Opinion | Why I'm tired of making plus size fashion work


I caught myself in a thought earlier about making clothes 'work' for me when they're not made in my size, and then a little voice in my head shouted 'I'm tired of making things work!' And it's so true. It's exhausting running a crib sheet of multiple items from multiple sources, how they're cut - which can vary hugely from company to company, and even from item to item. You have to know which materials have stretch and which ones don't, who's wearing what and in which size, so we can compare and take a risk. Bloggers share tips like mothers pass on songs and stories to their children - in sacred whispers and in reverent tones.

Fat bloggers know which companies' sizes are stingy, and whose are generous. Whose sizing is up and down like a fiddler's elbow, and whose are tried and true. We glean little nuggets of fashion wisdom over the years and hold on to them like our grannies' pearls - precious and only to be revealed to others who understand the value. And we do it because we have to, because even within plus size circles it's so easy to find yourself under represented.

Why I'm tired of having to make plus size fashion work for my body
I do have some size privilege. Of course with sizing being the beast it is I can wear a breadth of sizes, but I'm generally a UK size 28 to be safe. I can get into some 24s from brands who don't specifically cater to upper plus size people - brands like Boohoo, Elvi, Missguided etc - and that is something I am lucky to be able to do, but I'm not writing this for me. For all the people who can't make those things work (I always say people as opposed to women as it isn't just women who wear women's fashion - gender stereotypes about clothing are crap) I feel you. I don't like being able to enjoy clothes knowing a friend a size or two bigger than me can't wear the same thing. It doesn't make me feel like I've ascended to some magical elitist place where everything is rainbows and unicorns. It's disappointing that some people are more valued than others, and what a fucked up world it is we live in where even in plus size circles you can be too fat to throw your money at a company.

Why are some bodies more valued than others? Acceptability politics....what is considered an acceptable level of fat. What extra bits people are 'allowed' to have and still be thought of as worthwhile humans. Double chins? Oh, go on, but only a little one. Visible belly outline? Not so much. Back fat? No thank you. And so on.

But isn't it about time that new plus size brands stopped being elitist? Does size 24 money spend better than size 32 money? Some brands don't want your money, and you know what? It gets old to be tired and grateful all the time. Tired of being passed over; of making it work. Tired of appeasing the mighty plus size fashion gods with 'Well, this rules out 1/3 of fat people, but let's be nice and someone might throw us a bone and consider clothing us at a later date.' So we bite our tongues and play nice and what happens? Nada. Vague promises are made to increase size ranges if lines go well, then never materialise. It's tiring being grateful for the few crumbs that are thrown our way. We're grateful that some people can wear things but tired that we can't. And you know, it's great that other people can fit into stuff I can't - I know what it's like to be excluded and I don't want that for anyone. I'm a big old hippie who gets uncomfortable with the idea that my body type is more 'special' than others bigger than me and somehow retailers think I deserve more choice in clothes at more reasonable prices than my friends. I want everyone to have what I have, because what joy is there in fashion if I can't share it with ALL my friends?

It's not 'us and them' with smaller and larger plus sizes pitted against one another, but some solidarity from those considered on the 'right' side of fat is always appreciated. It truly is a case of shouting long and loud enough until we are heard and the more voices behind that the better.

Please plus size retailers - stop putting in barriers where none need be. Stop reinforcing the same BS beauty standards that the rest of the world does. I'd LOVE to hear a new plus size brand's justification for stopping a range at size 24. Would it go something like this? 'Well, let's get some money from the kind of people we don't mind wearing our clothes. You know, the ones who still, uh, look like people. But anything bigger than this? Hell no, I cannot deal.' And you know, when plus size brands DO bring out great styles in fun patterns, we buy that shit OUT. Lady Voluptuous anyone? Size 32 of those babies sell out in 5 minutes flat. Do not give me the 'There's no market for it' spiel. Nah-uh. Don't clothe us if you must insist on that crap, but don't you dare patronise us as well. Don't you fucking dare.

Are you tired of making things work? Do you ever wish everything came in size fat and all sizes of size fat at that?

I hope this made sense as I wrote it on 2 hours sleep, but I had to say it.

Thanks for reading.

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