So I’m being plagued by the black dog. To be honest, I think it’s the heat, I never cope well with hot weather. I’m happiest when I’m sitting steaming in two feet of snow. Yeah I know, I’m on the wrong side of the planet.
One of my strategies when it comes to dealing with bouts of depression is to immerse myself in the Fatosphere, reading and viewing as many positive posts and images about fat people that I can. It is just something that I know works to lift me out of that dark place, and get me back on to the road to my regular moods and ways of thinking.
I have been watching Fatshion February unfold on Tumblr, and the topic of representation of “death fatties” came up. Now for any of you who are unaware, “death fatties” is a term coined for those of us who are classified as “morbidly obese” on the BMI scale, which is an arbitrary measurement of someone’s height to weight ratio, but is used by the medical field (and insurance industry) to classify the fatness, and therefore health-by-their-measurement. In reality, BMI does not at all give an accurate representation of someone’s health, only their height to weight ratio.
There was a mention of the scarcity of deathfatz posting Fatshion February photographs, and then a whole big discussion of whether or not “fat is fat” fired up, whether there should be any blogs or spaces that are dedicated just to deathfatz (there are) and whether this is excluding “smaller fats”. I won’t get into that whole topic, and besides, Marianne Kirby has said it all beautifully on her Tumblr repeatedly, so it’s no use me rehashing it here.
But what I have got thinking about, is why I haven’t submitted any Fatshion February photographs. What I’m struggling with is the fact that not only am I considerably bigger than most of the posters (it’s true, the deathfatz are under-represented), but regardless of the size of the posters, I see a whole lot of traditionally “beautiful” shaped women there. All those hourglass figures, with breasts and hips that are bigger than their bellies. Which in no way represents me.
There is a whole lot of celebration of “curvy” women. Well I’m simply not curvy. I am more… lumpy. I do have big breasts, but my belly is clearly the largest part of my body. I get it from my Grandma, she’s the same shape. I look like I am heavily pregnant with triplets. According to most plus-size fashion retailers, I don’t exist. They’re all about the curves. When they do actually use plus-size models, they’re flat bellied ones with small waists. They’re women whose bodies stay the same shape when they sit down. When I sit down, my belly shifts and becomes even bigger, resting on my lap. Some plus size fashion even cut off before my size, despite my size being the usual top size of plus-size fashion. City Chic? Asos Curve? I’m looking at you two in particular. Not to mention all of the other lesser known brands that top out at Size 20, or 22.
Then there’s all this talk of apples, pears and hourglasses. What about those women like me, who are shaped more like barrels?
Where are the true diversity of body types?
It becomes a spiral. We don’t see bodies like ours represented anywhere, so we become too ashamed to share our own pictures. Therefore, there are no bodies like ours being posted.
Just because my body shape isn’t considered “beautiful” or “fashionable”, doesn’t mean I don’t want to dress fashionably and enjoy dressing and styling myself. Nor do I want to spend time finding things that “flatter” me and give an illusion of the shapes that are considered beautiful/fashionable. My body is shaped like a barrel, and no amount of styling is going to change that. I want to dress and adorn my body as it is, not disguise it as something else.
I’m thankful that there are those who put themselves out there. I’m thankful that there are deathfatz like me who post their pictures and talk about their experiences. Those of you who are at the top or beyond a standard plus-size range for your region. Those of you who have big bellies, or any other body shape that doesn’t fit the predominant “curvy”. Those of you who are extremely limited as to where you can get clothes to fit your bodies. There aren’t many of you, but to those that are out there, I admire you so much, and you make a difference to how I see myself, and what I am able to do with the limited fashion choices available to me.