Shaking the Foundations of Conventional Beauty

This morning Kath at Fat Heffalump had yet another brilliant post about the Freedman/Cannold debacle. If you aren’t familiar with the rights of the debacle, they are, in a nutshell:

Freedman says some not-so-nice things about fat people and fatness on Twitter. Specifically, Dr Samantha Thomas broke an ironic screenshot of Freedman saying, “If you have to ask, your bum does look big in that. #rulesforlife”

From anyone else, it’s a shallow, classic trollish tweet that should be promptly ignored and filed away into oblivion like every other immature tweet of its type. But Freedman is 1) a grown woman; 2) a body-image advocate.

But don’t worry! Whenever there’s angry fatties responding to a celebrity troll, there’s a well-meaning journalist buddy to rush in and save the troll, white-knight-style. Cannold, a friend of Freedman, pens this. Besides her shocking tear through the land of logical fallacies and fat hatred, she actually says, in all seriousness, that “it is also the case that being obese or underweight are risk factors for mortality.” So the normal BMI are immortal, now? Forget hounding on fat people, Cannold needs to go back and re-take English Composition 201. It makes me sad that she gets paid to write nonsensical garbage like that, and the more-talented bloggers like Kath construct their careful, well-researched arguments for free!

At any rate, read Kath’s first post on the issue to get a better breakdown, and then her most recent post about fatshion. In short, Cannold claims that fat people dressing up nicely and blogging about it means fat people aren’t allowed to criticize mainstream beauty. No, really. Then she stretches this specious analysis to conclude that since us fat fatties are all just a bunch of clownish hypocrites, we can’t say a damn thing about Freedman’s blatant hypocrisy. So leave her alone, you heavily-makeupped obeses!

Sigh. Right.

Kath courageously turns that argument on its head. She presents fatshion bloggers, their pictures, and their testimonies as to why they blog about fatshion (and, shock, none of it has to do with desperately wanting to be like the popular kids! I mean, thin models). Kath’s post inspired me.

I’ve never showed myself here, besides the mugshot on the sidebar. Well, there was that wedding photo from a while ago, but I scraped that. I was nervous about showing myself — not because I was afraid of being judged, but because I don’t have anything to show in particular and don’t really want my picture being bandied about the internet. But, you know what, fuck it. I’ve blogged about fatshion from time to time, and it’s something that interests me. I love beautiful clothing, and over the years dressing my 6′ 0″ female body at varying weights has been a real challenge. It’s turned me on to what works and what I like, and more importantly, what I don’t like.

So here I am, wearing a gorgeous maxi from eShakti and a corset belt from Torrid:

Here are my further comments from the Kath’s post, which I hope explain why I’m finally “coming out” with my picture, and my love of fatshion.

Blogging about fatshion isn’t about some desperate attempt to conform to the mainstream, the sad fat girl trying her darndest to emulate conventional beauty (and getting it *so* wrong, amirite?!). It’s about challenging conventional beauty; it’s about challenging the assumption that beauty is some narrow field to which fatties must aspire but never, never reach.

Further, doesn’t this also ring true for the vast majority of thin women, who will also never look like the airbrushed models on the covers of magazines? Heck, those models don’t look the airbrushed version of themselves! The standard of beauty is no longer just a shrinkingly tiny percentage of the human population — it’s gone entirely digital.

Fat people modeling beautiful clothing — beautiful fat people modeling beautiful clothing — real beautiful people, unaltered, in a state beyond the most zealous proponent of Photoshop’s liquefy tool — is amazing. Courageous. Powerful. Perhaps Freedman and her ilk realize how powerful it is, and feel threatened? How dare us fatties perform beauty? How DARE we? Don’t we know that’s not for us?

Cannold’s statement is a classic attempt to undermine something she sees (or perhaps only feels on a visceral level) as powerful and threatening. How should we respond?

Feel good about ourselves. We’re making a difference. Our courageous fatshion is shaking the foundations of their exclusive club, and they don’t like it.

What should we do now? Cower down, strip out of our gorgeous maxis and slink back into some polyester tent?

No. SHAKE HARDER!

7 comments on “Shaking the Foundations of Conventional Beauty

  1. tehomet says:

    Great post, lovely photo. :D (Just FYI, I think your first link is incorrect – it goes to Flickr.)

  2. bigliberty says:

    Thanks, Tehomet! You were right, I pasted in the wrong link :o Fixed!

  3. vesta44 says:

    It amazes me that the advertising world hasn’t gone all Looker on us – remember Susan Dey in that movie and how she was one of the models chosen as perfect to be digitized so that a big advertising honcho could make ads using computer images instead of real people? That’s what airbrushing and photo-shopping are doing to models today – turning them into computer-generated mannequins who never really existed. Fat women who post pictures of themselves in their fatshions knock all of that into a cocked hat – it ruins their ability to airbrush and photo-shop away imperfections, which kills their ability to sell more based on women reaching an unattainable “ideal”. Can’t have that, now can we? (Personally, I think it’s an idea whose time is long over-due)

    • bigliberty says:

      I think the Fashion industry needs at least a veneer of being attainable, hence the use of heavily-airbrushed human models. They still need to be aspirational, and though cartoons and digital representations can and do egg young girls on to look a certain way, you rarely hear, “I’m going to be the next Sailor Moon!” while “I’m going to be the next Giselle!” is comparatively common. Yet Giselle’s altered proportions are arguably as unattainable as Sailor Moon’s drawn ones.

  4. deeleigh says:

    You look stunning! And yes, I agree. The issue of exclusion from fashion and beauty is important.

  5. Ahh hon, thank you so much for the signal boost on my posts, and for weighing in (see what I did there) on the whole thin, white lady in the Australian media thing too. We are seeing such a glut of fat vilifying material coming from a core group, who call themselves feminists and body image advocates, while excluding fat people from either cause.

    And you rock that frock! GORGEOUS!

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