I was watching Margitte Kristjansson’s documentary ‘The Fat Body (In)visible“. . .I’ve heard people talk about it, refer to it, and comment on it for months, but I never really got around to watching it myself until tonight.
One of the ladies being interviewed, Jessica (tangledupinlace), made a seemingly harmless comment that made me upset the more that I thought about it. She said “Fat style is one of the biggest ways I believe you can be political as a fat body.“ She went on to talk about how fat fashion is limited (thin girls have an entire mall to shop in while fat girls have one store of matronly, shaming clothes.) And it’s true–don’t get me wrong!
What I’m going to discuss is something I’ve seen go around tumblr for a while now. That many of the mouthpieces for Fat Activism are fatshionistas. They’re mostly white, generally on the smaller side of fat, still with thinner arms and legs, and they have the means and the money to dress impeccably whenever they’d like.
I know that as a white woman myself, I have a certain amount of privilege. But when it comes to fatshion–let’s just say I’m a disaster.
First of all, tipping the scales at a size 30/32, I struggle to find clothes that fit, and fit well. I know it’s an issue for all fat bodies, but even moreso when you’re on the larger end, as I am. I can’t squeeze myself into straight-size clothes. On the majority of the nicer plus size sites, the more attractive clothes always stop a size or two before mine.
And even if they had my size, I couldn’t afford them. On top of being a full time student while working a job that makes not much more than minimum wage, and living on my own in a state that has one of the highest costs of living, finding fresh new outfits, accessories, makeup, etc., to make a statement with my fat body is pretty low on my list of necessities.
People suggest that I go thrifting. That I learn to make/alter my own clothes. I tried to take that suggestion. Cheap clothes? Hell yeah! And so I’ve gone thrifting, many times. And I’ve never found anything fashionable. If there’s only one store in the mall that I can go to that sells matronly, shaming clothes, imagine the ugliest of the clothes there, that wouldn’t even sell. That’s what’s waiting for me at a thrift store.
And making my own clothes? The last thing you want to do is put me near anything sharp or anything involving a pattern. I’m almost certain I have undiagnosed dyscalculia, and it makes me wary of anything involving measurements or patterns or long sets of instructions. Making things is just not one of my talents.
I make do with what I have, and I’ve come a very long way from where I used to be fashion-wise, but I get disheartened every time I see some of my followers post an OotD (outfit of the day) that are meticulously put together, pictures taken with expensive cameras and good lighting. Sometimes I think, what’s the point? My fashion’s nowhere near on par with that. No one’s going to take me seriously. No one’s going to notice me. I’m never going to be as visible in this movement as I want to be.
It makes me frustrated. All I really have is my simple blog (between here and my tumblr) and my words and my experiences, and more often than not, when I look at the people I respect and follow, that’s just not enough. It doesn’t compare. There’s nothing flashy behind the words. And so it makes me feel like a failure sometimes to the fat acceptance community. It makes me feel like I’m not being political enough, I’m not trying hard enough.
What I wear shouldn’t have to be relevant to the fight for all bodies to be accepted. I understand that a well-dressed fat body can be a big fuck you to a society that wants to demean fat bodies even down to the clothes that they wear. But it shouldn’t be as important as I’ve seen it be.
I guess sometimes I wish people would focus more on what people like me are saying and less what we’re wearing.
Or maybe I’m just blowing it out proportion. Who knows?