The Perfect Fat
It seems as though most of my readers respond better to a tiny, provocative 3-line post with a half-nekkid photo, than my rambling words lately. It seems like I can’t make a move to speaking my mind more because of the comment count I get on those posts vs the comment count on the erotica and photo posts. Perhaps I’ll just post little else than brainless smut and sexy photos here and post the intelligent discourse posts on other blogs. Maybe. But sometimes, like today, you’re just gonna have to deal with it because this is something I feel strongly about. If you don’t like this kind of stuff from me, then you can safely stop reading now.
Britni posted a few weeks ago about V Magazine’s “size” issue which she posted a whole bunch of preview photos from. Plus size models that look amazing…..
…..Amazingly perfect. And while they are a step in a right direction, moving away from all models being a size 0, they still don’t do much for “fat acceptance”. I look at these models and try to remember that they’re models and so they have to be proportioned “just so” but they are not realistic representations. They are the Perfect Fat, the most Acceptable Fat that the general public can handle. The rolls are at a minimum, their tummies are relatively flat, their butts are still that idyllic heart shape, etc. When I look at the advertisements and posters for Lane Bryant, I don’t feel like my size is acceptable because these models, to me, are barely plus-sized. I wrote about how tough it is to shop for plus-size clothes over at EdenCafe but I want to include that post here and expound on it a little.
I wear a size 20. Depending on the brand and the style of the article of clothing, I might even wear a 22. What’s funny is that I wear a larger numerical size than I did a few years ago, but I am not actually any bigger. I have a few sweaters that are Lane Bryant from only 4 years ago, and they are a size 14/16. They fit me the same as current size 20 or 22. And no, they’re not stretched out. Way to make me feel like shit, designers. At the age of 32 (and I’m usually told I don’t look a day over 25) I am not yet ready to dress like my grandmother.
But the brick-and-mortar stores at my disposal think otherwise. Why? Why do clothes designers assume that if you’re plus-sized you’re 1. over 5′9″ and 2. over the age of 45 or “matronly and modest”. Some department store plus-size sections will carry the occasional fashion-forward pieces that are age-appropriate for me, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Combine that with them also offering styles that most plus-size women should not wear and an abundance of matronly/modest articles, and it’s no wonder I hate shopping.
I have read various uncredited sources that claim as much as 50% of the American female adult population wears a size above 14 (16 and up is considered “plus”). If it’s even just 40% then pray tell WHY are the plus-sized sections so damn small?? Old Navy won’t even carry those sizes in the store. Macy’s, Sears, Bon-Ton, JC Penneys, Target, Wal-mart, Kohl’s etc have a plus size section that equals only 10% of the “regular” sized women’s clothing. Plus sized clothing gets maybe 20 brands on average, while the other section has a hundred or more. They will convert only a tiny percentage of the regular sized clothes into plus-size. I can’t tell you how many times I walk by a cute/sexy top at Kohl’s with a wistful sigh, wishing it came in my size.
So we’re relegated to shopping online. Women on average have a much harder time with clothes fitting than men, jut because we’re all shaped differently even at the same dress size. But plus-size women have even more issues with clothes fitting at our size and being flattering. If the item is shown on a model, usually that model is barely a size 14 and has toned upper arms and a mostly flat belly with an otherwise “proportionate” body. Um, hello, I don’t look like that! How the hell am I supposed to know what it *might* look like on me? So now we’re forced to shop online where we can’t try on things first, we have to guess. We have to subject ourselves to the measuring tape if we want a better shot at the clothes fitting, but that’s not even a gaurantee.
I recently found this outfit at Hips and Curves, a lingerie site for big girls – and of course, their models are the Perfect Fat and so even though its a site for “my size” I still look at this outfit and feel like I need to slim down a few sizes to have a chance at looking as good as the model does in it. I would love to be able to wear this for the next NYC Sex Blogger Calendar Party. The Parisian skirt and the corset, with maybe a their wide-neckline sheer body suit under the corset for some arm coverage given that the party IS in November. But seriously, I feel too round and chunky for their clothes, even though I am their target shopper.
In a time when brick-and-mortar stores are pulling out all the stops to bring in and keep customers, you would think they would try to appease a larger cross-section of their customers. My local Target leaves only a paltry (and shameful) -6- racks for the plus-size section. Maternity gets more racks!! I can assure you there’s less business from Maternity women than plus-size. I’m not asking for equal shares, I know better. But if all these department stores committed to doubling (or tripling in the case of stores like Target) the plus-size section I can gaurantee you they would see a huge return on that.
I’ve run into very few online stores that show their clothes on a model that might look more like me – and these are places that have a little less polish, a little less high glamour professionalism to them. The more mainstream the store is, the more of a Perfect Fat there is.
Britni directed me to a site I’d not heard of before, called Fatshionista. It’s a blog, it’s an information source, an inspiration source and a guidance in navigating the online shopping world. They offer a section where members can review the online stores. On the LiveJournal community pages there is a huge list of any online store that carries some plus-size clothing or is completely dedicated to plus-size. Many of the more popular ones I’ve already been to but there were many I didn’t know about. While this won’t make future shopping *easier* it will at least give us more options.
EDIT: The lovely Britni passed on some more links so I’m highlighting all those and all the other links in this post:
- If you need inspiration on outfits, check out the Fatshionista Flickr Pool
- A great “fat positive” blog, The F Word
- Fat Fu blog where you can subscribe to the Notes from the Fat’o'sphere section, a list of a whole bunch of fat acceptance/fat positive blogs.
- Fatshionista is the main site, the Review section offers up reader-reviews on all the online stores that sell plus size clothing, and the LiveJournal community page also has a big list of places to shop as well as other sites to read for inspiration and education.