Stop making life hard for retail workers in the name of activism. Seriously, just stop.

I keep reading about forms of activism that involve going into a store and making a mess–from “occupying” Abercrombie & Fitch to spelling out pro-choice messages with craft supplies in Hobby Lobby to reorganizing clothes to put larger sizes at the front of the racks.

I can understand the subversive intent behind these actions–for example, as someone who’s always had to dig out my size from the back of racks and the bottom of stacks, the thought of putting larger sizes front and center appeals to me immensely. I love the idea of being able to walk into a store and see my size at the front, if only briefly.

But I think that when we engage in activism, we need to ask: who is harmed by our actions? Are we actually targeting those in power, or those at the bottom–like the poorly-paid, erratically-scheduled, benefits-denied, mostly female retail workforce? Are we punching up or punching down?

Time and time again, women with retail experience have come into these threads and pointed out that such actions are not only ineffective, but also harm women who are already vulnerable. They’ve told stories about times when they were blamed for their customers’ mess–yelled at, forced to work unpaid overtime to clean up.

Time and time again, they’ve made it clear that such activism not only never reaches the people with the power to make changes, but also directly harms those at the bottom of the ladder. Time and time again, the “activists” ignore them and continue insisting that their actions are subversive.

I’m not here for that kind of “activism.” I’m not here for activism that doesn’t ask, “Who am I helping? Who could I be harming?” I’m not here for activism that conflates poorly-paid salespeople with the multinational corporations they work for. I’m not here for activism that repeatedly ignores the voices of poor and working-class women and women of color.

I’m here for thoughtful activism, activism that does its best to punch up rather than down.

 

Sunday links, 9/28/14

golden retriever puppy

One of the many cute puppies I’ve seen around town lately. Look at those eyes!

Fa(t)shion
Major retailers, you have no right to complain.
The complications of being a fat girl and still loving fashion.
Why read fashion blogs anymore, when they’re often more like magazines? This is definitely less of an issue for plus size blogs than straight size ones–but it’s still relevant, as a good chunk of the fatshion-o-sphere has become very much professionalized.
-Eloquii interviews Georgette and Jeniese on style.
Appropriation vs. appreciation: an illustrated style guide.
Whatever happened to butterfly clips? 11 reasons why we’ll always love those little plastic pieces of hair perfection.
-Ragen writes about the difficulty of finding plus size workout clothes for her Ironman training.
-Next weekend, there will be a gender and body positive clothing swap in Rhode Island.
-Check out Singapore’s plus size fashion magazine, Big is Gorgeous.
Hey modeling agencies, listen up.
-Emma designed a dress-like garment for men to start a conversation about power, gender, and fashion.

Fat Acceptance
5 inspiring plus size athletes on Instagram.
This is what an athlete looks like.
-Incredibly fucked-up: a woman was denied routine cancer surgery because she’s fat and disabled. This series of posts has more information, including contact information for the hospital–let them know how not-ok their behavior is.
The HAES Files: My mom has a disease.
-I wish I could be in Oakland for this event on challenging weight stigma with creativity and wit.
-Ragen interviews Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor about their new book, Body Respect.
-BEDA has a week full of posts on weight stigma.
I’m a fat bride.

Butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberry pizza–perfect for fall

Continue reading

My #FashionTruth

I know I’m a little late to the #FashionTruth conversation, but better late than never. I’m really glad that ModCloth’s co-founder Susan Koger has challenged the industry to change for the better, and I have plenty of thoughts of my own to add. Consider this my own open letter.

hot pink plus size outfit with blue scarf against pink wall

Dear Fashion Industry,

I’ve always loved fashion in one form or another, from the days when I pored over the rainbows of fabric colors in L.L. Bean catalogs to the time I showed off my new floral skirt for show-and-tell in first grade. I got really into style as personal expression in middle school, which is also when I became fat–so just as my interest in fashion deepened, I found myself excluded from it in so many ways.

Every teen magazine I read was full of unattainably-thin bodies, with only the occasional token plus size model who looked vaguely like me. As a young teen, I barely fit into a size 13, which was the biggest juniors’ size available in most stores–and then I gained weight and sized out of most juniors’ clothing. The fun clothes I saw in magazines rarely came in a size 16, and it was especially hard to find specialized items like prom dresses. It takes a toll on your self-esteem when you hardly ever see your reflection in media;  when bodies like yours are portrayed only as problems to be solved; when you can’t find your size in most clothing stores you walk into, or can only find one rack of frumpy dresses at the back of the store.

Plus size clothing has come a long way since then, mainly thanks to the rise of online shopping. I have far more options today at a size 22 than I did then at a 16. But still, it’s rare to find my size in a brick-and-mortar store, so I’ve mostly given up on buying clothes in person. And women who wear a size or two larger than I do, let alone a size 30 or above, have significantly fewer options.

This needs to change. It’s not ok that such a large percentage of women and girls don’t see themselves reflected in fashion media, and it’s not ok that so many of us can’t find clothes in our size.

plus size outfit pink jacket, blue and pink scarf, pink hat, and black pants Continue reading

Sunday links, 9/21/14: it’s finally fall

pumpkins and squash at farm stand

Fa(t)shion
-The New Yorker has a great profile of plus size style–just ignore the obligatory crap about how “obesity is a genuine health issue.”
A first for high fatshion: the Design Collective at Evans LFW Catwalk Show.
Two up-and-coming labels sent plus size models down the catwalk at NYFW.
-Kath shares an experience of clothes-shopping as it should be.
-Affinity rounds up places that sell plus size Halloween costumes in a variety of sizes, some up to 12X.
Why do designers hide their plus size lines? (Spoiler alert: because they’re douchenozzles who let fat-phobia get in the way of profit.)
How to manage a massive closet purge.
Are you more likely to buy things from retailers who use models in lots of different sizes?
-Everything in Zelie for She’s Pink Carousel collection is amazing, and should teleport to my closet immediately.
Rock n’ Roll Bride’s new collection for Crown & Glory = awesome.
-The San Diego fat clothing swap looks like it was so much fun!
22 fashion infographics you need in your life.
While the fashion world swoons over this season’s styles, the workers making them are fainting on the job.
The fast fashion industry doesn’t want you to know about these things.

Fat Acceptance
Vogue didn’t discover big booty–booty never left.
Fat discrimination is real discrimination.
Things you only know if you’re a “fat girl” on the internet.
Why I’m not signing the OAC petition.
Fat para-academics, read this!
-If you’re in Oakland, check out this fat dance performance.

Climate and Sustainability
Environmental justice works, and these folks show us how.
-Rebecca Solnit provides thoughtful historical context for the People’s Climate March. (Sadly, I won’t be able to make it, as life has been exhausting lately and I am dead-tired. But I will be there in spirit!)
Why do we protest? “We shouldn’t stop trying to create the world that we want to live in, but at the same time, we need to live right now in the world we want to create. We certainly can’t buy our way there and we probably can’t fight our way there either. Better to make as many friends as we can, gather them close, watch the flames together, and try to figure out how to live in the light that the fire reflects.”
Watch out, Wall Street, climate marchers are coming for you next.
Naomi Klein is right: unchecked capitalism will destroy civilization. I agree with this 110% except for the predictable analogy comparing climate change to weight gain causing diabetes, sigh.
11 short stories about the People’s Climate Train.
Civil rights heroes offer climate marchers a little wisdom.
Hey, U.N.: climate change and population are related. Continue reading

Pretty things I’m drooling over right now: dark florals and pink leopard

As the weather finally gets cool enough for cardigans and leggings, I’ve been eyeing warm-looking pink fuzzy sweaters and all things darkly romantic: lace, leather, tulle, dark florals. I’m also still obsessed with all things holographic (although somehow I haven’t managed to acquire any yet). What types of pretties have you been loving this fall, or spring if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere?

Dark romantic

 

Pretty pink things

 

Pretty black, holographic, and galaxy-print things