Fashion

Megaherzzz Clothing Swap, and Being Fat in Brisbane.

16 July, 2011

I attended the 4zzz Megaherzzz Clothing Swap today, and it was a little bittersweet finally getting to hang around such rad people before I move down the coast. Community is so important to me, but dealing with social anxiety is a huge barrier so I’ve found my community online over the past decade. I’ve wanted to connect with local feminists and activists recently but today was my first real attempt! This has only firmed my resolve to do more community stuff when I go down the Gold Coast.

A photo of a room full of people moving about and holding up clothes that are piled on tables.

A photo of Kat holding up a cream dress, there's a board full of colourful jewellery just in front of her too.

A photo of Ava Savage (I think! Let me know if I've got your name wrong!) holding jeans up amidst the clothing swap bustle.

A clothes hanger full of jackets and coats in different fabrics and textures.

A pair of pink/ orange opal looking plastic earrings on the jewellery board.

I took the opportunity to do a massive wardrobe purge for the swap, and brought along a lot of plus size clothing. I tried to get the word out on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook and to encourage more plus size people to come along but there weren’t many of us! I was happy to pass my clothes on to other people without looking for swaps, because I am minimising in preparation for the move, but I wished there were more people there I could have given my clothes to. (All the unclaimed clothes are going to Lifeline so at least they will be getting an influx of my quality plus sized clothing!)

Today reminded me again that I have a body that has been sidelined by our culture. If you wear plus sized clothing, you get closed out of a lot of spaces. Physically, medically, romantically, in your career, and in terms of fashion. I love the idea of clothing swaps but have experienced just how difficult it is to encourage fat people to take part and I think it has a lot to do with feeling that we’re not welcome and that there will be nothing available for us. In the future I would love to help organise swapping events that cater specifically to people who wear plus size clothing. In addition to providing a space where people will feel like they know they can swap clothes in their size, it would also be a more comfortable space. Even though I wasn’t swapping today, I did pick through the piles of clothing and found little for me. To be fat is to take up space, and when you’re not involved you can feel like you’re in the way, and that’s another barrier for fat people when it comes to clothes swap events.

My experience today was not an isolated one, and I think if we can develop a strong sense of local community amongst feminists, activists, women and fat people, we can work together to make more comfortable, resourceful and meaningful spaces. I see some fabulous fat activist communities working together to build resources for clothing and swapping in the USA particularly, and pine for that kind of community here in Australia, particularly in Brisbane. Even so, I do have a network of supportive fat activists and friends here in this city and I know I will grieve that when I move.

Oh and here’s what Zoe and I wore today, representing the fat femmes of Brisbane!

An outfit photo of Zoe, fat and pale skinned, wearing a short black dress with a lace collar, grey cardigan, purple tights and floral Doc Martens. She has a hand in her hair and looks down, very lookbook.nu!

An outfit photo of me, fat and pale skinned with short blonde swoopy hair, wearing a black velvet long top with a grey tie dye maxi skirt knotted over black tights with black sandals.

Top: New Look
Skirt: Made by me
Tights: We Love Colours
Sandals: Spendless
Necklace: Made by me
Bag: Dangerfield

We walked into a few boutiques in Fortitude Valley and I felt like my imposter feelings were magnified. I looked at accessories and even the rings and bangles didn’t fit me. The shop assistants either glared or crowded around us asking if Zoe and I were hairdressers because of our “edgy hair”. One touched my tattoo, actually tracing around it with her finger. It was not a nice feeling.

It just makes me feel even more motivated to create spaces that make people feel good and not isolated or ostracised! Can I build a kick arse, supportive, size friendly community down the Gold Coast? Are you living on the Gold Coast? Do you crave this like I do? Gosh, please get in touch!

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  • Sonya

    I’m rather creeped out that someone felt they could touch your tattoo/back without asking. I’ve had a creepy dude in a pub do it to me once, and it was very much not a nice feeling. Ugh. Meant to say, I love love loved your skirt. And both of your hairs — which you both already know! :D Also, the dress is mega short on Binny, but it fits! I think I’m gonna get her wearing it as a top, or as a tunic with leggings.

  • Bethany Rutter

    WOW I love your skirt! Seriously, it’s the best thing I’ve seen in ages. Congrats for having the skillz to make it yourself!

  • I hope Cam heard about this.

  • I’m about to move (back) to Hervey Bay – at the end of the year – and would love to find/create a community of fabulous fatties where I’m NOT feeling like the token fat chick. There definitely isn’t that kind of community where I live now (Country NSW). I hope I can find it; and if not I hope I’ll be able to create it.

  • I posted about it on tumblr and twitter a few times, but I don’t think I specifically directed it in her direction, eep!

  • Ahh I would love to create a Queensland collective with branches in different regions. How awesome would that be?

  • Feel free to send me whatever, especially dresses. :P I’ve never thought to attend a clothes swap. What a cool idea. Must organise one in my area. 

  • You should be really proud of yourself for going to the event Natalie – it can be daunting but you did it! Reading the rest of the post did make me feel sad – as you can imagine, a lot of us know exactly that feeling of isolation and lack of comfort even in feminist spaces. I think it would be great if you organised something and got a little Brisbane community together – so many of us understand your feelings so would jump at the chance to get to hang out with women with the same experiences. x

  • Ooo, I’m there in your photos! I was too shy/anxious to say hello, but I really wanted to tell you I think you’re fabulous. 

  • Shelby Marie Skumanich

    So, I’ve been following your blog for awhile and I wanted to let you know that those shoes, the cage shoes, are so incredible. I wouldn’t have given them a second thought when I saw them in a store recently but I thought back to how awesome they look on you, who’s body looks more like mine than those I was seeing them on and I was like “Yeah, I’m going to buy these.”

    They are the best summer shoes I own and I ended up getting two pairs. Thank you for rocking them so fiercely.

  • I admit my attraction to the shoes before I put them on was strictly because I loved how they looked like the kind of orthotic footwear you find in chemists and stuff. I really like “ugly” things and when I put them on and discovered they fit my wide foot I was so happy!

    I’m so glad you like your shoes too. Nice shoes that fit are so happy making!

  • Oh I was looking out for you! I’m glad you came, did you find anything awesome?

  • I wish I lived nearby a place that had clothing swaps at all – much less plus-size ones. It seems all of the fun stuff goes on on the coasts. I hope you do make a plus-sized swap when you move. It sounds like it will be appreciated.

  • Moxiegrit

    Your outfit is HOT! I love that skirt!

  • Lisa

    Hey Natalie

    I live on the Gold Coast and would love a plus size clothing swap. I do love to op-shop but it’s just plain daunting the volume of clothes I’ve got to go through in order to find plus size items.

    I don’t know of any size friendly communities here on the Coast but there very may well be. It’s a fabulous idea either way. I think that any environment that offers body positive, or even body neutral messages is really needed.

    Good luck with the move.

  • Zoe

    I had a great time with you and Cat, but I definitely felt a bit like an interloper to be honest – I saw that a couple of my things were taken, which was great, but it was really hard to see if there was anything that might have been super-baggy or surprisingly stretchy or whatever. I do love the skirt I got from you though, thank you! 

    Also jfc the staff in Principessa were bloody awful. :/

  • It completely exhausted me, but I’m glad I went too. :) It felt good to be among such lovely people and I ended up with a handfull of things that I really love (including my new favourite cardigan: http://bit.ly/r4TukU ). 

  • I was extremely lucky to go to the Fatshion! Turn to the Left clothes swap and the Fat Girl Flea while I was in the US, and it was amazing – it was a completely different feeling to know that there would be clothes that fit me, that this event is specifically for *bodies like mine*.

    We’re planning a plus-size clothes swap in Melbourne on Sunday 11 September – I know it’s a couple of states away, but hey…at least it’s the same country?  Deets are here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=142315479177096

  • I’m glad it went well! I couldn’t attend, being in SF, but I did deposit a pile of clothing (I think I recognize one in the photos, haha). We did want to get more plus-size rep but asides from you I didn’t know who else to ask!

  • I want that skirt you’re wearing!  However did you make it?

  • I bought the fabric from ebay, and it was enough to go around my waist and then a little bit. I measured how long I wanted it and chopped the excess off leaving me with a square-ish shape. I sewed  up the longest side (the length) and that became the back seam. Then I turned over one end and sewed an elastic casing, then put the elastic through!

    Because I used a stretch fabric I didn’t bother with a hem. Super simple skirt! Voila :D

  • drskll

    that chick holding up those jeans in that 3rd pic (I think).. is seriously f**king gorgeous; absolutely stunning..

  • Munmun Nishi

    thanks

    Megaherzzz Clothing Swap, and Being Fat in Brisbane.

  • Munmun Nishi

    Megaherzzz Clothing Swap, and Being Fat in Brisbane.

    Not bad!

    Really Awesome Dress for Fat Women.

    You look very gorgeous.I saw your all dress style that your style is excellent but is too very fat.Okay no problem …Thanks for sharing ……………

    Munmun Nishi >>>>>>>>

    Plus Size Clothing Gold Coast