A collage of all the outfit photos from Fa(t)shion February. Down the bottom is the definatalie.com logo and 'Fa(t)shion February 2011'.

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.

Fa(t)shion February; Conflicting Urges Around Documentation, The Rotund.

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.

and

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.

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  • http://twitter.com/MishyLane Mishy Lane

    “…a strangely shaped approximation of a person, a pile of vaguely anthropomorphic flesh.”

    Wow. Amazing writitng Natalie. This has really made me think. Kudos on the International Women’s Day web site as well darling x

  • http://www.definatalie.com definatalie

    That quote there is from Lesley who is indeed an INCREDIBLE writer!!

  • Stephania

    Good post Natalie! I dont know if you’ve been watching Glee lately, and I’m wondering if you have what you’ve thought about it. Mainly about one of the main male characters who seems to be head over heels in love with the girl who is fat. I watch it and I think it’s great, because it’s normalising that a fat girl can be sexy in another person’s eyes (who doesnt neccessarily have to be fat themselves) and there’s nothing wrong with that. AND that the fat girl doesnt always have to appear in shows as the desperate-for-a-date fat girl, instead this fat girl has sass, empowerment and doesnt need the attention of one of the hot, muscular guys to feel good.
    I just wondered what you or others felt about this? I enjoy hearing different people’s perspectives on things like this.

  • Memily

    Yes and yes and yes. (I STILL WANNA STEAL THAT DRESS)

  • http://sugercoatit.blogspot.com Melissa Walker Horn

    Great post Natalie. Plus links to check out. A win/win in my book. I’ve been loving all the outfit photos. ESPECIALLY the day to day ones. Your day to day is so much more fun than my business’y type one. Envious!!

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