February is Fashion Month here on the The Soapbox Show. Fashion is something I have always enjoyed, but more as a quiet observation then a participatory action. Rather than paging through glossy magazines or watching fashion tv channels, I’m more interested in what people wear in their day to day activities. If someone is wearing a killer pair of heels or a cute dress, then I’ll tell them so. I view fashion as an expression of self. How you dress is how you’re choosing to express yourself on that day. I don’t judge you on what you’re wearing or how you’re wearing it, but I’m fully aware that this is not the case for most people.
As a plus size alternative panda, the clothes I wear express who I am, whether it be my mood or my nerdy love for something like Spider-man (don’t believe me? Ask my Instagram). I have been a big girl for most of my life, and while there are some bad days, I am mostly comfortable with who I am. I have figured what clothes suit my body type and that I’m comfortable wearing. This has taken years of trials and experimentation, but lately I get it right most days. In first year university I was wearing ties as headbands, because I’d amassed a far amount of ties during my high school emo days, and I liked how they looked as a headband. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Did people comment on it? All the time, but it wasn’t the negative criticism I was expecting.
Why am I writing a blog post about this? There are so many similar stories out there by other wonderful plus size girls, who are much better writers than me, but I recently had a conversation with someone who works in my building which I would like to share with you all…
Person: You looked very nice the other day in the dress you were wearing.
Fluff: Thank you.
Person: We were talking about how nice you looked, and we were wondering why can’t other big girls look to someone like you and dress as nicely as you do.
Fluff: Well, I don’t know…
Person: You always see these bigs girls, wearing such tight clothing, where all their bulges and rolls are just hanging out. Whereas you as a big girl dress so nicely.
Fluff: Well, I wear what I’m comfortable in and I don’t dress for anyone else except myself.
Person: Mmm, and you can see that those girls are dressing for everyone else, but it just doesn’t look nice, man.
To put this conversation into a some context: I was wearing my ‘Valentine’s Day dress’, which is a maxi styled dress with a big floral print. This dress is not my usual ‘style’ of gothesque or superhero tshirts and jeans. Because of this I wear this dress occasionally; Valentine’s Day being one such occasion.
While I appreciated the intended compliment this person was trying to convey, I did not appreciate the harsh criticisms applied blanketly over all other ‘big girls’. It reminded me of this quote: As a woman, my body is scrutinized, policed, and treated as a public commodity. As a fat woman, my body is also lampooned, openly reviled, and associated with moral and intellectual failure. My body limits my job prospects, access to medical care and fair trials, and – the one thing Hollywood movies and Internet trolls most agree on – my ability to be loved. (Lindy West, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman)
Or this quote from JK Rowling:
I don’t really have a conclusion or a final thought, this is becoming an age old battle that I’m getting quite tired of fighting. I would, however, like to stress that self love is a journey that everyone takes in different forms. How you express criticism about other people, people you don’t even know, speaks more about who you are than what you’re saying about that stranger walking past. What makes the way you dress and the way you look better than the person next to you? In a perfect world, we’d all be judged on how we are on the inside rather than how we present ourselves on the outside. For now, while outwardly representations are still a thing, dress to impress only yourself. Dress in what you’re comfortable in. Dress in what makes you happy. Dress in clothes that actually fit your body. No one else is looking at the label expect you and, most importantly, that little tag in the back of your jeans does not dictate your self worth. Trust me, I have struggled with this notion for so many years and I know it’s difficult, but it’s the truth, hun. You are not the size of your jeans. From some stores my jeans are a 22, but in others they can be an 18. There, now you know my jeans size, and my whole world has not fallen a part. If anything, if you see a cute pair of black skinnies with actual pockets in my size, let me know k?
TL;DR? Let Momma Ru sum it up for you…