Fashion

Thirty and angry and fabulous, darling.

21 December, 2010

This post was meant to be about what I wore last night to celebrate turning 30, but as usual I can’t really separate what I wear and who I am and what I’m doing. So here’s a huge post I wrote while reflecting on my birthday, what I wore and what I’m about.

When I was younger, a very newborn soul in the world, I couldn’t wait to turn 30. I have always felt so naive, like I knew so little of the world so I figured I’d dedicate my life to learning about all the things I had no idea about. I also figured that I would be done with my growing pains by the time I reached 30, and that I would be in my prime in my third decade.

I used to think that my core values were strange and naive, because my priorities were so different to other people’s. I spent a lot of time thinking about people who didn’t have my privileges, and also about myself as a woman in an apparently “post feminist” world. Now I know that the person I was when I was half my age wasn’t bleeding her heart, because I’ve met people who share the same goals and values as me. It’s a peaceful and productive friendship. It’s an acquaintance that is shooting for goodness, even if we sound angry… because anger is sometimes justified and constructive in this unfair world.

I’ve certainly done a lot of learning, and reflecting on life so far I feel fairly comfortable with the path I’ve taken and the steps I’m yet to take. It’s taken me this long to realise that I have no real idea about the world and neither does anyone else. While I have been called stubborn I know I’m not obstinate for no reason, it’s just that I have this dogged belief that the world is filled with millions of hues and not just painted with primary colours. We can’t know all these beautiful tints just as we can’t know any other person’s experience, only our own. That’s where understanding and empathy come in… and a lot of people really have no idea about how to connect with people who aren’t in the same class, race, level of ability, gender and/ or size. The people I’m talking about are the ones who are particularly privileged in these areas. I am committed to learning and challenging myself, because I feel my most valuable lessons have not been taught in a formal setting.

A head and shoulders photo of me  smiling with pink hair in a bouffant and a white bead necklace against a black short sleeved top.

So what does this have to do with what I wore when I turned 30!? I guess I feel naive about “fashion”, as in I don’t really care for what’s properly fashionable. I care about expressing myself through my presentation, and I don’t really care for subscribing to whatever arbitrary thing has been decreed to be fashionable by whoever the tastemaker is now. Because those tastemakers don’t care about me, they just want me to consume so they make money. I feel like my image is a huge middle finger to our dominant culture, to capitalism and consumerism, because my body doesn’t conform and my clothes don’t either.

Personal style can be a way to illustrate your moods and your politics. The two can’t really be separated for me, and because I am fat I don’t get to pick and choose exactly what I want so my clothes and my style can sometimes be shocking to some people, especially if they’ve got a concrete idea of what fat women are supposed to look like. The clothes available to me in Australia aren’t terribly fashionable, nor are they couture-like in quality. This excludes a whole bunch of people from participating in feeling fashionable, and for lots it’s a point of shame and drives them to body minimising behaviours. For me though? It makes me feel political. I am angry that our capitalist society doesn’t want me to love my body or feel fashionable and I am angry that people are hurt and excluded by this mechanism.

I write about body image and fashion because I want people to know that there are other alternatives to self hate and feeling ostracised. For years I had no idea I could buy clothes on the internet, and I was stuck with the frankly awful offerings in Australian brick and mortar stories; it was by coming into contact with fat activism online that I found other avenues to fashion, self love and a supportive community. It’s through the FA community that I found the skirt I wore on my birthday because even though I can sew I have struggled to find patterns in my size. Rebecca was kind enough to email me the instructions to make a lovely skirt, and voila! Lovely skirt! (The instructions are here if you’d like to make one too.)

An outfit photo of me in the garden. My hair is pink and in a bouffant up-do; I wear a black top tucked into a high waisted and full skirted pink patterned skirt with a white necklace and black wedge court shoes.

So, yes. I am thirty and I’m fiesty and happy and angry and thrilled to be part of a community where I can nourish my core values. Even through something as supposedly frivolous as fashion. It means something to me because I demonstrate my politics using my whole body as an instrument, not just by my voice or my fist in the air.

Details of what I wore:
Top: City Chic
Skirt: Made by me
Shoes: Softspot
Bracelet: Gift
Necklace: City Chic

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  • http://www.attackofthesugarmonster.com/ Heidi

    I love you, Natalie. Happy birthday!!! <3 <3 <3

  • http://twitter.com/shutupmonica Monica

    Natalie, darling, love of my life–that is a BEAUTIFUL skirt. I literally just said to my mom, “Wanna help me make a skirt?” She was all, “Uh, not right now.” I’m going to make seventeen billion of them. Would you mind sharing how wide you made the pattern piece? (The link isn’t working. :/) 40″ isn’t going to do it for me AT ALL, hahaha. You look RADIANT. And I love that it matches your hair, hahaha.

    Oh, and I was so distracted by the beauty of the skirt–HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

  • Sarah

    From a fan of who you are, were and will be, Happy Birthday Natalie:)

  • http://www.definatalie.com definatalie

    Oh it looks like Rebecca’s site is down, damn.

    So what I did is measure around my hips and then I figured out how many pleats I wanted to add… it was a bit hard because math is really not what I was put on earth to do, and I ended up making the skirt too big in the end but it was ok because I used the off cuts to make the waist band!

    So yeh, your waist measurement + the amount of extra fabric you want to pleat. And you can gather it if you don’t want to bother with pleating, or you can do big box pleats… it’s basically up to you, you’ve just got to do the maths!

    I had to put darts in my waist band to make it fit properly, but if you utilise tacking stitches it’s fairly easy to make it up as you go along and unpick as required. Once you’ve made one, you’ll have a better idea of how to make future skirts too. And I totally didn’t use an invisible zipper… my zip job wasn’t fabulous but whatever, it stays on me!

  • http://sweetalchemy.wordpress.com/ Anna

    Love the skirt. Love your blog. Happy Birthday!

  • Laurel

    Happy Birthday, Natalie! You are so beautiful!

  • Ms Loaf

    Happy Birthday! You look absolutely lovely.

  • http://caitymakes.com Caity

    Well you look FAB, and happy birthday!!

  • Mel Stringer

    aww yes go the pink! i just went orange/red so we’re kind of in sync. n_n

  • http://themerrytraveller.blogspot.com/ The Merry Traveller

    You look wonderful wonderful and happy birthday!

  • http://thestate-iamin.blogspot.com Elizabeth

    Ohhh that body suit is so hot! I love it! I just ordered one but was nervous – but now that I see it on a real body I’m so excited :)

  • http://thestate-iamin.blogspot.com Elizabeth

    Oh no! I had two blogs open at once, so sorry!

    However, you do look hot also, and I love this post too – you’re so inspiring :)

  • Larissa

    You look wonderful! I wish I could absorb some of your ‘attitude’ and brush off the nay sayers. Actually I wish most women could… big or small. I have friends who I envy for thier figures who think they look too fat and it winds me up. Or that they have big noses / bad skin .. etc etc. “This excludes a whole bunch of people from participating in feeling fashionable” even in the UK where we have shops for larger women .. we are still limited. Especially if we want to shopa t the budget end. Anyway… you do look wonderful. I know if I saw you walking down the street I’de think you were someone I’de like to know. Very cool. And Happy birthday!!

  • http://champagneproblems.tumblr.com Champagne Problems

    I read this post and all I have to say is Congratulations! You’re amazing.

  • http://www.fat-aus.com bronny

    you look fantastic, i love your hair! happy birthday babe

  • http://applesandporsches.com Ellie Di

    Have I told you how much I love you lately? Cos it’s a lot.

    A very happy 30th to you, my dear. May your next three decades be filled with more discovery.

  • http://wearelargepeople.blogspot.com/ Rebecca Brown

    Happy b/day! Since I tumblr-stalk you I saw the skirt already, as well as your gorgeous birthday hair. And the skirt turned out so well! We’re kind of skirt twins (though I think the longer length you chose really makes it look very elegant).

    Thanks so much for linking to my blog as well! I actually reverted back to blogger, so the link in your post broke. It should be “http://www.wearelargepeople.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-made-skirt.html”. Sorry about that!

  • http://wearelargepeople.blogspot.com/ Rebecca Brown

    Hey Natalie – so sorry about that! I reverted back to blogspot, so the link should be:

    http://www.wearelargepeople.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-made-skirt.html

    Sorry about that!

  • http://twitter.com/blogtobealive Valerie D.

    I am a little late but happy birthday! And I am a little jealous of your pink hair! Fabulous!

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  • Bri

    Belated birthday wishes honey. Turning 30 was a milestone in my life, while the first year or so was rocky, I have to say my life has been better since I turned 30. Now I am closing in on 40 (I am 38 in 2011) I wonder if 40 will be even better than my 30s?

  • http://twitter.com/Fat_Nurse Devon Hammond

    The skirt of the dress and your hair really make this outfit for me! I think it’s lovely :D Hope you had a nice birthday!
    Devon xx
    http://www.fat-nurse.com

  • http://buttontreelane.blogspot.com Michelle

    Love that skirt! And love it on you even more! Thanks for the instructions – I have the perfect fabric for a full skirt in that style!

    Happy, happy birthday. I turned 41 this year, and I still believe that age is only a number, not an attitude. Go get ‘em!