An important perspective on fatshion

While poking around Tumblr (which I am getting more and more tempted to join, although the last thing I need is another way to waste time online!), I found this critique of fatshion:

Fashion is a (too) large part of fat activism and I can understand its allure but basically as I see it fatshion doesn’t mean shit against the actual issue of CLOTHING for larger/deathfats, medical access, spacing access, race, class and other intersecting oppressions.

I mean who is buying all that expensive ASOS poorly made clothing? Not anyone over an AUS size limit of 26. Maybe poor women like me drive themselves broke to have what we’re taught acceptably pretty acceptably fat women should have. Maybe middle class or wealth privileged smaller fats.

And also we talk about fatshion at the expense of talking about the complex ways clothing is used as social markers and about the way clothing can be used to visually construct identity.

The Sugar Monster added her perspective as another fat woman who feels alienated from fatshion.

I feel….well, pretty much the same way as Lisa Monster:

This is really important, and I really would like to be able to add to it. I definitely feel that finding the “fatshion” community was so important to me in my self acceptance, and I think right now I’m stuck between that place and being able to join the dialogue about the real issues for fat people, and I hope that it doesn’t seem hypocritical of me to be agreeing with all of this and still posting and reblogging all of the pretty clothes. I’m still trying to find my voice right now, but I really want to thank everyone who has spoken out in the past and who is speaking out now about the issues that exist within this community. 

Fatshion has been a huge (no pun intended) part of fat liberation for me. And I’ve been into playing dress-up–ahem, I mean fashion–ever since I was a little kid. It’s a form of creative expression for me, and it’s not something I can or want to give up. But I also think it’s important to recognize that fatshion doesn’t do it for a lot of fat people, for a lot of reasons. That there are many other paths to liberation. That fatshion, perhaps unfairly, takes up a lot of space in the fat acceptance movement–especially online.

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Fatshion: not inclusive enough

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of fatshion and forget that it’s still nowhere near being truly inclusive.

There are far too many plus size lines that stop at a size 22 or 24. A few, like ASOS Curve, run really big. But most of them don’t, so they end up leaving out a lot of people.

And it’s even worse for people who wear above a size 30 or so.

Ragen at Dances With Fat recently posted about a new runway-inspired collection from Lane Bryant, which only goes up to a size 24–even though the store’s regular items go up to 32.  She called for commenters to suggest alternatives to LB, and many (including me) did.

But one commenter, Amanda E, pointed out that even a thread full of plus size shopping suggestions leaves her out:

This whole subject – of clothing, much less any sort of fashion/fatshion – makes me so damn sad, depressed, self-loathing, etc. I would love, love, love to wear clothes that flatter me and make me feel good. I had to skim the comments just like i would normally do on an anti-fat article (or even a pro-fat article on a mainstream website, where the comments are so often anti-fat). Not that this is anywhere as bad as that, but I was getting that same sick to my tummy feeling that I usually get… You see, I wear, like, an 8X. I can’t say for sure, since so few brands carry my size. I can wear the occasional 6X dress from onestopplus.com – if and only if it is a frumpy style; they seem to cut those larger. There is one – count ‘em, ONE – style of blouse (glorified tee-shirt) in which I feel comfortable. I have one of every color. And I wear the Same. Damn. Pants. every day – boring knit black ones from Making It Big, which barely fit and for which I pay like $70 apiece (including shipping). I am so far from having ANY FATSHION CHOICES AT ALL that it makes me sad and sick inside to read all these suggestions… that are supposedly inclusive.

It is SO MANY kinds of wrong that anyone should have so few options, especially in a world where millions upon millions of clothing items are produced every year.

It is so many kinds of wrong that with all the independent plus size designers out there, not one of them caters to sizes 30+.  (She does mention eShakti, which does custom sizing–but their shit is expensive, and their customer service sucks. No one should have to depend on them as their only option for nice clothing.)

It is so many kinds of wrong that fatshion, which is liberating for so many people, leaves so many others out.

We need a new, truly inclusive fatshion movement. One that demands affordable options for people of all sizes, not just the ones that start with a 2.