Things that don’t impress me

Supposedly body-positive ad campaigns that only feature hourglass-shaped, flat-stomached, smaller plus size women.

Supposedly body-positive ad campaigns that claim to represent “all shapes and sizes,” yet come from a site that carries few plus size items, many of which run far smaller than true plus sizes. (Unique Vintage has only 85 plus size items available on their site right now, out of over 1,000 dresses, tops, and bottoms. About half of them are from Kiyonna; of the non-Kiyonna dresses, quite a few have size charts on which the largest size, 4x, is equivalent to a 16.)

I just can’t bring myself to care about images that don’t include any models who look like me, or stores that carry very few items in my size while they claim to champion all bodies. These campaigns don’t feel particularly new or revolutionary; stores like Lane Bryant have been parading hourglass-y, smaller-fat models around in their undies for years if not decades, and plenty of stores carry sizes up to 14 or 16. The same old “inclusion” that actually includes only a small minority of fat women doesn’t do anything for me, nor does the thin veneer of body-positivity that marketers have adopted as a trendy way to sell us the same old shit.

I’ll be impressed when Lane Bryant makes an ad campaign featuring models who wear all the sizes they carry, up to 30/32.

I’ll be impressed when Unique Vintage follows ModCloth’s example and actually starts making a variety of cute clothes in true plus sizes. (Which is not to say that ModCloth is perfect, but they’ve made some genuine big steps forward and shown that they’re responsive to their plus size customers.)

To be clear, I’m not bashing women who do find these campaigns exciting or inspirational. If they resonate with you, cool, you do you. I’m just not impressed, and I expect better.

Artificial scarcity in clothing is the worst.

Have you ever fallen in love with a dress, waited to buy it for one reason or another, and then found that it was no longer available? Have you ever bought something when you would have preferred to wait, because you knew if you didn’t snatch it up right away you might not get another chance?

This is artificially-created scarcity at work, and it’s a marketing technique that I find really manipulative and gross. All sorts of companies do it–large corporations, indie designers, straight size stores, plus size stores–but I find it both most frustrating and most understandable when small plus size companies do it.

Frustrating, because I expect large corporations to do pretty much anything in the name of profits, whereas small businesses actually seem to care about their customers as well as their bottom line. Especially plus size small businesses, who are aware of how few options their customers have. If a straight size item sells out, it’s easy enough to find something similar–but with plus sizes, once it’s gone, you might not see anything like it for a long time, if ever. Continue reading

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

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 worst 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.

Clothing for “all women” is not actually for all women (surprise!)

Ragen recently posted about Fabletics, an athletic wear company started by Kate Hudson. Although it claims to be for “women of all shapes and sizes,” shockingly enough, it’s not–it’s only for women who wear between a size 0-2/XS and 18-20/XXL. Their sizing is generous enough that I could probably fit into their bottoms, and possibly their tops if they’re sufficiently stretchy, which is more than I can say for a lot of brands that end at 18-20/XXL. But it’s still nowhere near inclusive of “all women.”

This is the letter I submitted to their contact page. If you’re also bothered by their messaging, consider sending them a note as well.

Dear Fabletics,

I am writing with regard to your messaging that your clothing is for “every body type,” “women of all shapes and sizes,” and “all women.” Contrary to these messages, I noticed that Fabletic’s clothes end at size XXL/18-20.

I appreciate that this is a broader range of sizing than most athletic brands. However, it still comes nowhere near including all women. As a woman who usually wears a size 20 or 22, I could probably fit into the bottoms, but not the tops; and I know many women larger than myself who would love to buy affordable, fashionable athletic wear if it was available in their size.

I am not asking you to expand your size range, although that would be great–I am merely asking that you be honest in your messaging. A size range from 0-2 to 18-20 includes many women, perhaps even a majority of women, but it definitely does not include “all women.”

If you do decide that you genuinely want to make clothes for all women, I recommend following the example of eShakti, a manufacturer that sells clothing in sizes 0 through 36 and also offers custom sizing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Laura

There is no one right way for fat women to look

I saw this meme floating around Facebook (source), and it really rubbed me the wrong way.

I’m all for breaking down stereotypes and expectations about how fat women should dress. I’m all for criticizing media that only present fat women wearing certain styles, or retailers that sell us a narrow range of options based on the erroneous perception that we don’t want to show off our bodies. I’m all for promoting retailers who sell fresh, fun, and edgy designs in plus sizes.

But I’m not ok with implying that there’s something wrong with wearing loose-fitting garments, or that the woman on the right is more stylish, attractive, proud of her body, or deserving of celebration than the woman on the left.

I’m not ok with setting up fatshion hierarchies, privileging certain styles and amounts of skin shown. I’d much rather focus on expanding our options and encouraging all fat women–and men, and non-binary people–to wear whatever makes them happy.

Personally, I’d wear both outfits; they’re both fun and colorful in different ways. Sometimes I like to wear form-fitting clothes, and other times I like to wear looser items–because, you know, people are capable of enjoying more than one type of clothing. What can I say, it’s right there in my blog’s tagline (and in Leaves of Grass): I am large, I contain multitudes.

Dear fatkini manufacturers…

I’ve ranted about this before, but I’m going to rant about it again, because summer is coming up and I really, really want to find a fatkini. I’ve read so much about the transformative power of going out in public with your belly showing, and I want to experience that. I want to feel the sun on my squishy, stretch-marked belly. I want to say, “This is my body, and it’s a bikini body!”

Last year, I tried one of Gabi Gregg’s Swimsuits for All bikinis, hoping that maybe maybe a halter top would work for me…but no. Even tied loosely, the halter hurt my neck; tied tightly, it still didn’t give enough support. And no matter how I tied it, there was imminent boob-escapage. So I returned it, and I’ve been on the hunt for a non-halter fatkini ever since.

woman wearing hot pink gabi gregg swimsuits for all fatkini bikini with pink rose crown

I’m still looking. Jess Baker just posted a roundup of 18 fatkinis, many of which are really cute…and 16 of which are halters.

In both her list, and my searches around the plus size internet, the only alternative to halter tops seems to be tops with built-in underwires. I’d be willing to give them a try, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t be comfortable on me either–I don’t even wear underwire bras. I just hate having pokey things poking me.

Why won’t anyone make a fatkini with a mesh bra-like thing, which is what my one-piece has? I don’t know what’s it’s actually called, but it’s comfortable and reasonably supportive. I love, love, love my one-piece:

fat woman standing on the beach wearing a rainbow striped one-piece swimsuit

(It’s by a brand called Longitude Women’s, and my mom found it at either TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, in case anyone is looking for something similar.) Seriously, I wish someone would just make a bikini that’s exactly like my one-piece, but without the middle. How hard can it be?

#PlusSizePlease: an awesome new fatshion activism idea, which I tried out on Desigual

picture of desigual store window with sign that says

Yeah, no.

A few days ago, Curvily posted a great idea for fatshion activism: take pictures of clothes you’d buy if they came in your size, and post them to social media with the hashtag #plussizeplease.

And then yesterday, I walked past the Desigual store in Harvard Square that always makes me sad. Desigual is a Spanish brand that makes gorgeous, colorful, multi-patterned clothing–I found them through Already Pretty and fell in love.  But their sizing only goes up to L or XL in some styles, and XXL in others (which isn’t even plus sized, because they run so small–Sal mentioned here that she wears a size 8 in most clothing, but she wears an L or XL in Desigual.)

This time, the window display didn’t just make me sad–it made me angry. They had the nerve to put up a sign that said “Desigual for everybody,” with the full knowledge that their clothes don’t fit the majority of American women’s bodies. So I tweeted, “. Disappointed by this sign–it’s not “for everybody,” only bodies size 14 and smaller. ” If you want to see their clothes in plus sizes too, consider letting them know.

All of these in size fat, please:

Desigual clothes that should come in plus sizes

 

(And yes, I know their stuff is expensive. To be honest, if it did come in my size, I would be much more likely to buy it on eBay than directly from them. But if they decided to start making plus sizes, and if I had the money at the time, I’d definitely buy a new item or two to show them my support. And I feel like buying their clothes in eBay supports them indirectly, because the clothing still came from them at some point–and there wouldn’t be so much available for resale if they weren’t a popular brand to begin with.)

A short fatshion rant

Why are nearly all fatkinis halter-style and high-waisted? Neither of these things is comfortable on me (especially the halter, UGH–my neck hurts just thinking about it), but I want to be able to wear a bikini.

I want to rock out with my belly out. I want to wear something other than the one-pieces I’ve always worn because I had no other options. I want to walk onto the beach fat and proud, not ashamed of the stomach that I hated for so long, wearing something just as cute as thin girls get to wear.

Where are the regular-rise, non-halter fatkinis? Anyone? Bueller?

 

Dammit, I want pretty things.

Dear TopShop and NastyGal, please make all of these in size fat, now. (But with straps wide enough to cover my bra.)

I agree 100% with this piece by Erin Gloria Ryan on how “dressing your age” is dead. I am all for wearing whatever you enjoy, regardless of your age. I am all for throwing fashion rules out the window if they don’t resonate with you.

But the opening anecdote just made me sad:

A few months ago, I had a couple of hours to kill after work and found myself wandering over to the TopShop a few blocks from work and, as I sometimes tend to do, wasting time by trying on clothing weirder than anything I currently own. It’s fun in a movie montage-type way, finding out whether I can pull off a boxy pleather crop top, or a pair of fuzzy pink shorts with a denim corset and a mesh blazer or whatever crazy shit the store’s buyers are trying to trick shoppers into wearing that season. 

I’ve never been able to do that. Not as a teen, not now as an adult.

I’ve always loved outrageous, over-the-top clothing. I’ve always loved experimenting. And I’ve never had that easy access that straight size women take for granted.

I’m lucky to have clothing swaps and the Big Thrifty. And there are enough plus size options online that now, as a size 22, I have far more options than I did as a size 16 teenager in the late ’90s/early ’00s. (The suckiness of barely being able to find clothes in your size as a teenager, when you most want to experiment with fashion, would be a whole other post. Which I should probably write at some point.)

But still. I want to be able to walk into a store and try on any ridiculous thing that strikes my fancy. I want to try on weird clothing not for movie-montage-esque fun times, but because I genuinely love weird clothing. I want to wear unicorn sweaters and holographic prints and fuzzy everything. I want to dress like a ’90s club kid: neon colors, platform sneakers, photographic floral prints, clear vinyl jackets and all.

I want a plus size TopShop, a plus size NastyGal. I want not just the occasional fun item from ASOS Curve or Domino Dollhouse, but entire stores full of awesome stuff. Entire in-person stores, where I can try on clothes without paying for shipping, waiting for them to arrive, and then dealing with returns if they don’t fit. I want to be able to play around with clothes without commitment or risk.  And yes, I want them to be cheap as well. I hate paying so much more for clothes than people who wear straight sizes do–even though I know that in a sustainable and just fashion industry, all of our clothing would cost more.

Sometimes I just want pretty things. Pretty, ridiculous, shiny, cheap, teenage-dream things.

Sometimes I forget that there’s this whole world of clothing I can’t be part of, and when I get reminded, it just hurts.