Fat & Fashionable?
Every once in a great while it feels like fat girls come "into style". We become less of a pariah, and more of a novelty or even a fetish. Instead of using the word fat, the powers that be will bandy about adjectives like lush, curvy, zaftig, Rubenesque etc. because you know – they all pretty much mean the same thing. Call me fat, I don't care – it's what I am, not WHO I am.
This month there is an issue of V magazine that is making the rounds on just about every blog dedicated to fashion which features a spread full of plus-sized models in all manner of fashionable regalia. There's Gabourey Sidibe, star of Precious, just about everywhere you turn. There are even fat girls on tv, too! Fat girls, we're people too (insert thumbs up here).
A few months ago Marie Claire magazine launched a new column called Big Girl In A Skinny World. Despite the name being eye-roll inducing, the column's author, Ashley Falcon, was a fat girl working as a stylist amidst a legion of people who looked nothing like her and she looked good doing it. To say I was excited would be an understatement. To see someone who is not ultra-thin represented in a major women's publication is a big deal. Particularly when they have some sort of insider knowledge about what it takes to dress a fat body.
I suppose, I should have known to set my expectations bar just a wee bit lower because in the months that the column has been running the one thing that has jumped out at me each and every month is the overwhelming amount of self-deprecation being thrown around. Last month, while discussing boots and finding ones to fit larger calves (a problem not particularly synonymous with only fat women by the way), Falcon referred to her calves as ham hocks. Ham hocks. As in legs from a pig. Marinate on that.
This month's column finds our fat heroine having a joygasm when a model at a party compliments her on an outfit. Mmm, positive affirmation from skinny people! But don't get excited because "…it's true that many of fashion's freshest looks just won't work on big girls…" (Marie Claire Feb 10 V.17 Issue 2). I don't claim to know a whole helluva lot about fashion. I basically just want my clothes to match, but I feel like fashion is about inspiration too. So even if those "freshest looks" don't work – you translate them into something that does. And there are plenty of women doing just that.
Ultimately, the point I'm attempting to make (and probably failing to do so in writing this while angry) is that yes, it's nice to see fat women in mainstream media, but not at the risk of perpetuating lame stereotypes and undercutting. Being fat doesn't mean that you only like shoes and handbags. It doesn't mean you don't care how you look, either. Not every fat girl you see hates herself and conversely not every skinny girl loves herself. I know you can't make everyone happy all of the time, but you have to start somewhere, right? Marie Claire had a good idea that has moments of greatness and then moments of absolute failure. I applaud them for even making the attempt, I really do – but I know they can do better.