Fat and Fashion

Again, all apologies for the absence. Minh-ha and I were slammed this last semester with teaching and writing, and had no time for the blog. We’re specifically getting together in February, though, to write some collaborative pieces for our upcoming book manuscript on war and fashion (yes, those two things together!), so hopefully we’ll pound a few out for this space as well.

In the meanwhile, let me plug Fatshionista, a collaborative blog about fat and fashion that is consistently smart and on point about the discourses and practices that imagine these qualities as perpetually at odds. This last post by Leslie is an extended riff on the fabulous post at Jezebel about fashion writers’ proclivity to equate fat with “sloppy” and lazy, and to thereby name fat as the enemy of fashion proper:

Although the sizism of these kinds of pieces — specifically denied by both writers — is easily parsed from the continual references to “tent-size” shirts, “sloppiness,” and “XXL polo shirts”, what’s also distressing is their classism. While dressing well needn’t be expensive, what these writers seem to be calling for isn’t merely fashion as fun self-expression, it’s fashion as a system of social representation — the idea that one ought to look good, so that one can be recognized by other good-looking people, and feel mutually reassured in one’s tastes.

But it’s more than classism, Leslie argues. That, in fact, fat at any price range is never deemed fashionable:

High fashion and the arbiters of style have a built-in fat ceiling beyond which no body past a particular size (an 8? a 10? a – gasp – 12?) may pass; fat people, as a group, simply lack any kind of similar access to stylish and well-fitting clothes in any kind of real selection, not simply because those clothes are expensive – although they are – but because they don’t exist. While some heinously overpriced blahwear for up-to-a-size-24 fats can be found at a premium in the darkest dustiest basement-banished corner of the occasional high-end department store (or, at least, on their website) the selection even among the $400 polyester jersey dresses is – to put it delicately – unimpressive. And there is no such thing as fat haute couture, period.

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