Ah, spring has sprung and so has the fashion advice. Blog reader April let me know about this gem “What Not to Wear to Work this Summer” including the quote “Stafford says sleeveless tops are appropriate in the office—’if you have the figure to pull it off.’ For most women under age 40, she says few people would blink. However, for those who are older or heavier, she recommends paying particular attention to your body type and what works on you.”
First, to be very clear there is no clothing requirement to “prove” that we are part of body positivity or size acceptance. We have the right to bare arms (and legs, and stomachs!), but never the obligation. Long time readers of the blog are well aware that I think the idea that bare arms are somehow professional on thin women and unprofessional on fat (or older) women is bullshit. In fact I think that the idea that there is anything that’s ok for thin people and not ok for fat people is bullshit.
I am personally a member of the F*ck Flattering club, I’m so sick of hearing about “flattering.” When someone tells me that seeing rolls isn’t flattering, or showing fat arms isn’t flattering, or bright clothing on fat people isn’t flattering, or clothing that *gasp* isn’t slimming isn’t flattering, what I hear is “I’m interested in buying into and reinforcing the idea that we should all try to get as close to some arbitrary stereotype of beauty as possible.” People are allowed to do that for themselves, they aren’t allowed to dictate it to others. For me, I think it’s feeding the machine that oppresses me and so I personally have no interest in it.
Back to that whole sleeveless thing. When someone says that some clothing is ok for people who look one way, but not ok for people who look another way, I don’t see how it’s possible to justify that as anything other than appearance-based prejudice. Businesses can set dress codes, but they need to be equally applicable – either everyone can wear sleeveless shirts or nobody can. We get to decide how we dress at work. If our clothes push against unspoken (or spoken) anti-fat prejudice that may have consequences. As I’ve said before, risk is the currency of revolution. We get to decide if we want to engage in that kind of risk and that kind activism. Whether or not we engage in the activism we get to decide if we think it’s right and that’s what’s most important.
Like my blog? Here’s more of my stuff!
My Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can help keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details