I’ve half-started so many essays on being fat and loving fashion and then they don’t come together right so I delete them. Then tonight, a person I care about and who cares about me told me—ME!—that the main reason workplaces have to have dress codes is that you can’t legally say only certain sizes can wear certain things, but “you know how some people take things too far”.
Setting aside the fact that this is CRAZY TALK, I was just really horrified at all the insinuations this made. On a fashion level, it’s just stupid, because there’s no one thing thin people can wear and fat people can’t. There are so many other factors, like body shape and height and proportion and attitude. I wear skinny jeans from the plus size department at Forever 21 almost every day because I like how they look and also they’re dirt cheap. I know there are people who would say a lady of my size shouldn’t wear them, and fuck that.
The bigger and more offensive and just plain stupid part of this to me—again, setting aside that THIS IS NOT WHY WORKPLACES HAVE DRESS CODES—is that for some reason, average-sized and thin people sometimes believe in this narrative that fat people have no idea we’re fat. They’re like, oh god, someone should tell that fat person we can see they’re fat. They have no idea!
Uh, do they know what it’s like to be a bigger than average woman in America? Do they know what it’s like reading internet comments about how fat some size 4 model is? Do they know what it’s like when men in sitcoms have nightmares about accidentally winding up on a date with a woman who’s SMALLER THAN YOU whose only “flaw” IS HER SIZE? Do they know what it’s like to see a girl who looks like you on TV and perk up and feel represented only to realize she’s the “before” in a commercial? (Try being fat with glasses! Commercials want to fix your size and your vision!)
Actually, they probably do know. Because this affects all of us. Society polices all of us and says that us women are too fat or too thin or too slutty looking or buttoned up way too the fuck much and good god, you know what? I’m gonna wear whatever I goddamn want. If you don’t like how I look, that’s just fine, but don’t assume it’s because I mistakenly thought I was a size 4.
(The point of my original post, before this conversation, was that I’m challenging myself lately to take style inspiration from people who are much thinner than me and wear things I wouldn’t wear and therefore have to reinterpret in ways I’m comfortable with. And yet now I just kinda want to interpret literally and let that be that.)
I’m the first person to get riled up when anything misogynistic pops up but I often feel very alone in my CURRENT life experience as someone whose immediate/regular/etc. social circle is full of men who don’t say/do things that raise my hackles.
Am I lucky or blind? I mentioned the other day, in relation to something unrelated, that I’ve self-selected my social world down to such a degree at this point in my life that it’s easy to forget what the rest of the world is like. The other day in the kitchen at my office I mentioned offhand that I had complicated feelings about marriage and gender roles, which is—LET’S BE HONEST—the kind of thing I say all the time within my personal life with nary a raised eyebrow, and yet suddenly I saw what I looked like in the “real world”. And also my “real world” is an entertainment ad agency where we’re still probably really removed from the average societal opinion on such things.
Though of course I’m a lady on the internet so I never forget sexism is real and present and absofuckinglutely stupid.
Earlier this year I was becoming increasingly concerned with my methods of dealing with stressful/negative people/situations, real or perceived, and what I ended up doing was launching Positivity Project 2013 (part of my year’s overall theme, KEEP IT TOGETHER, SPALDING (following up last year’s overall theme, GET IT TOGETHER, SPALDING)).
I’ve almost blogged about this a dozen times, but I don’t quite know where or how to start, especially with something deeply personal. But it’s not that side of it that freaks me out, it’s more that I had earnest and sincere concerns and I addressed them in the most straightforward manner I could come up with. And at least on the internet earnest/heartfelt isn’t my jam.
Which is weird, perhaps? Well, it’s not. No one needs to tell you the internet is a really supportive place to be ironic and detached and droll and all of that stuff I come by really easily. Being earnest seems an online activity reserved for our parents and the people we went to high school with and know only via Facebook these days.
But the truth is that I realized I’d wired my brain to filter my day for the negative, to distrust the world if one of its citizens hurt me in any manner, to assume I was going to eventually fail. I worked my ass off to break all of that. I in general don’t hate myself these days.
So this is really good, also this is really weird.
I am a really high-strung person, so this doesn’t translate into a new inner calm. I’m working toward something I’m calling Zenning The Fuck Out, which I think serves Old Ames and New Ames in one go.
I don’t know where Positivity Project 2013 will leave me by year end but hopefully I’ll still like myself and the internet and you.
Steve La wrote a great piece on Room 101’s ladyfest, with some kind words for my team Tacos for Algernon.