A few weeks ago I participated in a discussion on Facebook concerning tattoos… and the social impressions and values placed upon those who participate in body art. It was quiet a heated debate… both the for’s and against! It was interesting as I never really given much thought to tattooing… to me it was a personal choice, one I’d never do, but it is a growing trend. But it did challenge me to think… did I have a preconceived idea about the person behind the tattoo? Does a tattoo represent the person in the best light? What image are they projecting to society? Do I succumb to the projection? Would I hire or deal with a heavily tattooed person?
As the debate raged I considered this from a point of view closer to home… if this is the reaction to tattoos, then is this also the case with plus sized people. So I asked the question to this debate… How then do you perceive the obese, and their choice of clothes – essentially our “fat tattoo”?
Well I was astounded by the reply, enemies became friends and joined forces to denigrate the plus size:
“They are ‘lazy’”
“No reason to be fat in today’s society”
“They dress ugly to hide the fat!”
“Not worthy of pretty clothes until they lose weight”
“The darker the better”
“I always get the fat sweaty person sitting next to me”
Even the words such as “stupidity” were used!
Whilst I support a healthy lifestyle with a well balanced diet and exercise, I am one of the many who, no matter what I do, remain plus sized. So, to society, am I lazy and stupid, have no reason to exist and should be denied the opportunity to look pretty?
Is the way we dress – especially in the plus sizes – one big tattoo to society?
Do we get to choose our fat fashion tattoo from the current fashion suppliers or are we made to dress this way due to lack of choice. A choice, allegedly based on supply and demand, but from where I sit, I see more demand than supply.
The answer is apparently YES! It would seem that the plus size population are nameless and faceless creatures that are to to dressed based only on accessibility not personal flair or preference. To be plus size, is a social taboo, and to encourage the plus size person to present themselves to their very best potential, is to encourage and condone being overweight or obese!! How many times have you had the choice of two garments for that special event and compromise on the one that looks better but just isn’t right. Why do we do this – because there is no where else to go unless you are talented enough to sew or create fashion marvels with garbage bags.
I disagree with the value society places on body image (and sport for that matter but that’s a whole different blog!). Bodies, no matter how slender, toned, or muscular, are all imperfect, yet the obsession with physical presentation in our society has gained a momentum of its own. It’s all about how we look not who we are on the inside. I have to ask should we be reinforcing that system? I like to think that the human race is still evolving, moving toward a more sophisticated means of assessing one’s value to society, but for now it stands. Society has conformed to push us into target markets so we can be sold things more easily. I can’t help but be a victim at times – societal conditioning is that strong, it’s that pervasive. It’s everywhere! I believe I dress appropriately for the time and the place, while not losing my personal flair. Quite a challenge for plus size gal!
My point here is that anyone, no matter their shape or size, should be able to wear whatever they love and find flattering garments, without judgment or ridicule by society. I reject those arbitrary standards. I reject the imaginary line between “normal” size and “plus size”. These archaic concepts trap us, and constrain us. Why are my fashion choices so different from the “thin” ones in society? I think by taking a stand we can slowly re-adjust the thinking.
We all have the right to be unique. Criticism by society is just a way of disempowering you and putting you back into the round hole they like us to be in. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like, how much you earn, the colour of your skin or what gender you are – you need to feel liberated and comfortable to be you! We now have a choice! A chance to stand out, to be fashionable, comfortable, feminine and unique! So embrace society full on… be stylish, dress to impress, feel the inner glamour everyday. Don’t subscribe to the fat dark side…show your coloured plumes!
Let me promise you one thing. I will NEVER stop being visible, online and offline because not only do I have a right to visibility, but I have the right for it to be be loud, multi-coloured, glam and fully coordinated!
In the words of one of my mentors, Aunty Mame…
Life is a banquet and most of us are starving to death… don’t forget to go back for seconds… life is too short not to have the cream!