Shaking the Foundations of Conventional Beauty

This morning Kath at Fat Heffalump had yet another brilliant post about the Freedman/Cannold debacle. If you aren’t familiar with the rights of the debacle, they are, in a nutshell:

Freedman says some not-so-nice things about fat people and fatness on Twitter. Specifically, Dr Samantha Thomas broke an ironic screenshot of Freedman saying, “If you have to ask, your bum does look big in that. #rulesforlife”

From anyone else, it’s a shallow, classic trollish tweet that should be promptly ignored and filed away into oblivion like every other immature tweet of its type. But Freedman is 1) a grown woman; 2) a body-image advocate.

But don’t worry! Whenever there’s angry fatties responding to a celebrity troll, there’s a well-meaning journalist buddy to rush in and save the troll, white-knight-style. Cannold, a friend of Freedman, pens this. Besides her shocking tear through the land of logical fallacies and fat hatred, she actually says, in all seriousness, that “it is also the case that being obese or underweight are risk factors for mortality.” So the normal BMI are immortal, now? Forget hounding on fat people, Cannold needs to go back and re-take English Composition 201. It makes me sad that she gets paid to write nonsensical garbage like that, and the more-talented bloggers like Kath construct their careful, well-researched arguments for free!

At any rate, read Kath’s first post on the issue to get a better breakdown, and then her most recent post about fatshion. In short, Cannold claims that fat people dressing up nicely and blogging about it means fat people aren’t allowed to criticize mainstream beauty. No, really. Then she stretches this specious analysis to conclude that since us fat fatties are all just a bunch of clownish hypocrites, we can’t say a damn thing about Freedman’s blatant hypocrisy. So leave her alone, you heavily-makeupped obeses!

Sigh. Right.

Kath courageously turns that argument on its head. She presents fatshion bloggers, their pictures, and their testimonies as to why they blog about fatshion (and, shock, none of it has to do with desperately wanting to be like the popular kids! I mean, thin models). Kath’s post inspired me.

I’ve never showed myself here, besides the mugshot on the sidebar. Well, there was that wedding photo from a while ago, but I scraped that. I was nervous about showing myself — not because I was afraid of being judged, but because I don’t have anything to show in particular and don’t really want my picture being bandied about the internet. But, you know what, fuck it. I’ve blogged about fatshion from time to time, and it’s something that interests me. I love beautiful clothing, and over the years dressing my 6′ 0″ female body at varying weights has been a real challenge. It’s turned me on to what works and what I like, and more importantly, what I don’t like.

So here I am, wearing a gorgeous maxi from eShakti and a corset belt from Torrid:

Here are my further comments from the Kath’s post, which I hope explain why I’m finally “coming out” with my picture, and my love of fatshion.

Blogging about fatshion isn’t about some desperate attempt to conform to the mainstream, the sad fat girl trying her darndest to emulate conventional beauty (and getting it *so* wrong, amirite?!). It’s about challenging conventional beauty; it’s about challenging the assumption that beauty is some narrow field to which fatties must aspire but never, never reach.

Further, doesn’t this also ring true for the vast majority of thin women, who will also never look like the airbrushed models on the covers of magazines? Heck, those models don’t look the airbrushed version of themselves! The standard of beauty is no longer just a shrinkingly tiny percentage of the human population — it’s gone entirely digital.

Fat people modeling beautiful clothing — beautiful fat people modeling beautiful clothing — real beautiful people, unaltered, in a state beyond the most zealous proponent of Photoshop’s liquefy tool — is amazing. Courageous. Powerful. Perhaps Freedman and her ilk realize how powerful it is, and feel threatened? How dare us fatties perform beauty? How DARE we? Don’t we know that’s not for us?

Cannold’s statement is a classic attempt to undermine something she sees (or perhaps only feels on a visceral level) as powerful and threatening. How should we respond?

Feel good about ourselves. We’re making a difference. Our courageous fatshion is shaking the foundations of their exclusive club, and they don’t like it.

What should we do now? Cower down, strip out of our gorgeous maxis and slink back into some polyester tent?

No. SHAKE HARDER!

Fatshion Friday #2

O hai there friendly fatties, welcome to another installment of Fatshion Friday!

Last week we gazed in horror at wide striped eye-blasting sacks, strap-missing goddess-styled frankendresses, and the Beaded Purple That Shall Remain Nameless. We also gazed in appreciation at flowing scarf halter dresses, lacy vests, and delicious corsets.

This week we branch out a bit. I try to hit different retailers and styles as much as I can (though, admittedly, the styles will almost always be alternative rather than mainstream). I might hit one more than once, especially for fatshion horrors, but I’ll attempt to inject as much variety (and price points) as possible. I also try to stick to new styles and offerings rather than older or clearance items — i.e., things that are still and will be for sale.

Fatshion Horrors

Winner

I remember this from kindergarten...

What is it about this outfit that makes me tear up, freshly-cut-onion-fumes style? So many things — the tackily accented floral print, the tacky matching hobo bag, the humungous-boyfriend-shirt look that hasn’t been in since ’93, the seemingly pointless capris — are they pants or huge leggings? Why is her shirt long-sleeved yet the pants are cropped? And of course, my least favorite color purple (and, despite my last post, I actually tend to like purple. Which is probably why it hurts more when I see its shades so abused).

And oh, purple-and-pink-and-flowers, it’s just over between us. Forevvs. Sorry.

Outfit is $25 from Jessica London.

Runners up

Just sew on any old shit up there --- gotta draw the eye from the rolls!

Next is another fatshion peeve of mine — ribbed tanks, meant to fit closely and SHOCK perhaps show the existence of rolls and/or belly, with some kind of cheap metallic plastic beads loosely sewn somewhere on the bust. You see, I remember this episode of “What Not To Wear” when it was described to the ‘too-fat-for-for-plain-solids’ woman that you wanted to have that beading or some other fake medallion on the bust in order to draw the eye up from the stomach and/or other ‘problem areas.’ I find these pieces of clothing tend to be very poorly made, with the price jacked up to apparently cover the $.001 spent on shitty beads and shittier stitching. It’s ugly, it’s low-quality, and it’s fat-biased. It definitely hits a few of my Fatshion Horror points.

It’s on sale at Old Navy for $7.99 (previously $16.50).

Now you too can wear Magic Eye...

Now, I have to own up to the fact that I’m often quite frustrated with Igigi. There are a few reasons:

  1. Most of your clothes are styled the same (gathered at the upper waist/under the bust, wrapped, full skirt).
  2. One word: polyester.
  3. Two words: high prices.

The above dress is what I like to call The ‘Out-on-the-Town-Fattie’ Loud Polyester Print That Makes You Wonder if Indeed You Did Accidentally Take a Tab of Acid. It’s everywhere on plus-size clothes sites; it’s one of those fattie-staples that plus-size vendors can’t seem to get away from. And, truly, it’s not a bad style in and of itself. But the loud print, the tight 3/4’s sleeves, the copious amounts of polyester—it gets old. And for $102 (really, Igigi? Do 90 yards of eye-bleedingly-loud-printed polyester REALLY cost that much??) it’s ticking off many of my Fatshion Horror points.

Fatshion Fancies

Winner

Ah, purple, you and I can be friends at last.

Since I’ve been bashing purple left and right, it’s only fair to show off an example of how I think the color can be styled in a pleasing way. Now I’m a huge fan of black lace done right, and of shaped bodices. The above brings both together. The only thing about this dress is that I wish it had straps or a slightly different top, but since it is an eShakti dress you can customize it! Woo-hoo! The dress is part of eShakti’s new fall line, and is going for $59.95. It’s customizable as large or small as you like for an extra $10, and the standard sizes go up to 26/28W.

Runners up

Want to touch, want to wear....

The above is available at the Crimson Gypsy, up to 3XL (26/28W). It’s pricey — $200 — but I’m willing to bet it’s as well-made as it looks. I’d love to try one myself, but at this moment in life can’t scrape up that kind of dough for a bodice.

Ah, the life of a careless poet...

There are several things about this lovely dress from Making It Big which Make Me Smile. First of all I’m getting a strong Renaissance Poet vibe, aren’t you? Secondly, the color isn’t too bright—it’s strong without being overpowering. Thirdly, the black stripe accents are tasteful and interesting. Fourthly, the shape is lovely. Fifthly (hee), the back lacing is an interesting touch. It’s a bit pricey for a largely rayon blend at $125, but it’s available in a size 1X (22W) through 5X (34/36W).

Fatshion Friday #1

Welcome to Big Liberty’s first Fatshion Friday!

So let’s get right into it, shall we? Because I have stumbled across some truly trying fatshion horrors and truly tremendous fatshion fancies to share with you all.

First, let’s enumerate what I typically consider a “Fatshion Horror”:

  1. Sack-like, shapeless garment. Esp. if sacks aren’t in season.
  2. Anything specifically constructed/worn in order to cover up ‘problem areas’
  3. Loud, crazy prints that look either like grandma’s wallpaper or an elephant painted them
  4. Pointless clothing. This includes pointless ruffles, beading, etc meant to ‘trick’ the eye away from ‘problem areas’
  5. Terrible materials in an otherwise nice-looking piece (read: most of Igigi’s dresses)

Fatshion Horrors

Winner of the Week

OMGWTFKITTENBBQ?!

The above dress hits points 1, 2, and 3 nicely. You have the obvious sack-like nature of the garment, pointless and unshapely sleeves, and a ridiculous print that, if ever in fashion, wasn’t in fashion anywhere close to this decade.

Runners-up

Hmmm….

Sometimes the Goddess Toga style can look good. Sometimes it just looks like you forgot to attach the other strap. To me, it all comes down to proper draping. Apparently the designers at Avenue disagree, having pumped out this monstrosity.

Blinded by too much gauzy purple! GAH!

A couple points on this one. First — HOLY PURPLE, BATMAN! Second — where the hell are the rest of the sleeves? I’ve heard of 3/4 sleeves, but 7/8 sleeves? Third — is a ‘front V’ part on the skirt EVER attractive? Fourth — BLINDED BY PURPLE! Fifth — is this supposed to be clothing for someone around the age of the model and, truly, under the age of 85? Because the last time I saw that gauzy beaded sack design work was on a flapper, and that was closing in on 100 years ago, my friend. Sixth — I ATED THE PURPLE BERRIES! UGHHH…TASTES LIKE….BURNING…!

Fatshion Fancies

Winner of the Week

Okay, I’m just going to wipe that drool puddle off the floor…just hang on a sec…there we go. So this dress makes me tingle largely because of its brilliant silhouette. For a pear like me, you just can’t get better than a fitted bust and a tiered flow from there on down. The halter is a nice touch as well.

Runners up

Hai Avenue? Make mor of the abuv, plz.

What do I like about this black, lacy, zip-up vest? Well, it’s black—and lacy—and zip-up. What could stand to be improved? I’d prefer a silver zipper rather than gold. To me black lace and gold don’t go together (except in 1991).

Oh, hai corset. I think I’m in love. Uh, with the corset of course, not the lady! (okay, a little bit with the lady…getting a strong Christine Daae vibe, rowr) Goes up to 48D. I don’t really know how to purchase corsets…do you just purchase your bra size? I’d love to try this puppy out.

Lane Bryant Debacle Response, and Fatshion Suggestions

So recently there has been quite a deserved hullabaloo over a very crude comment made by Lane Bryant’s twitterer about a shirt by the fat positive indie designer definatalie.

Some original posts, before the apology was issued by Definatalie, The Rotund, Lesley at Fatshionista, Fat Heffalump, Red3

The apology by Lane Bryant’s VP of Marketing, Jay Dunn

Some posts after the apology was issued by The Rotund, Not Blue at All

The following is the comment I left on the apology site (more properly formatted). Let me know if you have any other points for plus size retailers to add to my own! (or comments/critiques on the points I make) Also, what is your take on this issue? Do you accept LB’s apology?

__________

Thank you for issuing this apology. I’m sorry to say, however, that I’m not entirely convinced it will make a difference in Lane Bryant’s selection, model choices, and prices, which are the three biggest problems I see with the company as it stands. There is a whole new world of fatshion — plus size fashion — opening up to fat people (especially fat women) right now. And Lane Bryant is going to have to make steps forward to correct problems like the aforementioned in order to stay ahead of the curve (no pun).

Here’s a short list of main points I hope LB addresses in the future, if they wish to retain my (and other fat, empowered women’s) business:

1. CONCEPT: Fat, empowered women do not necessarily want to look thinner, or to hide historically-determined ‘problem areas’ like stomach, arms, and thighs.

2. ENGINEERING: The ‘nested doll’ style of patterning does NOT work. It doesn’t matter if your fit model is a size 18W instead of a size 6. I’m a 24/26W and your necklines fall far too low, your armholes are way too big, the waists don’t fall right — and I know I’m not the only one. Women of larger sizes have many different kinds of fits relative to one another. A different kind of pattern-making needs to find a plus-size median fit, rather than relying on old fashioned-nesting.

3. MODELS: I want to see how my clothes will fit on a body like my own, not the body I ostensibly ‘want’ to be (thinner). Basically, you’re selling women a bait-and-switch, and fat women are getting tired of it. You’re riding the fading idea that fat women hate their bodies and don’t consider other fat bodies beautiful or attractive. Sure, you may have some marketing research saying that you’ll make X more if you have thinner rather than fatter models, but for how long? The tide is turning — more and more fat women I talk to (and certainly in the size acceptance community) will not buy clothing unless they have some idea how it will look on them. Why do you think fatshion blogs are so popular? Because fatshion bloggers are basically taking up the slack where the catalogs fall short — they are modeling the clothes in a body much more like ours. Don’t you think that having your own fatshion blog — i.e., using fatter models in your catalog — will have the same effect? If not, then don’t be surprised when you start losing more and more customers to places that do use fatter models.

4. POSITIVITY: No lip service, no mistakes. You should be LEADING the cause for size acceptance, not toeing the line of fat positivity and fat shaming. You want customers? Again, take a lesson from the fatshion blogs.

5. PRICE: Three years ago I could afford to buy clothing in your store. The clothing has not changed much in style and composition (aside from slapping fancy names on some sublines), but I can no longer afford to buy clothing in your store, aside from the occasional bra purchase and, once in a while, a pair of jeans. I used to spend a good $500/season at your store. I still spend that money on clothing, in fact, more (I get more items), but I am only spending perhaps $50/season in your store. Now multiply me times the percentage of voices in the comments that are expressing negativity towards your brand, and you get a pretty big hit to your company.

So why not listen to us, for a change? I understand that it’s difficult to institute such radical changes, particularly in a company with a lot of history of doing things a certain way, but something’s got to give here. Start by making small steps — use fatter models, for instance, as a start — and go from there. I guarantee you a positive response. Thanks for your attention to this issue, I hope it yields fruit.

Too Fat for Gloves?!

Just a short one. I recently got a shipment of clothes from Torrid, one of my favorite semi-goth-but-less-than-they-used-to-be-but-hey-I-don’t-have-any-better-options-since-I’m-larger-than-a-24US clothing stores. Included in this shipment were these gloves:

Apparently can only be worn by 90 - 160 lb individuals

Take a look at the text up at the top left of the packaging. Yes, you’re reading it correctly, your fattie eyes do no deceive you!—-there is indeed a weight rating for a pair of gloves. Only individuals 90 – 160 lbs are allowed to wear these babies. Nyah-nyah-nyah-faaaat-wriiiists!

But lo and behold! They fit these large, long, fatty hands perfectly, and I kill that weight rating by at least 100 lbs:

Big Liberty's fine be-gloved paw

Big Liberty's fine be-gloved paw

In conclusion, all I have to say to Leg Avenue (the manufacturers of the gloves) is — SUCK IT IM A FATTIE WEARIN UR GLOVES HA!