Many of the fat acceptance and body positive discussions center on plus-size fashion. Plus-size fashion bloggers show off their impeccable ensembles, proving that bodies of all sizes can be fashionable. Hashtags like #rockthecrop challenge conventional fashion rules and show women everywhere that they can wear whatever they want. Models like Robyn Lawley and Ashley Graham are expanding the world of traditional modeling to include bigger bodies.
Plus-size fashion exposes the world to bodies that traditional media will not show and encourages women with larger bodies to accept themselves as they are.
Of course, this is wonderful, but the focus on fashion can also inadvertently send the message that plus-size women are only acceptable if they spend time perfecting their appearance and their femininity.
This is the message that I internalized when I first discovered the world of plus-size fashion bloggers.
As I started to recover from my eating disorder, I gained a lot of weight.
A huge part of my continued recovery was learning how to be body positive. Like many others starting this journey, I turned to the Internet. I started looking at plus-size models and fashion bloggers on Instagram and Tumblr. I found beautiful women wearing outfits I would never even dream of wearing, and they looked damn good.
I desperately wanted to be confident enough to wear the things they wore.
I also realized that I didn’t understand fashion enough to put together the outfits they were wearing. In my mind, I made the connection between the clothes and the confidence.
I decided that if I wanted to be a confident plus-sized woman, I would need to better understand fashion.
During this time, I was also starting my journey as a professional writer. So I figured that the best way to explore being a fledgling plus-size fashionista was to write an article. That very article ended up being my first published piece. I began to imagine this future where I was a plus-size fashionista and body positive activist on the Internet. In reality, I was imagining a future that wasn’t really authentic to my own life experiences.
To be completely honest, I haven’t worn the clothing I bought for that article more than a few times.
I haven’t been on any more grand shopping trips where I bought super fashionable clothes for my plus-sized body, either. Every day since I wrote that article, as I chose my outfits on a daily basis, it became more clear to me that I’m actually not interested in fashion.
I’m not even fashion-forward, for that matter.
As much as I would love to leave the house in trendy clothes that fit my body well, the truth is that I will always seek comfort over style.
I’m most likely to be seen without makeup, wearing capri yoga pants and a tie-dyed t-shirt I made myself at my second job as a summer camp counselor.
On days where I feel a little fancier, I’ll throw on a maxi dress that I got at Costco – mostly because I don’t have to wear a bra, and I generally hate wearing pants. Sometimes I like to play dress up when the occasion calls for it – like for my best friend’s wedding or when I’m headed out to the club with my ladies.
But on a regular day, I just can’t be bothered with my clothes.
So often, when plus sized women choose not to dress up, they are called lazy and criticized for “not caring about their appearance.” This attitude is the result of systemic fatphobia.
Larger bodies are still not deemed acceptable by society. They are tolerated, at best – and, at worst larger bodies are harassed, critiqued, and hated.
According to traditional media, the only way to make a larger body more acceptable is to cover it in the right kind of clothes that flatter its shape. Women in larger bodies must accentuate their femininity in order to apologize for their larger bodies.
The subtle message is that plus-size women owe it to the world to be fashionable in order to justify their bodies.
I say f*** that.
My body is my own, and I will cover it with whatever clothes I want. I will cover it with things that make me comfortable. I will cover it with things that make me proud. I will cover it with fancy things and frumpy things, depending on how I feel on any given day.
I don’t owe fashion to anyone, and neither do you.