Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fat Fashion

This is a great article. If you're at all interested in fashion, and the problems that women face if they're not a size 6, it's an interesting piece. Shame on you, NYT, for being so patently out of it.

From, original blog found here.

New York Times' Flubs "Plus Size" Fashion Story

I knew not to be too excited about this article about plus size fashion when the accompanying picture was a young woman in a frozen food aisle. In the words of Seth Meyer and Amy Poehler, REALLY, NEW YORK TIMES?! You publish a story on "big girls" who--what a shock!--are interested in looking cute, and then promptly choose to lead the whole thing off with an image that insinuates that they're favorite hang spot is the supermarket. Really?!

The piece details all the different clothing stores that have recently started plus size fashion lines, including Top Shop, Forever 21, and H&M (subsequently dropped for reasons unknown). There's a market, it turns out, for women above a size 10 to buy clothing. Who would have thunk it?

A few really annoying things...most of these lines are still only available online, which suggests that a) the stores don't want "big girls" shopping it up in store or b) the stores assume that "big girls" don't want to have a shopping experience like everyone else, that they're oh-so-ashamed. Either way, it's insulting. (I know the stores claim they just don't have room for all their merchandise, but I call bullshit on that).

Annie Maribona, the founder and part owner of Fat Fancy, a new boutique in Portland, Oregon, told the Times: "When you're fat you stand out anyway. It's really important to go all the way and do something fun or even outrageous with your clothes."

Um, I'm all for anyone of any size doing something fun or even outrageous with their style, but this sort of makes it sound like bigger girls have to present as freak shows in order to adhere to the public's expectation. It's fine if a larger woman likes to dress in "outrageous" colors or styles--more power to her--but she shouldn't feel like she has to "go all the way" unless it's authentic to her tastes and personality.

Thank goodness Maribona redeems herself in the short snippet on fat acceptance:

More than tokenism, such fashion and media tactics seem born of a conviction that larger young women have become more self-accepting. "They are inclined to show off the parts of their bodies they love," said Ms. Sack, the Chicago retailer. Pushing the trend is a broad movement of fat acceptance among academics, anti-bias activists and some psychologists. "It's important to reclaim 'fat' as a descriptive, as even something positive," argued Ms. Maribona of Fat Fancy.

But of course they follow that right up with the requisite fat shaming expert:
But others point to serious health consequences of being overweight. Andrea Marks, a specialist in adolescent medicine in Manhattan, suspects that "the vast majority of overweight girls are not so happy."

Sigh. Why is an article about the clothing industry finally recognizing that larger women can be fashion-forward including a doctor dooming them to unhappiness? Would an article about a new kind of bar that men love to go to also include an expert reminding them that alcohol consumption leads to health consequences and increased risk of depression? No.

Why can't we live in a world where there is no need to segregate larger sizes of clothing as if they were specialized when really they are average or not far from it? Why are larger women talked about as if they are a different species of human being, as if it is surprising that they'd like to look good or find clothing that fits them in the stores near their homes?

For real information about fashion-forward styles for larger women, check out:
Young, Fat, and Fabulous
Manolo for the Big Girl
Frocks and Frou Frou
The Rotund
Joy Nash


Sara said...

Women under 5'4 don't exist either. It's irritating to go into stores and can't buy pants because there are rarely petits. I always end up buying them online.