by media.
“I’m always thinking of fun new ways to create content and at the end of the day that’s what I am,” he said of writing the song. “I wanted to create a fun, sexy, body positive summer anthem for curvy women to rock their swimsuits by the pool with confidence and everything fell in line perfectly. I’m really proud of the end result.
Like any movement, the body positive and fat acceptance movement is multifaceted and filled with activists representing all races, gender identities, sexual orientations as well as visible and invisible disabilities. While each create content within the confines of the body positive realm, Tripp is acutely aware of the audience he attracts.
While Sassy Red Lipstick holds the bulk of the Tripp’s audience, lead by Sarah’s own promotion of body confidence, it’s hard to deny that the appeal of the couple for many of the thousands of the blog’s female followers, is the fact that Tripp angles himself as a male accomplice to his wife’s message.
Scroll through any post of the couple and the comments speak for themselves.
“I wish [that} one day I will meet a man that will accept me for who I am,” one follower wrote, while another added, “Some day I want a Tripp and Sassy Red Lipstick kind of love.”
When discussing the role his marriage plays in their content, Tripp admits that while he doesn’t see himself as a “pioneer” in the community, he is aware that many of the couple’s followers aren’t necessarily used to a man being so public about celebrating his wife’s curves. Tripp even cites a scene from the Hulu series “Shrill” in which the main character, played by “Saturday Night Live” alum Aidy Bryant, is relegated to leaving a would-be boyfriend’s house via a back door so as not to be seen by his roommates as an issue he hears from real women.
“The show is really indicative of the way women sometimes feel dating, feeling like they’re someone’s secret or being hidden.” Tripp said of the feedback he hears from followers. “In the mainstream media, we don’t really see the curvy girl getting the guy.”
In talking to Tripp, I begin to see the bigger picture of the movement, and the decades filled with diet culture messaging that only a handful of years with social media is tackling to dismantle and heal from. For some, it’s through watching “Shrill” and seeing themselves on screen. For others, it’s reading “The Body Is Not an Apology” and dissecting body oppression through the lenses of race and gender identity. And yes, for some, it comes from following a couple who celebrate body positivity through rapping and dancing to “Chubby Sexy.”
“I’m an ally in this movement. I’m an ally to women and curvy and plus size women. I’m not the enemy,” Tripp said. “I’m excited and passionate about creating this content like ‘Chubby Sexy’ that makes women feel confident about who they are that they don’t need to lose weight, that they don’t need to look like the women they see on the Victoria’s Secret runway. They can be extremely sexy and attractive and valuable with their thick thighs and stretch marks. I’m married to the Curvy Queen. I love Sarah and celebrate Sarah in everything she does. I love that it helps other women find that acceptance.”
Whatever works, right?