Fat Fashion As Revolution

Published on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fat Fashion

Contributed by Annamarya

I only wear skinny jeans. I own a pair of NY & Co straight legs, and a pair of Old Navy Diva flares, but for the most part, it’s all skinny, all the time.

Along with cardigans, flats, and pencil skirts, the skinny jean has been my fashion trademark for the last six or seven years. I’m not sure what made me switch from altering low rider flares to snagging mid-waist skinnies back so long ago, if it was the slight now-gone weight loss, the need to change up my look, as I did so often back then, or my life/style just settling down to more edgy sophistication. Whatever the case, I do know that I sometimes struggle with my love of skinnies but say screw it anyways.

As a fat girl, skinnies are generally off-limits to me in mainstream fashion. But I wear them and so often with a sense of defiance. I’m not confident in my clothes, nor my body (ah, insecure hang ups), but, when it comes to my lower half, I feel comfortable in nothing but skinny jeans and pencil skirts. They shape my hips and legs the way I need them to, the way that makes me feel undeniable. Screw it if you see the contour of my thunder thighs.

I never thought of this–or myself–as particularly revolutionary. After all, I only know how to be myself. But, after reading Tasha Fierce’s piece on how fatshionistas use personal style as political resistance for her Bitch Magazine column, Sex and the Fat Girl, last Thursday, I can see how this refusal to wear clothes fitted for fat girls is part of a movement. These “fashion-minded fat consumers,” says Fierce, fearlessly trade in the tent dresses, a-line skirts and “flattering” flares for clothes “once considered off-limits”–the sleeveless tops, strapless dresses, tight fitted shirts and skirts reserved usually for thin girls. They’re defying beauty “norms” by embracing “fat fashion.” They invoke the DIY ethos by altering “straight-sized” clothes, custom-making their own, and developing their own clothing lines. They are building communities and markets that refuse to live within a box designed by mainstream retailers and designers. They are creating their own cultural fashion icons because, while there’s a growing inclusion of fashionable plus-size lines in stores, “more retail representation does not translate to representation on the runway or in mainstream glossies,” Fierce points out. Call it “political resistance via capitalism.”

While I’m still learning to live in this body with love, I agree with Fierce that, for fat women, refusing to hide our bodies as we’re told, refusing to give into fat oppression and hatred, and refusing to accept blindly the clothing “made for us” is vital in upsetting destructive beauty “norms” and the shallow, elitist beauty industry structure. In order to change the tides to reflect reality–and to be more inclusive of fat women and their style–we need to show the mainstream that we’re not dependent on its products. We’re not dependent on its advice and “expertise.” Instead, as Fierce says, by fashioning supportive fat-centric communities where independent and alternative designers can thrive in independent and alternative marketplaces, we’re opening the doors to consumer revolution. And it’s about time we had a revolution.

Sex and the Fat Girl: Personal Style as Political Resistance


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