“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.”
A fundamental pillar of body diversity activism is the concept that fat people are a persecuted minority in this country. Statistically, people classified as “overweight” actually make up over two-thirds of the population. That means we can’t be considered as a minority, right?
This statistical discrepancy is used as fuel to discredit the body acceptance movement. What a cursory internet search reveals, however, is that this is a legitimate phenomenon called the “majority-minority”. In Texas, New Mexico, and California, for example, non-White Hispanics constitute a majority-minority, in that their population outnumbers that of other races in the same region. This majority-minority status does not negate the discrimination faced by the Hispanic population. Things like housing discrimination and hate crimes (which among immigrant populations are most likely higher than reported due to fear of deportation), are just as bad in these states compared to states where Hispanics are merely a minority-minority group.
Increased population, and thus visibility, is not a cure for discrimination. This is painfully apparent when looking at the treatment of fat people. Even though fat bodies, or at least bigger than “average” bodies (think about that statement for a second) are by far the numerically dominant group. Logically, businesses should be catering to us. Services should be catering to us. People who make waiting room seats, underpants, and cars should all be catering to our big butts. There are billions of dollars to be made here. A capitalist’s wet dream.
Instead, I hear arguments along the lines of, “just because you’ve let yourself get fat doesn’t mean you deserve special treatment”.
Is it special treatment when it directly caters toward the majority of people?
In fact, weight-loss is a huge money-making industry. It just doesn’t cater to us. It tricks us into THINKING it’s catering to us. In actuality, it’s taking advantage of us. Warning: dieting and weight shaming ahead.
From media empire charlatans …
… to the tech industry …
… to multi-level marketing schemes…
… to the pharmaceutical industry …
The diet industry is a $60 billion a year industry, and it works if your metric for “working” is making a shit ton of money reliably over time. What it doesn’t succeed in doing, however, is helping people lose weight and achieve that much sought-after “average”-ness. Most people regain the weight they lose. Businesses and corporations stand to gain by keeping your sad ass fat, and your fat ass sad. By treating the majority like a minority group, by keeping us feeling disenfranchised, lonely, ugly, and unloveable, corporations can keep us buying things that don’t work and things we don’t need. Fat Americans face discrimination on an economic level, with constant messages telling us we aren’t worth anything unless we change. That we don’t deserve to be treated well unless we stop being “lazy” and “exert some effort”. We are subjected to scare tactics, personal attacks, and public shame. “Average” and “thin” people are susceptible to these messages as well. People are pressured to utilize “willpower” to maintain their physique, to eat certain foods and take certain medicines so they don’t devolve into a dreaded fat person. This fuels societal stigma, and creates a body-type based class system where thin people benefit from fat people staying fat. People who stay “fit” because they “put down the cheeseburger” or “get off their ass”. They can feel superior. They can feel “better than”. They can feel right, as long as they keep taking their probiotics and count every calorie and exercise 90 minutes a day.
Show me a world where we aren’t profiting off telling people being fat is bad and you might just have a case against the overweight in this country being a true minority.
What did I say? Forever 21 got the fatkini RIGHT, dammit.
Mad props to Rhapsodani for flaunting her dope curves in action.
Ok, so we all know that I am a thrift store whore, but certain things I don’t believe in thrifting and swimsuits is on that list. There’s something I don’t trust about that–could be my raw vajay going where someone else’s has been. I don’t want it.
So I don’t mind shopping for my swimsuits from some of my fave places. There’s so many places that have plus size swimsuits that are not oversized swim dresses and baggy tankinis. Forever 21 has amazing swimsuits and even the ever-loved “fatkini.” Forgive me, but I love the word and embrace is 100%.
I’ll be honest, the solid color ones don’t look the best on girls with a little extra fluff, like myself. I always say go for the print. They mask better and for some reason, the bottoms support more. While most of the tops don’t have underwire, they are…
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My favorite trend for Spring is the denim shirtdress. Dress it up or down. Wear it with boots, sneakers, flats, and sandals. It looks great with scarves, jackets, and cardigans when it gets chilly at night. Cinch it up with a belt and you are good to go!
How else world you accessorize this piece?
I used to be very judgmental of women for what they wore:
You’re dressing too young. You aren’t a little girl.
You don’t look professional. No one will take you seriously.
Those leggings aren’t doing anything for your figure.
That shirt looks trashy; it’s way too tight.
Don’t you think those heels are a little too high?
No one needs their ass bedazzled.
Want to know the truth? To some extent, I still have these thoughts pop up from time to time. Upon reflection, I am not 100% sure why I feel this way. It’s divisive. It’s anti-feminist. It’s body-shaming. I am pretty sure it is rooted in my own body insecurity. I am working on loving my body, but why do I need to sacrifice the self-esteem of others in the process?
I spend a lot of time on Reddit trying to figure out the whole anti-body-acceptance philosophy, and I frequently see people trying to justify their viewpoint, saying that they aren’t against fat people. They are against “stupid” fat people. Health deniers. Hambeasts who proclaim that there isn’t anything wrong with being “deathfat”, etc. Essentially, there are different kinds of fat people: ones that love their body and don’t see societal pressure as a reason to change, and those who dislike themselves and their body and see their self-worth in terms of how far they are willing to go to adjust their bodies to meet the societal norm, including clothing oneself in such a way as to keep their bodies from bothering others aesthetically.
Poisonous, right? I have been actively working on culling the latter attitude from my personality. I don’t know exactly when I changed my purview. I have been firmly in the “wear whatever the hell you want” camp for a couple of years now, because I know now that it is the ethical, social, and empathic right thing to do. Was it a gradual change? Was it precipitated by my fluctuating weight? Cultural minority studies?
Nope. I think it’s when I discovered leggings.
Many people who know me can confirm that on many an occasion, I proclaimed “leggings are not pants”. Saying it now, I feel like a prude. True, leggings are not pants. They are leggings. But what does that mean, exactly? That leggings shouldn’t be worn? Are they too risqué? Are they unflattering? Are they okay for thin people, but not for fat people? If so, why? Is there something inherently more acceptable about a thin person’s body so that they can wear leggings without judgement? Or is it just slut-shaming?
One day, I bought myself a pair of leggings. They are AMAZING. I wear them with dresses. I wear them with shirts. I wear them with heels and I wear them with boots. I bought more leggings. They are comfortable. They make me feel like a superhero. They spoke to me. They told me I was wrong for assigning value to someone’s clothing. Clothing is expression. Clothing is comfort. Clothing is an extension of one’s personality. Who am I to censor that?
I see this picture, and I feel good about myself. Maybe a year ago, I would have seen something different. Now, I see a confident person, a person who feels good about themselves, at least most of the time. Nowadays, I read articles about what a woman SHOULDN’T wear, what is unflattering, what is inappropriate. I feel bad for the authors of those articles, because I empathize. I know where words like “shouldn’t” and “can’t” are rooted. I know the insecurity that comes with such words.
All of this brings me to the subject of rompers.
What is a romper? Put simply, it is a one-piece article of clothing that is essentially a pair of shorts sewn onto a top. Think summertime speed-suit.
According to the internet, they are uniformly ugly, unflattering, and definitely not designed for fat bodies. In the before-time, I would have nodded vigorously, agreeing with the romper-haters, echoing the sentiment. But you know what? I’ve looked them up and think they are pretty cute. So cute, in fact, that I might order one and wear it out with sandals and a cardigan. Why? Fuck you, that’s why. I’ll wear whatever I goddamn please, and so should you.
Contrary to popular belief, many fat people are physically active, and enjoy sports, dance, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise. I like canoeing, and ballet, and walking around the city. I like to go to shows and dance. With the amount of criticism fat people receive for allegedly not caring for our bodies, coupled with the good ol’ calories in/calories out oversimplification of metabolism, you’d think society would welcome fat people into the “fitness” fold and offer encouragement and support. I have found it to be quite the opposite. Let’s look at a few examples.
#1: Gyms are the WORST
Ever been a member at a gym? Many fat people have, including me. Why did I join a gym? It certainly wasn’t to feel good. I wasn’t there in the best interest of my health, I was there to get thin because I was insecure. Nowadays, I might actually reconsider and join again, but only because I have enough self esteem now to navigate the DEMORALIZING MINEFIELD that is your average neighborhood fitness center. Sights are targeted on fat people as soon as they walk through the door. Nutrition counseling is almost always offered; the immediate assumption is that a fat person isn’t at a gym to build cardiovascular endurance, or swim, or do yoga, or build core strength — they are there to LOSE WEIGHT. Very fat people at the gym receive judgmental stares. It’s assumed we don’t know what we are doing, and that we are just in the way.
This punishing, aesthetic-driven mindset creates an atmosphere of body competition, and the endless walls of mirrors don’t help. I would go into the gym and do the same exercises as those around me, and I would sweat. I would breathe hard, harder than those around me, and rather than think “Whoa, I am working hard! Awesome!” I would think that I was somehow less than the two ladies on the elliptical next to me, chatting about their evening plans, without a drop of sweat running down their carefully made-up faces. Hard work doesn’t feel like hard work in a big gym setting; it feels like public humiliation.
#2: There is a scarcity of supportive, fashionable athletic wear
Society screams at us to be thin and “fit”, yet there is very little exercise attire designed with our bodies in mind. Not only are there a dearth of options, but some companies flat-out refuse to carry bigger sizes (I’m looking at you Lululemon) or even shame our bodies in the process (still looking, Lululemon). When I go looking for plus size exercise outfits, I am met with a sea of black polyester and spandex. I usually emerge feeling more like a stack of car tires rather than a sporty jogger or graceful dancer.
Another consideration is that we have a larger proportion of jiggly bits, and those jiggly bits, if left to jiggle unsupported, cause discomfort and sometimes pain. Let’s take me as an example: I have a large chest (38GG) and those puppies need to be strapped down securely before running and jumping anywhere. Retailers take regular sport bras, increase the dimensions, and just assume that something of a larger mass and volume will somehow magically bend the laws of physics and stay securely in place. My bras need underwires, and much more rigid fabric. An XXL sport bra at Old Navy is far to loose in the band to provide any support, while my cups spilleth over. Tops need to be longer, and pants need a higher rise to avoid ride-up/slide-down while in motion. And would it be too much to ask for patterns? Colors? Interesting details? Uncomfortable, ill-fitting and unstylish workout gear is antithetical to overall body positivity.
Working out when you feel ugly and are in pain creates an aversive relationship. I dug around and scrounged up some brands and prints I like for your consideration:
Oh the scale, implement of self-castigation for people of all sizes.
Scales are inextricably linked to exercise because society conditions us to associate exercise with weight loss. Fitness and wellness then become something measured with an arbitrary number system that actually provides us with very little information about how healthy we actually are, and those data are then combined with height to determine one’s Body Mass Index. BMI is a notoriously poor measure for fatness and health. I have friends who have had the luck to meet really thoughtful, body-positive personal trainers who de-emphasized weight loss as an ultimate fitness goal. One of my friends was told she wasn’t supposed to even step on a scale until after she’d been working her plan for a month, but even then the scale was used as final proof of improved health overall.
Scales are a constant reminder than we aren’t meeting a goal set by a society that determines our status and worth. I used to own a scale, and I would check it every day, celebrating every little dip and bemoaning every tiny increase. I used to weigh myself in the morning, while I was still dehydrated from sleep, after I peed but before I showered so that bladder fullness and wet hair wouldn’t add ounces to the readout. What I didn’t understand back then is that my celebrations and failures were fueled by bias, and rooted in discrimination. I don’t have a scale in my own home now. I resent “compliments” like “Have you been working out? It looks like you’ve lost weight!”, because they imply that the number, not the person, is the valuable variable in the equation.
Bottom line? My body is fine. Whether I work out or not is no one’s business. When I DO workout, I deserve the same resources and positive experiences normally associated with joyous physical activity. Want me to love my body? Then let me do it without judgment.
A reader and old friend of mine recently asked for my feedback on a clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live featuring Mindy Kaling. She was fresh from an interview with Vogue where she talked about not needing or wanting to be skinny. She and Jimmy discussed the article, and the feedback she’s received since.
She made a lot of good points, particularly regarding how it shouldn’t be weird for someone to want to be the size that they are, and in that way she really isn’t a role model. Her main point, however, was oftentimes people disguise criticism as compliment by praising her boldness for not feeling “like she needs to subscribe to the ideals of beauty”. She followed up with an echoic, comparative statement that initially sounded like she was putting them in their place: “It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels comfortable that she can let herself go and be a fat sea monster”. She then made sure to let the audience know that she works out and runs all the time, as a qualifier.
What Mindy is actually saying with all of this is that she has a normal body (whatever that means), and it shouldn’t be a big deal for others to accept it. It’s not like she’s huge, or weird, or lazy, or tentacled.
This video is a good example of a trend I am seeing where women are reclaiming their bodies as “normal” and saying size shouldn’t matter. Except if you are too big. Too big is bad. Also, don’t be too skinny. There is a new “normal” that doesn’t include the very fat or the very thin.
One of the last things Mindy said regarded courage. She mocked people for calling her courageous for wearing a mid-drift top. For some women, even wearing a sleeveless top is a panic-inducing premise. People are made to feel insecure about themselves on a daily basis to the point that it impacts how they dress themselves, and how they present themselves to the world. It does take courage to stand up to daily abuse, and it does take courage to look inside oneself and find the strength to love yourself inside and out. Mindy minimized this struggle so flippantly that I now share her irritation at her idolization.
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?
Here in Seattle, the sun is shining, and it’s hitting 60 degrees. That means it’s time for us to emerge from our wintertime flood bunkers, squinty-eyed, clad in skirts and sandals in celebration of the fact that it has stopped. Fucking. Raining. Soon, it will be warm enough to venture into the many bodies of water that surround my fair city, and come summer my travels will take me to even warmer locales with pools and lounge chairs and blended drinks.
Traditionally, the selection of plus sized swimwear is overall disappointing from a fashion standpoint. Last year, Gabi Gregg over at GabiFresh helped design a fabulous fatkini that very quickly sold out. Gabi knew, as we all know, that there is a vast, largely untapped market of fabulous fatties who needs them some fierce swimwear. I myself was in the market for a new suit or two and decided to do a little internet reconnaissance to check my options. Here are some of my favorites.
I like all of these suits for two reasons. Reason one, they are brightly colored and/or have interesting patterns. Fat girl suits tend to err on the side of dark, solid colors. The second reason I love these? No swim skirts. I hate them, and I think they reinforce an unhealthy mantra in conventional plus sized women’s fashion: Cover up your lumpy bits, no one wants to see that shit. In fact, many of these suits make interesting use of negative space with interesting cutouts and unique straps. Any lady wearing one of these suits poolside at the Mandalay Bay will NOT be ignored.
Wanna snag one for yourself?
Forever 21 Worldly Ikat Bikini Set — $29.80
Forever 21 Bold Cutout Bikini Set — $29.80
Torrid Striped Natural Support One-Piece Swimsuit –SOLD OUT! — $88.50
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?
Believe it or not, dear readers, but I don’t hate everything. There are certain things I am quite fond of, and I want to share some of them with you to help break up the repetitive, indignant ranting that makes up the bulk of the content on TFW. I can be positive! The constant hating just means the things I don’t hate are EXTRA rad.
1. Goodwill’s glorious accessories case
Most of my friends and acquaintances can attest to the fact that I am proud that my wardrobe is primarily thrifted. A lot of people scoff, thinking that those who wear secondhand clothing have mostly boho or shabby chic aesthetics, but I assure you — my shit looks PULLED TOGETHER, even though I wear an 18W/1X. There is surprising variety if you know how to look and what to look for. The key, however, is having something to tie the outfit together. One can dress relatively conservatively and still look fashionable with the addition of a few accessories. This is an area where the Goodwill in my neighborhood excels. In a fit of ennui (Can one have a fit of ennui? Or would it be more of a shrug?) I headed over to Goodwill in search of nothing in particular. I had been feeling mopey about myself, but didn’t have the scratch for a proper power shopping binge. What costs $3, fits in your hand, and is as versatile as a black t-shirt? A Goodwill necklace. What costs $12 and is four times better than a Goodwill necklace? FOUR Goodwill necklaces.
2. Edible lab experiments I love kombucha. As a gift, my wonderful friend Marianne gave me a kombucha home brew kit. I’ve been trying variations on the recipe. The first batch was a tasty success, though I don’t think I waited long enough for the second ferment to thoroughly carbonate the bottles. The second batch came into contact with some mold spores and needed to be disposed of. The third batch is currently bottled and in the second ferment stage. I just started a fourth batch this evening, this time with green tea instead of the standard black tea. I wish I had cooler glassware and some goggles so I could get my Dr. Horrible on.
3. Well-fitting bras As most plus-sized ladies know, we come in a variety of proportions that vary more extremely than our straight-sized counterparts. That makes finding clothes that much harder — big butts, round tummies, big boobs — no wonder plus-sized clothing is so boxy! It needs to be cut in such a way as to accommodate everyone’s lumps, bumps, and curves, no matter where they are. I personally have a pretty big differential between my bra band size and my cup size. I recently gained some weight, and when from a 36 G (that’s four Ds, people) to a 38 H. Now, I could still technically wear my old bras, though structurally they are designed for smaller boobs and the added strain is spread out through the muscles of my neck, shoulders, and back. If you have chronic back pain, there’s a good chance your bra is the wrong size. I had terrible back pain for years until my friend Susie suggested I go to Nordstrom’s and have a proper fitting. I was cramming my poor sweater puppies into a 38 DD, just because that was the biggest cup size I could find in conventional stores. In case you didn’t know, 38 H is a tough size to find. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to find cheap bras again, and it’s also tough to find bras that aren’t matronly and plain. This month, I lucked out big time.
I was able to get both of these comfortable bras, in the correct size, on sale for less than $50 apiece. They are also the two cutest bras I’ve ever owned. That is a major win for the big boobed.
4. Sleeping in and maintaining fabulous hair I have been trying out different hair colors in an effort to find something a bit more distinctive than my typical mouse-brown. I dyed it auburn for a while, and then dyed over that with black. I’ve been told it’s now “black cherry”.
My hair is pretty wavy, and I usually blow dry it in the morning to tame the bed head. Since springing forward for DST, I’ve been having a hard time waking up. I moved my alarm time up 10 minutes, then 20, then 30, then 30 with a snooze-button press… something had to drop out of my morning routine to make room for the extra zees. That translated into evening washes, and a metric butt-ton of bobby pins.
I generally get lots of compliments for this ‘do, which only reinforces sleeping in. Pretty soon, I’ll be getting up just in time to do my hair and then go back to sleep again. I’ll be the most well-coiffed, well-rested person in the history of this blog.
5. The Fat Word I started writing this blog when I was experiencing a lot of self-esteem problems and personal tumult. I was tired of passively cruising through existence having life happen to me. I needed to have some control over my life, do something positive with my free time, and generally realign my ethics compass. I conceived of The Fat Word originally out of frustration with life. Now that I’ve been writing, I’ve felt more connected not only with those around me, but with a whole community of people who also want to create a positive change in their lives and the lives of others. I have received overwhelming support for this blog from friends and loved ones. The Fat Word has dramatically improved my quality of life. It is something I have control over than is consistently positive and reinforcing, something to look forward to when everything else seems shitty. The Fat Word is perspective, perspective that I badly needed; The Fat Word works to help keep me from hating ME.
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!”
Because the 86th Academy Awards were somewhat lackluster this year, I ended up paying more attention to the advertisements. One advertisement in particular caught my attention, encouraging women to shop at JC Penney. I felt like a cryptozoologist waiting patiently in a bush for days, suddenly glimpsing a rare creature whose existence and behaviors were previously stuff of legend.
When you get to second 22, you see her. Majestic. Magical. The Fat Lady Unicorn.
Of course, she’s poorly lit. And in a bathroom. She’s not a social creature. She’s rarely seen in packs, and almost never in the daytime. Hopefully the good folks at JC Penney have learned some sort of insemination technique that we might use to breed more of these endangered creatures. That way, generations to come will be able to see more of these beautiful animals wearing all sorts of clothing, maybe even in broad daylight!
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.
Spring is upon us, and we will soon run out of excuses to wear our black-on-grey-on-black outfits. A lot of bigger gals shy away from bright colors for two reasons:
- We are ashamed of our bodies and don’t want to draw attention to them, and
- We just can’t find cute clothes in bright colors (society’s silent legitimizing of the first reason).
Well, this week I would like us all to open ourselves up to a new color possibility: Cobalt blue. This ain’t no navy, folks, nor is it a pastel. It is ultra-blue. BLUE. Check it out:
Let’s start with bottoms. Most of us stick to neutral bottoms, jeans and the like. We get a lot of flack for wearing leggings (even I was in the “leggings aren’t pants” category for a while). However, I have changed my tune because I SHOULD BE ABLE TO WEAR WHAT I WANT. Not everyone agrees. Beware, I am ’bout to post things I’ve found in the comments sections of various websites:
ye certain clothes look better on a certain shape, leggings also would not suit the bigger girl, depending on your height i think, anyone between 5foot and 5″5 anythin from size 6-12 is perfect. and taller can pull of the 14 anyone ouve them brackets is bordering on overweight alright. some big girls like certain clothes that would defo do nothing for them ye sure they might be fashionable clothes but would just look dreadful on them.
The idea that tight bottoms are inappropriate for fat people is classic fat shaming. I am 100% sure that the following leggings would look slammin’ on just about every gal I know:
If you wanted something a bit more substantial then leggings, you could go for skinny jeans:
If you’re feeling extra-sessy, consider a pencil skirt:
Cobalt is an ass-celebration color! In fact, it’s a celebration color, period. This bright blue can make you stand out at shindigs, rather than blending you into the background shadows. Of course, not everyone thinks we should wear cute dresses:
they don’t think they are fat lol
they think its okay to show off their bodies even if the rest of us don’t want to look at their cellulite and fat rolls
they want to dress like other girls- when really you should dress to flatter your body
It’s not quite warm yet up here in Seattle, so we still need jackets. You know what we need more? Blue, ruffly jackets:
If you aren’t quite sold yet, let me show you MY chevron cobalt legging realness:
ONE MORE BONUS DRESS:
Stay tuned for future informal chromatophobia therapy sessions. Want to see a color featured? Shoot me an email or leave a comment!
I have a deep and enduring love for one Pam Poovey, a fictional cartoon character on an FX show called Archer. Let me give you a little background knowledge so that you might fully appreciate her vast buckets of awesomeness.
Pam is the HR director of a spy agency called ISIS. She is plus-sized, drinks hard, and doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit. She laments from time to time, saying “I am an attractive, full bodied woman, but nobody will have sex with me! And I have so much love to give!” Despite that, she’s had just about everyone in the entire office, both men and women. She paid her way through college bare-knuckle boxing. She has a tattoo on her back of a Lord Byron quote reading:
“For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed: And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!”
There are also thirteen tally marks, presumably indicating the number of dudes she beat to death in her boxing fights.
She’s a bit of a perv.
She took the entire agent exam nekkid so no one could say she cheated.
She’s tough. Compelling. Hot as hell.
Most recently in the show, ISIS has been disbanded and they now operate as a vice ring. Pam developed a bit of a cocaine problem, and then one episode was revealed to be… well, see for yourself:
Skinny. She’s skinny. Holy shitsnacks, can’t I have just ONE awesome fat female role model on television? I know she’s a cartoon, but she was MY cartoon. MY sturdy bisexual binge-drinking nympho.
From a story perspective, she has become thin as a result of cocaine, which might be the show taking some sort of stance on artificial thinness. Perhaps the writers want to emphasize the dangers of cocaine abuse. That’s what my heart hopes, anyhow. I am going to ignore these recent events and simply reflect fondly on the dolphin-puppet abusing, food-loving, rowdy, proud, strong, sexy lady who splooshes my heart with awesomeness.
I was talking to my good friend Danica the other night about the seemingly unfair cost structure for plus-sized clothing. It’s fairly common knowledge that an item of plus size clothing costs more than its straight size counterpart, but why? Is it the cost of the cloth? A manufacturing difference? Availability? Not enough buyers? I decided to do my own pseudo-scientific investigation to find some answers.
First of all, is there even a large enough market to make plus sizes anything more than boutique? Well, elsewhere on the site I’ve cited sources pointing to the fact that over 1/3 of American women are classified as obese. Other research shows that an additional 1/3 of women are classified as overweight according to their BMI. I am reasonably sure that the nudist population doesn’t skew too dramatically toward us fatties, or at least not significantly enough as to have an impact on clothing demand. Essentially, two-thirds of ladies out there are shopping for a size 12 or above. Clearly, the problem isn’t having enough buyers; maybe there are too many buyers. It’s the first law of supply and demand, right? Let’s do some Google-fu and break it down.
My go-to cheap, non-thrifted clothing option throughout my kiddie-coaster weight fluctuations over the last 10 years had long been Old Navy. ON is the abusive boyfriend of the plus-sized clothing world. It has a plus section, and for a while it was in stores. It has now been relegated to online-only. Maybe because we fatties tarnish the brand? On their website, they advertise 288 dresses in straight sizes (XS-XXL) and 78 plus-sized dresses. That’s nearly a four-to-one ratio. FOUR-TO-ONE.
Target is another box store trying to appeal to the plus-size crowd (albeit ridiculously at times — remember the “manatee” incident?) What do their numbers look like?
When I searched for women’s dresses on Target’s website, 282 of the tops were in women’s straight sizes (XS-XL) and 71 were in plus sizes (1X-4X). That’s a four-to-one ratio of straight-to-plus dresses. Pants have a similar ratio, with tops faring slightly better with a three-to-one ratio. OH, YAY! I AM SLIGHTLY LESS LIKELY TO FEEL BAD ABOUT MY TOP SELECTION!
What about the price differential? I think a lot of retailers have caught on to the fact that bitter fat chicks like myself do these sorts of comparisons, and have thusly renamed their different clothing items to make such comparisons difficult. I have stuck with basics to make the comparison process easier. Let’s look at Old Navy again:
Black t-shirts shouldn’t be very different, right?
Can I just say that it pisses me off that they use mannequins for the plus size clothing and actual people for the straight sizes?
The plus-sized tee is almost $7 more. It is literally seven dollars more to be born with big tits or various bedonkadonk. And it’s not even the most drastic sticker shock I’ve found! Let’s look at some more examples at different price points.
Nordstrom is a solid department store that sells a lot of high-quality basics, like this Eileen Fisher pencil skirt:
Notice that the petite and regular sizes cost the same, while the plus size skirt is $10 more. If it is a matter of increased fabric, shouldn’t the petite be less expensive?
Not only is the Sandra Ingrish top $14 more, it also comes in fewer colors. Again, the petite and regular sizes are the same.
Determined to figure out some rational reasons for the price differential, I redoubled my Google-fu efforts. I finally found a logical argument from an actual pattern-maker/designer:
When drafting a multi-size pattern for a garment, you start with what is called a base size. Ideally, this size falls in the middle of the range you’d like your garments to cover. For an XS through XL range, the base size is Medium. For a 0 to 16 range, the base would be an 8. If you grade correctly, you can hang you XS size right next to your XL size and they look the same, just larger/smaller. Sometimes proportions change a bit, but really the design should translate the same.
Let’s say you have a fantastic dress in an 8 and wonder, “Why isn’t it available in a 20, or a 22 ,or a 24!?!?” Well, typically when you grade your garment beyond a XL or a 16, the jump between sizes increases more than the jump between a size Medium to a Large. So to fit for a plus size, you have to start with a whole new base size that sits in the middle of the Plus size range. A good example of this at a retail location would be Lane Bryant, who doesn’t go smaller than a 12.
Essentially, what the author is saying is that plus-sizes require a whole new pattern, and cannot simply be upsized from an existing straight-size pattern. I guess it’s just unreasonable to expect a manufacturer to desi– OH WAIT WHAT?
Notice the price points for these items. Identical styles for a variety of sizes (albeit probably slightly different patterns) for the same price! ModCloth is not the most affordable online store, but I am heartened by their commitment to provide cute, quality items in a large range of sizes:
“A lot of vendors will encounter a challenge when trying to design for plus and stop there,” Technical Designer Goretti explained. “You want to feel flawless. You want to put it on, zip it up, and go out and not deal with too large arm holes or restricting fabric. When working with designers, I get to be your advocate to make sure what’s getting made ultimately is amazing — and not letting the limitations of fabric or patterns get in the way.”
ModCloth suffers the same problem regarding their ratio of regular-size to plus-size clothing. I did a search for dresses, and found 2,278 dresses in the XS-XL range. How many dresses in the 1X-4X range? 489. That ratio is worse than both Target AND Old Navy.
As far as I can tell, it’s possible for manufacturers to make plus size clothing that is cute and not overpriced… they just aren’t. There is a dearth of options. Designers and manufacturers can charge more because we will pay more, regardless of the ethical implications. I know that if I find something cute and well-fitting, I will buy the shit out of it in multiple colors because who knows when I will find something like it again? Not knowing if/when I’ll be able to find something that makes me feel cute and comfortable is manipulative and almost cruel. Despite my criticism of the plus-to-straight size ratios at most stores, at least it looks like the industry is finally moving in the right direction.