I was so excited to read about the Marie Claire plus size columnist competition, and like many of my peers I happily sent off my entry last month with my fingers crossed.
I’m very new to writing about my feelings regarding body size and attitudes to it. It’s only recently I have started dragging together all those threads of thought to form a firmer opinion on a lot of fat issues and fat politics. Added to this, I know full well my opinion is subject to influence and change. Very often I’ll come across a brilliant piece of writing that makes me think again about absolutely everything, the politics of fat are so dynamic in that way. Even this piece has a few areas that I am beginning to think about differently now.
Anyway, as we know the winner has been chosen, and I know that it isn’t me, I’d like to share my article with you. It’s inspired by, and is a reworked version of, this post. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments, I’m so open to points of view on this. Enjoy!
Plus size. Curvy. Fatshionistas. Fat. Whatever you want to call us, and whatever we choose to call ourselves, in recent months and years it has looked to the general public as if we are newly emerging. Emerging as an organised entity, armed with hashtags, blogs, opinions and most importantly for brands… money to spend. I can almost smell the panic of the high street in the face of this ‘new’, fat movement; as an alarming amount of retailers still have nothing to offer us.
But nobody should be surprised; all they had to do was look, we have been here the whole time. Front and centre. Inspired by the radical fat activists before us, finding each other on social media, in hashtags such as #honormycurves or #effyourbeautystandards, sharing outfits, ideas, and most importantly: a safe environment to inhabit. The online plus size movement, made up of bloggers, body positivity activists, discussion of fat politics, and feminism, is directly responsible for this new push towards visibility.
Check Instagram, check the blogs: there’s a fat babe like you whatever your size, shape or niche may be. The radical notion that you deserve to see clothes worn by people with your body type, teamed with the ready availability of these images on social channels, has led to a huge surge in interest in plus size fashion by us plus size humans.
In response, new and exciting online plus size brands have risen, some older plus size brands have changed, or reinvented themselves to meet us. These brands have been overwhelmingly online stores. We’ve been trained to feel as if there is nothing on the high street for us, we’re too different, too specialist, too ‘other’.
In many cases, both in the UK and US, individuals are also finding that high street retailers’ who do cater for plus sizes, only hold their plus size stock online… god forbid a fat person crosses the threshold in real life, eh? The impression given out is that the plus size ranges of big, fashionable, hip brands are a treated as a dirty little secret; they know we are here, they want our money, but they don’t want to be seen catering for our size. Can you blame us for avoiding the high street thus far? I’ll take my fat cash somewhere else thank you very much.
So, it looks as if we are left with a choice. Do we sit pretty, and take whatever we can get with regards to the availability and presentation of plus size clothes? Or, shall we acknowledge that we deserve better? Approach high street brands and ask them where their plus size ranges are. Campaign harder for honest to goodness fair representation in store, online and in advertising. I want to see plus size clothes, readily available, being worn by babes with bellies and thighs and chubby faces.
In a similar vein, I’d love to see at least one model in a high street clothing campaign look something remotely approximating my size. Or a size 28. How about a size 32? We need as many people of colour as white people in plus size advertising. We need plus size campaigns to not be overwhelmingly marketed at the able-bodied.
Yes, we have made significant progress over the last few years, and I love that, but the room for improvement is ever present and overwhelming. I am personally committed to pushing for body acceptance and ‘body positivity’ across the board, for more inclusivity on the high street, and for plus size ranges to go above a size 24 as standard. Maybe then we can say we are making huge strides in the right direction. I live for that day.