clothes

All posts tagged clothes

Got Fat Arms? Big Hands? Have I Got Something for You!

Published March 26, 2017 by Fat Heffalump

Heya peeps!  Yeah I’m still here, I’ve got a bunch of posts I’m working on at the moment, now that I’ve finished a big project in my day job and can breathe a bit again.

Today I want to tell you all about an amazing small business right here in Australia that serves we fatties like no other I can find.  When I was in Melbourne last year, I got to meet the gorgeous purveyors of plus-size arm candy (no, sadly they’re not procuring hot chunky dates for us), the babes from Ample Armoury.  I bought a couple of very cute second hand dresses from their stall at the A+ Markets but alas I was on a budget at the time and wasn’t able to buy any of their gorgeous plus-size bangles.  I have however been watching them via their Instagram account and have been plotting and planning for what ones I would buy when I have some dosh again.

                                                                       
The two super cute dresses I bought from them.

Imagine my delight a short while ago when I found out I was the winner of their Instagram competition!  Now while I’ve been away working on a big day job project, I wasn’t able to collect my mail, but I finally got to the post office last week and there was a lovely package waiting from them.  They sent me four bangles – two chunky matte ones, two narrow glossy ones.

The light in Le Bon Choix at Paddington is gorgeous for photographs.

 

Jazzing up my cupcake dress.

I can tell you, not only do these bangles fit my chunky arms beautifully, they’re SO comfortable to wear, light but still have that satisfying clatter when you move them together.  Yes, I firmly believe that the best jewellery and accessories are noisy ones.  I like to jangle, baby.

These bangles are generous on me and go over my hand with ease – though I will point out that I do have rather small hands compared to the rest of my glorious fat body.  You can check out their sizing and buy some pretties for yourself on their Etsy store.  I do believe they do custom orders from time to time, but they’re in hiatus from those at the moment.

As well as these bangles, they also sent me THE MOST ADORABLE fat lady brooch.  I mean seriously, check it out:

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME!!

How cute is that?!  So if you find regular bangles are too small for you, or you want a fabulous fat lady brooch like this one, check out Ample Armoury.  They can be found at the A+ Markets in Melbourne when they are on, or again, check out their Etsy Store and watch their Instagram and Facebook for other sales and events.

Here, have another photo of them on my arm, along with my FABULOUS nails by Cara at Kawaii Klaws.

 

As always, I do not run advertising on Fat Heffalump, but if you would like to support me and enable me to expand on my activism work, you can do so by donating here.

Melbourne Fashion Week Plus – The Political

Published September 11, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

What a whirlwind 10 days I had in Melbourne for Melbourne Fashion Week Plus (MFW+).  I think I’m still reeling a bit from just how full on it was, I know I’m still processing a lot of the feelings that bubbled up during the entire week.  I’m going to split my rundown of the week into two posts, this first one is going to talk about the politics and my own feelings about the event, and then I’ll follow up with the pretty fashions later, because I’m still putting together the photos and videos I took – I took a LOT!

I’m going to cover a lot in this post, so strap yourself in for a bit of a long read!

I had a lot of really intense feelings about being invited as a special guest to MFW+, mostly for two pivotal reasons.  Firstly because I’m not a fashion blogger in any stretch of the imagination – I love clothes, and expressing myself through the way I dress.  I love colour and texture and shape and I love the way putting an outfit on can make me feel.  But my focus as a fat activist is changing the way that fat people are both perceived and treated.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe clothing and fashion are important in fat politics – after all, access to suitable clothing is important to be part of society and because fashion and clothing can be really empowering, especially to those of us who have been denied access.  But to be invited and supported by MWF+ as an activist to be part of the event, knowing that they wanted my very political, feminist, fat active perspective to be included in the event means a lot to me.

Secondly, because despite being an almost 44 year old badass angry fat bitch who takes no shit from anyone, there is still deep inside me that heartbroken teenage girl who sobbed into her pillow because the popular girls had laughed at her and told her that she had no place even trying to wear nice clothes, because fat girls should never be seen and would never be as cool as thin girls.  There is still that tiny kernel of her in there and the thought of attending an event full of fashionistas, even be they fat ones, brought on a massive bout of imposter syndrome.  Even though I know rationally that it really matters nothing in the scheme of things in my life, those feelings are deeply formative and there’s still that moment of “All the popular girls are going to turn their noses up at me.”

The reality is, they didn’t (well, the vast majority of them didn’t, I did spot a couple of noses in the air though!) and the rational part of my brain is strong enough to remind me that I honestly don’t give a fuck!

So I flew down on the Saturday before the soft launch started and stayed a couple of days with the lovely Sonya Krzywoszyja (aka GannetGuts) and her famous kitty Dodge, who is now my BFF (best furry friend) who got me completely addicted to Melbourne coffee within 24 hours and was with me when a lovely woman in Brunswick stopped me in the street to tell me how much she had loved my appearance on You Can’t Ask That.  You haven’t lived until you see someone literally drop their phone with a “OMG gotta go bye!” and stop you in the street!  (Waves to Sarah, if you happen to read this – you made my day!)  We were on our way to the soft launch of MFW+ when that happened, and it was the first of many times I was recognised in Melbourne.  Both from within the fat community and from random people on the street – or in candy shops – I walked into a shop and the young woman behind the counter went “OMG YOU WERE ON TV!!”  It’s a really weird feeling but it’s so lovely to get some positive responses to my work instead of the usual garbage that hits my inbox!

It was wonderful to be able to actually speak to some of the designers and other people from the brands who were involved with MFW+.  I am sure some of them didn’t expect to have a middle-aged pink-haired mega fatty bending their ear on how the industry is failing so many of it’s customers.  But I wasn’t there to build people’s egos, I was there to agitate for change!  There is some amazing stuff happening with plus-size fashion in Australia, but there are also some really horrible gaps in the market that are ignoring the customers who have the most at stake when it comes to finding clothes that are suitable and desirable for their bodies.

One of the best experiences for me for the whole week was the panel I was lucky enough to be on, Feminism, Fashion and Fat Bodies.  Not only were my fellow panelists Sarah Harry and Meagan Kerr amazing women who approach fat activism from different perspectives but similar politics to me, but the general atmosphere of the event was incredible.  Several women came up to me after the panel and told me that they were amazed to feel welcome and included in a fashion event.  This is what we should always strive for – to right the wrongs of mainstream fashion, starting with inclusivity.

Meagan Kerr, Sarah Harry and myself at the Feminism, Fashion and Fat Bodies panel.

Meagan Kerr, Sarah Harry and myself at the Feminism, Fashion and Fat Bodies panel.

I’m a firm believer that not only can we be better at inclusive and ethical fashion, but we already are.  That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement – there’s a lot of room for improvement.  But I do see that fat fashion is willing to question where our clothes come from, who they are accessible to, who made them, who is making money from the customer and why some customers are left out.  We’ve taken more steps towards building a more equitable industry.

There are two areas that we do have a lot of work to be done though.  Size representation and affordability.

Unfortunately way too many “plus-size” brands are excluding the larger sizes still.   There is no valid excuse for this.  I hear a lot of brands say they want to expand into larger sizes, but the truth is that brands should be STARTING with the larger sizes.  This is the most under-represented demographic and a clientele that is clamouring for options.  Want to jump ahead from the competition?  Provide what your competition isn’t providing.  It was dispiriting to see so many brands at MFW+ who simply do not cater to my size, a 26/28AU.  The few who did really stood out and they have a captive audience of women who literally have almost no other options.

I know the MFW+ team worked really hard to find brands that both included larger sizes and would use models over a size 16, and that there are simply very few out there.  The thing I want to say to all of these brands who refuse to cater to larger sizes is that you’re not doing anything revolutionary by creating a plus-size range that only goes to 20 or 22.  There are so many brands doing that, just in Australia alone from all kinds of types of fashion and price points.  Size 16 or 18 or 20 is in no way cutting edge, revolutionary or radical.  It’s the status quo and it’s incredibly disappointing that so many of you do not have the courage to step up and do something really radical, which is create beautiful clothes for larger fat women.

Affordability is the next issue.  Now this isn’t a criticism of the brands who are providing quality clothes at a good range of sizes directly – they’re needed.  We need premium product.  But the issue is, we also need product from ALL price points – and that means high end fashion as well as a range of budget options.  As much as I would love to throw down $300 – $400 on a dress, it’s simply not possible.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have premium product out there – it means we need the diversity that is available in straight sizes.

I guess that is what it all boils down to – diversity.  Diversity of style, diversity of size, diversity of price point, diversity of range (ie everything from activewear to formal wear and all in between!)  Until we see diversity, the plus-size market is failing it’s customer.

The second panel on the Sunday was an industry one, comprised of brands and the head of a model management company.  I’m not going to name names, but frankly it was SO frustrating to have the head of the model company speaking over all of the designers, pushing to “drop the plus” and crowing that she was a “proud size 16” who wants to get rid of the labels, without acknowledging the reality that larger women do not have the options she does.  All of the brand reps there mentioned that they couldn’t get professional models over a size 20 and that they mostly sourced amateur ones to use, and the woman from the model company kept saying that no brand wanted models over a size 20, and then when the brands said they do, she told them that they should use “professional models because they’re so much better”.  That would be the professional models you don’t have because you say they won’t get work, forcing the brands to use amateur ones.   Frankly I was glad when the panel was over so we didn’t have to listen to her voice any more.  I felt deeply for the other panelists and for the panel chair!  I was so glad to be sitting next to the delightful Kobi Jae of Horror Kitsch Bitch so we could groan in frustration together!

img_6799

I mean, damn, look how cute we are! #SpaceChips

And then of course, there were the runways, with all those fashions.  I had so many feels.  While yes, it is disappointing and frustrating to be excluded from so many brands because they refuse (or consider it too hard) to cater to my size, there is something incredibly powerful about seeing fat bodies walking down a runway.  MFW+ worked like hell to get a diverse range of bodies down that runway, and while I know they got considerable resistance from some brands, to see women with bodies that looked like mine, or shared some of the features of mine was so powerful.  Round tummies, thick thighs, dimples, wide hips, big boobs, round faces… they were all gorgeous!  It felt so good!  All of the models, professional and street style, did an amazing job and kudos to the MFW+ team for their hard work to really make a difference.

So there you have it, a rundown of my thoughts on the political side of Melbourne Fashion Week Plus.  I am still working all on my photos and videos of the runways so I can share with you the actual fashion, but it’s important to talk about the way that plus-size fashion is changing the world and the way fat women can represent themselves.

Ashley Nell Tipton and JC Penney – Still Smashing it Out of the Park

Published September 2, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

I was in the process of writing about Melbourne Fashion Week Plus, but then I saw these videos and it was just a matter of “Dammit, I’ve got to get this out there!”  So the MFW+ stuff will be following over the weekend sometime.

Have you seen these yet?  The three promo videos about Ashley Nell Tipton working with JC Penney to bring out her new line?  No, well here you go…

THIS.  As well as the actual clothes being as cute as hell and totally my aesthetic, this is the way I want to be marketed to by the big box businesses.  This is what I want to see from major department stores.  This is what I want to see from the big businesses around the world who have got the lion’s share of the brick and mortar plus-size clothing market.  I want to see them using actual fat women in their marketing, positive, aspirational messaging that doesn’t shame fat women as though our only focus is getting or looking thin.  Marketing that shows a competent, talented fat woman doing her job and doing it well.  Clothes that are designed BY a fat woman, FOR fat women.  And a business that is PROUD of their upcoming plus-size range and putting some marketing money behind it.

I’m going to speak to the Australian businesses, but I’m sure that the ones overseas should be doing the same thing.  Where are you Target Australila, Myer, David Jones, Big W…?  I’ll add you Specialty Fashion Group – Autograph and City Chic.  Where are you right now?  Still streaming out a pile of boring, dark coloured sacks that look like something fat women would have worn 20 or 30 years ago?  Still offering half a page in a catalogue to show off your dull, dull, dull t-shirts and leggings?  Still not putting any actual fat women in your marketing material, just the same three boring size 10-12 models with no fashion styling or decent make-up, hair or photography?

It’s time to get your shit together and realise that your customers are fed up with your out-dated, poorly planned buying and marketing strategies towards plus-sizes.  It’s 2016.  You want your customer to spend money with you?  Then learn from those that are doing it well and step up your game.

 

Melbourne Fashion Week Plus – News and a Competition

Published August 10, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

I am so excited to be able to announce that I will be attending Melbourne Fashion Week Plus (aka MFW+) in just over a week!

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 7.05.58 PM

Let me tell you about MFW+.  This week long fashion festival is both for fat women, and by fat women.  From the MFW+ website:

The Directors of MFWPlus come from a variety of backgrounds and are united by the prospect of delivering a first class fashion festival like nothing the Australian plus size fashion industry has seen before. Inspired by the wealth of plus size fashion available and their participation in previous plus size events, they are committed to creating an event in line with other Spring Fashion Festivals that not only broadens the content to include International designers but provides plus size women with their own festival and puts Melbourne on the map as one of the hubs of plus size fashion and body positivity in Australia.

I believe that fashion, style and clothing are a vital aspect of fat liberation.  Fat people have been denied access to fashion and suitable clothing for so long that for us to participate in the fashion world is radical and revolutionary.  We have been told for so long that we’re not allowed to be fashionable and stylish until we’ve literally reduced ourselves, so the fact that a group of passionate women are building an event such as this is a real “fuck you” to all of those who have policed our bodies through denying us clothing and style.

The thing I love about fatshion is that WE create our own paths.  You don’t have to follow one particular aesthetic, you don’t even have to be into traditional “fashion” so to speak.  Fatshion is about finding your own style, your own voice through the way you dress and present yourself.  Fatshion is about being innovative, about sharing and encouraging each other, and about pushing and shifting the boundaries of clothing options for fat women.

Fatshion is also about being unapologetic about living in a fat body.  It’s about building self esteem and confidence, and representation in a world that has long tried to hide us away.

Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects of plus-size fashion (as opposed to fatshion, which I think is a subset of plus-size fashion) that is still exclusionary to a lot of fat women.  But it’s our job to critique those aspects, and push for change, not opt out of something that has been long denied us.

If you’re in Melbourne, or can be in Melbourne from 22-28th of August, I highly recommend attending some (or all) of the events.  You can buy tickets here.

I’m really proud to have been asked to attend and participate in MFW+.  I’ll be attending all of the runways, and participating in the panel on Tuesday 23rd August – Feminism, Fashion and Fat Bodies with Meagan Kerr and Sarah Harry.

And I’m also really thrilled that I can offer two tickets to the event as a competition here on Fat Heffalump!  So… if you’d like to win a double pass to the MFW+ Panel, Feminism, Fashion and Fat Bodies, which will be held at the Duke of Wellington Hotel in Melbourne, 7pm Tuesday 23rd of August for you and a friend, comment below and tell me what fatshion means to you.

Competition closes this Sunday night at 7pm Brisbane time. Winners will be drawn randomly from valid entries and notified on Sunday night. Please only enter if you can definitely attend the event (or on behalf of someone who can), as I don’t want to see the tickets wasted by someone not showing up on the night!  These tickets are limited and hot property!

And if you’re at any of the MFW+ events, keep an eye out for me and say hello!  Don’t be shy, I don’t bite, I promise.  I’ll be in Melbourne for the whole week and am looking forward to meeting a whole host of new people.  For those of you who can’t be in Melbourne for the event, I’ll be blogging and sharing updates on my social media – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.  You can also follow MFW+ on Facebook, Instagram and the #MFWPlus hashtag on Twitter.

Now I just have to decide what I’m going to wear all week!!

Update!

We have a winner.  I used a random number picker on random.org to chose the winner, and the winner is…

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 7.00.33 PM

Commenter number 4 – RYOU!  Congratulations, I will send you an email in just a moment.

Thank you all for entering and I do urge the other entrants to grab a ticket or two and go along – it’s going to be a fantastic event and I’d love to meet you all.

As always, I do not run advertising on Fat Heffalump, but if you would like to support me and enable me to expand on my activism work, you can do so by donating here.

Plus 40 Fabulous – July – Holiday Memories

Published July 27, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

Well how fortuitous is this?  It’s time for the Plus 40 Fabulous post, and the theme is Holiday Memories, and I’m just back from a mega holiday!  I’ve missed a few months of Plus 40 Fabulous, both because I was away and also because I was sick and in the middle of big work projects before I went on holidays.  It’s good to get back into the swing of things now that I’m home.

Headerplus40

The theme for this month is “holiday memories”.  I don’t really have any good holiday memories from my childhood, so I decided I’m going to write about the clothes I wore on my recent holiday to New Zealand, and share some of the tips and tricks I learned about packing and travelling as a very fat woman.

When I was packing for New Zealand, I really didn’t know what to take, for a few reasons.  Firstly, it’s cold in New Zealand, a lot colder than I experience here in Brisbane, so I had to think about clothes that were going to keep me warm, which I don’t have many of!  Then I found that packing up warm clothes for almost a month in a cold climate is no easy feat.  Plus-size clothes, particularly winter plus-size clothes, are big and bulky and take up a lot of room.  But after asking around some fellow fat travellers, I was able to put together a travel wardrobe that was both going to keep me warm and comfortable, and be convenient to carry around for weeks on end in a suitcase.  It helped a lot that my friend Kerri and I were travelling around by hire car so we didn’t have to lug stuff on and off buses, trains and planes any more than to and from the country.

When we first got to Wellington, we found it was quite a bit warmer there than we expected – fairly comparable to Brisbane.  Our first morning, all I did was added a warm cardigan to an outfit I would wear at home.  Bright coloured leggings, a block coloured tunic top, my much loved (and comfortable) Mary-Janes and a cuddly cardigan did it for me.

IMG_5984

These are the only trolls I like.

I lived in leggings while I was over there.  They roll up small in a suitcase, and can be mixed and matched with various tops and dresses.  They’re also good and warm.

I did have a couple of days where I got to get into some fatshion, which was of course at the New Zealand Fat Studies: Identity, Agency and Embodiment conference.  I wanted to wear something that was both cute and expressed my style, but also that said “Unapologetic Fat Woman Here!”

Day One I went with my Candy Strike bug dress:

IMG_6012

I thought I was going to need to get really warm, and had a black fuzzy bolero and black scarf to wear with it, but the venue turned out to be REALLY warm, so I was able to pare down to just a mesh top underneath the dress and some black leggings, and those trusty Mary-Janes again.

I was presenting on the second day, and I had been saving a new dress for AGES for it to be finally cold enough to wear, so I thought that this might be the day to wear it.

IMG_6017

Now you see why I describe my style as “obnoxious toddler”.  I love this outfit, Little Orphan Annie dress, white tights, saddle shoes and my red and white striped McDonald’s socks (yes, I did get them from McDonald’s!)  I was also wearing Divine earrings.  Literally, my earrings were Divine.  They’re cutouts of this photo…

1135265

My paper was called “Hey, Fat Bitch!” so I figured what better occasion to wear the patron saint of fat bitches hanging from my ears.  Divine should always be present at powerful moments in fat history.

Unfortunately, that evening as we were leaving to go to the launch of Substantia Jones’ exhibition at Te Manawa, I slipped on the path at the front of the house we were staying, and rather spectacularly sprained my ankle.  So I missed the launch, and missed saying goodbye to all of the people from the conference.  Luckily the lovely Gabrielle, our host while we were in Palmerston North, plied me with hot water bottles, and naughty cats (she has the naughtiest cats) that night, so I could get some healing in before we left for Rotorua the next day.

Having a sprained ankle certainly slowed me down, but it didn’t stop me.  We went up to Rotorua and the first thing on our list was a trip to Hobbiton to do the movie set tour (it’s out at Matamata, which is about an hour and a bit out of Rotorua).  Luckily I could get my hiking boots over my swollen ankle, and was able to slowly walk the hilly but stunning landscape that is the Hobbiton movie set.

IMG_6088

It was much colder that day, so I had several layers on.  Layers are the key for travelling in colder climes I find.  Leggings, dress, long sleeve t-shirt, light cardigan, hoodie, scarf and beanie!  You can shed bits if you need to, but otherwise it keeps you toasty warm.

If you are going to New Zealand, take your swimsuit.  Especially if you are going to Rotorua.  Recommended by several fab fats who had already been travelling in New Zealand before the conference, and the lovely Cat Pausé who is now a local, we went to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, and I credit my relatively speedy ankle recovery to the Priest Pool – a hot thermal pool that is full of minerals.  All of the thermal pools were amazing and felt fantastic on my poor ankle, not to mention all the other aches and pains from the fall, but the Priest Pool, I have no words for how healing that was.  The very second I got into it I felt fantastic and did not want to get out.

But I found there were hot spas all over the country – we also went to one in Franz Josef that was heated glacier water, and I’m so glad I took a swimsuit with me – not something I can easily source while travelling.

A couple of days later, while we were on the road travelling down the west coast of the North Island, we stopped off at a diner in New Plymouth that the owner of the motel we had stayed at recommended, called Deluxe Diner.  Now this diner was awesome.  Fabulous US retro in style, with the most adorable waitresses in 50’s style uniforms, and food to die for, we loved it on sight.  But the morning we were there, we were lucky enough to encounter some Nuns Having Fun – the cast of Sister Act for the New Plymouth Operatic Society.

IMG_6146

My choice of outfit for days where we were on the road a lot was soft pants (with pockets!), comfortable top and trusty cardigan.  Chuck a big ass flower on the head and those infernal hiking boots on, and we’re off.

On our way down the west coast of the South Island, we stopped off at a little town called Hokitika, also recommended by fab fats who went before me.  What a gorgeous little town!  I found this sculpture down by the sea, and had to have my photo taken chilling in it.

IMG_6226

Still in my trusty cardigan, and the hiking boots that I grew to loathe (my other shoes wouldn’t fit on my bung ankle!) with a long tunic and Lumpy Space Princess leggings.

When we were in Dunedin, I called up a local bus tour company to book a half day tour out to Larnach Castle.  The lovely woman who answered the phone said “I can’t get you on a bus, but for the same price I can send you a limo for a private tour.”  Ummm… HELL YES!!  So Kerri and I had a half day private tour of Dunedin and Larnach Castle, with our fabulous tour guide and driver Ron, in a 7.2m white stretch limousine!!

IMG_6350

It was a bit nippy out, so I went for soft pants and a tunic top, and my trusty hoodie.  My grey cardigan and red hoodie sure got a workout on this trip!

On our way up to Christchurch from Dunedin, we were invited by an international YouTube celebrity, Scooterman, to stop in Timaru and have cameo roles in his next video.  Meeting John was an absolute delight, and I enjoyed spending a couple of hours with him.

IMG_6378

Again, you can’t go wrong with leggings and a tunic top, and chuck a cardie over the top.  And look, finally I could fit back into my Mary-Janes, the swelling had gone down!

We only had one night in Christchurch, so the next morning I booked us a 3 hour tour of the city and surrounds on a London double decker bus.  Christchurch is an amazing city, so resilient after the devastation of the Feb 2011 earthquake.  I urge you to go there and do some touring, either on your own or with an organised tour.

IMG_6396

Back in purple again – tunic top, leggings and my trusty hoodie.  But I added some rainbow socks to my Mary-Janes and an infinity scarf.

Finally, a couple of people asked me before I left if I was going to shop while in New Zealand for clothes.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the budget, and size 26-28AU clothes are scarce in New Zealand, so there was no shopping for me.  But one thing I did pick up was an amazing infinity scarf from Global Culture, a company based in Christchurch that make all of their products locally, which I was SO happy to support.  I wore the HELL out of that thing!

IMG_6465

This was on the ferry from Picton to Wellington, where it was super windy and cold.  I just wrapped it around my head, looped it around my neck a couple of times and Bob’s your uncle!  Warm ears, head and neck.  I loved this scarf so much I went to a Global Culture shop in Wellington the next day and bought another one, and one of their neck socks too, which can be worn as a head band or hair wrap or scarf or anything else your imagination comes up with.

So there you have it.  My holiday fatshion memories of my trip to New Zealand.

If you’re interested in reading any other of the Plus 40 Fabulous posts, you can follow the Facebook group here or on Twitter here.

As always, I do not run advertising on Fat Heffalump, but if you would like to support me and enable me to expand on my activism work, you can do so by donating here.

Dear Ashley Graham

Published March 16, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

Dear Ashley Graham,

Please stop.  Just… stop.  Look, I know you’re the hot name of the moment in plus-size models and you’re getting a lot of media and marketing attention.  Congratulations, enjoy it.  But you seriously need to knock it off with the whole thing about not wanting the term “plus-size” to be used.  What am I talking about?  Well, there’s this…

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 7.56.39 PM
I get that you don’t want to be called a “plus-size” model because let’s face it, you’re not a plus-size woman.  Unlike myself and so many other women who shop at the stores you collect cheques from for modelling their clothes, your body is not fat.  To anyone walking past you on the street, you’re just a woman, and a very beautiful one at that.  But when I walk down the street, I’m a fat woman.  Nobody is going to dispute that fact.  That’s where the vast chasm lies between the models who are chosen and paid to showcase clothes for fat women, and the actual women who are buying them.

AG

A plus-size model.

 

An actual plus-size customer. (Photo by Paul Harris)

An actual plus-size customer. (Photo by Paul Harris)

The thing is, women like me need the label “plus-size”.  We know that the label doesn’t refer to us or our actual bodies, but refers to the section in the store that we need to find – almost always a dingy corner in the back with no signage, poor housekeeping and terrible lighting – if we are lucky.  You wouldn’t know what it’s like to need that section because your body is catered to in most standard “straight” sized clothing ranges.  When you want to buy a swimsuit, you need to know where in the store to go to buy one right?  So you go to the swimsuit section.  Well, we need and want to buy clothes that fit our body, so we need to be able to find the section that has those clothes, and for the last century, almost anyway, there has been a conveniently named section called “plus-size” that we can seek out.  This saves us from wading through the other 90% of clothing that doesn’t include us.

When you, who have far more access to the media and marketing than we do, by the blessing of your pretty face, hourglass figure and relatively small size (compared to actual plus-size clothing customers) start trumpeting that the clothing industry needs to get rid of the term plus-size, two things happen.

Firstly, you stigmatise fatness further than it already is.  You might not be actually saying that, but that’s what many not-fat people, including the businesses who are supposed to be serving us, actually hear.  The corollary of that is that not-fat people and businesses stop listening to us.  They don’t listen to us much anyway, but your efforts are causing them to shut us out even further.

Secondly, businesses start thinking that they can “drop the plus” which means they start literally dropping plus-size product.  They downsize their collections.  They trim the size range, removing the larger sizes, which are already as rare as hens teeth.  So you are actively making it harder for many of us to find the clothing that we want and need.

While we’re at it, let’s touch on the “curvy sexylicious” thing.  I personally find it cheesy and childish, but you get to decide how you identify and you’re perfectly entitled to decide on that label for yourself.  But the reality is, the vast majority of women who actually buy plus-size clothing will never get to or want to be referred to as “curvy sexylicious”.  To start with, many of us a “boxy fat fabulous” or “roly-poly arse-kicking” or “shaped-like-the-magic-pudding awesome”.  We’re fat.  We don’t have neat little hourglass figures with a tiny tummy bump or a pair of thick thighs.  We have big, fat bodies.  Bodies that are still awesome, but they’re not being given the opportunity to model for Lane Bryant anytime soon.  Also, I can’t go to work in a lacy bra and tight skirt and call myself “curvy sexylicious” like you do when you go to work.  I need to wear something suitable for my job and call it “creative professional woman”.  Sexing up is all well and good, but we need more than lacy bras and sparkly evening wear (don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of lace and sparkle).  We need suits for the office, dresses for daytime, skirts and blouses to go to church in, smart casual gear to go to the school event in, all those sorts of thing.  When I go through my work day, I don’t make kissy faces and toss my hair – I have to answer phones and go to meetings and do a whole lot of innovative thinking, plus a lot of networking with people of all types – from management to politicians, from librarians to electricians.  That’s not exactly “curvy sexylicious” appropriate, you know?

Besides, not everything in plus-size has to be “sexy”.  In fact, not everything about womanhood has to be “sexy”.  Sexy is fun sure, and has it’s place, but women are worth far more than their worth to the male gaze.  We are more than valuable for our fuckability.  When I see models promoting plus-size clothing brands, they’re almost always naked, in lingerie or in some state of “sexyfication”.  I know why this is done – mostly for the shock value of seeing a body that has some small rolls or curves in a world where most models are ultra-thin.  We often don’t get to see the products actually showcased in the same way that straight-sized clothes are.  Which makes it so hard to shop for the clothes we want and need.  Particularly when our clothes are relegated to online shopping or badly maintained racks in the back of the store.  We need to see what an outfit will look like when we wear the whole outfit – very hard when we’re forced to shop online.  The lacy bra and tight skirt is cute on you in a promo shot, sure… but how do I know what it looks like with a jacket or blouse in the same range?   How do I know what it will look like on a body shaped like mine, rather than tall, hourglass and slim like you are?

What it really boils down to is that we need more clothing options than there currently are in our sizes, and we need to be able to see them in a way that reflects how we live, feel and look.  We need to see ourselves.  Your constant calls to lose the term “plus-size” don’t help that.  Perhaps if you don’t want to be called a “plus-size model”, it’s time for you to step back, stop collecting the cheques for jobs that are supposed to serve fat women and let some larger, more realistic to the customer, models take the jobs.

Yours sincerely
Kath
aka Fat Heffalump

Let’s Talk Classism in Plus-Size Clothing

Published February 17, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

Wow.  In the past 24 hours I have seen some of the most disgusting displays of classism in discussions about plus-size clothing that I think I’ve EVER seen in the fatosphere.  Wait until you see the doozy I just screen capped.

As most of you probably already know, Beth Ditto dropped her new plus-size clothing line this week.  It’s gorgeous.  I would love to own almost every item in the range.  But a lot of fat women have quite rightfully raised that they are priced out of the range because it aims at the high end market.  This isn’t a criticism of Beth herself, or her new range, but an important message about how one high end fashion range is not a victory for fat women in general, because MOST of us are not able to access the range (let’s acknowledge the cut off of larger sizing too, but that’s a conversation for another post).

My main comment was that for many fat women, the cost of just one of those garments is equivalent to a week’s rent, or filling their car with fuel for the month, or paying their utilities bill.  When it comes down to choosing which gets paid for, the necessities of life have to come first.  Even after necessities, if looking at value for money, for the same cost as one Beth Ditto jumpsuit, I could buy air fares to New Zealand and back.

But the pushback against anyone raising this issue of affordability and access has been swift and it has been pretty disgusting.  Mostly because affluent fat women are assuming that the statement “All fat women deserve access to clothing that they need and want.” as “Take away the rich lady’s Beth Ditto clothes!!”  Which is NOT what is being said at all.

It’s all well and good to tell fat women to shop ethically, to invest in high end fashion and to buy local, but in a world where fat women are openly discriminated against in the workplace and in education, this is a moot point.  Don’t believe me?  Look at this little screen shot @kiddotrue shared on Twitter…

CbWVJsMVAAA_Lw-

Now, it would be great if we all had access to the kind of funds required to dress in Beth Ditto’s gorgeous range.  But the reality is, most of us don’t and yet we still need clothing.  And when I say need clothing, I mean we need a range of clothing to suit our lives – which includes clothing that is to our taste as well as meets our practical need.  The ability to express oneself via clothing is as vital to our humanity as it is to cover our bodies.

Unfortunately, so many people have NO IDEA what “budget” actually means.  They say “ditch fast fashion and invest in yo dress” with no regard to whether or not many fat women actually CAN fork out $120 – $400 for one garment.  Others cite the availability of mass produced clothing brands – like Lane Bryant – as evidence that there is “affordable” clothing available to fat women, completely dismissing that at full price, many of those brands are also outside of a lot of fat women’s price range too.  A cursory glance at Lane Bryant’s website shows full price for many garments up over the $100 range.  Admittedly, you’re more likely to get a discount code or pick up sale stock from a mass produced range than a designer one, but even then, when compared with what is available in straight size ranges, plus-size fashion is extremely expensive.

This also assumes that everyone has access to brands from the US and UK – not all fat women are white Western women, let’s not forget that.

Of course, there are also those who cite the deeply problematic nature of mass produced clothing lines, from both how and where it is produced and where the designs come from.  I agree, there needs to be a radical shakeup of the fashion industry in general to ensure that all clothing is ethically produced to a minimum level.  But that is not going to help your average fat woman with a limited budget to clothe herself for her job, her education, and her other day-to-day life.  If there are no ethically produced clothes available at an accessible price point, then fat women have no alternative than to buy the mass produced budget product.  And the problem lies in that there are little to no budget options for fat women.

The problem I see is that there is a deeply entrenched classism that assumes that women who want and need fashionable clothing all have access to the kind of disposable income that is required to afford the clothing that is currently on the market – from mass-produced through to designer ranges like Beth Ditto’s.  And on top of that, there is an assumption that poor fat women are not interested in being “fashion forward” or don’t have or want careers that require a certain look or standard of dressing.  As evidenced by this gobsmacking comment left on a Facebook thread on the topic earlier this morning, I’m feeling generous and won’t name the commenter…

Some of us want to be/are/are on a career track to be creative directors, ad execs, media professionals, or other life choices where we want to look a certain way.

The assumption that poor fat women have no ambition and don’t want or need to look a certain way is frankly, disgusting.  Firstly, many of us who don’t have the money to drop on the currently available clothing are ALREADY in professional careers where we have to find suitable clothing to present ourselves for our work.  I am so myself.  Secondly, both poverty and fat stigma regularly hold women back from achieving those career goals, and partly so because we cannot access the clothing we need to dress like our peers.  When you cannot access the same type of clothing as your peers, it is often a hindrance to progression in your career.  We all know that fat women are often considered “sloppy” and “lazy” – how much of this is because of the dearth of reasonable quality, stylish clothing which prevents us from achieving the same look as our thin colleagues?

I see my straight-sized colleagues turn up to work beautifully turned out in clothes from Target and other budget options, but for me to wear clothes of equivalent quality and style, I have to spend twice as much money.  Just Target alone has a vast chasm between the quality and style of what they offer straight sized customers and plus-sized ones.  They have garments of every type and style in straight sizes, but one look at the plus-sizes shows an ocean of poorly made t-shirts, loose pants and weekend/casual wear – none of which is suitable for my workplace.

Not to mention that fat women have other financial responsibilities as well as clothing themselves – be they funding family needs, education costs, or high living costs in general.  It is well known that the cost of living has skyrocketed in the past decade, particularly for those at the lower income levels.  We are paying double the rent/mortgage as we were in the late 1990’s on almost exactly the same salary.  Fewer and fewer of us have room in our budget to spend on anything outside of absolute necessities.

I also had one woman patronisingly citing “industry terms” about availability of budget clothing as though that somehow dissolved the issue of accessibility to affordable clothing for low income fat women.

Look, I know that the clothing industry is complicated and problematic.  I know that it’s not easy to produce quality garments in plus-sizes at a budget range in the current industry climate and that the whole clothing industry needs to be radically changed.  But that’s not solving the problem that is here and now – accessibility to suitable clothing for ALL fat women.

So, while many of you are squeeing over Beth Ditto’s beautiful range as being a victory for fat women, remember that through no fault of their own, not all fat women are as fortunate as those of you who can afford those clothes and that they have a legitimate reason to feel excluded from the happy buzz that many of you are enjoying, and are rightfully feeling hurt at being excluded yet again.