I was in ye old fat girl store trying on a dress. I was in the open part of the dressing room checking out the pleasing way that the dress hit my ass when a store clerk came in and this happened:
Store Clerk: Don’t worry, some spanx will smooth that right out.
Me: The FUCK?!
SC: Wide eyes, slow blink.
Me: Please tell me that I am not in a store that specifically caters to my size, being told that my body would be better if it were squished into some other shape. Please tell me that you haven’t been told by your superiors to give that message to fat women. Please tell me THAT IS NOT HAPPENING!
SC: Sorry, I thought that you weren’t happy the way the dress looked.
Me: Boy did you read that one wrong.
If you are someone who wears shapewear then please hear me when I say that I totally and completely support you in doing that- this is just about my feelings about my body and the shopping experience that I want – I have no interest in telling anybody else how to live. I will fight to the death for your right to wear whatever you want, I would ask if you are willing to get on board with stores that cater to fat people creating a shopping experience that is a little less easy to construe as body shaming.
In that vein, allow me to say this:
Dear stores that sell clothes to fat people,
My top is not out of control, my tush doesn’t need to be trimmed or toned, nor, while I appreciate alliteration, do I require Tighter Tummy Technology. I don’t need lift or definition in a sports bra – I need to finish my run without two black eyes. I do not need the people who work at your stores to suggest shapewear to help me “look my best” wearing the dress that I’m no longer buying because the person working at your store suggested that I don’t look my best in it right this minute. I am unwilling to trade my ability to take full breaths for super-duper slimming zoned compression of any kind. I would, in fact, be happy to die without ever again hearing or reading the phrases super-duper slimming, or zoned compression unless it is a new basketball defense. I came here to shop for clothes at one of the very few stores that caters to people my size. I did not come here to be bombarded with advertisements that suggest I should try to use the “miracle” of Spandex to smush my body into some other form – if I wanted to feel like crap about my body I would go to every other store that exists, turn on the television, read the comment thread in almost any article on the internet, or read my hatemail.
I am aware that other women want these products and I celebrate their right to purchase them, but it seems to me that if they want that, they’ll be looking for them so you could tone it the hell down because right now your campaign to tone, tuck, tighten, and trim me really puts the “b” in subtle if you know what I mean.
I’ve already talked about my feelings regarding the concept of “flattering.“ I wear clothes for a lot of different reasons – to cover my body, to decorate my body, to keep my boobs smashed down while I workout, and for many, many other reasons. I do not wear clothes to make my body look like a different body, I do not believe that I need to mold my fat into some different size and shape. I am not asking you to stop selling these items, I am asking for the ability to find clothes that don’t try to “control” any part of my body, and I am asking for a shopping experience that seems a little less like the constant body shaming I get from people and businesses that aren’t trying to get my money.
The Fat Activism Conference is only a week away!
This is a virtual conference so you can listen to the talks by phone and/or computer wherever you are. Whether you are looking for support in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support you and your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive, so that nobody gets left behind. Click here to get all the info and register!
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Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!
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Book Me! I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com
A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!