things to think about

today, briefly, i am thinking about: fatshion again
November 15, 2009, 8:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So i am sitting on st. mark’s place waiting for my friend and i am watching the parade: nyu, nyu, punk, square, nyu, neighborhood, tourist, tourist, impeccable faggot with round glasses and a beret and pointy-toe sneakers, tourist, punk.

and so far i have only seen 2 fat people, and they looked – at first – so much more poorly dressed to me. She was in black exercise pants that were too short, and a tank top layered under a purple shirt. Black sneakers, unexciting. he was wearing a flannel shirt and normal cut too-light jeans and i didn’t think to look at his shoes because i was too busy judging, one, and realizing i was judging, two.

I include myself when i say: why do i hold fat people to such a high standard of appearance? because i am watching the people and for every nyu fashionista there are plenty of sloppy students wearing exactly what those kids were wearing. and i can totally pick – “but her pants! but his jeans!” – but i’m obfuscating.

bc i am facing lately my own intense fatphobia. i am facing the standards i hold myself to and how ridiculous they are. no one looks perfect all the time, and no one should have to, and frankly it’s funny to me that an outfit that would look sloppy-chic on a skinny person instead looks sloppy, to me, on a fat one.

i am lucky to run in a world with many paragons of fatshion crossing through it. i am lucky to live in a world where i know i am bringing the garbage and that my pov is actually not correct at all. i can tell myself i just want to run after her and be like “hey! You should find pants that are long enough! Cuter sneakers!” because i love fashion, but let’s be real, in a liberated world it wouldn’t even matter if she was so sloppy or not.

i am thinking abt this in relation to gender presentation, too; in relation to how some people don’t care about fashion. How i need to learn those are valid choices too, not to judge, just to accept and let people be. Some genders aren’t on the same axes as mine; some people don’t care about pocket squares. I am neurotic abt fashion details in part bc of my own fatphobia; in part bc i just like it. Not everyone cares so much, and that’s fine – even healthy – it just challenges my own ability to be accepting. That’s on me, not the people who pass me. Sometimes – at least, they tell me – it’s ok to just put on some yoga pants and get on with your life.


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’m here via Feministe 🙂 You make some interesting observations. I think it’s important to remember that whatever your personal views are in relation to fashion, other people aren’t here to decorate your world. 😉 They’re entitled to be as ‘sloppy’ as they like, particularly since clothing aesthetics are highly subjective. Maybe that woman thought her sneakers *were* cute.

I’m with you on internalized fatphobia, though. It’s something I’ve had to work hard to overcome.

Comment by Serenity

@serenity — ha! i know. i admit that sometimes i have a hard time remembering that people are not here to fit my standards, but their own — i think that is part of what this post is about, honestly, my process in trying to not be a jerk and instead really acknowledge other people’s right to make choices.

Comment by arielariel

I don’t care about fashion. In fact, i’d go further and say that i feel actively hostile to fashion, and when i’m not on top of my judgey/hatey shit tend to have crappy thoughts in that direction (i.e. that people who do care deeply about fashion are superficial or frivolous or pro-consumerist/capitalist or are automatically mean judgmental hipsters). And i know that some of that is entangled up with misogyny and some of it comes from having an antagonistic relationship to the fashion industry because i’m fat and weirdly proportioned relative to other people who have similar genders. But it’s really hard to parse out the misogyny and internalized fatphobia from actually legitimate values around anti-consumerism and working hard to care about substance rather than surface appearance, and a legitimate resentment of having to pay money to an industry which uses that money to pound out messages about bodies like mine being ugly and wrong.

I really really wish clothing choices were simply an unbiased avenue of expression that people could choose to employ or choose not to, at their own discretion. Then the both of us could just get on with life, yoga pants or no.

Comment by ephraim

i agree with you. i struggle a lot around my relationship to/obsession with fashion and style and reconciling that with my values about being a responsible consumer and wanting to free us from the capitalist structure that the answer to a problem is a thing we have to buy. i think fashion can be really subtle and intelligent but it can also just be an excuse for vapidity and body fascism.

i know part of my own hard part with my body is realizing that i just can’t dress the way i’d like because the clothes don’t exist for my body and when they do, they don’t fit the way i wish they did. i too wish it were unloaded and just for fun.

Comment by arielariel

I’ve been thinking a lot about fashion and presentation in general lately. While I think I might look like someone who doesn’t actively engage it I think that misses a grasp of the action of fashion and a conscious choice against some of those values (my aesthetic could best be described as repetitive/compulsive in an eccentric genius kind of way, or at least that is how I imagine it. 10 white shirt and trousers, 20 goto 10). This doesn’t mean I am against fashion, per se, but I think to miss this as unfashionable misses this conscious choice – as a trans woman – to jam that dominant cultural expression.

I suppose it is interesting that despite this intentionally fashionless presentation I enact, two of the cultural/historical eras I am fascinated by were two extremely fashion-heavy movements: UK Glam and the Blitz Kids/New Romantic.

Comment by gudbuytjane

i think what is interesting here is the difference between fashion and style. like, style is making a look, and fashion is what you make the look with? fashion is about trends and current looks and style is much deeper and broader? something like that? because you are always really impeccably and intentionally styled but i agree in that i do not think of you as necessarily fashioney.

i DO think it is interesting that you are so into glam and the new romantic stuff without the fashion stuff because if there is one thing i think about glam (aside from all the music you have shown me) it is the fashion. but you can love an aesthetic without mimicking it (see: me and lady gaga.)

Comment by arielariel

i tend to think that the distinction going on as an undercurrent here (@ephraim’s comment perhaps most directly) is about style as freely chosen self-fashioning / what we do aesthetically for ourselves and our chosen communities vs. fashion as the product of the clothing/culture/&c industry, that profits on constant ‘novelty’ and the commodification of style…

always an impure distinction when you’re looking at any concrete thing, or garment, or outfit.

which i think is what makes punk, glam, and other subcultural styles that have been (more or less successfully or completely) commodified into fashions so complicated to identify with, adopt, talk about, &c in ways that seem useful or accurate to the different parts of our experiences.

hmn. an example? i had a moment in the early ’00s when one of my standard outfits was a little black newsboy cap, a tight strappy top, and wide-ish-legged pants. the main connotation to me was a ‘style’ one: early ’90s boston ska/skacore scene style (the boys wore porkpies, skinny ties, and buttondowns). but i was entirely aware that more people were going to think of britney than the allstonians when they saw me… a strong read as ‘fashion’ if ever there was one.

i have a thought or two more, but i have to go to a meeting. sigh.

Comment by rozele

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: