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.

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Tell Target, fatties like florals too!

I’m seriously in love with Target’s Prabal Gurung collection, but…it only goes up to a size 16. (Why am I not surprised?)

Dear Target, I want this in size fat!

So I used their contact form to send them the following letter:

Hi,

I love all the pieces in the Prabal Gurung clothing line. However, as a plus size fashion blogger who usually wears a size 22, I was disappointed to see that the line’s sizing ends at a 16.

These pieces are gorgeous, and I would absolutely buy them if they came in my size. Please consider expanding the collection’s size range so that plus size fashionistas can wear it as well!

Thanks,
Laura

If you also want to see amazing florals in sizes above 16, feel free to drop them a note as well! Target’s a big company, and I doubt they’re going to listen to a few fatshionistas, but it can’t hurt to try.

The complex ethics of fa(t)shion blogging

Fatshion: the intersection of revolution and glitter.

Through another one of Sal’s link round-ups, I found this thoughtful post on the ethics of fashion blogging.

RK makes really good points, but I have some thoughts that complicate the matter–especially when it comes to fatshion.

1.) Fatshion is radical. It’s about taking up space, showing the world that fat women (and men) can have fun with fashion too. That we don’t have to wear muumuus, unless we want to. That we won’t put up with shitty clothing options from major retailers like Lane Bryant. That we don’t believe the right to self-expression should end at a size 14.

Fatshion is about inspiring people never thought they could dress themselves in a fun and creative way. It’s about inspiring people who used to think they were only allowed to wear black, or vertical stripes, or small prints. It’s a way of building community, both in the blog-o-sphere and in physical spaces like plus size boutiques, pop up stores, and clothing swaps.

Fatshion, for many people, contributes to the process of loving their bodies–although there are many other ways to do so, and neither fatshion nor loving your body should be mandatory.

2.) Enjoying compliments on your style is not an inherently bad thing, especially if you’re also complimenting others. Sure, it can get out of hand if it becomes your sole motivation, and then it’s a good idea to step back a bit.

But for fat people, compliments aren’t just good selfish fun. They’re an antidote to the ridiculous amount of negative messages we receive every day.

I’m lucky in that I’ve never gotten fat-related insults from strangers. I’ve never been mooed at, or called a fat ugly bitch from a moving car, or judged on my shopping cart contents. But these are all things that have happened to other women in the fat-o-sphere. And despite my luck at dodging such explicit insults–and in fact getting regular compliments from strangers on everything from my glitter bows to my dark purple skinny corduroys–I still have to deal with something like 386,170 fat-negative messages a year from the media.
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On thin privilege and online shopping

The perils of buying clothing and bras online: way too much stuff to return.

I’ve been reading through Already Pretty’s archive of link roundups, and there’s some really interesting stuff.

This is a response to one of the posts Sal linked to, although unfortunately I can’t find it.  It was an ode to buying clothing online, written by a straight sized woman.

I kind of hate when women who don’t wear plus sizes talk about how much they love shopping online, while we fats don’t have much other choice.

As someone who usually wears a size 18-22, I do have a few real-life options–which is more than many larger people have, especially if they don’t live in or near a major city. But there are very few stores near me that are exclusively plus size. The Boston area does have a few (Lane Bryant, Avenue, and Ashley Stewart), but none are particularly easy to get to from where I live. There’s also H&M+, which has awesome stuff, although a much smaller selection than H&M’s straight sizes.

But most of the stores where I sometimes find clothing–Target, Marshall’s, thrift stores, etc.–have only a few items in my size. And their plus size selection is usually a lot less interesting than their straight sizes. So most of the time it’s just not worth it.

I know that shopping online is sometimes necessary for specific items like tutus, petticoats, and My Little Pony t-shirts. And if I wore straight sizes, I’d totally buy online from Topshop and Modcloth.

Online shopping does have its place. But depending on it sucks for many reasons:

1.) You have to pay for shipping and wait for your package to arrive. Then, if it doesn’t fit, you have to return it and pay even more shipping. All the shipping charges, on top of the higher price of plus size clothing as it is, are like tax for being fat.

Sometimes, you can get free shipping for orders over a certain amount of money. And a few places, like ASOS Curve, offer free returns. But neither is very common.  And even if you can get free shipping for orders over $50 or $100, what if you really only want one item from that store?

2.) You don’t get to try things on before buying them.  Different brands’ sizing run differently, and rarely match up to their size charts. Two similar items by the same brand can fit completely differently. For example, this peplum lace top from Deb fits me perfectly, whereas their floral top is way too tight.

Sometimes, you have buy a lot of things before finding one that fits, which means more waiting and more shipping charges, plus the hassle of packing everything up and taking it to the post office. And some companies are really slow about processing returns, so it can be a month or more before you get your money back (I’m looking at you, eShakti).

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Blah.

Tess Munster, a kickass plus-size model whose every move I follow on Facebook, recently posted the following status:

nothing like going to a mall to remind you it’s so much cheaper to dress cute when you are skinny. The amount of time & money that goes info looking fashionable (or even decent) past a size 18 is ridiculous. It’s almost as if we are being punished for being big. I hope women who are smaller remember that when they are complaining about the prices of their clothes. Yes, we have affordable options, but not enough.

It’s so true, and so frustrating. I’ve found the same thing in thrift stores–occasionally I get lucky, but there’s so much more interesting, funky, colorful clothing in straight sizes.

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