It seems I have a rather large influx of new people viewing Fat Heffalump again all of a sudden. Welcome! Anyone want to tell me where you’re all being referred from?
Firstly, a little bit of housekeeping, just for the new folks (long termers, bear with me for a minute loves!)
There are rules for commenting on this blog – they can be found here. This blog is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship, and I am the (sometimes) benevolent dictator. It’s my blog, so I make the rules and do whatever I like with it. That’s the thing with blogging – your blog is your space and you get to do with it as you wish, and you set the boundaries. If you want things to be different then they are here, I’m always open to suggestion, but when I put the foot down and say no, then the answer is no.
The other important thing to know about this blog is that it is about being fat. Fat is not an insult in this space, it is a description. It’s not self-denigrating of me to call myself fat. I am a size 26 and somewhere around the 300lb mark (not sure where, I don’t weigh) and have a big belly, big boobs, multiple chins, thick thighs, big hips, wobbly arms… I am FAT. I’m not chunky, fluffy, curvy, voluptuous, zaftig, big, large, plus-sized, chubby, hefty or any other euphemism that implies that fat is a dirty word. I am FAT. And I’m proud of who I am.
Here we refer to ourselves as fat without shame, without apology and without fear. Fat is where it’s at baby!
But now we’ve got that out of the way, mostly we’re here to talk about being fat and all the issues that go around it.
Which leads me on to the topic that I want to talk about again today, and that’s the topic of “flattering” and in particular, commenting on other people’s clothing/appearance.
There is a thing I notice a lot on blogs, and even more so on comment threads on plus-size clothing sites (this includes Facebook sites for brands), and that is body shaming by using the term “flattering”. Whether the commenter is shaming their own body, by saying things like “I can’t wear that top, it doesn’t flatter my arms/belly/insert other feature here.” or worse, when they’re shaming other people’s bodies, either directly “Can’t you find something that is more flattering to your shape?” or indirectly “Don’t you know fat women shouldn’t wear bold prints, they don’t flatter!” – it’s all still body shaming.
I have a very strict rule here on Fat Heffalump that I won’t stand for body shaming – not even when someone says they “Don’t intend it that way.” Intent is not quite enough to excuse the behaviour – when someone says not to do something in their space (as Fat Heffalump is my space), then don’t do it. Don’t say that you didn’t intend it a certain way, or that you were only trying to make a suggestion. Either apologise, or just walk away. It’s not your territory, so you don’t get to make the rules.
That’s really bolshy of me, I know. But I’m a bolshy woman, and this is my space. It doesn’t mean you can’t call me out if I’ve said something problematic, but when it comes to the rules I’ve set about body shaming and appearance based judgment, I’m just not negotiable. I want every one of you to be able to come here knowing that you will not be shamed for your bodies, no matter what shape, size, colour, physical ability or appearance you might have.
But back to the topic of flattering. I vehemently reject the concept of dressing to “flatter” myself and I believe nobody has the right to suggest/demand that people change how they dress to “flatter” their bodies. That doesn’t mean you can’t choose to highlight certain features yourself – because it’s your body and you know how you like to look. It’s when other people come along and say “That’s not very flattering” – it’s the height of rudeness and a prime example of being judgmental about other people’s appearances. Not even should they sell it as “suggesting you highlight your good points” – because by default, it’s also suggesting you should “lowlight” other parts of yourself because they are less/not acceptable.
I get very angry at those who crop up on plus-size clothing blogs and company pages etc and start talking about how “larger/big” women should dress. We should all dress in a way that makes us happy ourselves. It’s different for you than it is for me, than it is for the next person, but to cast our standards onto other people is simply rude. However time and time again, I see people rudely leaving comments that say “Big women shouldn’t go sleeveless!” or “Larger ladies need dark clothes, not bright colours!” It’s just unbelievably rude to cast your own body hang-ups and judgement on other people.
That doesn’t mean you have to wear sleeveless tops and hot pink yourself. Or even LIKE those things. What it means is that instead of announcing what other people “should” do, you say “I’m not comfortable wearing sleeveless tops.” or perhaps “Bright colours aren’t really my thing.” Then the statement is about you, not other people’s bodies/appearance.
Even saying that something is “flattering” on someone else is body shaming. It implies that the outfit they are wearing that shows their shape a certain way, or changes their shape is better than something that shows them as they are.
Just don’t use the word flattering. Instead, compliment someone straight up. A simple “I like your outfit.” is far less loaded with body judgement than “That outfit really flatters you.” If you don’t like a garment because you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it then say so. Don’t ascribe shame to it by implying that other people shouldn’t wear it because you don’t.
There is enough body shame in the world today. We get bombarded with it in magazines, newspapers, television, movies, fashion, advertising and a whole lot of other blogs. Don’t contribute to it yourself, make a small change to your thinking and your language, and you contribute to making a big change to the world.