If you’re an indie pop fan, you’ll probably recognise Amy Sheppard’s last name—she’s one of three siblings who make up the band Sheppard, who’ve been killing it in Australia’s music scene since 2009. No doubt you can sing along to Geronimo, sway to Die Young and even hum a few bars of their latest release, Don’t Believe In Love, but it was last year’s Kiss My Fat Ass that brought our attention to the fact that music isn’t Amy’s only passion—she’s also a massive advocate for body positivity.
#KissMyFatAss is the hashtag that kicked it all off, with Amy deciding to ditch Instagram filters early last year and post only untouched photos of herself on Instagram, dimples and all. These days, she uses her considerable social media clout to encourage others to do the same, and love their bodies as they are, without comparing themselves to photoshopped models.
In honour of International Women’s Day this year, we chatted to Amy about where she found her confidence—and how you can too.
Was it scary posting that first unfiltered photo?
Most definitely! Looking back at that picture now, I see no flaws but at the time, all I could focus on was the cellulite on the back of my legs. My mindset has shifted so much since then.
Was there a particular moment that inspired #KissMyFatAss or was it a build-up of events?
It was a build-up of all of my body image issue which I’ve struggled with for most of my life. I was bullied in primary school for being overweight and I extreme dieted for many years of my high school/young adult life in order to try and fit the impossible beauty standards. With the rise of Instagram, I felt very frustrated trying to keep up with the ever-rising bar placed upon women. I started by sharing one-off photos with a tummy roll here and there and then I began sharing before and after filtered photos. Eventually, I was ready to go all in and share a picture of my “fat ass” which has been a huge insecurity of mine for as long as I can remember. The reaction was so positive and I realised just how much people were craving some reality on social media.
What did you want to achieve by starting the #KissMyFatAss movement?
I didn’t set out to start a movement. I just wanted to be more transparent with my followers. I was sick of seeing filtered and perfectly posed photos EVERYWHERE and I no longer wanted to be a part of the problem. I was overjoyed when women all over the world started using the hashtag #kissmyfatass in support.
What has the whole movement taught you about confidence?
The movement has taught me that WE ARE ALL HUMAN and everyone has some form of insecurity about their body. It opened my eyes to just how big the body image issue really is. We are all SO consumed with being thin and beautiful but in reality, it should be the least interesting thing about us. I worry that people are being more consumed with worry about how they look than actually achieving amazing things because trying to stay thin and beautiful 100% of the time is SO consuming. I don’t believe that you can reach your full potential when you are always thinking about food and when to eat, what to how, how to eat, what to wear, what not to wear, how often to exercise (the list goes on and on).
Sheppard’s single ‘Kiss My Fat Ass’ is all about body positivity—have your bandmates and siblings struggled with the issue as well?
I think deep down everyone feels the pressure to measure up—especially under the public eye. People can be judgmental and sometimes they comment on how you look over your music. That can be very frustrating and degrading.
We love the music video for the song—was it a lot of fun to make?
Shooting the music video was one of the best days of my life. I had such a vision for this music video and had the honour of directing it. I roughly based the video on Blurred Lines because I remember feeling SO BAD about myself after I had seen that clip. The women I chose to be in the clip were women who have inspired me in a major way. I wanted to use women who were doing incredible things despite what they looked like. I’m so glad most of the people I asked said yes!
Do you think the music industry is changing in terms of being more inclusive of all body shapes and sizes or do you think it still has a long way to go?
I think over the last couple of years there has been a huge shift in the way we view bodies. Thanks to artists like Lizzo and Sam Smith people are slowly becoming more accepting of a wider range of artists. You don’t need to fit the mould of a ‘beautiful pop princess’ to make great music. Of course, there is a ways to go but it has been nice seeing a little more diversity within the industry.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career?
There have been so many hurdles over the years. I think being taken seriously as a lead songwriter in Sheppard has been quite a struggle. Sheppard has two lead singers and three core songwriters. Sometimes I feel that people don’t realize that I do more than just sing Bombs Away.
What have been your biggest ‘pinch me’ moments so far?
We’ve been very fortunate to have had multiple pinch me moments over our careers. Some definite highlights include Geronimo going to number 1 in multiple countries, Ellen and Jimmy Fallon appearances, Rock in Rio Festival, travelling the world each year and the Kiss My Fat Ass music video. We are truly grateful for our fans who continue to love what we do.
Looking back, is there anything you’d say to your younger self?
I would just tell her to relax! If I could go back I’d spend more time focusing on song writing and learning a new music skill rather than stressing about my weight.
What’s some advice you can give people struggling with self-confidence?
Authenticity is key! People are always trying to fit into the perfect mould but in reality, what makes you interesting to others is what is truly unique about you. You can never tap into who you truly are when you are chasing a pipe dream of perfection.
What’s next for you—with Sheppard and #KissMyAss?
We wrote a TON of songs last year. We have set a target to release a song a month this year before releasing album number three. Anything could happen in between but that our goal is that we want to get as much music as we can out there for our fans to enjoy. In the way of #KMFA, it doesn’t just end because the single has been released. It’s something that I have implemented in my life. I want to continue to share my message through my Instagram account, podcast features and regular column pieces.
And finally, your bikini collection is our actual #summergoals. How many do you own and what’s your favourite brand?
Oh gosh. I now have a huge storage box full of bikinis. Since I’ve embraced my body, I don’t have limitations on what I can and cannot wear. I hope I can do something cool with all of the togs somewhere down the line. Maybe an art piece? Open to ideas here. One of my most favourite brands is Moana Bikini. They share a very similar message and value to KMFA.
Here are 11 more inspiring female changemakers to be inspired by.
Image credit: Amy Sheppard