Hiding My Sins

Published February 3, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’m wearing a new dress today.  It’s a really lovely maxi dress in a black and white print that I picked up on mega special (80% off original price I think) at Big W last Friday.  I’m also wearing a little black crochet shrug/bolero thing over it, just because the dress is a little cleavagey, and that wouldn’t be very appropriate for my workplace.

This morning, a colleague complimented me on my dress, and then said “Good idea wearing the shrug over your arms, they hide a multitude of sins.”  Now I don’t know about you, but I felt that the compliment was nice until that moment.  Because I wasn’t wearing the shrug to hide my arms or my sins.  I have no problem baring my arms, even though they are yes, shock, horror… fat.  Very fat.

Why is it that fat people, in particular, fat women, are supposed to hide their bodies away, or obey long lists of rules about how they dress?  And furthermore, why is it acceptable for people to hand fat people a compliment, and then take it away by suggesting that their outfit makes them look slimmer than they are, or hides their “sins”?  Why does “flattering” always mean “slimming”?

You know all the rules.  Fat people:

  • Shouldn’t wear stripes, especially horizontal ones.
  • Should cover their bodies.
  • Shouldn’t wear skinny jeans.
  • Should cover their arms.
  • Shouldn’t wear anything too fitting.
  • Shouldn’t wear anything too loose.
  • Shouldn’t show their tummies.
  • Should wear muted colours.
  • Should NEVER wear bright colours.
  • Should wear big prints.
  • Should wear small prints.
  • Shouldn’t wear ruffles.
  • Shouldn’t wear pastels.
  • Shouldn’t wear different colours on the top and bottom of their bodies.
  • Should flatten their tummies, thighs and butts with control top tights or spanx or some other kind of heavily elasticated undergarment.
  • Shouldn’t be tanned.
  • Shouldn’t be pale.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!!

Notice how many contradictions are up there in that list?  Yes, for every time you’re told one thing to do as a fat person when it comes to dressing, someone else is lining up to tell you the exact opposite.

Well here’s the thing.  This is my body.  My body isn’t slim, or the same shape as everyone else’s body.  It’s big and fat and lumpy and has a HUGE tummy that I couldn’t hide even if I parked myself behind a screen all day.  But it’s a healthy body that works and is beautiful in it’s own unique way, and that I have to clothe in a way that is a) appropriate for the venue that I am in and b) a way that makes me feel good and expresses my personality.  I DO NOT have to hide it, apologise for it, atone for it’s “sins”, disguise it, or be ashamed of it.  My body is not sinful because it is fat.  Fat does not have any connections to morals.  It’s just fat, not Satan.

I wear clothes that I like, that when I put them on, make me feel good, and express the mood I’m in and my personality.  I love bold prints and bright, rich colours, bare arms, dipping cleavage, soft, drapey fabrics that slide over my skin, prints that are feminine and prints that are cheeky and fun, styles that are comfortable for my busy day to day lifestyle and that are durable enough to last more than one or two wearings.

Of course, I do have a responsibility to wear clothing that is appropriate for the place I am wearing it.  A bathing suit is not the right outfit for my workplace, nor is a cocktail dress the right outfit for going to the dog park.  In my workplace I have to be groomed, clean and professional.  Being fat is not unkempt, dirty or unprofessional.  It’s just the shape of my body.  It’s not ok for me to be too cleavagey or show too much leg in the workplace, that goes for everybody regardless of their body shape/size, but it IS ok for me to bare my fat arms or wear horizontal bloody stripes!

If a fat body offends someone, it is THEM that has the problem, not the owner of the fat body.  If someone is upset at a fat person wearing something that they’re perfectly ok with a slim person wearing, then yes, it is THEM that has the problem, not the people wearing the outfit.  Bodies are not public property, nor are they bound by any rules as to what shape or size they have to be or even appear to be. Yes, that means that a fat body doesn’t have to wear “slimming” or “flattering” clothes.  They can break any and all of those “rules”, because they’re rules imposed ONLY on fat people, never on slim people.

Nor do fat people have to suffer in silence over those false compliments about how clothes “make you look thin/like you’ve lost weight” or “hide your sins”.  What’s wrong with just complimenting someone with “You look great today, that’s a beautiful dress.”  I’m far more likely to wear the dress that gets that compliment again and again than one that I’m told hides my fat away.  I think next time someone tells me that an outfit I am wearing hides my sins, I’ll suggest I should take it off because “If I’m gonna sin, I want to wear it like a badge of honour!”

But I know not everyone has the ability to be as cheeky and loud-mouthed as I am.  I know it really, deeply hurts a lot of my fellow fatties out there when people say these sorts of things, and I know a lot of you agonise over what you wear because you want to avoid people saying such things.  I used to as well.  Then I realised how bloody stupid all the rules were and that I couldn’t make everyone happy no matter what I did (unless I could miraculously become thin – but even then people would talk behind my back and say I was thinking too much of myself since I lost weight and blah blah blah).  So I decided to make ME happy.  And I found my cheeky, loud-mouthed attitude, screw what anyone else thought.

Wear what you want to wear my lovelies.  Wear what makes you feel good, what you like on yourself, what expresses how you really feel.  Wear it proudly and screw what anyone else says about your bodies.  When you feel good, you look good, and you show your beauty.  Every single human being has beauty, they just need to find the right way to show it, and I believe that is by being happy, proud of yourself and holding your head high.  YOU are worth it.  Every single one of you.

15 comments on “Hiding My Sins

    • I like them too, cos I can look like a pirate. Arrrr!

      I guess this is why I dye my hair hot pink and have tattoos in visible places. Fat women are supposed to be unseen. You can’t miss me!

  • Great for both of you! I am currently purchasing more long-sleeved shirts because most of my shirts are short-sleeved tees (I am a real jeans & tee person) & it is deep winter in Maine, with temperatures around zero F or just above & below zero chill factors & this house is cold & I am freezing & needing to layer. Currently I am wearing a very bright long-sleeve tie-dyed tee with a even brighter short sleeve Bear Jamboree Grateful Dead tie-dye over it. No one is going to miss me in a crowd.

    And thanks for adding the line about your big, fat belly. I have been part of fat acceptance for over 30 years & my belly, which is always large & round in comparison to whatever size I am & prominent not only because of its actual size, but because my CP causes me to throw it forward as I walk, has been the hardest thing for me to accept & love. I have spent many years exercising compulsively, years doing at least 1500 stomach crunches daily, but my stubborn belly remains. My round belly & aging body, which, post-menopause, has decided to be an apple rather than an hourglass, have ordained that when I buy the great-looking slim-cut or skinny jeans which hug the thighs & calves & butts of the models, in order for them to fit me comfortably through the waist & belly, they end up being somewhat loose & baggy through the lower body, which is built fairly slim for my size. However, I need to remember that ALL of my body is part of me & it ALL deserves my love, care & acceptance, & that I can indeed wear what I love, regardless of what anyone else thinks. And when we get out of the deep freeze, my arms will once again be freed.

    • I have an enormous belly. Like, 20 months pregnant. I carry more fat there than I do anywhere else. Followed closely by my boobs. I’m not even an apple shape, more like a barrel. If I didn’t have my belly, I’d be about 4 sizes smaller and a third of my weight lighter. But it’s there, and it’s not going away. My Grandma has the same mega-tummy, and my aunts on my father’s side had it too.

      It has always been the part of my body I’ve hated the most too. It’s so disproportionate to the rest of me, and so totally opposite to the flat, smooth bellies we’re told we’re supposed to have regardless of our size. Even when we see fat models photographed, a lot of times they still have flat bellies.

      Me and my fat belly are making a truce. I can’t hide it, nor can I continue torturing it or allowing it to torture me. It’s there, I am yet to actually like it but at this point in my life, we’re neutral… well, most of the time!

      And I’m no longer going to agonise over disguising something that a) I couldn’t disguise anyway and b) that is just part of me, it’s not anything to be ashamed of!

  • Such a great post. I’m just easing myself into FA (actually accepting myself as a fat person, instead of my fatness being a ‘temporary glitch’ that I delude myself I can exercise away) and one of my great joys is buying clothes which actually fit AND which I actually like. I’ve spend too long hiding in frumpy, baggy clothes, saving myself up for ‘the day when I’m thin’. Sod the fashion mavens and their ridiculous advice. If I want to wear horizontal striped socks and mary-janes, I’m damn well going to, because I love it.

    I’m having some trouble getting my family on board with this though; my mother particularly seems to gravitate towards buying me loose tunics and elasticated pants like geriatrics wear. I’m not ashamed of my body or who I am; why is she?

    • HellfireLover, it’s a process. Even though I am mostly positive and strong now, I do slip back every now and again. Mostly I try to remind myself to be kind to myself, and keep facing forward in the whole process.

      Don’t get me started on my family and their judgement of my body. The irony is, they’re quite happy to judge me on my body and life, but none of them look in the mirror very often, both literally and figuratively.

  • Fantastic post Kath! I am currently working in Plus Size Fashion and I am loving it because we have so many wonderful, lovely ladies that come in and dare to be different! We have bright colours, we have clothes that are curve hugging and for me as someone who always hid all my fattiness, it has shown me that it’s nothing at all to be ashamed of and to flaunt what I do have. So now I wear bright colours, I wear curve hugging clothing, hell I even sometimes wear those stripes & my hubby is loving it 🙂

  • You know, while plus sized clothing still leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to regular sized clothing, I must admit there have been vast improvements in the past year or so. Two years ago everything was boxy and baggy, subdued colours and not at all linked to everyday fashion. At least now I CAN buy maxi-dresses and shrugs and bright coloured tights and all the things I love.

  • Love, love this post. I think the “rules” that are out there re: what people should and should wear based on their size are just ridiculous. Just because something is not tight, flat or slender it has to be covered up? Why? To help with the visual aeshetic viewing of someone else? I DON”T think so!

    Any person, of any size, should be able to wear whatever they damn well like if it makes them feel comfortable, confident and beautiful and others should not pass judgment on that.

    Bet you looked gorgeous!

    • Thank you Julie. I certainly felt fabulous, which is the most important thing when dressing, I believe anyway.

  • I too has most of my fat in my”lower” tum and also my bum. I have a smaller waist, d cup boobs and slimmer legs than my body would suggest (tho not “slim” by certain standards :D). I just purchased 4 pairs skinny jeans and jeggings and I love them. I’m currently wearing them with tees and short dresses but when winter comes, I intend wearing them with knits and knee boots. I wear close fitting tee shirts and top and dresses that show my cleavage and I am in no way apologetic about this or my body. I have born 3 children from this body, I have ridden halfway across the state on a bicycle, I have climbed mountains. I also eat food and drink wine. I dance and make love and I am happy to be me.
    I’ll never understand why someone can’t just say “you look nice” and leave it at that. Ah well, in the end, it matters not.
    Great post. I’ve got a bit of a horror mother too. My hair is too straight apparently (damn you nature :D) My bum too big for that top blah blah blah….

    • What an awesome lady you are Annie!

      I love leggings and fitted pants. I have slim legs compared to my middle too. Though I am getting “librarian legs” as I get older – it’s the curse of the varicose veins from standing around book shelves for years. I love the line of slim leg pants/leggings etc particularly under a cute dress or funky top. It just gives a line I really like. Plus they’re nice and flexible for busy work days and the running around I do in my crazy busy life. Yes, we fat ladeez have crazy, busy, active lives too, don’t we?

      Isn’t it funny, I’d love to have straight hair. I’ve got a head full of manic curls that many straight haired girls would kill for.

  • PS: You are probably too nice to say something along the lines of “What would be another good idea is you putting duct tape over your mouth so you may control the spewing of venom which you try to disguise as being nice”
    Just sayin’ 😀

    • Hmmm, not that nice. Some people I would. Others I cut a little slack, or know I’m gonna get myself into too much trouble if I do!

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