Monday, April 11, 2011

Contextual fatness.

Someone asked me recently what I mean when I talk about fatness in a contextual sense.

AND important: possible triggers include talk about skinny skinny people and some minorish bullying/name calling I experienced as a teen.

For our purposes today I'm mostly going to be talking about culture in the sense of where people live, the people they associate with. Culture on a micro personal level.

So contextual fatness. Here we go. First up I want to talk about Plus size models.

In the universe of the Fashion Industry which is a whole other universe from the real world. Fat or plus size generally looks like this:

Requirements for most agencies for a plus size model are (source Venus magazine)-


Generally ranges from 12-18 for print, 12-24 for runway and size 18 for fit modeling.

Height - 5'4" and under for petite, 5'8" and above for regular and 5'9" and above for high fashion.

A toned and healthy body

Note - Some women and teens still find work even though they don't fit these statistics exactly

In the fashion world as in Hollywood culture, it is imperative for bodies to fit specific molds for purposes of sample sizes and couture.

In the context of those worlds where the average size is 00-0 someone who is a size 12 is absolutely plus size. In that world being a size 8 will often lead to you being sized out of jobs and modeling gigs.

Look at photos of a red carpet event. Actresses during awards season unless they are plus size tend to be really really thin because they want to wear those couture items and one of a kind designer things.

Am I saying it's awesome? No. Actually I think it really sucks especially for those people who are already normally fairly thin people in the grand scheme of things. The pressure on those people to be ultra thin so they can look the part of starlet or model is awful.

The awfulness of this pressure aside, the Fashion/Hollywood world does not have actual bearing on your world unless you allow it to. Trufax.

Let's face it. The vast majority of regular humans are never going to have need of high fashion other than to admire it from afar. Most of us are not have to go toe to toe with Karl Lagerfeld about getting a magnificent gown onto our non 00 (unless your ass is that size but for our purposes we're saying it's not) ass.

For me fashion especially high fashion is less about things I want to wear and more about things I think are works of art. I have long been a lover of beautiful couture and since I started looking at those beautiful things on such long tall tiny bodies as art and not things I must believe I should be, fashion doesn't stress me out.

Now let's talk about people who you don't read as fat, identifying as fat and when it's a good time to just listen to them.

I'm going to use myself as a teenager for an example.

As a teenager during an unfortunate bout of rather disordered behavior, I wore a size 10/12. Among my peer group of fellow teen girls I was the fattest.

I hated going shopping with my friends because they invariably wanted to go to stores that didn't carry my size. I remember a friend of mine and I shopping for Wranglers (YES I did wear cowboy clothes) at a western store in the mall. I remember the tiny pants she pulled on and looked fantastic in.

I pulled on those size 12 short Wranglers and while they looked amazing on me I felt like the fattest fat fatty on the planet. I remember how she looked at the size difference of our pants and gave me a kind of sad look.

I remember another friend pointing to a girl and calling her a fat cow, I remember looked down at myself and just wanting to wail.

I remember a boy poking me in the belly to find that under my chub I had some major rock hard abs. I had been trying to abcrunch my way to Janet Jackson circa 93-94 abs.

In the context of my world at that time I was fat. I could have used FA but that's really here nor there.

Even within the context of my family I was fat. I'm not built like anyone in my immediate family. I'm built like my Great Aunts on my maternal side.

That was hard. I moved through my world as a fat person. Granted, in the grand macro world of fat people I wasn't really fat but, that did not change my experience.

To bring this to modern day here's my point.

Fatness is not simply a physical thing that is defined by X measurements or X number of pounds. Fatness is an intersectional issue.

My Fat Universe may not look the same as someone who is fatter or lives in a different culture's universe and that's okay.

That doesn't make either of us less fat or anything we have to say in the realm of FA less valid. Our experiences may differ widely or be very close.

The issue isn't degrees or contexts of fatness it is how we in the fat community deal with these things.

I'm sad to say that often we don't deal with them well.

I think that insisting that on sight someone is not really fat or not really all that fat or can't POSSIBLY be living a life as a fat person we need to give people space to tell us where they are coming from.

Am I saying no fatty only safe spaces? No.

I'm saying that some of our spaces we need to learn to open up to those with fat experiences that may be the opposite of our own. We need to shut up and listen. Maybe those people only need to see more fat people for them to come to the conclusion that they aren't really fat. Maybe they need support just like the rest of us.

Maybe they just want to know where to buy a fucking pair of underpants.

Sometimes we just need to listen and if we can't handle those other fat experiences it's not a sign that those other experiences aren't welcome or aren't valid, it's a sign that we need to work some shit out.

That's all.

Homo Out.
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