Documenting my outfits regularly for Fa(t)shion February was interesting. I encountered resistance in my head on a few levels, mostly when it came to taking photos of every day, around the house outfits and on other days when I just didn’t feel like getting dressed at all. When you blog about fashion, or fatshion in my case, there’s this implicit pressure to wear something new, something fancy, something that pushes boundaries or rises above the “bad, slobby fatty” stereotype. Participating in this project made me realise just how I still play along with this expectation even if I’ve questioned it before.
I blog about my outfits for representation not because I’m deeply interested in Fashion as Artform but because I’m invested in Fashion as Obligation and the utter lack of body diversity in the media. I wrote a guest post about precisely this for the International Women’s Day celebration on Equality Rights Alliance’s web site (and it’ll be published tomorrow!) Marianne of The Rotund and Lesley of Two Whole Cakes have written posts along these lines in the last few days and I want to direct you to them because they usually say what I am thinking (or have written) with a lot more eloquence!
Documenting what I look like on a daily basis not only normalizes fat bodies for other viewers, it does the same for me regarding my own body. This is what my body looks like. That’s a good thing to know. This is what my body looks like in certain clothes. Clothes that look way different in the mirror at home. Clothes that look different when my husband takes a photo from his eye level versus my eye level versus crouching below. In this way, I learn my body from an outside perspective.
We do not see our bodies (our fat bodies, our otherwise-marginalized bodies) reflected in culture, in culture and media, or if we do we are without heads or identities, without agency, without ownership—a strangely shaped approximation of a person, a pile of vaguely anthropomorphic flesh. People who weigh what I weigh are supposed to be bedridden, or if not bedridden then unable to walk more than fifteen feet without needing to stop and gasp for air, or if not unable to walk more than fifteen feet then only able to do so while suffering pain in the knees that will surely blow out from under me at any moment, or if not with destroyed knees then only with vague discomfort even if it stems not from physical circumstances but from feeling the penetrating gaze of nearly everyone who sees me. The gaze is there because I am fat and I fail to follow the rules, fail to avoid attention, fail to be uncomfortable, fail to be silent and invisible.
It is okay if you are silent and would rather be invisible; it is okay if your knees hurt or if you other mobility issues; it is okay if you are different that I am. Because you deserve to be allowed to see and recognize bodies both familiar to you and strange, and to be seen and recognized first and foremost as a human being worthy of respect, no matter what you look like or how you feel or whether you’re sick or well. Maybe having seen my picture some folks won’t be so quick to condemn or assume when they see other bodies like mine; I can hope.
Why the pictures matter, Two Whole Cakes
So yeah. That’s why I post photos of me and my outfits, and these are the sort of things I think about on a daily basis. I’m glad to add my visibility to a growing hoard of bloggers demanding representation.