Fashion and Normalizing Obesity

Fashion and Normalizing ObesityRivkie Baum created a plus size fashion magazine called Slink.  So the BBC radio show Woman’s Hour had her on for a wonderful segment about the the fat fashion movement, and how important it is that women of all sizes have access to clothes that they want to wear.

Just kidding!

They had her on with a self-described “weight loss expert” to discuss whether making fashionable clothes in plus sizes “normalizes obesity.”

I think that there is a place for debate, I’ve been involved in my share and I’m sure there will be many more.  But I think it’s a serious issue that we can’t talk about anything involving fat people without a “weight loss expert” toeing the OMGDEATHFATZ line.

I thought that Rivkie’s interview was as good as could be expected under crappy conditions.  When she was asked if she was afraid people would think that by publishing a women’s magazine for fat women that she was saying it is ok to be fat, she said that she thinks it’s more worrying that we think it’s ok to isolate people.  I couldn’t agree more, not to mention that it is totally ok to be fat.

As far as the idea of making clothes for fat people “normalizing” obesity, there are so many problems with this that I hardly know where to begin.

First of all, what is the alternative? Should I walk around naked and when they come to arrest me explain that I’m just doing my part to make sure that we don’t normalize obesity?   Our lives should be some sort of never ending toga party?

Even if they believe that trying to lose weight is a healthy choice, how completely out of touch with reality are these people who insist that making sure fat people don’t feel “normal” constitutes public health of any kind? Because I’m sure that hating ourselves and being hated by society and not being able to find clothes we like that fit is definitely the key to health (sarcasm meter is at 10 out of 10 here.)

Do people actually believe that the best thing we can do for fat people is to create a world that constantly reinforces that we don’t belong, where we can’t get clothing we like (not to mention clothing that we might need for our jobs, our hobbies etc.) where we can’t even hear about a magazine that shows clothes for us without also hearing some hand wringing won’t-somebody-think-of-the-fat-people “weight loss expert” whining about “normalizing obesity”  (who, not for nothing, makes money telling fat people that they can “rescue” us from the stigmatizing world that they are actively creating if we pay them whatever money we manage to make at the jobs we could get that allow us to come to work in a toga.)

Yet again, fat people say “we have the right to exist (and wear clothes) just like thin people do” and BBC Woman’s Hour says “Well, that’s debatable” No, it’s really not.

I’m on record as a member of the Fuck Flattering Club, and so I want to make it clear that I completely support fat people who are into fashion for themselves, and the fact that people should have the same fashion options regardless of size, and that fat people should be able to discuss fat fashion without comment from a “weight loss expert” about how important it is that we find a way to clothe fat people without allowing them to feel in any way “normal.”

Activism Opportunity:

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Published in: on January 24, 2015 at 11:20 am  Comments (20)  

20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have to wear something if I don’t want to be arrested. I also happen to have personal preferences when it comes to what I wear. I like bright colors, funky details, hats, and flat shoes with lots of personality.

    I could give a flying fuck about what anyone else would prefer to wear. That’s between them, their god, and their tailor.

    ‘Normal’ has never been my ambition in life about much of anything. What I would like to see is a world where we’re all free to express ourselves sartorially in whatever manner we prefer. Having clothes that make me feel good about me encourages me to take better care of myself, because I like me when I wear splendid purple and orange and turquoise clothes with unusual buttons, funky hemlines, embroidery, and dramatic sleeves.

    If someone else prefers jeans and a plain tee shirt, more power to them. Ditto to someone who loves short, tight skirts and six-inch heels.

    The thing is, if I wore a size six, I would have not only the unquestioned right to dress in any of these or any of dozens of other ways, I would have easy access to all the clothes I could possibly want in order to make it happen.

    But I’m not a size six. I’m a size twenty petite with a belly bigger than my bosom. I know how hard it is to get anything vaguely resembling what I want to wear, let alone how hard it is for someone who wears anything over a size twenty-six! I know I pay more for my clothes and get less satisfaction from them than a thinner woman has access to.

    The thing is, being a human being who has preferences about my clothes is ALREADY NORMAL. I don’t have to ‘normalize’ what is already normal.

    I just want some damn clothes I can fit, can afford, and will enjoy wearing.

    Fuck anyone who wrings their hands over the horror of this desire. Fuck them long, hard, and sideways with something sharp and rusty.

    • Comments like this make me wish I could like comments as well as entries on WordPress.

    • You are so freaking awesome Twistie. A thousand times YES! to your comment!

      Everyone should have access to attire that covers their bodies regardless of size, and we should be able to find things that we enjoy wearing.

    • I love your comments, but I’m uncomfortable with the joke about sexual violence at the end (that people who disagree with you should be painfully penetrated, against their will, with a foreign object). Can you help me understand why you included that? It takes away from an otherwise really cogent comment.

  2. Couldn’t agree more!

  3. Jut to be clear, Ragen, if you are advocating a never-ending toga party, I am SO IN. Comfy clothes that feel like jammies all the time? HELLZ YEAH!!😀

  4. I’m sure it’s been (pun intended) covered here before, but I wonder about the exalted circles such media figures (oh, I did it again!) move in. When I bus to and from work or take a stroll in the park, I see fat people doing the exact same normal stuff skinny people do. Some of them are (to my untrained eye) very fashionably dressed.

    How can a line of nice clothes for fat people “Normalize” something that’s already a normal part of life? I don’t get it.

    One problem here, as FFF’s recent column mentions, is that irresponsible click-baiters like HuffPo routinely conflate the official definition of “obese” only with the very largest fat people out there. It’s hard to believe by now that this tactic is not deliberate. Those who fear becoming fat don’t think of a wide range of sizes they could be while still classed as “obese.” They think instead of the largest size there is, one that’s represented by only a fraction of the population. (And, yeah, no matter how big you are, you deserve nice, affordable clothing that fits you well. In case I didn’t make that clear enough.)

    • irresponsible click-baiters like HuffPo routinely conflate the official definition of “obese” only with the very largest fat people out there.

      I noted that, years ago, when an article in a major weekly about diet madness started with the story of a 170cm, 90kg woman, yet was illustrated with (very nice, btw) images of a (my estimate) 176cm, 130 kg woman. Yeah. Way to undermine one’s alleged point.

      • If the photo allowed the fat subject to appear with her head visible, I’d almost still count it as a victory. :/

  5. And also …

    EVEN IF all fat people could lose weight and keep it off permanently, and EVEN IF it really were a good idea for them to do so, and EVEN IF every fat person in the world decided simultaneously to commit to losing weight …

    We’d still need clothes to wear in the mean time.

    I mean, these “weight loss experts” must know that losing a lot of weight takes a lot of time. (Never mind, for the moment, that you also gain it back.) Let’s just suppose, as a thought experiment, that I set out to lose 100 pounds. At a rate of 2 pounds a week, that’s going to take me a year. The first 6 months of that, I’m still going to be “obese.” So what the Sam Hill am I supposed to wear while I’m being a good good GOOD Fatty and losing weight????

    Now, all of the above “even ifs” and “supposes” are what we grammarians call “conditions contrary to fact.” I’m not about to try to lose any weight at all, thank you very much, let alone 100 pounds. And Ragen has brilliantly demolished (many times) the false belief that all fat people can, let alone should, lose weight. But — again, even if we all could, what would these idiots want us to wear while we were doing so?

    Pardon me … I’m going to go slam my head quietly against the wall, several times.

    • Clearly, you’re supposed to wear sackcloth and hairshirts or whatever until you finally cross the line from “overweight” to “normal” and then you can unveil your new status as an Actual Human Being With Worth on the first day where you put on clothing!! Hooray!!! Happy day!!!

      • The above message is full of sarcasm, just in case🙂

      • Burkhas to the rescue!

  6. So sick of fatphobes thinking they have the power to “normalize” me and they get to choose whether or not to. I’m ALREADY normal. The only difference between me and a thin person of similar character are the differences society itself has constructed.

  7. Our lives should be some sort of never ending toga party?

    This calls for a series of snarky makros.

    “I’m not going to a Halloween Party — I am just refusing to normalise obesity!”
    “I’m not a historical re-enactor — …”
    “I’m not a Franciscan — …”
    “I’m not in the bath — …”
    “I’m not an exhibitionist — …”

  8. As soon as I started getting paychecks again, I started normalizing the hell out of obesity by buying a gorgeous tunic from Holy Clothing. I feel awesome, I look awesome, and their clothes are so heavenly comfortable that I would fill my closet with them if I could.

    If I’m not supposed to have any clothing that I buy because I think it looks good on me (if that’s what fashionable means in this case), I suppose I need to deliberately get stuff in bad colors, too small, scratchy, too short, maybe stained…?

    Maybe there’s a special Bad Fattie uniform I’m supposed to go buy instead, and I never got the memo?

  9. “Do people actually believe that the best thing we can do for fat people is to create a world that constantly reinforces that we don’t belong, where we can’t get clothing we like (not to mention clothing that we might need for our jobs, our hobbies etc.) where we can’t even hear about a magazine that shows clothes for us without also hearing some hand wringing won’t-somebody-think-of-the-fat-people “weight loss expert” whining about “normalizing obesity” (who, not for nothing, makes money telling fat people that they can “rescue” us from the stigmatizing world that they are actively creating if we pay them whatever money we manage to make at the jobs we could get that allow us to come to work in a toga.)”

    I love this, Ragen. I love you ❤

    I listened to the podcast. How kind it was of the weight loss expert to approve of Slink magazine as long as they preach weight loss because zomgdeathfatz and won'tsomeonethinkoftheCHILDREN. I noticed that she waffled between giving lip service to the notion of health being more important, and totally claiming credit for her own small size and fat-shaming anyone else who obviously didn't work as hard at it as she
    claims to. Privilege oozing out of every pore.

    If I lived in the UK, I would love to organize a Toga March on this bigoted expert's place of business. With picket signs that say "Normalize Obesity NOW" and "What Are We Supposed To Wear?"
    and "I Don't Feel Any Healthier Without Clothes" 8)

  10. To follow that line of reasoning, I would like to start a petition eliminating the manufacturing of football helmets because it’s wrong to normalize sports that cause concussions.


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