Three Big Fat Dresses

A reader pointed out this this article today [major trigger warning – article is bad, comments are worse] http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/is-overweight-the-new-normal-weight-2545505, including the quote “In our country where the majority of individuals need to lose weight, it’s become too easy to live large, making it harder to motivate people to take steps to shed pounds. Vanity-sized apparel; Lycra (read: stretchy) clothing; larger plates, bowls, glasses and utensils; wider seats in cars and movie theaters; and bigger portions are all examples of ways the environment has changed to make it more comfy being overweight.”

There are plenty of idiotic things about this article. Confusing the concepts of clothes that fit us with larger plates, bowls and glasses strikes me as particularly assinine. Never mind the fact that we live in a society where we are constantly stigmatized, at least I can get a drink in a big ass glass.

Apparently, Julie thinks that since constant shame and stigma  aren’t working, we need to go one step further.  If we were just confined to our houses – too big to fit in cars or movie theaters, unable to find clothing that fits, we’d all be thin.  Riiiiiiiight..

A package arrived for me this morning.  In it were three stunning dresses from Igigi by Yulia Raquel. They are dressing me for the America the Beautiful 2- The Thin Commandments premieres in NYC, LA and Austin. 

First I have to take a minute to get over how crazy it is that I just typed that, about my life.

Ok I’m done (but they are absolutely gorgeous, I’m just sayin’)  I tried on the dresses and they fit perfectly.  And as a calm came over me I was realized the massive folly of my previous relationship with dress clothes:

Like a lot of fat people I know, I spent a lot of years either buying clothes that were too small, with the intention of losing weight before I had to wear them, or not buying clothes because I was going to lose weight and I was told that it would only encourage me to be fat if I bought myself nice clothes in my current size.

Trying on those beautiful dresses that fit me right now reminded me of something important.  My previous relationship (and Julie’s opinion of fat people and) clothes was BULLSHIT! Pure unadulterated bullshit.

When I bought special occasion clothes that were too small it meant that instead of eagerly anticipating the event I spent a ton of time stressing about whether or not the dress was going to fit. Eating a dangerously small amount, running on treadmills for hours with no thought about my health (mental or physical), just panicking about having a dress that would fit at the event.  At the event I was often busy trying to suck in parts of me that, based on human physiology, cannot be sucked in. Too preoccupied with my ill-fitting dress to enjoy the event. Miserable. And dumb.

And the idea that I shouldn’t have nice clothes in my every day wardrobe also doesn’t make any sense to me.  I seriously doubt that feeling frumpy, uncomfortable and unattractive in one’s clothes will inspire them to take great care of themselves.  I absolutely disagree with the idea that people hate themselves healthy or thin.  I can say for sure that it never worked for me.

I’m not talking about what other people think of your clothes.  We’ve already discussed the “true purpose” of clothes. What I’m talking about is owning clothes that you like to wear, that you are comfortable in.

Which brings me to another point – when I hear that 60% of women are “overweight” or “obese” I always wonder – What the hell are they all wearing?  Maybe Julie thinks that the world is over-run with *gasp* “stretchy” clothing that accommodates fat people but if so then I’d like to see her research material.

I think it’s ridiculous that people like Julie as so terrified of people having an opportunity to live a happy life regardless of their size.  I’m willing to be that as fat stigma goes down, our health would actually go up.  (I’m backed up by research a study from Purdue by Schafer and Ferraro who found that people who reported weight discrimination “were the individuals who had the sharpest decline over time in their functional abilities.” ) So, if you can find some, I invite you to experience the joy of buying clothes that fit and that you like right this minute. Regardless of what you want to do with your body, I recommend that you consider that any path will be easier with a firm base of appreciation for your body – and consider that appreciating your body might include making it comfortable.

36 thoughts on “Three Big Fat Dresses

  1. Oh god I wish I had somewhere to wear one of those dresses! Gorgeous! Which ones are you wearing?

    Only once in my life have I bought clothes that I felt attractive in. Which is sad because I’m 45 years old! This has got to stop…

    I love you, Ragen!

  2. I don’t even know what to say. Every word and phrase in that quote makes ZERO sense and is almost laughable. Unfortunately most people take it at face value. That really is gem there.

    Can’t wait to see pictures of the dresses!!

  3. I wonder how many of the holier-than-thou commenters on the article are of “normal” weight. They should all follow the BMI calculator link provided in the article and see which category they fall into. I bet they’d be very surprised that most are overweight, thanks to the BS way that body mass (and health! ugh!) is calculated. Maybe they’d proceed to do a little research and discover that overweight/obese =/= unhealthy. (That’s supposed to be an equals sign with a slash through it.)

    Slam dunk again, Ragen! And all of the Igigi dresses are stunning, and I can’t wait to see which ones you’ll be wearing!

  4. Oh, how I wish to see pictures of the dresses! Squeeee!!!

    I wear yoga pants. Everywhere. And I love it. I wear long tunic shirts in bright colors. I bought wonderful Merrel Barefoot shoes (they look normal, not like Avatar) to go with them. And, I can’t stress enough how much I LOVE the clothes I wear. They are comfortable, they make me happy, and because I feel good and am not worried about how I look, I am SO much more productive in my life. And I work out more.

    I still struggle with dress clothes, but I think that comes more from not wearing them very often.

    I never wear jeans. They are uncomfortable, the seams dig in my skin, and they make me unhappy.

    I’m so glad I quit fighting with clothes!

    ~ManDee
    http://www.chubbygirlcomics.com

    1. Yay, yoga pants and barefoot shoes! (Though I’ve recently switched from normal-looking New Balances to Vibram FiveFingers.)

      I wear yoga pants a lot too, given that they’re one of the few types of pants that can be: a) full-length pants; b) semi-fitted instead of form-fitting the whole way down; c) stretchy enough to accommodate my curves; d) fairly widely available in my size.

      I’ve had 8 or 10 people complain to me that my yoga pants are either unfashionable or pretentious (since they think it looks like I’m broadcasting I DO YOGA! all the time). They (all people who can shop at “straight sizes” stores) were surprised to learn that these were one of the few options that fit my body *and* that I could afford for casual wear.

  5. Holy mother of pearl, that black velvet dress on the site is calling my name. I gave up on the “little black dress” ages ago, but that? Yeah, I could rock that, and no apologies.

  6. Dresses to make me swoon! Gorgeous, stylish, sexy, and confident. You are going to be red carpet ready-hope you post pictures! Have you seen the phenomenal clothes that Savannah Red is making in Austin?

  7. Every article Shine prints on Yahoo’s front page is loaded with ridiculous bullshit, so it’s no surprise to see the article you linked to is, in fact, a Shine article. I once read an article on there about eating disorders – I can’t remember the content too well, but I remember it being handled with all levels of ignorance and mis-care. And it included a very triggering photo of a very skinny woman’s body with a tape-measure wrapped around the waist.

    But~ This post did make me think of something I’ve been pondering for a while now. I absolutely love that there are more and more clothing shops that cater to “plus” sizes and bigger people. It’s fantastic, honestly, because otherwise I’d have had a difficult time buying clothes for my boyfriend (a man of 6’5″ and well around 450 lbs, no less, so a big boy in all).

    My little issue, however, is that I feel like I can’t ever get a job at one of these stores. I’m an average-bodied girl, really, and always have been. Half the time, I feel a bit awkward going into Torrid, even with my friends, because I feel like I “don’t belong”. I would love to work in Torrid, though; I love clothes, and I love women, and I know what looks good on big women (and, just as important, what doesn’t). I know I could be a great salesperson for a store like Torrid or Layne Bryant, I feel like they’d never hire someone like me.

    Or maybe it’s just me? I have no idea. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, Ragen.

    1. Hi there,

      I know that my local Lane Bryant and Torrid have straight-sized employees, I think if you want to work there you should apply.

      I do want to say that am concerned with one thing that you said. You said “I know what looks good on big women (and, just as important, what doesn’t”. For me personally that attitude about clothes makes me uncomfortable. I talked about it in the blog that I linked to about the point of clothes, but I think that “looking good” is very relative and it’s all about how the person feels they look in clothes. When a sales person comes at me telling me what does and does not “look good” it completely shuts me down as a customer. Of course that’s just me, other people might feel very differently. I just wanted to mention it.

      At any rate, good luck!

      ~Ragen

      1. “I think that “looking good” is very relative and it’s all about how the person feels they look in clothes.”

        Oh no, don’t get me wrong! I agree with you there, actually. I just meant that in the sense of if big women ask me fashion-related questions, I have knowledge. But I know my taste isn’t objective. I would never chase someone around the store telling them what to wear! I honestly don’t care what people buy for themselves, just that they’re happy with their purchases, honestly. But, uh, that’s getting off-topic.

        Anywho, thanks for your insight~

    2. Apply! I worked at Lane Bryant and I’m on the borderline of straight-size and plus size. A fellow employee (one of the managers) who was a size 10. I did hear a bit of complaining from the customers every now and then about the size of the manager or the size of the mannequins (they are a size 16, but also at least 6’4″, mostly legs, and have tiny waists… believe me, I’ve seen them naked! 😉 ). But it really wasn’t a big deal at all. Being a retail sales floor person is all about positive attitude (and whether or not you can convince people to sign up for a credit card).

      While working retail isn’t the most fun thing in the world, I have fairly fond memories of working there. I don’t think it sucks any worse than working at any other store. And for some people it doesn’t suck at all – I’m just not cut out for retail so I never could really enjoy it.

      Good luck!

  8. Again..bmi. Again, thin is better, thin is healthier. Everyone spits those things out as if they were proven fact, and yet you’ve shown they are not.
    She also states that obesity is “catchy” like a virus, way to stigmatize! May I also point out that anorexia (which is a disease) has been shown to be catchy. Ask Portia de Rossi, when she worked on Ally McBeal

  9. Ragen, as always, you are right on. There are a so many things wrong with that article that it’s astonishing it could get published. Oh, wait, it was on the internet. I especially like the idea that the world is overrun with great clothes that fat people like to wear and feel comfortable in. Please sign me the heck up for those! I get to buy a party dress for an event next month and by golly I am going to get one that looks awesome. Might not be easy though! Keep up the good fun.

  10. Okay – Julie thinks fat people shouldn’t be able to find nice clothes that fit well and comfortably. Any bets how much she also complains if she sees fat people running around in clothes that don’t fit well? How about we offer her a choice. She can either support the idea that people of all sizes should be able to find attractive, well-fitting clothes, or accept that anyone outside of her preconceived idea of “proper size” gets to run around in nothing but our birthday suits.

    I may not be fat, but my body is never going to have the kind of look that will grace the cover of fitness magazines, either. I like having clothes that fit and that I enjoy how I look while wearing, and if I have the freedom to do that, then everyone else should, too. Maybe if I gave her a good look at my pasty white hiney, claiming that I can’t get nice clothes that fit well, she’d change her tune.

  11. In that article, I read a main idea that you didn’t seem to address head on in this post, the idea that as our population’s average weight continues to rise each year making fat people becoming more dominant in number, that thinner people are appearing to be unhealthy and not normal, even when they are healthy and “normal weight” according to BMI. , Do you think there is any truth to that? What are your thoughts?

    Also congrats on your happiness with the dresses. I’m sure you look fabulous in them!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I don’t know for sure where we are in terms of national weight. I’ve seen some research that says that it’s actually leveled off. Even if it is true that it’s increasing all the time, nobody knows why. When people say that it’s due to portion sizes, or fast food or whatever, they are guessing. Those things aren’t proven. We are also getting taller but nobody is freaking out about a “tallness epidemic”. I absolutely don’t agree that thin people appear unhealthy and not normal. No matter how many fat people there are, our society is still absolutely thin-obsessed and there is still a ton of fat stigma and it’s ridiculous to say that isn’t true. I think that our best bet as a society is to take the focus completely off weight and focus on our own health and let other people make decisions about their health.

      ~Ragen

  12. OMG all of those dresses are BEAUTIFUL. *drool* Can’t wait to see you in one!

    I’ve been really working on my clothing issues recently. I’m trying hard not to think in terms of what I am “allowed” to wear anymore (or worse yet my old mentality of “what will hide me” lol) and instead what I WANT to wear and what makes me feel pretty.

    I have to say that in a very big part it is thanks to you Ragen. You inspire me. You give me courage. I know I’ve said it before but I really don’t know what I would do without your blog. I’m a big wimp and it’s really hard for me to face all the cruelty out there in the world, but I like to imagine you and the entire fatosphere behind me cheering me on! ❤

    1. Mari,

      Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog. I’m glad that we in the fatosphere get to support you but you are definitely doing all of the hard work. Congratulations on your new clothes initiative, I hope you’ll let me know how it goes and I’ll keep cheering you on 🙂

      ~Ragen

  13. Is it okay to give a shout-out to Lucie Lu (www.lucielu.com)? She sells really pretty basics and dresses in sizes up to 5X, very well made and in lovely fabrics. I’m not affiliated with the company, just a fan of the clothes.

  14. The gowns are GORGEOUS! And the Yahoo article? Um, why aren’t we having a discussion about who is kind and who isn’t, about who is happy and who’s not, about who uplifts and empowers, rather than criticizes and critiques. (And go ahead on; tall vs short, glasses vs perfect vision, wheelchair vs legs, deaf vs hearing, wealthy vs struggling – can I get a little 9/11 anniversary perspective?). *Sigh*. Much ♥, Carol

  15. Hi Ragen,

    I have taken to just finding patterns I like, that fit me well and just having them made. I’m sick of going into stores and trying on clothes that Never fit because I’m non-traditionally shaped. I like to be comfortable and dressed appropriately.

  16. First of all, the dresses are gorgeous. I kind of want every single one of them.

    My aunt has a great line about buying clothes that don’t actually fit you or that you don’t actually like. She says, “That’s the clothes wearing you, not you wearing the clothes.” 🙂

  17. Looking at these clothes made me tear up a little. I can’t remember the last time I felt I looked really good. I buy clothes for comfort, not for style. I’ve been that way for some years now, not because I don’t care about how I look, but because I figured if there weren’t clothes for me to look good in, I could at least be comfortable.

    I want that “Luna Gown” so bad it hurts.

  18. Love the dresses, can’t wait to see which you wear! My faves are the Adeline and Eva Maxi dress, and the Gretta Lace one. yay fashion!

  19. I can tell you the one I’d pick, ’cause you’d be smokin’ hot! Not that you won’t be smokin’ hot in them all!!! I’d just think you make people pass out from your gorgeosity… (Well, *I* think gorgeosity should be a word, so there…!)

  20. Dear Ragen,
    I just wanted to leave a big thank U here!
    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now, and I find so much truth and inspiration here – although I’m a thin person (I’m kind of natural thin, always was). Sounds contradictory? Well, I stumbled over the whole self-acceptance, FA, HAES movement blogs some time ago, and very often I’m totally stunned that I’ve had many many similiar experiences – like the phenomenom of buying too small clothes, hoping to fit into them at some time; I’ve also been food-policed often enough etc.

    Though I totally know that buying clothes that fit is a lot easier for me and though I’m aware of thin priviledge, I think the whole f*cked up pressure telling us women how to look like is an urgent topic for ALL WOMEN – no matter what size they are. I can only imagine how hard discrimination must be for fat people when even I am so often p*ssed off because of comments concerning my appearance etc. It’s just that many thin people (me included until recently) are so brainwashed that they don’t even see anything wrong in the current overestimation of appearance or the idea that there can only be one beauty ideal (in our time the one of being thin, so thin till you nearly disappear). Until recently, I thought I’d be doing myself something good by subjecting myself to these “ideals”!
    Now I’m trying to eat veggies when I feel like it and because I love them, not because they’re “healthy”, to eat chocolate when I feel like it and because that’s also good food for me without feeling guilty, to exercise because I want to have fun and become stronger, not to loose weight, etc. I think there’s still a long way to go for me to completely get rid of the brainwash, but the awareness is now definitely there 🙂
    Thank you SO MUCH for making this all clear to me!
    We all deserve to be accepted, to be happy and to buy clothes we like! *yay*

    And I wanted to add I watched all the pics and videos here, and you are a killer dancer, and I SO admire your fitness level, and I think you’re a stunning, beautiful women. I’d also love to see pictures of you in these dresses 🙂

    (P.S. I hope I could express my thoughts like I wished, English is not my mother tongue, and connotation is always a difficult thing ;-))

  21. I will say, I find it frustrating, as a petite woman, that sizes have gotten bigger, so that instead of clothiers simply making their clothing in a wider range of sizes, they merely make a size 6 of yesteryear a size 2 of today. I find that I have to either find petite clothes that need to be tailored smaller, or juniors clothes that simply do not fit the lifestyle of a 27 year-old mother and professional.

    It’s kind of annoying.

  22. To the poster who’s upset about the difference in prices, it is disingenuous to ask a manufacturer to produce a significantly larger product with no increase in price. Yes, it DOES take more base fabric, ribbing, and thread just to produce a larger shirt. Larger units weigh more which increases shipping costs. Significantly larger units require special folding which means specialty machinery or increased labor costs. These factors are “fat blind.” The manufacturer is looking at a spreadsheet of numbers. They are not sitting around thinking, “How can I discriminate against fat people?” A 6X shirt is more than twice the fabric of a standard medium, but you want to pay the same price. Again, that’s disingenuous. If you look at the prices, you aren’t paying “double” prices, but you are paying somewhat more. You should EXPECT that. It’s business. If I have X product that I sell at Y price point, you do the math, you don’t get to scream discrimination, nor demand that the business person take a loss.

    1. Then why don’t XS people complain about having to pay as much for an item of clothing as the XL person does?
      Here’s one for you. I checked out a few shoes on the onestopplus website, and someone who wears a 7W pays more than someone who wears a 12M. Now why is that? The 12M uses more shoe leather overall, and surely shoe leather is more expensive than most any kind of fabric commonly used for a tee shirt.
      I suspect there is more going on in the matter of setting prices for clothes than the mere use of extra material (although that certainly figures into it). Otherwise, wouldn’t every size pay a different amount? Is there some reader out there who could tell us more about this topic?

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