accessories

All posts in the accessories category

All I Want For Christmas…

Published November 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve been working on a massive audit in my day job that is frying my brain (all those numbers!!) so let’s have a little fun tonight and look at some fabulous and fat friendly things that we might like for Christmas.  Who knows, we might get some gift ideas for other fab fatties in our lives too.

Let’s start with something that I’ve already ordered for myself, but I think EVERY fab fatty needs one of these in preparation for the new year.

Yes, it’s Marilyn Wann’s 2012 Fat!So? Dayplanner!

It’s a mere $14 (plus shipping) and all proceeds will go to building the Weight Diversity Action Lounge, a community center for fun, food, fitness, and fabulousness somewhere in Oakland, California.  I mean… it’s Marilyn Wann!  Plus it’s chock full of other contributors, inspiration, tips and art… including yours truly!

How about this adorable Lovedrobe Teal Heart Print Dress from Evans?

I love anything in chocolatey browns with teal, and a heart motif is one of my favourites.

Then there’s this pretty butterfly print top also from Evans.

And this GORGEOUS floral top, again from Evans.

How about a fat positive colouring book?  I want at least three copies of Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: a body-positive coloring book!

How awesome is that?  Colouring in fat ladies.  IN SPACE!

Then of course, what fab fatty wouldn’t want a copy of Hanne Blank‘s “Big Big Love”?

(Can you guess that my Amazon wish list is pretty long?)

How about Substantia Jones’ 2012 Adipositivity Calendar?

The Adipositivity Project has been pivotal in my journey to fat positivity and strong self esteem.

More clothes!  I long for beautiful dresses from eShakti, these are my favourites (click on the images to go to the page on eShakti):

The Artist's Wife Dress

Singing In The Rain Dress

Dzilla Brass Rings Dress

The Birds Who Gossip Dress

Aren’t they all gorgeous??  I would LIVE in dresses like these if I could.

How about some amazing shoes?  I dream of Fluevog shoes.  They are the absolute pinnacle of shoe heaven for me, and they’re very fat friendly, with their wider fittings and excellent craftsmanship.  How about this selection (again, click the images to go to the website):

Splendid in Stripes

Caspian in Black and Off-White

Zaza in Red, Pink and Grey

I think we need to wind up with some accessories.  Let me see:

How about an ice-cream charm, from Georgina at Cupcake’s Clothes, and her cute label DollyMixx:

I love the radical defiance of wearing food accessories as a fat woman.  Fat women are policed about food all the time, so let’s chant Fuck Tha Police by wearing food as accessories!

What about a cupcake ring?  This one is from Etsy store Dolly-Tastic:

And while we’re on Dolly-Tastic, I absolutely adore this Hello Kitty charm bracelet:

Another one of my favourite sources for accessories is Sick for Cute (who have a plus-size range too), and I think I really, really need these whale socks:

Whale socks on a fat woman!  I love it!

And finally, I just spotted this bag and completely fell in love.

How’s that for a Christmas List?  Of course, there are loads of other wonderful goodies out there that would also be a delight to find under my Christmas tree, but these are some of the things I’m drooling over currently.

What about you?  What fat-friendly goodies would you love to find in your Christmas stocking?  Dream big in the comments Heffalumpies!

Super Sizes: Who Do You Love?

Published September 3, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I am thrilled to say we have over 100 people who have joined the Super Sizes Facebook group already, and another group who are not Facebook users who have asked me to keep them up to date as well.  I am in no doubt that will keep growing as we start to work on more tangible projects down the track.

Now, over on the last post about the topic, (where you will see some very clear examples of how NOT to conduct business) I promised that we would have a chance to talk about those companies who DO provide plus-sized garments for the super sizes.  A space to share our positive stories, promote the businesses who get it right.

I do understand that no business gets it 100% right, but if we don’t encourage and promote those who at least put in the effort, and let them KNOW when they get it right, how can we expect them to continue honing their product and service.

Besides, the more we can share our arsenal of resources to get clothes that fit our bodies, at a reasonable price for their level of quality, fabric and construction (be they bargain styles through to smart investment pieces), the more options we’re all going to have.

So, I’ll go first!

Well, I think you all know that I love Autograph Fashion.  Not just because they’ve been so awesome as to send me stuff to review.  I love them because they are the ONE dedicated plus-size brick and mortar store that caters up to size 26 in Australia, which is the standard plus-size range.  All the others have cut off the upper sizes because they claim there isn’t a market.  Which is utter bullshit, because here I am at a size 26, needing clothes!  I’m quite sure I’m not the only size 26 in the country.  They have also completely changed their stock in the past 12 months.  When I wrote this post almost a year ago, Autograph was a sea of gypsy skirts, peasant tops, capris and plain t-shirts.  The few other garments available were awful synthetic work trousers, a whole pile of print front tunic tops and a few nanna dresses.  In short, nothing I wanted to wear and the same thing that could be found at any Target, Big W, K-mart or Best & Less.  Not what I wanted from a place that was labelled with the word “Fashion”.

To their credit, they listened.  They’ve improved the quality of their garments, in fabric, cut and construction.  They’ve broadened the range to include corporate and fashion, as well as some of the casual they’ve always had.  They’ve had colour and prints that have been on trend.  And they’re active within the blogosphere – both mainstream plus-size fashion and those of us here in the Fatosphere.  Sometimes they miss a bit with their sizing, sometimes the pricing is out, but mostly speaking, they’re doing very good things.

At the moment, that’s it for Australian companies, but I am seeing a few smaller designers and businesses coming up, which I will keep my eye on.  I think Gisela Ramirez is doing some amazing things, though I’ve not yet seen any of her garments “in the flesh” so to speak, but I hope to change that in the near future and will share here on my blog when I do!

Internationally, I love Evans Clothing from the UK, simply because they’ve stuck their necks out a few times and had a go at making some fashion ranges.  Two Beth Ditto collections (I bought a couple of fab pieces from the second one) and this year they had another fashion collection with some really on trend pieces.  They go up to a UK32 in the majority of their lines, their shipping is reasonable and they have great sales.  I have quite a few Evans pieces.

I also really like Yours Clothing, another UK retailer.  They have lots of bargains, lots of casual clothes you can pick up at a great price, and have a lot of things you can try out a style or trend with without blowing the bank.  Most of their range goes up to a UK32 as well.  I have picked up some cute dresses from Yours, and some leggings as well.

Most of the US ones have REALLY high shipping rates to Australia, so I haven’t tried them.  However, I do love We Love Colors for tights and leggings.  Their tights go right up to EE size which I think would be well past a 32AU.  At a size 26AU I take the E size in the Lycra blend tights, and I could probably go down a size really.  I buy their leggings which are a 3X in the largest size, but my size 26 arse fits in them fine!  I really wish they would bring out their fishnets and striped tights in the same sizing as the solid colours (the sizes they have at the moment are too short for me) and also more print tights in the A-EE sizing as well.  But they tell me on Twitter that they’re working on it.  When they do, I’ll buy up big!  Their customer service is very, very good too.

So those are my favourites to fit Super Sizes.  What are yours?  Where have you picked up some clothes that you’ve really loved?  Why do you love those clothes?  Keep this post to positive comments about brands please, even if someone suggests a brand that you personally don’t like.  I want to hear those positive stories loud and clear so we can work with these companies to encourage them to cater to us even more.

Fatshion: Posing a Threat

Published August 22, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Clothing is one of the most visible ways we get to express ourselves.  Through the things we wear, and how we wear them, we tell the world something about ourselves.  Everything from our beliefs and personal standards, our taste in music, film and television, our sense of humour, our favourite colours, how confident we are (or aren’t) with our bodies, what kind of work we do, how we spend our leisure time, and indeed our personalities can be shown through the way we present ourselves with clothing.

For fat people, taking pride in dressing, developing style and dabbling in fashion are all radical acts.  We are constantly told we’re not allowed to enjoy dressing, fashion, style, shopping and expressing ourselves.  By being visible, we’re giving ourselves a presence and a voice in the world.  This is why fat people are regularly ridiculed for the way we dress, because we pose a threat to the status quo.

Which makes me think of this  hilarious video from Flight of the Conchords:

For fat people, our clothing options are severely limited.  We don’t have the vast choices that are available in straight sizes, nor do we have as many affordable options.  Thanks to the availability of online shopping and a lot of campaigning on behalf of fatshionistas in the US, UK and Australia (and many other places too), those options are starting to open up a little more, but they are nowhere near the level that are around for straight sizes.  You only have to look in department stores and compare the floor space given to straight sizes as opposed to those given to plus-sizes to see evidence of that.

Not to mention that fat people are expected to “flatter” their bodies in the way they dress.  These limits are placed upon us by people who are offended by seeing fat bodies, so we’re expected to minimise, disguise and cover our bodies with dark, shapeless clothing.  Baring skin, wearing bold or busy prints or bright or light colours and choosing form-fitting or “body-con” clothing is seen as “innapropriate” on a fat person when it’s found perfectly acceptable on a not-fat person.  Even our own clothing brands and providers constantly sell us ways to “flatter your figure” or “dress for your body type” – which I feel is shaming their own customers.  When are plus-size clothing companies going to realise that WE are their customers and WE don’t need to be shamed by them to buy their products?

So, how do we get around these factors to be able to dress ourselves in the way we want and need to?

The first way I think is to let go of what other people think of the way we look.  We are under no obligation to make our appearance pleasing to others.  Besides, we all know, you can’t make everyone happy all of the time.  Instead, we need to be focusing on making ourselves happy and wearing the things that make us feel good.  If you are happiest in the kind of clothes you can just throw on and ignore for the rest of the day, then go for it.  If you prefer to dress in high fashion style, then go for it, no matter what anyone says you should or shouldn’t be wearing.  I’m personally somewhere in between – I don’t feel the need to be a slave to fashion, but I love developing my own personal style and love taking time to dress and present myself to the world.  I like being able to express myself through my clothing.

Because we have so few options, the next thing I think we get really good at doing is “making it work”.  I know myself, I love clothes that have colour and vibrancy, but so much of plus-sized clothing is black and plain.  I’ve had to build a collection of colour and work out ways to accessorise to bring colour and vibrancy into my wardrobe.  And you know what they say, nobody accessorises like a fat gal!

Part of making things work is being able to doctor your wardrobe as well.  Adding embellishments, shaping things to fit your body, letting them out, a little tweak here, and a little tweak there.

But finally, the most important thing is to work on loving your body.  When you start to love your body, you begin to look at dressing differently.  You don’t see that red stop sign of “shouldn’t” when you go shopping and look at garments.  When you start to be unapologetic about your body, the range of clothing you can wear greatly expands.  You give up the whole list of “I can’t…” clothes.  No more “I can’t wear sleeveless.” or “I can’t wear skirts/dresses.” or “I can’t wear form fitted clothing.” and that opens up your options so much wider than when you had those restrictions.  Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight.  Maybe you start with a dress when you’ve always worn pants.  Or you whip that shrug or cardie off when you get too warm.  But slowly, when you immerse yourself in body positivity and work on learning to love your body, you find yourself taking more and more risks… and things that seemed risky once, no longer seem so.

I think I will hand over to the amazing Virgie Tovar, with her video on how to FatDazzle your wardrobe:

So, tell me how you work your own personal style?  What kind of clothes and accessories do you love?  How do you “make things work”?  And what about your changing view of your body – have you seen your clothing style change with it?  And how?  Let’s have a discussion!

Oh Let’s Just Have a Chat

Published August 17, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Today is a public holiday in Brisbane (Royal Exhibition, or Ekka holiday).  I had all these grand plans to write all day, but it’s kind of overcast and cool, and I just don’t feel like it.

Besides, sometimes we all just get a bit fatigued with talking about the tough stuff.

So instead I’ll share some photos with you.

Take a look at what I’ve made in my Thermomix lately:

Mushroom Risotto

Cheesy Buckwheat Bread

Pineapple Sorbet

These are just a few of the delicious things I’ve whipped up in it.  I’m having a great time experimenting and re-discovering flavours and textures that I had long forgotten.

My friend Kylie (aka Toots) found me these AWESOME leopard print Chucks in the UK.  I love them to bits, but they don’t quite make up for how much I am missing Toots while she is off travelling.

Look at the little MiniMe shoe!

I tried to dye my hair pillar box red last weekend.  I’m not having much success with Manic Panic dyes, even though I buy the amplified range that are supposed to be bolder colours and longer lasting.  I bleached out what was there (a kind of grey-purple) and discovered this rather awesome minty colour under the bleach:

Minty Mop

Sadly it didn’t last, and went to a weird kind of muddy colour overnight.  So I used Manic Panic Amplified in Pillar Box Red, and got this:

Not really "pillar box" red is it?

It faded REALLY quickly.  By yesterday (Tuesday) it was bright orange.  Three days.

My friend Nadia and I and another friend of hers went and saw Dylan Moran live and had dinner at the Bamboo Basket at South Bank (their soup dumplings are so delicious I could cry!)

Soup Dumplings and Cleavage

 

Oh, and Nadia took an OOTD picture for me.

Dress and white denim jacket – Autograph Fashion
Tights – We Love Colors
Shoes – Big W
Earrings – Diva
Swallow Brooch – Thousand Island Dressing

Oh and of course, the big news for me lately is that I have had more work done on my left upper-arm tattoo!  We’ve added some more Rubens Cantuni pieces to my fat lady tattoo.  Look:

A little smudgy, a little bloody, a little swollen... but on it's way!

I’ve still got at least two more sessions on this one, and then we start on the one on the inside of the arm.  My artist is the incredible Victoria R. Lundberg at Wild at Heart Tattoo.

So, what’s news with all of you lately?  Done any yummy cooking?  Scored any bargains?  Been to any live gigs?  Any new ink?  What’s happening in your lives?

More Autograph Fashion Reviews

Published April 22, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

It’s time to do another garment review post for Autograph Fashion!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, they sent me some more product to review.  I can’t tell you how lucky I am that they do this for me, because they are the store I shop in the most (being close to my work and generally in the right price range for me).  After my post on how much I had fallen in love with their tall riding boots, I counted 13 pairs of boots that were sold because of either that post, or the one I did on Tumblr.  That’s just the ones I know about.  So they’re getting good advertising out of me at least!

In this latest post, they sent me the brown buckle boots, pink buckle ballet flats, sleeveless sequins tank, 3/4 sleeve knit paisley print dress, short sleeve plait neck lace print top, animal print top (no longer listed online but worn with this leather jacket) and another paisley print top with a cami (also not longer listed online).  I have worn all except the paisley print top so far (which I hope to wear this coming week) and have had most of them photographed to share with you here.

Let’s start with the animal print top and brown buckle boots shall we?  Take a look of my OOTD:

I have to admit, I fell in love with this animal print top back when Autograph first posted a pic of it on their Facebook page as “coming soon”.  There was a lot of “fat ladies shouldn’t” around the bold print, but I was like “GIMME!!”  I particularly love the sweetheart neckline (I’ll tolerate surplice necklines a whole lot more if I can have a bit more variety in them) and empire waistline.  Both are styles that particularly suit me.    But what I really love about this top is the fabric.  It is a lovely weighty knit that is super soft and just drapes beautifully.  The bodice actually has a kind of cami lining, so it makes the top fall even better than just with the fabric.  Some months ago Autograph had a run of this very thin, clingy knit that had great colours, but it just sagged and looked sloppy no matter who was wearing it.  It even clung to the lace of my bra and made my boobs all lumpy.  To be fair, I saw that fabric everywhere for awhile there, most retail chains seemed to give it a run.  I’m really glad it has disappeared, because it was a crap fabric.  This top is made of a knit that is everything that the cheap knit wasn’t.  I’m not sure what this one retailed at, I think $49.99 or $59.99.  It is still in store though if you like it.

I’m also wearing the brown buckle boots in this photo.  When I bought the tall riding boots, I saw these and thought they were nice, but didn’t really think I’d bother with them, even after seeing a friend of mine with them in black looking fab in them.  But now that I have a pair, and I’ve worn them a few times, I am SO glad I have them!  They are really cute, super comfy (I ran around one really busy day last week all over the shop all day, for a 9.5 hour work day, and was still standing when I finally got home, having had them on for about 12 hours!) and they fit my 19″ calves with room to spare.  I love the lighter, warmer brown of them too.  These are $89.99 and I would honestly spend that on them.

The boots are still available online, but sadly the top is not.  I think it may have sold like hotcakes.  You might find it in the actual stores though if you’re lucky.

The next garment I wore was the sleeveless sequins tank:

I’ve been longing to wear sequins to the office for some time.  I’ve been inspired by Bloomie, Nicole and Anna all wearing sequins, so when this one arrived I was rather thrilled to be able to fulfill that longing.  It’s a sleeveless top, and only sequinned on the front, but I think they’re probably wasted on the back anyway.  The sequins are sewn on well, and though there was a tag attached saying to expect some to fall off on laundering, only a few did.  This one retails at $59.99, which is quite a bit more than I would spend on it.  It also now comes in red which I am lusting after so much!  Both the silver and red are available on the website.

Then I wore the 3/4 sleeve paisley print dress (it’s finally getting cool enough to do so in Brisbane!):

OMG I LOVE THIS DRESS!  Again – good quality knit fabric, drapes so beautifully, breathes and is deliciously soft.  I adore the print, it has that 70’s feel.  The length is perfect with my tall riding boots, and yes, I’ll even forgive that surplice neckline (I really am getting sick of them though.  It retails at $79.99 and is still available on the website.  I will be wearing the shit out of this dress through winter.

The other two items I have worn, but sadly didn’t get OOTD photographs for are these two:

This is a cute top, a little more sedate than I would normally wear, but I got a lot of compliments on it.  It’s really nice to have something other than a surplice neckline, that’s for sure.  The fabric isn’t as nice on this one as the other garments, it’s a more synthetic feeling fabric, and doesn’t breathe as well.  But I’ll get a lot of wear out of this for work through winter.  This one sells for $49.99 and is still available on the website.

And these that retail for $59.99:

I’m not sure I would buy ballet flats from a plus-size store.  Don’t get me wrong, these are as cute as hell, and fit really well (the only negative is they get this weird camel-toe crease in the toe that I am trying to stretch back out with newspaper), but we fat girls can get ballet flats anywhere.  The boots I understand – we need wide calf boots for fat legs.  But ballet flats are pretty universal.  They’re not specialist wide fit ones either, but then thin people have wide feet (my tall, super slim boss has the same size feet as I do, only mine aren’t as wide as hers so I often inherit shoes that don’t fit her – the only thing I COULD inherit from her – I’m easily 4 of her!) so those should be in regular shoe stores.

What I think I’m getting at is that I really want my plus-size retailer to focus on plus-size clothing and accessories.  Wide calf boots.  Plus-size belts, tights, sleepwear, swimwear, underwear (PLEASE AUTOGRAPH, START GOING ALL LANE BRYANT WITH BRAS FOR US!!)  Rings, bangles/bracelets and necklaces to fit our fatter bodies.  Don’t worry about the stuff that is universal – they only take up valuable plus-size real estate.

All in all, happy with all of the stuff Autograph sent me (though a few tweaks would be welcome), and VERY, VERY impressed with the buckle boots, paisley dress and animal print top.  I am very pleased to see the quality of fabrics improving, the addition of wide-calf boots, and some cute, funky, fashionable things coming through.  Keep it up folks!

Getting it Right; Getting it Wrong

Published April 4, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

How can two companies, both owned by the same mega company, both basically in the same business, have such wildly polarised modes of customer service?   If you don’t know, Autograph Fashion and City Chic are owned by the same company, Specialty Fashion Group.  They’re like big sister and little sister of the same company.  Both are plus-size clothing retailers.  Both are Australian based companies.  Both have an online arm of their business, that will sell overseas.  I don’t know how cross pollinated their staff are (ie whether head office actually covers both brands), but you think there’d be at least some communication across the organisation.

But it seems not.

Both retailers have a Facebook page (City Chic/Autograph), and post pictures of their up-coming stock to the page, where people comment on it.

However, how each company responds is vastly different.

When there were lots of women leaving comments on the Autograph page that they wanted sleeves, Autograph responded with a pre-run search link to all of their tops, tunics and dresses with sleeves.  When there were lots of women saying that they wished that Autograph would style their outfit shots more than to just put a model in the dress and photograph her in front of a white background, Autograph changed their images.

From this:

Lovely model, shows the dress, but a quite dull.  To this:

Styled hair, styled make-up, interesting background, nice lighting, some accessorising.

When the posters on Autographs page responded that they would like more fashionable, modern clothes, Autograph responded.  They introduced cute boots* (someone mentioned wide calf boots on their Facebook wall some time ago too), new styles, some more colour.

When I wrote a blog post critiquing the frumpy nature of a particular season’s clothes, Autograph contacted me, and as you probably know, have been amazing sending me products to review.  I know myself that in the past six months or so, I’ve gone from wearing Autograph clothes that look like this:

Which is from the first parcel of stuff they sent me, to this:


This is from their current stock, a lovely big parcel of such they sent me last week – both those boots and the top/dress I am wearing are available right now.  Let me just tell you, the boots are so bloody comfortable I tromped around in them all day (I haven’t worn ANY heel for almost two years) running through our biggest library with a vendor, walking up to the shops at lunch time, all over the place, and I wasn’t in any hurry to take them off when I got home.  And that top is lined in the bodice which makes it drape so beautifully, and is made of the lushest, soft, weighty knit fabric.  I’m not just saying that because they sent it to me for free either.  I promise, if they send me anything that sucks, I’ll tell you.

When people complained that their fabrics were thin, lost shape and clung in all the wrong ways, Autograph stopped stocking them and have moved to much nicer (and really soft) fabrics like the top above.

The list goes on.  Autograph are listening, they talk TO their customers (as best they can around the ones that one can never make happy at any time) and they make changes when people speak up.

Which brings us to City Chic.  I’ve never seen City Chic respond on Twitter to a negative comment.  They’ve only re-tweeted the positive ones.  City Chic post their stock on Facebook, and when people complain about their high prices… nothing is said.  When people say they’d like garments that they can wear a proper plus-sized bra of ugliness under without it being exposed, City Chic respond “Well, buy a shrug.” (I don’t want a shrug, I want a garment that fits my body and my underwear properly, and besides, I live in BRISBANE).  When customers said their prices were too high, they ignored it, and their prices have got even higher.

Well the straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back happened over the weekend.  When someone noticed on Friday that City Chic had quietly dropped any garments over a size 22 from their website, word travelled pretty quick.  By Friday night, there were several posts on their Facebook page exclaiming dismay at this.  They ignored it all weekend.  By this morning, a lot of people were talking about it, on their Facebook page, on Twitter, on Tumblr and various other places.  There were a lot of angry fatties out there, making it very clear that they were offended at City Chic removing the upper range of plus sizes.  Along with a lot that spoke up and said that their sizing was shoddy as it is, smaller than standard and a fit that doesn’t work for many bodies.

Instead of engaging with their customers quickly Friday afternoon, or even over the weekend (we just saw posts bragging about how they were off to London), they let it brew up, until this afternoon, when they responded with what I feel is a somewhat snarky post.  It’s long, and you can see it here. (You may have to “like” the page – it’s really long so I can’t share it here).  Basically it says that we considered our sizing and because you fatty fat fats didn’t buy enough of our stuff at full price, we cut out the upper sizing.  Perhaps City Chic need to have a wee think about just why people aren’t buying their stock at full price.  Perhaps full price is over priced.  Perhaps their sizing is wrong.  Perhaps their fits are wrong.  Perhaps the garment quality is not good enough (the three garments I bought from them some years ago when they still had some size 26 pieces fell apart very quickly).  Perhaps the styles can’t be worn successfully with a size 24 or above bra under them… the list goes on.

What really galled me is their admission that they use a size 16 fit model.  What??  A size 16 fit model for a range that was going up to size 24??  Ok, find someone who you know is a size 16.  Now look at my body in the picture above.  What the hell are they thinking to use a size 16 fit model for the upper range of plus sizes???  There is a positive plethora of differences of shape and proportion between a size 16 body and a size 26 body (and all sizes in between).  A smart company would have two fit models, or even three for plus sizes, because they vary so much more than straight sizes do.

I actually emailed them on Friday afternoon and left some constructive criticism (and an expression of dismay) at their cutting off their sizes at size 22, and how their clothes were poor construction/overpriced/cheap fabrics/sized strangely.  Guess what I got in response today?  The explanation that they posted on Facebook, cut and pasted into an email.

Great customer service huh?

All this, PLUS I discover that they go to size US28 (about a size 32Aus) and offer cheaper prices to customers in the US.  But customers in their own country don’t get that, oh no.

As I say to all plus-size retailers that I give criticism to – I want to give them my money.  I want to become a loyal customer who tells everyone how awesome they are.  I want to spend too much money on their clothes and complain I’m broke.  I want to hang about their shop on a twice weekly basis, annoying their staff asking when the new stock they’ve been advertising on Facebook comes in.  I want people to see me with their shopping bags, to ask me where I got that cute top/dress/boots/pants/skirt.  I want my straight sized friends to say “Damn, I wish those fit me!”  Again, I want to give them my money.  And lots of it.

But they don’t seem to want me to do those things.  They don’t want to size clothes to my body, they don’t want to provide clothes that last, or are of pleasant fabrics, and the certainly don’t want to offer a price that is reasonable for the product they are selling.  It is very, very clear they don’t want my  money.

So until they prove that they DO in fact want my money, I’m going to give that money, and praise, and word-of-mouth advertising to companies who do.  Like Autograph Fashion**.  Who LISTEN to their customers, make attempts to make them happy, and acknowledge that their customers include those who are very fat, and that they need to create clothes that adequately fit those very fat bodies.

City Chic – learn from your big sister.  She has much to teach you.

* City Chic have almost the same boots as the tall riding boot from Autograph.  Autograph’s cost $99.99.  City Chic have them at, wait for it… $299.95
**I hate having to add this caveat, but there has been a very vocal claim that I am “selling out” by praising Autograph because they send me free products.  If Autograph get it wrong, I am going to say so, free products or not.  Just as loudly as I call City Chic out here.

Breaking Open the Beauty Paradigm

Published March 31, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

The only way I can describe the feeling I have had this week after publishing this post in response to Leslie Cannold’s piece suggesting that Fat Acceptance activists (or “fativists”, as Ms Cannold decided to label us) were being too harsh on Mia Freedman for her repeated offenses of fat stigmatisation, is overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed at just how many of you the post touched a chord with.  Overwhelmed at just how widely that post was linked and tweeted and shared.  And overwhelmed at the amount of frustration I felt, pouring out of me when I not only wrote that piece, but also on reading so many of your comments and feedback.   Thank you.

But I’m not done with that article.  I want to address something else Ms Cannold said.  Let’s repeat it here:

It is good that those objecting to our culture’s equation of thin and beautiful also question why older, non-white, gay and disabled folk are excluded from the beauty standard. But the sincerity of such interrogation is undercut by fat acceptance articles illustrated with photos of heavily made-up obese women posing like models. Such illustrations don’t seem to say ”no way”, but express the less radical sentiment of ”me too”.

Hmm, this really sits unpleasantly with me, no matter how long I try to digest it.  Firstly, because I have a problem with the phrase “heavily made-up obese women posing like models”.  To me it smacks of slut-shaming, and in particular fat slut-shaming.  It has undertones of “how dare obese women gussy themselves up like tarts”.  Ms Cannold may not have intended for it to sound like that, but alas, to me, that’s just how it sounds.  It also rings a little of “look at those pathetic fatties, trying to make themselves beautiful”.

But what I really want to address as a follow up post to my last, is the notion that by engaging in fashion, make-up and modelling, fat activists are somehow negating our challenge of the beauty ideal.

Au contraire Ms Cannold.  In fact, we are turning the beauty ideal on it’s head.  The beauty ideal says that you must be thin, young, white, able-bodied, cis-gendered and usually affluent, among other things, to be beautiful.  That should you wish to engage in dressing up, fashion and make-up, to represent your look in a particular way, you need to fit this ideal. Yet here we are, fat and accepting of that fact, still engaging in these activities.  With no attempt at hiding our fatness with clothing, accessories and make-up that flatters, disguises or distracts, the statement is “I am here, I wish to be seen, and I am proud of who I am.”

Being visible as a fat woman is one of the most radical acts of fat acceptance I can think of.  It is accepting myself as a fat woman, and it forces others to accept me as I am.  Suddenly I am visible, like it or lump it.   And I have experienced that first hand, after 20-odd years of trying to make myself invisible, or blend into one group or another, to be just rocking whatever makes me happy, particularly if it involves make-up, costumery or anything that others would consider outlandish, as well as allowing myself to be photographed at all, let alone posing is possibly the most radical thing I have ever done.  It draws me the most accolades and the most criticism, far more than anything else I do.  Indeed, how I look seems to be far more important to many people than anything else about me.

Ms Cannold seems to imply that women in particular, only engage in fashion, make-up and being photographed in the quest to become the beauty ideal.  But what we really are on a quest to do is change the beauty ideal.  That doesn’t mean we have to all give up shaving our legs, wearing-make up and don bland, practical clothing.  What it does mean is that we create our own beauty, in all the diversity that we are.

But you don’t need to just take my word for it.  I decided to throw out a request to fatshionistas to define what participating in fatshion (which is fashion – clothing, make-up and accessories, as well as posing for photographs as fat women) means to them.

First we have Nicola, from 2 Many Cupcakes:

 

Nicola says: I am proud of the way I look and the things that I wear. I am not blogging to make myself thin and beautiful. I don’t need too. I don’t want to be thin and I already am beautiful. I enjoy clothing. I enjoy accessories. I enjoy chronicling my outfits because I think I have a good sense of fashion.

What is wrong with ‘obese women posing like models?’ The Oxford dictionary defines model as  “a person employed to pose for an artist, photographer, or sculptor.” Nowhere in that definition does it refer to a model needing to be a certain age, figure, race or sexuality. I am a fat woman modelling for my blog because it’s my hobby and I enjoy it. I will wear what I want and pose how I want for my blog.

 

 

And then we have Anna from Bargain Fatshionista:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna says: For me, as a fat woman, fashion means rebellion. It’s telling every person who has ever told me that I should lose some weight to screw off. It means being happy where I am now and not caring what others think. It means acceptance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is Frances from Corpulent:

Frances says: I’m not a fashionable person. I don’t know much about designers, I don’t follow trends and I will never ever wear stilettos. That said, I do think fashion is important and can be quite political. The way we present ourselves through our clothes/accessories/hairstyles tells the world a story about us before we even open our mouths. The limited options available to fat people mean that the messages we are able to send with our fashion are, in a way, censored. By refusing to cater to us, fashion labels are controlling the way we can present ourselves. (The idea that all fat women are sexless and sloppy is that much easier to perpetuate when the clothes available are sexless and sloppy.) To send an accurate message of ourselves, fat people must try harder; we have to be adventurous, resourceful and inventive.

Though I am not a fashionable person, I do have style that’s all my own. Posting photos of my outfits, and looking at the outfits posted by others, has not only solidified my sense of style but my sense of self. My clothes make me feel more me than I ever have. Through fatshion, I am not proving my style credentials to others, but building up my own sense of value.

 

And from Bloomie, who blogs at 30 Dresses in 30 Days:

Bloomie says: Sometimes I get on the subway in the morning, look around at everyone on the train and think about how in a sea of black, I am the fat woman wearing multiple fluorescent colors and a faux fur jacket.  And then I laugh to myself and think about how far I’ve come from the days when I didn’t even know where to buy jeans that fit me.

To me fatshion is about loving my body and dressing it up and showing it off to the world.  It’s about expressing who I am through my clothing and it’s about taking risks and being unashamed and unembarrassed in my body.  It’s about challenging stereotypes of how I’m expected to dress or look or behave because of my size.  It’s about upending stereotypes.  It’s about strutting myself, highlighting my beautifully enormous ass and making people stop, turn and stare when I pass them on the street.

 

On to Sonya from Australian Fatshion:

 

 

 

 

 

Sonya says: Before discovering fatshion, there is no way I would have worn white or allowed a side-on photograph of my body to exist. I think increasing visibility of the fat body by taking outfit pictures will help to normalise those bodies and maybe make people question their prejudices and beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is Georgina from Cupcake’s Clothes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgina says: Fatshion for me means being able to embrace fashion without worrying about size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as Jessica from Tangled Up In Lace:

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica says: Blogging about fatshion is one of my many tools in the fight for body acceptance because beyond the visibility aspects, it gives me a chance to help other fat bodies get inspired to decorate and proudly present themselves to a society that tells them otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nor is fatshion restricted to women.  For example, Bruce from Chubstr:

Bruce says: I feel like fatshion and fashion are the same thing. The goal of Chubstr is to show big guys that they can wear the things they love and that they aren’t any different from their thinner counterparts. We spend a lot of time thinking that we don’t have options when that’s not really the case, and I want to do my best to show men of all sizes that it’s okay to be stylish no matter what your size.

 

 

These are just some of the examples of fatshion bloggers, a handful of fabulous fatshion folk who volunteered to share their definitions and pictures here to illustrate what engaging in fashion as a fat person embodies.  Over and over the message is repeated that engaging in fashion as a fat person means challenging the status quo, being both accepting and proud of oneself as a fat person, and being visible as a fat person, rather than conforming to the beauty ideal.

Fat fashion, fat visibility, fat acceptance smashes the beauty ideal doors down and invites everyone to participate, no matter who they are, even if they are not fat.  It is the veritable open house of fashion, appearance and style.  As the great Cole Porter once wrote:

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.