Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thin is not an ideal... it's a cop out.

I am a plus size designer and woman. Plus designer by choice, plus size woman by pure genetics.
I have been on every weight loss program imaginable including medically supervised, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, Human Growth Hormone shots, medically prescribed amphetamines, liposuction and tummy tuck and I am an eating disordered individual in recovery since the social and medical obsession with thinness led me to anorexic behavior for over 13 years. I never binged, but compulsively exercised (8-10 hours a day... I used to wake up in the middle of the night to do sit-ups), purged (vomited and abused laxatives) and abused ephedra to speed up my metabolism. The kick is that I am much healthier now that I live with my weight then when I was making all these attempts to satisfy an arbitrarily imposed beauty and health ideal. Not one day in my lifetime have I "emotionally" overeaten or binged. I was a dance major and an AFAA certified aerobics instructor. For years I did not have a car and my feet were my sole mean of transportation. So no, I do not sit and stuff my face with Big Macs and Twinkies.
I do not have high blood pressure. As a matter of fact I have really low blood pressure. Usually running around 100 or less/60. I have also low blood sugar. Could not be further from type 2 diabetes. My blood lipid profile is stellar. In short I am a beacon of shiny good health by any objective measure except for the sequella from attempting to lose weight (Barrett's esophagus). Yet, I am fat and a size 18. And nothing short of very unhealthy and self-destructive behavior can change that.
The saddest part is I never was unhappy about my appearance. Other people could not live with it and pushed the need to lose weight on me.
Being fat or being thin is nothing more than an arbitrary physical characteristic like height or eye color, yet it heavily determines how you feel about yourself and how people perceive you, and your chances in life even more at this point in history than I would venture to say, skin color.
The RTW and couture sample size is either a 0 or a 2. For no good reason. It takes only 1 more yard of fabric to produce a size 14 garment than a size 2 garment. So cost is not the issue.
It is MUCH harder to design and sew for a body with actual curves. You have to take into account the shape of actual breasts and hips and engineer the pattern pieces accordingly.
So the only reason I can see for extremely thin people being held up as an ideal in the fashion industry is laziness and lack of ability on the part of designers. The do it because it's easy.
I do not like looking at thin people better than at medium size or fat people. As a fat person I do not aspire to be a thin person nor do I think them to be more beautiful, sexy or morally superior. I do not envy the thin.
As a matter of fact, they are usually a lot less happy with their looks, always on diets and a lot more insecure than I am. So thank you, but no thank you.
I resent them a little. I would be lying if I did not. They get privileges I don't and they get treated better. Designers make for them the clothes that they refuse to make for me. For no good reason. Thin privilege is EXACTLY like being treated better because you are white or because you are a man or because you are heterosexual. So most designers should understand this.
By making beautiful, well-designed clothes in larger sizes NO ONE is promoting obesity. Like homosexuality, NO ONE would choose to be bigger. You just are. And like gay men say, how can anyone believe that I would purposefully put up with ostracism, discrimination, upturned noses, contempt and constant judgment? I really do not have a choice unless I want to be less healthy and miserable. I prefer to be healthy and happy and accept my genetics and the way that I am.
I do not see why fat people ( yes, we are fat, not overweight since no weight is the one we all should be and not obese since that is not a legitimate medical diagnoses or construct) should be constantly punished by the fashion industry too under any logic.
Even if it was a disease (which it is not. For SOME people higher weight MAY increase risk for certain conditions. But so does being a woman ex: breast and ovarian cancer, being a man ex:heart disease, prostate and testicular cancer, being older ex: everything, being Jewish ex: Gaucher and Tay-Sachs, Greek ex:CJD and B-thalassemia, African-American ex: sickle cell anemia, White ex: many cancers, Alzheimer's,cystic fibrosis, gay ex: HIV, you name it ... yet none of these "risk factors" are considered diseases or stigmatizing on their own, so where is the logic?), it is NOT the place of the fashion industry to judge. They would not refuse to make clothing for people with cancer or type 1 diabetes would they? I mean I do not see them sending Halle Berry or Sheryl Crowe or Kyle Minogue to the muumuu shack but yet they think it's ok to do that to ANYone over a size 4.
Discrimination and segregation are NEVER ok and most people in the fashion industry should know better.Specially when the root for it is to justify lack of ability or laziness.


FatNSassy said...

Amen! Very well said!
"I have never had a problem with my weight that wasn't caused by other people!"

Milla said...

Exactly! Other people (and in that I include my family doctor and most of the dance department faculty at Texas Christian University gave me anorexia and a pre-cancerous esophagus. My being fat did not.
Who promoted the unhealthiness here?