I held my first ever clothing swap on Sunday, and even though the numbers were down it was still a success. Everyone took home something new (to them!) and we all had a fabulous time trying on clothes and shoes and making silly outfits. I got the idea from Screw Inner Beauty, in which Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby talk about clothes swaps as a way of weeding out the clothes from your wardrobe that make you feel bad about yourself. You know, the “I fit into these for five minutes back when I was 17” sort of garments that you only hold onto as a sick kind of motivation to lose weight.
If you’ve known me for five minutes, you’ll have probably seen me launch into a tirade within seconds of someone mentioning diets or weight loss, because I feel very passionately about every person accepting and loving their body in this present moment… NOT if they lose weight and NOT if they manage to fit into something. I think Health At Every Size has the potential to not only do wonderful things for body image but for health – mental and physical.
Because I’ve had quite a few years worth of exposure to the Fat/ Size Acceptance movement, I figured that I may as well host a body positive clothing swap despite my party hosting fears (what if no one comes? etc!) I’m pretty glad I did host the party, because it made me feel like I had primed a few more minds for loving their bodies. In my opinion, when people push aside their conditioning and start to fully accept themselves, it’s when the most amazing transformations happen. I’ve seen it in myself, and I’ve seen it in friends and people I’ve met online through various forums and communities. Through honouring our bodies, it’s like we flip a switch and instead of honouring what other people think and societal limitations and conditioning – we start to do things we’ve always wanted to do. For instance, I have longed to run but it’s only this year after meeting Sue, a personal trainer that I introduced to Health At Every Size, that I have discovered I can run. I am strong. I can do all these wonderful things with my body that society has told me I shoudn’t be able to do.
So, it might be just fashion, but it’s something a lot of people care about, and it’s a key part of styling “the self” and sculpting our identities. The fashion industry has the potential to exclude individuals, but if we work together we can pool resources and make each other feel good. Thank you to Sonya, Kat, Mem, Tash and Zoe for attending my little experiment, I hope you found some garments that make you feel great and a sense that you don’t have to abide by the limiting body, fashion and identity rules that we’ve all been subjected to.
I hope to be involved in hosting these swaps every once in a while, and to stage swaps on a much larger scale. Sydney has the Swap ‘Til You Drop event, but I want to organise a proper plus sized swap event in Brisbane! To be honest, I’m not even sure there’s a straight sized swap event in Brisbane, and while it’d be awesome to cover a whole gamut of sizes, I’m not sure how practical it would be to stage. Talk to me if you’ve got a venue or resources, I’m dead serious about making this happen! It’s my goal to make Brisbane the body positive capital of Australia (for now, and then I’ll move on to the other cities!)