Friday, May 03, 2013

Oh Fat Fashion.

Given that I am right this instant just on the lowest cusp of fat fashion size wise, I don't want to talk about size  in a personal way.

Instead I want to talk about the continuing constant problem with fat fashion.

Whether it's big box Lane Bryant or Torrid. Or if it's boutique indie stores here's the problem.

Constantly every time there is a new fat fashion thing that is good or promising I know before it hits the shelves that it is not for me.

Not because of style but because I'm poor.

I very frankly no matter how nice or wonderful an indie plus size shop keeper may be, I cannot spend 80-100 dollars on a single item of casual clothing.

People don't talk about it for fear of, I don't know what.

I've talked about it here adn on tumblr and more than once have seen people get very defensive about telling all the other fatties to support X persons business because they are fat too and yay and stuff.

There is never a moment where any of these folks when they are asking or demanding support, say hey poor folks sorry. Or hey, we have these things that are lower priced. It's always OH AFFORDABLE FASHIONS...but when you're in the poor working class or the poverty stricken class, there is a disconnect.

I understand marketing and branding and whatnot but frankly, if a business owner wants to engage on a please support me I'm a working woman/single mother/struggling personal basis and ignores anyone who cannot financially afford there is a big disconnect.

If you want support don't make it personal.

If you make it personal, as in you tell your story and ask for that personal type support understand that it becomes personal on the other side as well.

Where is the support for poor fat folks?

What about people who are in the upper sizes and thrifting is like finding the holy grail?


Crickets right?

The only good fatties in fashion are those who can afford it. Let's not bullshit each other that is how it is.

I can tell you how many many times over the years that I have had people explain to me why it's bad that i bought my skirt at Walmart or Target. How many people have explained to me how important it is to keep fat shops alive and buy buy buy.

How many of those people have ever volunteered to contribute to a Shannon's Fat Shop Clothing fund?

How many times have those people thought about what they were saying before telling me how mean I was for pointing out the expense of an item at a store?

It happens more than I'd like to say.

The fact is this.

Classism in fat fashion happens. It happened back in the glory days of Fatshionista on LJ and people threw shade at anyone who wasn't doing serious style or posting pictures of themselves in Walmart jeans and tees.

It happens on tumblr when one of us poor folks has the nerve to say, I like this but where can I find it where it's affordable.

So when I talk about fat fashion, I'm honestly coming from the walmart shopping, target loathing (but shopping there by necessity, catch as catch can, buy it if I can afford it camp.

This is also why as I said a while back, why I am not a famous fashion blogger even though yes, I do have a style and an aesthetic.

This is part of a bigger problem in FA in general honestly.

A lot of us are just too poor to engage in strongly consumer based, use your dollars to show support type activism. We just aren't.

I know at least a few of y'all regulars who are right there with me. Some of you are my size smaller fatties and some of you are bigger fatties but we know this same struggle.

Let me tell those of you who are outside of this particular intersection of fatness.

those of us who are in this intersection often will come across angry because we're frustrated. Being poor really sucks. Being poor and struggling to dress in a way that pleases you, and to add in the complications of size sometimes (hey I'm talkin about over size 22 folks) is exhausting and awful.

While yes, we are all (even us poor folks) get very excited when we see Fat Fashion happening. Whether it's Fatkinis, Fatty size awesome boutique style things, etc etc. We also need to remember that when we talk about supporting those endeavours, be mindful that a lot of us just can't beyond spreading the word.

For me personally I tend to be fairly reticent about promoting stuff like this. Honestly, it just makes me too sad to be bombarded by all of the awesome fat folks things I can't partake in because i do not have money.

I have some tips for those who aren't poor or who can afford quality when discussion fashion with poor folks.

  1. Don't tell us how low quality X store is. Chances are if we're shopping there we are probably fully aware that it isn't high quality clothing. We know. We remember we're poor.
  2. Understand that it's not about you if we'd rather spend 100$ on four items or three items than 1 item.
  3. Remember if you see the word affordable on say a blog post asking about affordable shoes/dresses for an X thing, remember that not everyone has the same measure for affordable. For instance. At one point I asked in Fatshionista for a friend with some special requirements about affordable nice shoes for a wedding. By affordable I meant 60$ at the most. A few people were helpful, some others kind of scoffed and it was fucking rude. The fact is, sometimes poor people need things that look nice too. Don't be an asshole if they don't believe 80-100 bucks is "affordable".
  4. When poor people say I'm not shopping at X store, or fuck X store. Understand that even if the store is run by the nicest, most hard working wunderkind in the world, if we can't afford it we can't afford it. And at some point, we've probably been bombarded by requests for support and we're kinda frustrated. 
  5. When poor folks are talking about things like sale codes at Target, or a certain brand and color of underwear at Walmart that is not the time to explain to us why it's bad to shop at that place and that you buy organic, ethically sourced panties made by vegans by the light of the full moon on tuesday and that they are ONLY 50 dollars and it's such a good thing to do. Keep that out of the conversation. You're just going to piss us off.
  6. Overall, as with everything else within a subset of a culture (in this case Fatness) it is very important to remain aware of the fact that there are a lot of intersecting issues. Class intersects with size and things like availability etc etc etc.
Basically don't be an asshole.

If you must have an opinion about where I shop or anyone else shops for that matter, whip out your wallet and be prepared to fund that person so they can shop where you think they should shop.

If you aren't willing to do that, keep that opinion to yourself.

Again, just don't be an asshole.

So, my darlings I think I am returned.

I am blessedly, thankfully out of the worst of that cycle of insomnia and frankly even though I'm not well I'm not feeling so insane and broken.

I'll write about that another time.

I'm riddled with my yearly allergies. RIDDLED even my bhole has been itchy.

That said I think I'm back. I have shit we need to discuss. This topic is on my mind because I desperately want nice new summer clothes and was so excited about fatkinis and things but yeah nope.

That's all for now. I'm full of food and tea and I need to take a time out and hose myself with benedry anti itch spray.

Now report in my homies? Beatfreak? How is self care going? Are y'all doing it? I will come back next week and talk more about doing it while it's hard because it got hard y'all. Shit got real and bad and gross. I'm dealing with the aftermath well but it was a struggle.

And please excuse my typos today. There are more than usual but I am still kind of benedryl (pill) stupid right now and am too spacy to fix them

Homo Out.



beatfreak said...

You know, I really just want people to wear their clothes and shut the fuck up. Instead of harping on poor folks and where they get their clothes, why not harp on the manufacturers? I'm tired of people having to constantly explain their existence by not living up to middle-class values. I have no more right to judge someone for where they get their clothes than others do to me. As you said, unless they are paying your bills they can mind their business.

The Real Cie said...

I agree with both Shannon and Beatfreak.
I end up buying my clothes at fucking Wal Mart because guess what, that's where I can afford to buy clothes.
I have no time and I have very little money. I'm in the working class. As Beatfreak said, it is tiresome to have to explain my way of life according to middle class values. I can't live like they do, otherwise I'd be doing so.

Helena said...

This is a great blog post and it needs to be said. I think that poor fat women who have fabulous style need to be MORE celebrated than those fat bloggers who can order specialty clothes. It's hard to find fat fashion to begin with but fat fashion when you're poor? That takes some serious creativity and time.
The moment that someone begins to purchase my clothes for me, that is when they have the right to tell me not to shop at X, Y, and Z. Until then, I will shop where ever I'm able so I don't end up walking out the door naked.

Tapati said...

I think that is in part why I've always felt so alienated by fashion. Who has the money? I see those segments on Today etc where they show the "knock off" bargain brand only their idea of bargain is a hundred instead of a thousand. Yeah I guess...but not for me. Just My Size has clothed me for years.

Synna said...

Yes, yes, yes!

I recall being a size 22-26 university student and buying men's T-shirts from a cheap shop because that's all I could afford.

I remember freaking out when my bras were getting worn because finding new one, in my size, that weren't abominable was very difficult.

Even now, after uni, and with a good job, I squirm at the idea of spending a lot of money on clothes, but that's just me.

Thanks for writing this.

Amanda Levitt said...

Can I just say how much I appreciate you and your writing? Posts like this make me feel like you are in my brain.

bronny said...

I agree with this so, so much!!

J. Applebee said...

I had to teach myself to make my own clothes, because large sizes are incredibly expensive. I live in the U.K where there is pretty much 1 High Street store (Evans) in most cities. When I was unemployed, I could not afford anything in their store,even if it was on sale.

I am really proud that the dress I wore to my 1st (successful) interview cost me £1.50 to make (about $3). I had to find the money to buy a second-hand sewing machine, but that paid for itself in time.

I really get annoyed when people talk about ethical fashions, because 1: It won't come in my size and 2: Even though I've got an o.k job, I wouldn't be able to afford it anyway.

Fat Activsm is so often all about white, middle-class women and their needs. It is great to hear another fat person of colour talk about this, because this conversation isn't going to happen on their timeline!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. For awhile, I used to see this same thing in terms of food on many of the FA blogs... eat organic, whole foods, farmers' markets, blah blah blah. Well, that's all great if you can get to the farmers' market, and can afford to buy organic. But very off-putting for people who can't, or, frankly, who don't WANT to.

Jac said...

I love this post. Seriously. I see fatshion bloggers and I think "wow, it must be fuckin nice to get to spent $300 on an outift... I have to use that towards rent..." it makes me angry. I would love to support fat fashion stores, but when will they show us support, in return? Ya know?

Lonestarslp said...

I guess I don't live in a fashionista neighborhood,but I brag about getting something attractive at Wal-Mart. The problem I find is also that discount stores have poor selections of large sizes. Target has very cute clothes for small sizes, but their large size clothes are mostly ugly. Ross dress for less is kinda the same way. We are also lucky enough to have outlet stores near us, so I can get Lane Bryant and Liz Claiborne on discount.

The Rotund said...

This is why I always thought the online sales on Fats were so revolutionary - it didn't SOLVE access but it created an option where there wasn't one before.

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