Friday, September 26, 2014

Plus Size

Every year The New Yorker does a style issue. The only thing I'm less interested in is sports but I flip through to make sure there's nothing by a writer I like. This year there is a fairly good article about plus size fashion. It's very well written, includes some history of how the perception of fat bodies devolved grabbed from Fat Shame (a book I have not read). It mentions a number of fat fashion bloggers (most of whom I haven't read). And only gives a small nod to the idea that being fat is unhealthy.
"Obesity is a genuine health concern, but the connection between health and the wearing of crop tops is a murky one."
Yes. Murky.
I just hate the flatness of the genuine-health-concern thinking. However, it goes on to say that "people become plus size for all sorts of reasons, not all of which involve life style choices." So, there is some nuance and it gets even more radical by calling out the "health concern" as a way to "police the prevailing social order." 
It ends in a Lane Bryant store with a customer who will "never wear a crop top." It is a sour ending for an otherwise interesting article. It seemed to say that most fat women are going to dress in a conservative manner because ... they should.
I know that the fat revolution is fought on the fields of fashion. I get it. It feels a bit frivolous to me some times but it does matter. Wearing a fatkini is a radical act. Wearing horizontal stripes. Wearing sleeveless shirts. Wearing clothing that is fun and alive and ... pretty. If you're fat you aren't suppose to do any of those things. You're supposed to wear clothing that covers your shame.
Even the term plus size kind of makes my teeth hurt. Adding from what? Normal? And what is that?
I am not interested in fashion but I am aware that I've always worn a uniform.
A wanna be cowgirl uniform.
A hippie chick uniform.
A rock-n-roll uniform.
A lives below 14th street uniform.
A guru girl uniform.
My uniform these days is frighteningly middle aged. Most of the time I'm in simple baggy pants and a simple baggy shirt. Sometimes I wear a nicer shirt. Usually with a flowery pattern. And I will not be wearing a crop top any time soon. Much of this is about age, I suppose. It's also just about comfort and taste. I spend a lot of time in the privacy of my nest in my pajamas. I lean toward gypsy/hippie/arty stuff but ... I don't get out much. I have a hard remembering to put on earrings. It's something I actually work on because I know it matters.
I have a sense that if I were not fat my fashion life might have taken a similar trajectory. Wandering through the uniforms and landing at baggy.
The connection between wearing a crop top and having a deeply internalized sense that my fat body is a whole body with a complex history and not a pathology is murky.
Yes. Murky.

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