Tutus and Tiny Hats turns two (say that three times fast!)

pink azalea glen

A little over two years ago, I was thinking of starting a blog. I had a bunch of things I wanted to write about, but no idea for a cohesive theme–until I settled on fatshion. Over time, my blog has come full circle: starting with fatshion gave me the structure and pressure-free space I needed to start writing about all sorts of other things, from post-growth economics to climate change to sustainable travel.

Just having a place to write opened up a world of thing I needed to say. And it has also made me a more engaged blog reader. I’d been reading blogs since college, when I got deep into the feminist blogosphere (which eventually led me to Shapely Prose and fat acceptance), but rarely commented until I started blogging myself. And after years of haphazard blog-reading, I finally got organized, collecting the blogs I wanted to follow first in Google Reader and then Feedly.

Through blogging, if somewhat indirectly, I’ve gotten involved with my local fat community, and started the Boston Fatties Meetup Facebook group. Having a real-life fat-positive community is awesome, something I could only have imagined back in my Shapely Prose-reading days.

Strangely enough, back when I was so into SP and other fat-o-sphere blogs, I never got into the fatshion side of things. I’m still kicking myself for not joining the Fatshionista LiveJournal back in the day–I’m pretty sure I was at least vaguely aware of it, and I’m not sure why I didn’t think to join. But whether or not I was consciously thinking about fatshion, I always enjoyed dressing up and adorning myself. I can trace my love of clothes back to the (floral skirt show and tell, ll bean catalogs – poring over the rainbows of color options)

I see my blog as a culmination of so many things: my lifetime love of color and adornment, the writing skills I learned in high school and a variety of creative arts camps, the feminist blogs I read endlessly in college, the ways I learned to think about social structures through my sociology classes (especially Wealth and Poverty with Robert Reich).

Sometimes blogging feels almost like writing poetry. Sometimes I recognize that cycle of frustrations and highs from the days of writing papers and essays–that near simultaneous combination of, “Ugghh, I hate writing” and “Woohoo, I love writing!” Other times it’s just about describing what I wore and when I wore it, and that’s ok too. This blog isn’t meant to be a showcase of my best writing; it’s more like a snapshot of my life, including both the eloquent moments and the times when I just want to look at pretty things.

That’s one of the reasons why, a few months ago, I changed my tagline to a famous line from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” I might change it again at some point. I might even change the name of my blog to better represent the variety of things I write about, although I really do like the name Tutus and Tiny Hats. And of course, I still love actual tutus and tiny hats!

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this ongoing journey: my readers and commenters, the bloggers who inspire me, everyone who has engaged with my blogging and its real-world extensions in ways large and small. I am so glad to be part of a fabulous, fatshionable, world-bettering community with all of you.

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The Big Thrifty 2014 = awesomeness.

group of volunteers sitting on pile of bagged clothing donations

The Big Thrifty just gets better every year. This year, it moved to a much more spacious location, which was a huge improvement over the previous one. Not only was it bigger, air-conditioned, and so much more comfortable, but it had extra space for movement classes and hanging out. Being able to sit around, talk with my friends, and make new ones made the event so much more fun.

I volunteered to help set up the event the night before, which was a lot of fun although unexpectedly exhausting. I got to meet Deb Malkin, the founder of Re/Dress and co-founder of the Big Fat Flea, and a bunch of other cool people. We volunteers also got first crack at the clothes, and I found a few great pieces–including the sparkly bubble skirt that I wore to the event itself.

One of the new features this year was a photobooth, which means I have some fun pictures from the event to post! A bunch of them feature the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a modern order of queer nuns. They were so nice and had some truly fabulous costumes.

three women and two drag nuns in rainbow photobooth

Me with Shannon, Emily, and two of the Sisters

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Repost from Glorify: Making fatshion accessible to all, required for none

A recent Facebook conversation I had with a few friends about fashion reminded me of this post I wrote last March. It was originally posted at Glorify: Basecamp for the Fat Acceptance Web, which unfortunately no longer exists, so I decided to re-post it here.

Making fatshion accessible for all, required for none

It’s an uncomfortable reality that fatshion, which is liberating for so many fat people, can also be alienating–even heartbreaking–for others.

I think it’s important to both 1.) make room in fat acceptance for all voices, not just the ones who are into fatshion and 2.) keep pushing to broaden the accessibility of plus size clothing, in terms of both cost and size.

Some fatties just aren’t into clothing, and that’s totally ok. It’s important to share the voices of a wide range of fatties with different experiences and focuses–which is something Glorify does really well.

At the same time, we can’t stop pushing to make fatshion as accessible as possible for those who want it.

On the Cost Front

Clothing swaps and bargain shopping events, like the Big Thrifty here in Boston, are a good way to make awesome clothing affordable to the many fatties who can’t afford the newest ASOS Curve or Domino Dollhouse designs. (Not to mention a great way to build fat community and model a sustainable economic system.) They’re becoming more and more popular–I read about a new event every week!

The downside is that such events usually take place in cities, which leaves out rural fatties. One alternative for them is online clothing exchange communities like Fatshionxchange. Most of the clothing is super-cheap, and there are some gems to be found.

I’ve both sold and bought clothing on Fatshionxchange, and I’ve gotten some great items for way cheaper than their list price. Unlike buying directly from the manufacturer, though, there are no returns or exchanges–so it works best for buying items of a brand or style you’re already familiar with.

On the Size Front

Kath of Fat Heffalump has been a leader in advocating for clothes for supersize fatties. She has offered to help plus size companies expand their lines, has gotten both Autograph and Target Australia to expand their plus size offerings, and started a Super Sizes Facebook group as a launchpad for more activism. She also has a thread for recommending companies that carry sizes above 3x/24.

A while back, Ariel of Kiddotrue started a campaign to expand ASOS Curve’s size range, although unfortunately it never took off. Should we try again with ASOS, maybe with a petition or emails in addition to a Twitter campaign? Is there another strategy that might work better, or other brands that might be more receptive?

Sunday links, 12/22/13

Merry almost-Christmas to those who celebrate it, and I hope you are all having a warm and festive season!

Fa(t)shion
-On fashion as armor.
-So apparently Torrid is rebranding itself to be less alternative and more trendy–didn’t that already happen like eight years ago? Torrid hasn’t been alternative in a long, long time.
Bangladesh factory fires: why brands are accountable and should compensate victims now.
-The Closet Feminist questions the meaning of quirky style in a three-part series here, here, and here.
Why “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o should be your new fashion idol.

Fat Acceptance
Memo to Michelle Obama: fat shaming is not ok.
-Sadly, there will not be a NOLOSE conference in 2014, but people are planning local fat events all over the country. If you’re in Boston, check out the Boston area fatties meetup group for updates!
-If you’re looking to make a holiday donation that promotes body positivity, check out the Girls Rak bellydance and body image program.
Just no, Jennifer Lawrence.
Tyra Banks, please say no to Special K.
The HAES files: examining the so-called “evidence.”
-If you’re in San Francisco, check out Marilyn Wann’s Movement of the Month Club.
-Yet another way that diet culture is harmful to people’s health: spike in harm to liver is tied to dietary aids.

Climate and Sustainability
-Bill McKibben’s latest: Obama and climate change: the real story.
Renewable energy, education, and economic development combine at Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative.
Sink tank: in Miami, climate scientists ask, “how soon, how deep?”
The entire IPCC report in 19 illustrated haiku.

Jobs and the Economy
This new conference on transition economics looks potentially awesome.
-I love the idea of Write A House, a new organization that gives houses to writers in Detroit. They’re raising money by IndieGoGo for their first home renovation.
An open letter to Sheryl Sandberg from a 20-something woman in tech.
“We don’t have a marketing budget”: the dirty side of blogging.
Surviving rent: why artists can’t afford critical neutrality.

Everything Else
I don’t want Tim Wise as an ally. No thanks.
-Melissa writes about how the way Beyonce is sexy with her partner feels safe to her.
On defending Beyonce: black feminists, white feminists, and the line in the sand.
Hot sauce over humanity: on Sriracha.
Notes from the urban/rural divide: romance vs. reality.
-I really like this piece, which ties in with my recent post on the complexity of hope: Hope, power, and how Occupy invigorated our generation’s fight for survival.
On gender diverse parenting vs. raising a gender creative kid.
On depression, and the toll academia extracts.
A female author talks about sexism and self-promotion.
-Lindy West’s takedown of Love, Actually is perfect and hilarious. “Cock-blocktopus” = my new favorite word ever.
How to be less of a jerk to students with anxiety disorders.
Sensitive Santas, who are specially-trained to work with autistic children, are a huge win for families.
20 last-minute black feminist gift ideas for girls.
Calling IN: a less disposable way of holding each other accountable.
-Tori writes about many of her students losing their food stamp benefits.
-Angi writes about her big polyamorous wedding.
A personal look at #NotYourAsianSidekick, and an interview with Suey Park, who started the hashtag.
On long-term travel as running toward, not running away.
Darcy the hedgehog’s Instagram pictures are adorable!

Where’s the line between making fun of clothes and making fun of the people who like them?

I may be weird but I love the hell out of this dress. It reminds me of both the late ’90s and a LeSportSac purse, in a good way.

Last week, I posted a link to a Fatshionista post about a company that makes organic plus size clothing. Most of the commenters there were…not so positive about the clothes. My friend Cheshirekit pointed out:

The organic clothing retailer is waaay out of my price range, but very much my style, and it makes me sad to see the commenters of fatshionista tearing it apart. I can’t be the only fatshionista who’d rather wear layers of muumuus with lovebeads than skinny jeans with a graphic tee and scarf or somelike, but it sure does often feel like it. :(

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, with the rise of WTF, Plus Size Manufacturers? and the general popularity of snarking on items that the author finds ugly or unfashionable.

I’m all for criticizing the limited options we have in plus sizes, and how they’re often overpriced compared to their straight size equivalents. But I’m not sure it’s possible to make fun of individual items without implicitly insulting the taste of people who like and would wear them.

It just hurts to read people saying things like this about items of clothing that I think are cute and would totally wear:

For all those times you’ve wanted to wrestle lions for the amusement of Ceasar [sic], but you just didn’t have a thing to wear! 

perfect for lazy “nightmare before christmas” cosplay, outfits to wear when you ‘catfish’ someone, and basically nothing else.

If I wore these I would frighten the children.

this is basically what the joker’s plus size wife would wear to their daughter’s wedding reception. this garment is reversible. spoiler: the thing it reverses into also sucks.

As a fat woman, I get enough negative messages about my body. I don’t want to hear more negative messages about how I dress it–even if they’re cloaked in the plausible deniability of “I’m just insulting the clothing itself, not the people who wear it! Diff’rent strokes!

The problem is, clothing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Clothes aren’t just items on websites–they’re a social and artistic language. They’re a form of self-expression.

I may not be my clothing, but my clothing (and the clothing that I find attractive) does represent my taste, my style, my own creative way of being in the world.

So when I see a piece of clothing that I think is butt-ugly, I keep it to myself. Because my ugly may be another person’s awesome, and who am I to tear down their style?