Monday, September 22, 2008

Hand-me-down Haute Couture

This is a repost from Joy Nash's blog...
It was entirely too perfect not to promote...
AAAMEN to Lesley at Fatshionista and the The Rotund with their posts on dressing like YOU.
I've been thinking about this a shitload too.
I kind of have a problem with "dressing for your shape". To me it means "tricking people into thinking you're less fat." It means forgetting about what you like and tossing out what you want people to think about when they look at you, all in the hope that they will not be thinking about your fat.

Who cares. If they care about fat, they're going to see it whether you swathe it in jersey or not. Whether you wear all black and structured everything or not, if rolls on other people's backsides are the stuff that keeps them up at night, IT'S WHAT THEY'RE GONNA SEE. Big deal.
So what? People like that are toxic and wastes of space. Quit trying to make them happy. I say quit trying to make ANYBODY happy. Make you happy. It's the only thing you can do anyway.

Growing up, I was the oldest, but my family didn't have a lot of money, so with the exception of 2 or 3 outfits that grandma bought, all of my clothing came in giant garbage bags from the neighbors with older kids.
I mean they were hand-me-downs transported in garbage bags. They weren't dumpster trophies. Although that would have made a way better story.
Anyway, I thought this was AWESOME. My mom pretty much gave me free reign to dress myself and I was all about wearing ridiculous crap to school just because I liked the texture of the turd colored knee socks. One of my very favorite outfits was a short-sleeved brown floral cotton top with a matching ankle-length patchwork (all patches being variations of brown floral) skirt. The brown was the same color as the haircut I'd given myself, and I was thrilled with the way that everything matched. It was total hippie 70's, and I wore it to 4th grade in the super-rad late 80's. I didn't have a lot of friends. Okay, ANY friends.
The other girls were busy in fuschia bike shorts with little skirts sewn on top, and I had more in common with Laura Ingalls .. or Nancy Drew. Or Trixie Belden, depending which garbage bag I had been pawing through.
I vividly remember Dana Vanderschaaf asking me why I was wearing knee socks and penny loafers. It was because I found them in the garbage bag and they fit just perfectly! They were ribbed and the nylon was squinchy and they had tassels!! "My mom forces me." That's what I told her.
She still didn't invite me to her birthday party.

Anyway, in middle school we moved, and I kept wearing my dad's jeans and my mom's sweaters from the 60's and 70's and it still didn't cost me anything, but suddenly I had a bunch of friends!! My clothes were COOL! Or more accurately, I finally met some kindred spirits who could recognize the glory that was a corduroy FFA jacket with my Dad's name and 1969 stitched on the side. (Dad was the Vice President!)

The moral of the story is: the haters are gonna hate. Shockerooney. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe it's superficial and naive, but I can't be the only one who can make people go away by refusing to think about them. I've forgotten all my "embarassing moments". Why on earth would a person dwell on something that makes them feel terrible? If that's the dress you were wearing when you did something monumentally and horrifically awful, GET RID OF IT! Or reframe the situation or hack it in half and make it into a headband. Just quit living there.

The girls I see on fatshionista and wardrobe remix, the ones who make my jaws drop every time they post their mugs are the ones who don't ask for permission. They don't attempt to appease the masses; they don't assume that anything is off limits. There's nothing that "shouldn't be done", nothing their fill-in-the-blanks are "too big for". No doors are closed, no options are inaccessible. They shop in catalogs and the old stand by brick and mortars, they scour thrift stores and ebay, friend's closets and museum gift shops.

For a good 7 or 8 years, once I was larger than a size 14, I gave up on thrift stores. I shoved them into the same category as Wet Seal and Anthropologie. Why on earth would I set foot in a store that doesn't carry my size? But the fatshionistas and a few real life friends busted me out of my little box.
"Do you think no one was fat before 1990?" "Where do you think old Lane Bryant clothing goes? It doesn't just vanish out of fat people's closets..." "Where do you think 6-foot-tall, 300 lb female impersonators find their first sequined dream?"
Granted, I'm partial to obnoxious prints and dramatic EVERything, but I personally think the key to looking frigging incredible is to decide what you want to look like. Who do you admire? What do you want people to be reminded of when they look at you? Marilyn? Diane Keaton? Ally Sheedy, Bettie Page, Richard Nixon? Pick something!
And then shop for things that make you happy. Is it too small? Says who? What if you wore it backwards? Inside out? Make it a dress!

Fat Fashion, even more loudly than straight-size fashion, demands creativity. No, you're NOT going to find exactly what you want in your size. Big deal. Now, what are you going to do about it?

1 comment:

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