I’ve committed to working on my manuscript at full tilt this week so there probably won’t be any original blog posts from me (you never know though). Instead, I’ll likely be linking to fashion-related stuff, both amazing and appalling. Natalie, the Australian self-described “bombastic beehive of peroxide, sass, and anxiety” who blogs at definatalie, is of the amazing variety.
In a blog post titled, “You can’t bully me out of my skinny jeans” (Jezebel republished the post as well) Natalie responds to the posting of her photo on a Facebook group page called “There’s a weight limit on leggings and skinny jeans.” What I found so amazing about Natalie’s response is the incredibly honest, gracious, brave, and fucking smart way in which she dealt with this hateful act of fashion policing, body shaming, and all-around meanness.
Here’s just a bit of Natalie’s wonderful post and her absolutely lovely photo (I’m partial to the bangs and the all-black skinny jeans/off-the-shoulder tunic combo so this photo is especially win-win for me) – read the full post including her email to the sad sack of spite responsible for posting her image in the first place. Natalie’s experience underscores the disciplinary and violent technology of social production (of producing and securing norms of gender, gender presentation, ideal size, etc) that is the “fashion advice” – in all of its overt and oblique forms. (Consider for example the kinds of verbal and visual sniping that accompany “Worst Dressed” lists.) If you’re new to Threadbared or if you just need to catch up on our posts, see here, here, here, and here for our more recent posts on fashion gurus and fashion policing and why they’re so prevalent today. (Clearly, we’ve been thinking a lot about this!)
There is absolutely no weight limit on leggings or skinny jeans. There is, however, an abundance of people who are falling into a trap of being way too invested in what other people do, and wear. Why do they care so much? Probably because it gives them a sense of being better than other people, but that is a terrible foundation to build one’s self esteem upon. It’s a foundation that benefits business, not people, and it suits the beauty, fashion and weight loss industries to have every day people like you and I reinforcing arbitrary beauty standards that help shift units so people can feel better about themselves by putting other people down, therefore reinforcing arbitrary beauty standards (stop me before I get sucked into this infinite loop here guys).
I reject those arbitrary standards. I reject the imaginary line between skinny and fat, the line that’s a size 6 for some people and a size 14 for others. And if you’re friends with a fat person, they lose 4 imaginary dress sizes on the basis of that friendship (“Oh honey, you’re not fat! Don’t be so mean to yourself!”). I reject the beauty ideal. I reject the idea of the “flattering outfit”. I reject the gender binary. I reject being ladylike. These standards are not nobel things to uphold – they trap us, and constrict us. They push us into target markets so we can be sold things more easily. And while I can say with 150% gusto that I reject these things, I can’t help but toe the line sometimes without even realising. Societal conditioning is that strong, it’s that pervasive.