Another thing I’m sick of: blaming fat women for our lack of clothing options

rack of floofy betsey johnson dresses

Give me the pretties, pleeeeease.

While I’m on a roll of ranting about things that piss me off, here’s another one: the recent trend of blaming the lack of plus size clothing options on the supposed buying habits of plus size customers. This piece in TIME, and this one on Fashionista are two examples, and they make me so viscerally angry that it’s hard to respond articulately–but I’ll try.

“[R]eal change for plus-size fashion will come when customers make more conscious purchasing decisions,” claims the TIME piece. Hahahahaha, no. Real change will come when companies realize that fat women are people and start making clothes in our size. It’s kind of ridiculous to insist that fat women’s shopping choices must be the issue, when our whole problem is that we don’t have enough options to choose from in the first place.

In the Fashionista article, a blogger named Sarah Conley claims that plus size women are unwilling to buy higher-priced items. I’ve seen this claim so many times, and it annoys the shit out of me for a bunch of reasons:

1.) How can retailers know that plus size women won’t buy higher-priced items if they almost never offer them? It’s like giving a group of people a choice between peanut butter sandwiches and spaghetti with meatballs, and then claiming that group has no interest in filet mignon.

2.) Plus size clothing already tends to cost more than straight size clothing. Women who wear straight sizes may be more likely to invest in the occasional expensive, high-quality statement piece because they can get the rest of their wardrobe cheaply; women who wear plus sizes have far fewer truly cheap options. A lot of plus size clothing (I’m looking at you, Torrid) is both pricey and low-quality. And most stores that sell both straight and plus sizes charge more for the latter, even though the cost of the extra fabric is negligible.

In addition, plus size women often have to pay more to find bras in our size. I’m lucky that the Playtex 18-hour bra fits me comfortably and is super-cheap on Amazon, but most fat women I know spend ridiculous amounts of money to get bras that fit, while big-box stores and department stores are full of cute, cheap bras in smaller sizes.

3.) Fat people, especially fat women, face workplace discrimination–so we make less money and therefore have less to spend in the first place.

4.) Even if it’s true that fat women genuinely have no interest in high-end designer pieces, that doesn’t explain the lack of affordable options in our size range.  Continue reading

I’m SO SICK of fat-shaming within the environmental movement.

I know I’ve written about this a bunch of times before, and I don’t really have any new scintillating analysis. I’m just pissed off.

In the past week, I’ve seen the following headlines from the two major environmental blogs I read: Lose weight faster with the transit diet (Treehugger) and Just living close to Walmart makes you fat (Grist).

I’m so, so sick of environmentalists using fat bodies as a shorthand for everything that’s wrong with the capitalist, earth-destroying, people-destroying system we live in. I’m so sick of seeing people who care deeply about the same things I do treating bodies like mine as a symptom (or sometimes even a cause) of everything that’s wrong with the world.

There have always been fat people–since long before cars, suburban sprawl, or WalMart were invented–and there always will be. There are fat people who live in cities and get around by walking and public transit (ahem…*raises hand*).  There are thin people who live in exurbs and drive everywhere.  Fatness is neither a moral failing nor a metaphor for the ills of late capitalism.

Critique the system, not people’s bodies.

Promote good urban design and walkability on their own merits, not by scaring people with the threat of–gasp!–becoming fat, as if fatness is some terrible thing.

Let me tell you, it isn’t.

I can’t even begin to describe how frustrated I am, how long I’ve watched sizeism crop up time and time again among people who can critique almost any other kind of oppression.

I wish I could shake the entire environmental movement and somehow get it through their heads: all bodies are good bodies. “Obesity” is not a disease. Weight =! health. Fat people don’t consume more resources than anyone else. Our bodies aren’t a symptom or a metaphor–they’re just our bodies. Fat people belong in the environmental movement too, and we’re sick of being treated as victims, oppressors, or scapegoats rather than comrades.

We can hear what you’re saying about us, and we’re sick of it. We’re especially sick of it because we can see what’s happening to our planet and its people, and it makes us heartsick and terrified. We’re fighting like hell against the forces of greed and destruction, and for a vision of a better world.

We’re fighting alongside you–and instead of solidarity, we find our bodies used as punchlines.

I’m here to say: enough. We demand respect. We demand that you acknowledge our full humanity, nothing less.

 

Outfit August, day 17: pom-poms and unicorns

After my awesome day of merriment on Saturday, the birthday festivities continued with brunch on Sunday. I like having celebrations spread out across an entire weekend so that I get a chance to see as many friends as possible, and it was lovely to see a few friends on Sunday who hadn’t been free the day before.

Of course, I went all out rainbow-pink-colorful, because why not?

plus size outfit hot pink asos curve dress and rainbow pom-pom headband

Dress: ASOS Curve, headband and smaller ring: ASOS, shoes: Clarks, bracelets and giant ring: So Good, earrings: Blue Cloud Gallery, necklace: Kelsea Echo, sunglasses: Sweet and Lovely

plus size outfit hot pink asos curve dress and rainbow pom-pom headband

Yes, these earrings are made out of plastic bathmats. I love jewelry made out of everyday objects! Continue reading

If you are neutral in situations of injustice…you might just be busy and exhausted.

two buckets full of sunflowers at farmers market

I see this quote going around a lot: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

And I see a lot of similar sentiments in online activist circles: that idea that everyone needs to speak out about [insert issue here], or else they’re complicit in harming people. The implication that you’re bad or shameful if you don’t post about a specific issue on Facebook (especially if you–gasp!–post outfit pictures or other fluff instead), attend a specific rally, etc.

On one hand, yes. Silence protects oppressors. Speaking out is important and necessary. And there are some silences that are particularly egregious: like the huge numbers of white Americans posting about Robin Williams and the ice bucket challenge while completely ignoring Ferguson.

But at the same time, I feel like just keeping up with all the injustice in the world–let alone actually doing anything about it–would be multiple full-time jobs. It would be near impossible for any one person to speak out about every injustice that deserves to be exposed. And in general, it’s a good idea to take the time to do research before speaking up about something, or else you run the risk of buying into an oppressor’s narrative and standing up for the wrong side. (“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X) So even being able to speak out thoughtfully about any given issue requires a certain amount of time and energy.

And having that time and energy is, well, something that often comes along with privilege. Which is not to say that marginalized people don’t participate in activism–obviously, they do. But privilege makes it easier. If, say, you’re a single parent working multiple part-time jobs just to make ends meet, you probably don’t have a lot of time to attend protests or even share articles on social media. And that doesn’t make you a bad person.

Even if you’re middle-class or rich, and privileged in a lot of other ways, your personal life–family, friends, raising kids, dealing with physical or mental health issues, caring for ill or aging family members, advancing your career (or finding a career or even just a job), finding outlets for creative expression, volunteering, trying to eat well and get enough exercise and sleep, making some time for relaxation and fun–can take up most of your time and energy, and that doesn’t mean you’re self-centered or pro-oppression.

There’s a really, really fine line between encouraging people to stand up for justice and shaming people for having lives.

I’m not comfortable with condemning the vast majority of people as oppressors because they’re busy caring for themselves and their loved ones.

And I’m afraid that saying “You must take action about [insert issue here] now! Or else you’re a bad person!” runs the risk of alienating people who do care about that issue and just haven’t had the time or energy to take it on yet. It sets up a standard of “you have to be the best, most informed, quickest-acting activist, or else you shouldn’t even bother.”

I want to run around shouting from the rooftops about what’s happening in Ferguson and Gaza. And I hope that as many people as possible join me. But I’m aware that I have more time and energy for protest than many–not to mention that I currently work in a location that makes attending rallies really convenient–and I’m not going to judge other people for living their lives the best they can.

Dear Kelly Osbourne, women larger than a size 24 exist

kelly osbourne holding up sweatshirt with pink rose

Kelly Osbourne and one of her designs, from the Stories by Kelly Osbourne Facebook page

I was excited to find out that Kelly Osbourne is launching a clothing line in sizes 0-24–some of the pieces (like the metallic rose sweatshirt pictured above) are really cute.

But I was less excited to see the language she used to talk about her line:

Stories… by Kelly Osbourne is for EVERY woman, because I believe fashion should be fair! That’s why every single piece will be in a size 0-24. Yes, you heard me! This is for you ALL!

I appreciate that her line includes some plus sizes, which is more than most celebrity lines include. 0-24 is certainly a big range of sizes, and probably includes the majority of women. But it in no way includes all women, and claiming that it does erases the existence of women who wear a size 26 or bigger.

Larger fat women already experience some of the worse size discrimination, and have the fewest options for clothing. It’s especially shitty to imply they don’t even exist by emphatically stating that a 0-24 size range includes “EVERY woman.”

This happens again and again in the plus size fashion world, and I’m sick of it. I want women who wear a size 26, or 28, or 34, to have just as many clothing options as I do.  And if some companies aren’t going to include larger plus sizes, I want them to at least stop claiming that they make clothes for all women.

Outfit August, day 16: birthday party extravaganza! (picture-heavy)

Tomorrow is my 29th birthday! :D I celebrated over the weekend with my traditional combination of beach-going, dinner, and an evening party. I’m putting the pictures a bit out of order (dinner, beach, then party) because this amazing dress needs to be at the beginning of the post.

plus size silver retro metallic dress

Dress: Dots via a fatshion blogger who was selling some of her clothes, shoes: Clarks, fascinator: birthday present from Steve’s mom :), necklace, large ring, and rhinestone wristband: So Good, silver glitter bangle: clothing swap, rhinestone bracelet: Deb, small ring: ASOS, earrings: Artifaktori (which has since closed)

blue flower and feather fascinator headpiece Continue reading