And honey, that ain’t an insult.
Watch the brilliance of Joy Nash in A Fat Rant and Fat Rant 3: Staircase Wit1. (I found Fat Rant 2 to be too problematic with its portrayals of various compulsive disorders to recommend it, but I adore both of the other two.) I’ll wait.
Done? Good. Take a moment to compose yourself from the swoon. (It took me all afternoon. I’m still on a high.)
It’s — finally — warm and dry here in Portland. Shorts and tank weather. And I, fat pale flabby stretchmarked unshaven woman, am loving it. I’m sitting here now in a new sleeveless shirt-dress my mom got me, loving the fit and the feel and the color and the girly skirtedness of it, enjoying the breeze on my arms, smiling whenever I catch a glimpse of my shoulder “beauty mark” (aka mole), which has been hiding all the long rainy season.
Sexism doesn’t affect all women the same way. In mainstream US culture, a conventionally pretty woman — of the right age and right race and right coloring and right height and right proportion and right shape and right weight and right features and right symmetry — is told she must bare herself to public gaze (perfectly coiffed, in stylish and “flattering” clothing), that the public (meaning men) might consume her beauty. But the rest of us? Must never be seen. Certainly if we dare to go out in public, we must never wear that which is deemed unsuitable for our status as hideously unattractive, lest we permanently shrivel the phalluses of any men casting their eye our way, or cause the sparky explosion of nearby electronics, or wilt crops, or whatever else it is the sight of pale flabby arms like mine is supposed to do.
These are some damn strong arms, apparently. I think I’m flattered.
The point is, while some women are fighting for the right to not have to do girl-drag, some of us are working hard to have our right to do that very thing accepted.
There’s a lot of privilege in the look-good-while-fat movement, to be sure. (Any time dressing well is seen as an obligation, there’s a problem.) And given the culture which, as Joy Nash points out, barely thinks we should be allowed to wear clothes, looking good as a fat woman usually takes either money or sewing skills and time, all of which reflect various privileges.
I? Would not be sitting here in this lovely shirt (dress, if I don’t bend over or if it’s a good underwear day), with two more lovely new shirts hanging in my closet2, if it were not for the indulgence and bank card of my visiting mom.
But I have that privilege, and I get to — sometimes — shop at the fat boutiques, where I’m in the smaller or middle of the size range, where if they don’t have something in my size it’s because it’s sold out, where I don’t have to choose between tents and polyester frocks that will fall apart before I get it home which is what’s offered in my size in the shops I could afford to frequent.
I am fat. My unapologetic existence is subversive. Daring to go out in public, in revealing clothes — unskirted bathing suits and short little sun dresses and cut off shorts? Revolutionary.
Will you join me? Whatever your body size or shape, whether conventionally pretty or subversively beautiful or happily plain, be. Wear what you like. Be as you like. Dress up, dress down. Shave, or trim, or wave in the breeze. No apologies. No put-downs. No backing down.