Not Flawed Problems

Wrong RoadYoga Journal posted a “Love Your Curves” article that is seriously messed up. One of the many issues with the article is that their idea of loving your curves seems to be using yoga clothes as “style solutions” to hide flaws.  Apparently a journal that wants us to believe that it is an authority in the practice of Yoga also wants us to believe that our practice will be improved if our shoulders look less wide, if we look as tall as possible, and if people are distracted from our stomachs.  Namaste Fatties.

The thing I want to talk about today is the phrase “Style Solutions.”  It’s not the first time I’ve seen this phrase and every time I reflect on the fact that this is bullshit.  These are not solutions, because they aren’t solving any actual problems.  Wide shoulders are not a problem, cellulite is not a problem, being short is not a problem (unless I’m trying to  reach something and no amount of avoiding capri pants is going to help me get something off the top shelf.)

Of course people are allowed to wear whatever they want for whatever reason they want including trying to approximate the cultural stereotype of beauty.  As for me, I’m a member of the Fuck Flattering club.  I sometimes wonder if I would be more of a fatshionista if there were more clothing options easily available to me.  It makes me laugh when I see quizzes about what my “personal style’ is.  I realize immediately that these are written by people who have more than three stores at which they can shop.  Still, I’m not even safe from body shame at the fat girl stores anymore with their “control top” leggings, “Tighter Tummy Technology,” padded sports bras promising “glamour” and “lift” but unable to hold my boobs down on a walk to my car, and yoga pants with spandex inserts to “tighten and flatten.”

It’s not just clothes either.  I saw an article today that offered complicated make-up solutions for people whose eyes are “too widely spaced”.  What with the who now? Of course you can do whatever you want, but may I just humbly suggest that anytime you are spending in the morning trying to make your eyes look closer together – maybe just bump your alarm time back by that many minutes and enjoy sleeping in tomorrow.

We know that it’s incredibly profitable to make us believe that our states of being and looking are “problems” that need to be solved through the buying of things. But there’s another group of people who have an interest in this for less profit driven reasons.   There are people who derive their self-worth from looking a certain way. For many of those people just believing themselves to be superior isn’t enough, they need everyone else to buy into it to, and part of that is making us, and everyone else, see our bodies as inferior.   Yoga Journal may have been participating in this or merely trying to profit from it (the classic “we’re just given customers [who have been conditioned to see their bodies as flawed by our magazine] what they want!”)

It doesn’t really matter why, what matters is that we see what’s happening, and then we decide what we want to do about it. Maybe we want to buy fashion magazines (that, in my opinion, shove a single stereotype of beauty down our throats while selling us products by insisting that we’re not good enough,) and that’s cool, people are allowed to do that.  We can also choose to opt out.  There are lots of ways that we can opt out.  We can do it in our own heads – when we see things like these we can silently say “No, I’m not buying into this.  My body is not a problem or a flaw.”  We can opt out with our wallets by refusing to buy things that deliver these messages to us or that profit from them (this may involve sacrifice. I don’t know any way of creating social change that doesn’t.) We can also speak out about it and call it out when we see it.  As always, the choice is ours.

If you missed the Fat Activism Conference, today is the last day to register and get the recordings.

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on August 27, 2014 at 11:05 am  Comments (24)  

24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ugh. I loathe “control top” anything. My top does not need to be controlled. Once in a blue moon I might wear shapewear shorts under something, but never on a daily basis. And if I do, I want it to be the only layer of squeezy clothes I have on. None of this built-in crap, thanks.

    I was so pissed when Dressbarn stopped carrying plus petite pants without tummy control panels. They were my go to shop for work pants for a decade. Now I don’t eve look at the pants there.

  2. The last time I bought swimsuit, there was quite literally nothing I could find in my size that didn’t include ‘tummy tamer technology’ aka Torture Devices Derived from Torquemada… or, you know, corsets made of spandex. That’s really annoying because all I wanted was something I could wear to slip into a hot tub and relax with my friends. But no, there’s no relaxing for the fattie! My tummy must be controlled at all times lest it TAKE OVER THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD MMWWAAHHHAAAAAAAA!

    Seriously, I just wanted to sit comfortably in a hot tub. Is that really too much to ask?

    • Oh Twistie, I love you so much! “Torture Devices Derived from Torquemada!” HI-larious! And I can just imagine your tummy wearing a junta hat, eye patch, and jack boots, and carrying a swagger stick, which it slaps against itself as it makes its nefarious plans for world domination. Priceless!

    • I wear actual corsets on occasion because they’re fun pieces of clothing and honestly they are more comfortable than a lot of more modern shape wear because they’re very adjustable. A piece of clothing made with steel boning that I can’t bend at the waist while wearing shouldn’t be more comfortable than bits of spandex.

      • I too have been wanting to buy a corset. I found a site that allows you to have custom made, or pick a size, and their sizes go to 60 inch waists (starting at 18). The Victorian styles carry the bigger sizes. And I’d agree, before even buying it, that it would fit better and feel better than those shapewears.

        If you want to know where I’m considering buying from, I’d be happy to tell you.

        • I also know someone who has been making corsets for over two decades and will pass along the info if anyone is interested.

          • I’m definitely interested.

            • Here is my friend’s website: http://www.fittingroomcorsets.com/

              She only does custom, but she can do it without having to see you in person. On the plus side, you have a lot of styles to choose from and pick exactly the kind of fabric you want.

        • Please do! I need to have another one made; mine was made for me before I started dialysis and had a transplant, both of which changed my shape.

          • I think you were asking me. Here is the site: http://absolutecorsets.com/

            I will check out that other one too.

          • I should also mention that the Victorian ones are labelled VO. There are many diff. types of fabric, but I picked this one out for me: http://www.absolutecorsets.com/overbust-corsets/satin/vo-1905u-tl.htm Nice and plain looking, nothing frilly. I was going to get purple or blue.

            They have a faq that is very helpful, and if you live in the far north and have -30C winters, they said that it shouldn’t make you any colder, or break.

    • I had a problem this year, finding a swimsuit (for a sudden trip last week). I FINALLY found a pair of swim shorts. NO TOPS. I got creative, IMHO, & bought an “activewear” shirt. They are practically made out of the same stuff, as swimsuits. I had a great time, at the beach! I’ve always felt self-conscious, but didn’t. I was basically in shorts & T-Shirt! My point? Next time you can’t find a swimsuit.- see if you can find an activewear shorts &/or swim top (they have jog bras, for those who prefer a 2-piece)! Just wear whatever you like!

      • I also am busty & just wore a sports bra underneath! For once the boobs were up & not down around my knees!! Funny BUT true! Lol

  3. One thing that annoys me about it is, they’ll stuff all kinds of “shapewear” into clothes built-in, but won’t give us access to it in a way that’s useful.

    Like, forget “flattering”. When I’m doing yoga, sometimes my stomach gets in the way of poses – it can be really uncomfortable when I’m all sticky after a work-out to have the underside of my gut adhering to my thighs as I try to move through some poses. I also find it easier to do cardio-type exercise when I can minimise the amount of bounce in my various parts. Control-wear is actually *really bloody useful* for me when I’m doing that stuff.

    What I actually need and would benefit from would be a control leotard or body, the kind with poppers to do up the crotch and a really tight fit from sea-level up to chest. With panels holding my gut up and out of the way, and an integrated elastic bra panel so I can keep my chest (which is rather large and pendulous and inconvenient) out of the way without underwires digging in. But can I find such a thing in my size? My arse, can I. I can’t even find a vest with an integral bra-shelf that doesn’t have useless little padded cups in it!

    I don’t want to be squeezed into a “more flattering” shape. I want my bits held and supported so I can do shit! But, just like women’s jeans with pockets too small to fit a phone into, fashion is so concerned with achieving a certain look that it abandons all practicality or usefulness and takes what could be an actually useful innovation – supportive panels in clothing – and turns them into something purely focused on making you look more socially acceptable.

  4. I wouldn’t mind clothes that actually flatter my body – as in work with it’s shape to present it a way I want to present it rather than attempting to disguise the shape I actually am. I want clothes that realise that short legs doesn’t have to mean short body so they come up to my waist not stop half way up my tummy and dig in. I want tights that don’t think every one has very long legs and a short tummy so not only do they stop below my waist but I get half the leg hanging off the bottom and the Nora Batty effect.

    I want tops that are designed to actually work with my huge breasts to make me feel comfortable in my body rather than either trying to pretend they aren’t there or shove them in everybody’s faces.

    I actually have a jacket that doesn’t have enough free room in the back for a small child to hide and no extra at the front so it makes my shoulder hunch, but I’ve only seen one like that in the past 5 years.

    I want clothes that do the job I bought them for at a reasonable price, in a reasonable quality and with a reasonable amount of choices preferably without having to wait at least 3 days for delivery.

    I’d love to find out how many people of all sizes can actually wear off the peg stuff without modification or it sitting funny if they stretch etc. as I suspect the fashion industry has absolutely no idea what women actually look like, or they wouldn’t be trying to put so many different body shapes (no matter what the size) in the same patterns.

    • Yes, the problems I want clothes to solve have to do with fitting me the way I am, not changing my shape.

  5. Anna Guest-Jelly from Curvy Yoga wrote a great post called “Love your curves! Well, except yours, obviously” about that Yoga Journal article: http://www.curvyyoga.com/love-curves-well-except-obviously/

  6. I hate how “curves” has become a euphemism for being fat, and thus “demoted” so that curviness is a second-rate attribute. A few generations back, a curvy woman was considered the MOST desirable. Now if the lamestream media/giant marketing machine says someone is curvy it’s code for saying she’s fat, and thus lesser.

    I wish we could get to a place in general social consciousness where fat was neither bad nor good; just another personal characteristic. And especially in yoga class!!!

  7. Loved this!!! I agree whole heartedly with everything you say in this article. We are not flawed, period. I also wanted to add that I am someone who loves Renaissance Festivals and costumes and very feminine fashion and despaired at being able to find the kind of clothes my inner Wench wanted to wear. Then on the internet, I found a beautiful online store that is based in Canada and caters to the inner Wench, Gypsy and romantic attire that I love. Most of the styles also go up to 5x. They believe, rightly so, that all bodies are beautiful! The store is called Holy Clothing, odd name for a great store. No I am not a spokesperson for them but I have told a lot of my friends about them and they too are enchanted with the styles, the prices are also great. I know this is a bit off point and I apologize. Thank you for sharing that we are not flawed… not at all.

    • Ren garb looks terrific on me too, and there are actually a couple of makers besides Holy Clothing that go from small up to multipleX, but I’ll need to scare up the names and URLs.

  8. I dont mind control inserts here and there if they help hold the rolls in place better, are comfortable and not create and extra sausage where they end. Not that i would care if it makes me slimmer but because sometimes they are more comfortable then regular piece (ordinary panties … ouch…. they were cutting me in half, with high waisted ones with control panel is my tummy comfortable and happy).

  9. (TW: discussion of physical shape and clothes fit)

    In addition to what Ragan and everyone else has said above, I have another pet fatshion peeve: that almost every store or designer that caters to us, whether all fats or just small fats, assumes that we all want empire waists above everything else. I don’t! I look pregnant in empire waists. I want waists that hit my long-torsoed natural waistline or at least come close, because that’s what looks great on me. I’m always OK with pieces that fall into a wide, and even better a circle, skirt from my waistline. One thing I love to do is put a crinoline under such a skirt to flare it out. I want something that makes me look like I have a waistline instead of being almost a straight line straight down from top of breasts to bottom of hips, and it can’t be shapewear. I usually refuse to wear shapewear because it may not be safe for my internal organs, especially my kidney transplant, which was put into my right lower abdomen in front; because it’s hard to put on and take down; because it’s uncomfortable; and because the panties’ waistband almost invariably rolls down my belly. That can’t be helped because my belly’s rounded and protuberant, thanks to the steroid (prednisone) that I have to take for the rest of my life. Naked, I do, in fact, look 6 or more months pregnant, not just fat. At 54, I don’t want to look pregnant. So give me my circle-skirted dresses, fatshion stores and designers, not just dresses that hang from the neckline down or empire waists.

    BTW, on LB’s so-called (TW) “Tighter Tummy Technology”, when I bought jeans there a few months ago, the sales clerk told me it just meant the jeans would not gap at the waist, and sure enough, they don’t. They don’t hold me in at all, just fit me better at the waist, so for once, I don’t have to wear a belt to prevent gapping or have to have an elastic band at the waist. For some reason jeans always do on me and have done most of my adult life.

    • Recently Pennington’s (in Canada) redid their pants and shirts lines. They used to use city names for certain fits, but apparently none of the pants fit right, and had a gap. They told me this the last time I went for pants and that the new lines have no gap anymore. I really didn’t notice before, but the pants I wear now don’t have a gap. I haven’t been able to find a belt that fits me since I was 14 yrs old so I never knew that you had to combine.

      But you are right, the gapless fit better.

  10. I just want to say (this seems relevant to me): I was driving and listening to the radio a little while back, and an ad came on for mascara- to give you “extra long, full lashes” or some such. Immediately after, it was followed with an ad for laser hair removal- I think bushy eyebrows were specifically mentioned. And I busted out laughing, which my children looked at me very strangely for. I explained that it’s not usually so blatant, but whatever hair you have, wherever it is, someone wants you to think it’s wrong and pay them to fix it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: