participation

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An Open Letter to Leona Edmiston

Published May 19, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Dear Leona,

Thank you.

No sincerely, thank you.  Two days ago, for the first time in my almost 40 years of life, I purchased three designer garments for myself.  And they were from your Leona+ line.

Now I had heard some time ago that you were extending some of your ranges into plus sizes, and I was absolutely thrilled.  I love the beautiful clothes you produce, the fabrics are always delicious, the prints gorgeous and the styles both beautiful and woman-body-friendly.  My boss rocks a Leona frock like nobody else, as a tall, slender woman and I’m always envious of the gorgeous prints and colours she has access to.  But I was dismayed to hear that they only went to about a size 20AU when I did some research.  Yet again I was feeling like I’d been slapped in the face and told “Not for you, you’re too fat for us to make anything for you, you deserve nothing.”

But recently some lovely fellow fatty friends on Twitter told me that there was a line in Myer that went up to an XL, which was about the equivalent of a size 24AU.  So, always looking for more clothing options, I went for a look, but wasn’t hopeful because I’m usually a size 26AU.  And lo and behold, there they were, on a sale rack – these mythical Leona Edmiston dresses that go up to a size XL.  I tried them on in an XL – and they fit my size 26AU body beautifully.  Like they were made for me.

I had to have them.  Being on sale, I could afford to splash out and get three.  It was a tough choice, but these are the ones I chose (apologies for the make-do photos, I haven’t worn them yet!):

The purple in it matches my hair perfectly.

Looks so cute with leggings or opaque tights and boots.

My favourite of the three – love these colours.

I also had a look at the new season stock which has just arrived, which instead of being sized in the S/M/L/XL method, actually has it’s sizes on it (14 or 16 to 24).  These look gorgeous as well, and I’ll be heading back when I’m ready for some more shopping to increase my Leona wardrobe.

But pretty dresses aside, I want to thank you for something very important to me as a fat woman.  I want to thank you for enabling me to participate.  While many people pooh-pooh fashion as frivolous and shallow, the reality is that in our culture, how we present ourselves, and how we participate amongst our peers is incredibly significant.  I have written before about the power of clothing and fashion to mark us as “other” in our society, when we are not able to participate in the fashions and cultural movements of our peers.  From feeling like we do not belong amongst general society, to experiencing workplace discrimination because are not able to dress ourselves as professionally or dynamically as our thin peers.

Like it or not, fat people are part of the community.  We have lives that we need clothes for.  We want to be able to express ourselves through fashion like everyone else.  And we also like to shop and spend the money that we earn on nice things.

So when a designer like you expands their range to include us, it enables us to participate culturally where we have not been allowed to before.

Now I know that this isn’t your primo designer range – this is a range that you have released with Myer.  But that’s ok – it’s an option that wasn’t there for us before.  Like your affordable Ruby range, it gives another group of women an option to participate in fashion and expressing themselves through style.

I hope that you continue to offer beautiful Leona Edmiston dresses to women of all sizes, even those of us at the upper end of the range.  I hope that sometime in the not-too-distant future you start showcasing this range on your website.  And I hope that you sell lots of these beautiful plus-sized dresses to fab fatties everywhere, and expand the range to more fabulous and fashionable colours, prints and styles.  We’re tired of hiding away in drab, shapeless, dark coloured clothes.  We want to be out there expressing our fabulous selves with up-to-date, on-trend fashions.

We want to participate.

Best wishes

Kath aka Fat Heffalump