“While seeing bigger women is an improvement and empowering in itself, if all we are really seeing is bigger versions of the same image we’ve been force-fed since we were kids, all we are really doing is trading in one oppression for another.”
My two new suits from Forever21 came in the mail yesterday. I was dubious because I’ve not had great experience with that store in terms of quality and sizing. They notoriously “size down” in that I am a street size XL or 1X anywhere else, but I am a 2X at F21. I went ahead anyhow and bought two suits, each one costing $29.80. I stuck with 2X just to be safe and make sure my bazooms were covered. I naturally assumed I wouldn’t look good, or the fit would be wrong, or the material would be cheap, or any number of other sad mantras us bigger folk resign ourselves to.
I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They are both adorable!
It’s unfortunate, but Forever 21 only goes up to a 3X, which really cheeses me off because their 3X is really a 2X and excludes a fair number of my would-be swim sisters. Do you like to swim? What do you look for in a swimsuit? Where do you usually shop for suits?
Every year I attend a charity auction to raise money for the scholarship fund at my school. I have done the LBD in all of its infinite variations and want to do something different this year. I have two outfit ideas and was hoping to get some feedback from my fashionable readers. POLYVORE, ACTIVATE!
These two outfits are based around articles of clothing I already have or could easily acquire. I have no interest in shelling out a ton of money anymore for a one-night event — remember the boundless closet of LBDs?
This first outfit centers around some black, studded booties and a cool whale necklace I already own (similar to, though not exactly like the pictures) and a burgundy midi skirt I got at Goodwill the other day for $1.99. The peplum top is from Target and is on sale for $17.
This second outfit is what I am currently leaning toward, though it requires me to procure more items than the first. It is based around a striped blazer I love. Coral and teal are a color combo fave of mine, and gold accents it well. I would need to get all three items to pull the outfit off; Target carries the dress, and I am sure Goodwill has suitable accessories, though I am at a loss as to where to find the gold sandals.
Thoughts? Where do you weight in?
I’m too busy. It’s conference week. I’m working through some family stuff.
The truth is, I don’t like the word fat. When I saw the web site up, IT, FAT, had the ability to shock me. I found I didn’t want the word associated with me. It surprised me how strongly I felt. I was feeling uncomfortable with the political tone, the “right speak” that some of the articles had for me. I felt stifled explaining why. I LIKED what Jennifer Lawrence said. She’s not stupid. She knows laws won’t be changed. But calling people fat and remarking on evening wear based on how they fit is mean spirited and should be stopped. She’s annoyed that so many of her interviews are based on body image and frankly she seems bored and would rather talk about something else. I found the phrase used to introduce the piece, “I love you, now close your mouth” really condescending. Is there only one correct way to support body positivity? Are we going to say close your mouth if someone is approaching the topic from a different angle?
I live in my big body every day. I enjoy adorning my body with fashionable clothes. I get tattoos regularly and am comfortable with dropping trow or unbuttoning my shirt, as the occasion requires. I found exercise – dance classes that I enjoy. I didn’t always do these things.
I had a horrible break-up and in that period of reinventing, I found I put most of my joys “on hold”. When I lost more weight, I would get a tattoo. When I could fit in a leotard, I would find a class. I found I was doing nothing. I changed my no to yes and my later to now. This has stood me in good stead; all that saying “yes” has developed into a pretty positive attitude. I think that’s why Shiloh asked me to join this blog.
Yeah, I live with my fat, I dress to flatter my fat, I exercise to keep my fat healthy, but I don’t think about my fat daily and I found I don’t like to TALK ABOUT MY FAT! Well, hell, why would I be writing a blog? I have bright pink hair that I wear curled in a Marilyn bouffant everyday. I don’t go out without my eyeliner and fuchsia lipstick. My demeanor says, look at me! I’m definitely not a beige plus-size matron. More importantly, my demeanor says, define me by something other than my weight. I’m saying it, I don’t know if people are hearing it.
The day the first Spanx article came out, I had just received a package of really sexy, really comfortable shape wear, real “date lingerie”, (I’m an online shopper extraordinaire.) Usually, I’d pop in to Shiloh, and show off my swag to the appropriate oohs and aahs. Now I find I’m editing myself, are Spanx not cool? Is shape wear not ok if I’m body positive? I LIKE shape wear. I don’t wear it because I feel bad, or I am trying to fit into a fashion mold. I want to wear a favorite piece of clothing that clings and I think looks better over a smooth layer. I’m not fooling myself into thinking I look significantly smaller.
I enjoy following haute couture. I subscribe to Vogue. When I see a look or a trend works on a tall thin model, I either, as a consumer, decide that look is not for me and move on; or as a designer and seamstress, I change it and make it work for me. I don’t feel anger towards the industry that they idealize young, thin, tall models. I don’t feel old, fat, and short. I’m looking at the clothes, the drape of the fabric, the artful photography, and the lush surroundings. Do I celebrate when they use a big model? Sure, but I won’t like her ad or the clothes she is advertising any better, if the skinny model’s clothes are better designed or that spread is better photographed. I personally feel excited and inspired when the big September issue comes out. When on vacation in New York, I like visiting the big name boutiques. And you know, the sales clerks treat me with respect, even if I can only fit into the handbags and scarves. I don’t feel unwelcome. I’m a consumer; they are the product providers.
The last “fat issue” I want to touch on is weight loss. My size travels between 18 and 24. When I’m at my best, running up and down stairs, sleeping well, good skin tone, standing straight and proud; I am exercising regularly and I am eating less-processed, nutrient dense food. When I’m at a low point, I’m too busy to exercise and I’m eating junk. I could be PC and say that at my smaller size I just feel healthier and happier, but you know? I also think I look better. I want to be smaller. Is it ok to admit that? I like big, bountiful curves, rather than floppy, bulgy bulges. But I don’t want to wait to do anything until I slim down. I’ll continue to say “Yes, now!” instead of “Later.” I want to talk about healthy lifestyle choices on this blog without fat-shaming or skinny-shaming, and to exercise the option of not really caring about it at times.
I think I can add some badass fashion, food, and positivity articles to this blog. Does my viewpoint gel with you? I don’t know. Does my viewpoint sound modern, cool and politically correct? I don’t care. Will I research numerous articles and cite experts in the field? Uh, no, not even a little bit. I want to be the Do It Now Girl! Try something new! Have fun! Look fierce! Give yourself a break! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Adorable animal clothing need not be relegated solely to the closets of cute, thin hipsters. Fat hipsters must also have access to such adorableness. We need not shy away from attention-grabbing graphics and dresses with cute prints.
How cute is this skirt? Fox in the flowers, indeed! What I really like about this skirt is that you can layer and downplay it, or you can feature it prominently by just wearing colorful flats and a long necklace.
The majority of fox-themed clothing I found involved jumpers. This sassy sweater has a large graphic and would look good with a simple pencil skirt or skinny jeans, with some brown, strappy booties.
See? Jumpers. I love this casual, unisex look. The flats pull the whole thing together.
The animal-print leggings and stilettos really make this outfit. I also love the bold, collar necklace.
The addition of the midi skirt and cute pumps supports my assertion that sweatshirts can be classy.
In terms of whole-outfit completion, a Fat Fox over at Tumblr really killed it with this little number:
SHE EVEN HAS A FOX PURSE! AND A SNOOD!
I own a lot of clothing items with birds on them. Do you have any cute, animal-themed clothing?
In the last article, we briefly touched on the utility of Spanx; it smoothes bulges, hides lumps. It makes clothing that wouldn’t look “good” otherwise lay more smoothly against the body. It must be a tricky item to market.
“Are you malformed? Do you feel bad about your saggy lumpiness? Here, try SPANX!”
Not so coincidentally enough, Spanx does no actual marketing. It has grown solely through word of mouth. For example, Blakely kept sending gift baskets to Oprah with Spanx in them. Eventually, Oprah made Spanx one of her Favorite Things. Spanx is like an infection. There are no billboards, no commercials making you feel bad. It’s passed from person to person. Women, openly sharing with other women that they are unhappy with how they look, and recommending special expensive underwear to hide their imperfections. Women are sharing this with one another, spreading it, disseminating it. It’s everywhere now. Celebrities wear Spanx. There are Spanx for men. There isn’t a giant corporation telling us to perk our asses up. We are telling ourselves.
Think about the real purpose of Spanx; Spanx facilitates a lie we tell each other about our bodies. It’s a lie we tell because it is too hard to ask for support and respect for how we actually look. Spanx legitimizes what the Fashion and Beauty Industrial Complexes keep pounding into our minds.
We need to change to fit in.
We need to change to squeeze into the molds society has set out for us.
No, seriously. LITERALLY SQUEEZE.
Spanx and other foundational undergarments smoosh our insides so they don’t work properly. Our lungs don’t breathe as well, our nerves get pinched, our muscles atrophy. We don’t even poop properly anymore.
But look at this video from the Spanx website of a woman modeling the Slimplicity Full Slip:
Did you see how sad she looked? Then suddenly they gave her makeup and a necklace and she was happy! They smoothed out all her normal bumps and lumps, and made her pretty. Because she wasn’t pretty before. She was gross.
Sara Blakely is a model female entrepreneur, someone who pulled herself up by her pantyhose and is now trying to help other women do the same. But did she have to make her fortune on something like SPANX!? My heart, as well as my ass, hurts from knowing that our best model for women making it in the business world is someone selling insecurity out of a little red backpack.
Sara Blakely is a self-made lady. She invented Spanx. I will be quoting a lot of material direct from the Spanx website for ultra-clarity.
She first got the idea for Spanx from an expensive pair of white pants she bought that she never quite liked the look of. How could she wear these cream-colored, $98 pants in a flattering way? Eureka! Footless pantyhose! She began investigating pantyhose patents in the library at Georgia Tech, then got in touch with some lawyers who dismissed her.
“To keep costs down, I wrote the patent myself and later found a lawyer who helped write the claims. My patent was approved and I successfully trademarked the name SPANX online! The original product drawing for the SPANX patent was sketched by my mom, an artist.”
The next step was to find someone to make the Spanx. She heard “NO” a lot. She didn’t have capital, financial nor social. She had to take time off from work to look for these manufacturers. Finally, her tenacity paid off:
“I received a call from a mill owner who said he ‘decided to help make my crazy idea.’ When asked why he had the change of heart, he said, ‘I have two daughters.’ Turns out they didn’t think the idea was crazy at all. The prototype took a year to perfect because as someone who wanted to wear the product every day I was obsessed with comfort.”
Now, what to call these clingy, undergarment thingies?
“I knew that Kodak and Coca-Cola were the two most recognized names in the world, and they both have a predominant “K” sound in them. Also, from doing stand-up comedy, it is a known secret that the “K” sound makes people laugh. So for good luck, I wanted my product’s name to have the “K” sound in it, and SPANKS hit me like a lightning bolt. I immediately knew it was perfect! At the last minute I changed the “KS” to an “X” after doing research that made-up words do better for products than real words (and are easier to trademark). Spanx is edgy, fun, extremely catchy, and for a moment it makes your mind wander (admit it). Plus it’s all about making women’s butts look better, so why not?”
Why not an x? Edgy butts! GRRRRL POWER! Ass girdles for all!
Spanx is worth $1 billion, and Ms. Blakely is currently the youngest self-made female billionaire. She’s also signed up to join the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates Giving Pledge. Besides signing the pledge, Ms. Blakely has started two campaigns using her Spanx dollars. First, is her Spanx Leg Up Campaign. This is where women, with an existing product and business, can compete for the following:
- A feature in the Spanx catalog
- A feature on spanx.com
- Multiple features on the Spanx facebook page and Spanx blog,
The Rear View
- Lucky Red Backpack (the same kind Ms. Blakely used to start Spanx)
- Opportunity to have a private chat with Ms. Blakely to ask their most pressing entrepreneurial questions
The other charitable organization related to Spanx is the Sara Blakely Foundation, which as you can see by clicking the link, is a work in progress. The general vision so far is thus:
“I pledge to invest in women because I believe it offers one of the greatest returns on investment. I am committed to the belief that we would all be in a much better place if half the human race (women) were empowered to prosper, invent, be educated, start their own businesses, run for office — essentially be given the chance to soar!”
I wanted to write about Spanx. To write about Spanx, I needed to familiarize myself with the product and its history. Let’s just say I went down an internet rabbit hole and now my readers get to be rewarded for their patience with a three-part article about underpants. And society.
It’s well documented that men make up the vast majority of small and large business owners. On the large end of the scale we have the Fortune 500 companies that are the industry leaders of the American economy. Out of those 500 top companies, only 12 of them are run by women.
While all of these companies are giant, money-hungry, commercially-manipulative stock-monsters, 12/500 is a pretty pitiful ratio. Just taking these statistics at face value, one might argue that we need more power-mad female puppeteers making the economy dance its merry jig. There are smaller businesses that have been started and owned by women. In fact, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), there are 8.6 million businesses owned by women here in the U.S., and those account for 30% of all private businesses. That’s a somewhat less depressing number than the 2.5% of woman owners you see in the Fortune 500. When you look at wealth creation, women-led businesses account for only 11% of total revenues in the U.S., and only 4.4% of all female-led businesses have yearly revenues of 1 million dollars or more.
There is a lot of discrimination out there against women trying to start their own companies. I went looking for straightforward articles about women in the U.S. and found a lot of misleading vagaries. However, there have been multiple studies done in the U.K. and elsewhere about removing barriers for female entrepreneurship (thanks, Poland!). Here are some of the impediments I discovered:
Absence of benchmarking possibilities — Essentially, what this means is that there is a lack of female entrepreneur role models for potential future entrepreneurs. So we can’t make new role models because we currently don’t have role models? FOREVER ALONE.
Lack of experience — While women are slowly becoming more educated on the whole compared to men, our education and experience does not lend itself to starting one’s own business. Unless it’s about makeup.
Lack of social capital and time — The social networking opportunities women have are different from those of men, i.e. primarily related to familial duties. This is associated with the “double burden syndrome”, requiring women to balance their professional responsibilities with their domestic responsibilities. Increasingly, successful business persons need to be ultra-flexible in regards to time and travel. Women often do not have the time or social resources, nor the social support to take the leap into Business Land.
Lack of financial capital — Money. Prospective business owners need it to pay for basic business-y stuff, like office space, component materials, staffing, technology, travel, marketing, and the like. Getting start-up money is a lot more difficult for women in less economically developed countries where women are more dependent on a man’s income.
What does Spanx have to do with all this? Spanx, for those of you unaware of the existence of the supportive undergarment industry, is a line of “shape wear”. What is shape wear? It is namely pantyhose, briefs, tights, and other foundational garments, meant to be worn under clothing. Think “ass-girdle”. The Spanx brand was created and is owned by one Sara Blakely, a female entrepreneur from Atlanta, Georgia. She overcame all of the barriers! She’s a role model! She also might be evil. Maybe.
“Valentine’s Day is a sham created by card companies to reinforce and exploit gender stereotypes.” – Liz Lemon
GAG ME WITH A SPOON
It is a frequent assumption that the overweight don’t have loving relationship partners or are unable to find someone willing to spend Valentine’s Day with them. Not only are we fatties supposedly forever alone on V-Day, but we are reminded by the advertising blitz that starts on January 1st and runs right up until February 15th where we get to hear about the amazing gestures of love made by everyone’s respective significant others. I have no desire to compete with other women on who had a more romantic evening, or who received the most extravagant gift. Every year, my husband and I eschew traditions and do pretty much the exact opposite of what the Hallmark Industrial Complex has decided is appropriate. Instead, we order chicken wings and watch horror movies. It’s The Best Thing, and in its honor, I present the Fat Girl’s Forever Alone Valentine’s Day Round-Up.
Before getting down to the eating and watching, theme-appropriate attire is required. Here is a range, from comfy to flashy:
Lastly, I know that one of the primary priorities for a meat-centric, violence-desensitizing anti-holiday is comfort. For that reason, I present the pièce de résistance: