More thinking about the commercialization of fatshion

(Earlier posts here, here, here, and here.)

I read another interesting response to Natalie’s piece, from Kath of Fat Heffalump. She argues that:

Fatshion is so much  more than mainstream fashion up-sized to fit a size 16 or 18.  Fatshion belongs to us, not to the fashion industry.  Fatshion will always be outside the margins, and will always be radical.  Fatshion belongs to here and now, not the past.  Fatshion is about finding your own style and rocking the hell out of it, flying in the face of a world that tells us we should never be seen.

I don’t agree with the premise that fatshion is always radical–I think that it, like almost anything else, can be co-opted. When fatshion becomes all about following trends, having the latest popular pieces, stoking an endless cycle of consumerist desires…then yeah. Not so radical. It’s a fine line, but I’ve seen a lot of fatshion going on that direction, and I’ve experienced that consumerist pull myself. It’s really tricky, and I don’t think that fatshion should be inherently immune from criticism.

But I do agree that there’s an amazing diversity of fatshion blogs, beyond the big names and the more commercially-oriented smaller names (some of who do have awesome style). And I agree that those bloggers shouldn’t be conflated with the small elite world of professional fatshionistas.

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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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