I was recently in a Facebook conversation with someone who posted this picture of Barbie Fierra, just to tear her down:
The person on Facebook started by assuring us that she, herself, was a size 22, then went on at some length about why she did not like the way the dress looked, including the claim that Ms. Fierra “needed shapewear.”
Through the course of the conversation, as she had done with her statement about shapewear, my conversation companion consistently gave her opinions as if they were fact (“she just doesn’t look her best”, “the outfit doesn’t do her justice” etc.) citing her job (or hobby, I’m not certain) as a “stylist” as justification for her claims. I repeatedly said that she is entitled to her opinions (and that if someone wants to pay her for her opinions then that’s great for both of them) but they are just that – opinions, not facts. I got blocked, so here we are.
Let’s start here. This woman chose to wear this outfit. Unless and until I hear that she was forced to wear it and didn’t like it, I support her right to choose what she wants to wear.
Fat women and femmes (and women and femmes in general) get enough criticism for our personal choices, so there’s no good reason to bash each other for what we choose to wear. Not to mention that the mainstream concept of fashion is rooted in thin, white, cis, hetero, classist, able-bodiedness and often ends up being just another method to enforce these oppressions.
And for the record, I don’t buy that whole “I was criticizing the fashion, not the person” thing. If the fashion is on a person, then you are criticizing that person’s choices (yes, even if they were working with a stylist.) Unless they were literally forced to wear the clothing – in which case we have bigger things to criticize than the outfit – then what they are wearing is still about their choice.
Besides which, what precisely is the goal here? Are we hoping the person in the picture will see the commentary and feel bad about themselves? Hoping to give others the message that criticizing women and femmes for their (clothing) choices is completely ok? Trying to make ourselves feel better by putting down someone else down?
It doesn’t really matter because the truth remains, this is a shitty thing to do.
I personally like the outfit because it flies in the face of all the rules that fat women and femmes are supposed to follow in order for clothes to be “flattering” – use tight undergarments to push our boobs up and in and smush our fat around to get as close as we can to an hourglass shape, smash our belly as flat as we can, don’t let our belly outline show, blah blah. (People can wear whatever they want, but nobody needs to wear shapewear – our bodies are just fine in their natural, non-underwear-manipulated shapes.)
That’s what I personally like about the garment but, again, it absolutely doesn’t matter if I like it or not because SHE likes it, and SHE’s wearing it, and I support that 100%.
If you don’t like this look, one option is to keep it to yourself. Either way, you’ll have to talk about it elsewhere because I’m not here for fashion bashing.
Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)
Like this blog? Here’s more cool stuff:
Wellness for All Bodies Program: A simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective. This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)
Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)
Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!
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! (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)
Book Me! I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
I’m (still!) training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com or on Instagram.
If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.
11 thoughts on “Fashion Bashing – Just Don’t”
As you’ve said in other posts, if someone doesn’t want to look at another person because they’re bothered by something about their appearance, there are plenty of other directions they can look. Just let adults dress themselves, people with issues to project.
Thanks for this. I’ve been fashion-bashed a lot in my life and it has caused me a lot of pain and self-esteem issues.
People can wear shapewear if they want, but I’m horrified at the idea of them constricting their breathing.
I’m not sure whether you can affect this ,but the text at Dances with Fat is a *very* light gray, one of the lightest I’ve seen. It’s been a problem lately. Someone did a study finding that absolute black text on absolute white background is less legible than text with less contrast, and designers have been overdoing it.
Thanks for letting me know. WordPress stopped supporting my old theme so I switched, I didn’t realize this was an issue. I’ll look into it right away.
Thank you very much.
This, this and this. Y’all got 2 eyes that can shut and a neck that can turn. And if you think putting down yourself first gives you the right to bash someone else…guess again.
What I want to know is where did she get that awesome matching minaudere? Because matching purse to fabric is hard, yo. Her stylist totes roxxor!
I like the dress, too. Too much fatshion revolves around the belief fat people who want to be beautiful and glamorous must use a combination of shapewear and optical trickery to contort their fat body into something like a thin body… which sends the message it’s only a thin body that can be beautiful and glamorous. And I’m appalled by that message. I’m appalled by the belief a fat body can’t be beautiful or glamorous and still be a fat body. I’m appalled by the belief expressive fashion is only for thin people and for fat people it must be about making us look as much as possible like someone else.
Which is why this dress is so refreshing. If you’re opposed to this dress because it’s not working overtime to hide that the model has a belly and arms, because its bright color rivets eyes instead of giving them a drab patch to pass over like it isn’t there… consider that maybe it’s really messed up to think that is what clothing should do for fat people. That maybe it’s really messed up to think a well-dressed fat person is an invisible, diminished fat person. What’s that? “I don’t want to see that?” Well, *I* never asked to see models strut down the runway in dresses made of tinfoil or foam pool noodles, but nobody ever tried to say *that* wasn’t legitimate fashion.
TL;DR Some fashion rules are not coming from a good place and they need to be questioned and broken.
She looks very nice.
Last time I had such a conversation with my grandfather. He’s pretty good, but perpetuates the idea that ‘women should wear what fits them’. We were speaking about a girl in television. I asked him, grandpa, what if she likes the dress? What if she feels good and beautiful in it? He said, no way.. She couldn’t feel beautiful with the protruding belly. Well, we got into some conversation, we did. I hate when somebody says this. Those are simply people that have always been the societal norm, just like my boyfriend. They absolutely have no idea what it’s like to stand up to our society’s views.
One of the things that cracks me up about that “You can’t *really* feel happy/beautiful/accomplished at your size!” line is that, in my experience, the people who believe that ALSO believe fat people would never be able to TELL our size if kind, noble thin people weren’t constantly working up the courage to inform us we were fat. So which is it? Do we all “secretly know deep down” that we’re fat and foolish, or are we all too jejune to know we’re fat unless a thin person explains it to us in very small words? Because both of those things cannot be true at once.
Didn’t we already decide against shape wear when we finally abandoned corsets and girdles?