Browsing Tag

plus size fashion

Body Image

An Unedited Rant About Looking Into Fatshion’s Navel.

11 November, 2012

Remember when I used to blog regularly? I had a lot to tell the world, a desire to be heard and seen. Writing to an audience was a novelty, a gentle fluffing of my ego after writing to no one in particular for most of my life. Hardly anyone was blogging in Australia, people wanted to talk to me, and I got opportunities to do exciting things even though I’m not the most fashionable or the most tactful or well spoken.

After being ignored by fashion all of my life, it felt empowering to be able to source and critique what little fashion was available to me. I spent what money I could on clothes and accessories, never wanting to fall behind other bloggers. As well as being fat, there were other things for me to deal with like mental illness and resultant joblessness. Maybe buying clothes wasn’t the best priority, but it made me feel good. I finally felt like I was part of a clique that lead, instead of followed (or got lost).

I never considered myself a 100% fatshion blogger, because I used too many words and got angry frequently, never fully being palatable enough for brands to consider sponsoring me. I was snubbed on many occasions, and this became more and more apparent as the number of Australian fatshion bloggers swelled. Newer, more congenial personalities were favoured, and I wasn’t surprised. I was categorised as too political, and fell back, feeling miffed but knowing that ultimately it was great that more fat people were speaking up.

Other things worked against me – ongoing mental health issues and hospitalisation kept me from blogging success. Blogging became about networking, personality and (frustratingly) looks. All the things I was terrible at. All the reasons why I felt so at home on the internet right from the beginning in the 90s. Due to my inability to form “relationships” with brands, I had to buy all the new clothes instead of being sent them. I couldn’t financially keep up with that, I didn’t make money out of my blog so it wasn’t worth that kind of investment. Even the advertising network I was part of stopped sending me opportunities and sponsorship offers, and the ones I did take up actually didn’t benefit me financially at all!

Clearly, many things about blogging were turning out to be much like the regular world I struggled to fit in with. Popular bloggers were white, less fat than me, certainly more conventionally attractive, and bought/ were gifted clothes frequently. Events in Australia for plus size fashion started occurring and were in “major” fashion hubs like Sydney or Melbourne, far away from Brisbane and the original Axis of Fat (a group of my friends and I based in Brisbane, among the first fat activist bloggers in Australia). Even when there were events closer to home, I could rarely bring myself to go due to now crippling social phobia.

The focus of fatshion blogs was fashion and consumption thereof, with rarely a critical lens applied. I began thinking more and more about capitalism and how it had tried to reject fat & fashionable people, but now shaped how people were seeing this emerging group of fatshion bloggers. The media requests that came into my email inbox were largely about fashion, and not about medical malpractice and neglect of fat people (which, I propose, is the actual killer in the so called “obesity epidemic”). The mainstream media had cottoned on to the fat activist movement in the blogosphere but only wanted to see us talk about fluffy topics, rather than bullying, harassment, abuse of human rights and denial of health care.

I don’t know why I seem to be talking in the past tense, because this is now. This is why I struggle to chit chat about whichever plus size brand is releasing poorly made, questionably fashionable, dubiously manufactured garments this season. I am angry at capitalist systems that not only abuse fat people for not looking good in clothes, or not providing fashionable clothes, but also make us feel some kind of imperative to spend above and beyond what we have to make up for our fat bodies. I’m angry that blogging is now just a new funnel for PR and marketing people, and most bloggers rarely get paid what mainstream media workers do for providing the same service. Being paid in clothing is NOT being paid in cash money.

I’m disillusioned with this whole fat blogging game. If I blog about clothes, readers will come. If I blog about politics, I am rarely engaged. Mostly, I struggle to put words together these days. I am on a lot of medication to function as neurotypically as possible (for me), and my ability to write and read has deteriorated. Remember when I was a blogger? Am I still a blogger if no one reads this stuff? If I don’t get free clothes? If I challenge dominant ideas? If I can’t afford to keep up? If I am sick, fat, and unattractive?

For Sale

Raid my wardrobe!

8 September, 2012

Garments from my wardrobe.
“Wardrobe clear out – sizes 20-26 – if you love black you’ll love this!”


It’s spring and time for my annual wardrobe clear out! Please come check out my shop and see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.

Don’t forget you can take home a print (or two) or a necklace!

Fashion

Kayser, feel my fatty rage

30 August, 2010

I don’t normally do this sort of thing, but right now I’m mopping up tears of frustration. After searching for sheer black pantyhose for a long time I went into Myer the other day I was surprised to find that the Kayser Plus Resilience Pantyhose size chart would accommodate my legs. This afternoon I tried the stockings on and found that they laddered within seconds and were way too short for me.

Cue Angry Email Writing Natalie. Pacific Brands own Kayser (hey check out the “Body Slimming” product images on EVERY PAGE!) so I directed my strained rage to their feedback page.

Good afternoon

I’m writing to express my disappointment and distress at finding your Kayser Plus Resilience Pantyhose are neither plus sized or resilient. I bought a pair of these pantyhose to wear to an interstate fashion event tomorrow night, and tried them on to gauge how well they’d suit my outfit and found that not only was the sizing chart drastically incorrect, a long ladder had started to stretch from the thigh downwards.

I’m a plus size fashion blogger at definatalie.com and have long found it hard to find decent, attractive and reliable pantyhose from size 18 upwards, and when I found the Kayser Plus product I was surprised to see that the size range would fit me. Now that I understand the chart is misleading and the product is of very low quality, I’ll be sure to pass this information on to my readership of over 1,000 and my twitter following of over 2,000.

I’d be pleased to work with your buyers and manufacturers to find or develop a hosiery product that actually fits plus size bodies. There’s a market that isn’t just being ignored here – it’s being disenchanted. Right now, Pacific Brands is doing a woefully inadequate job of meeting market demand.

Until then, I’ll be shopping at We Love Colors for all my hosiery. They don’t do sheer pantyhose, but at least they fit and don’t ladder.

Regards
Natalie Perkins
definatalie.com

So let me follow through: Don’t buy Kayser “Plus” pantyhose unless you are under 5’5″ and are partial to the laddered stocking aesthetic. The waistband of these pantyhose rolled down when I managed to yank them up over my butt too. These hosiery are reportedly “Specially designed for the fuller figure” but it certainly seems there’s a limit to the fullness of figure that Kayser cater to.

The most distressing thing is that NONE of the hosiery Myer stock in their “Larger Figures” section will fit me if Kayser Plus don’t fit me. Nope, I checked all the size charts. Voodoo, Levante… um… Kayser… yeh, that was it. I’ll be slapping my keyboard with rage in Myer’s direction shortly too – when we were in the store, one of the staff made a “fatty” gesture when referring to a customer. She actually held her arms out either side of her body to imitate someone a lot fatter than her. One of the benefits of shopping online is never having to encounter douchebag staff like that (and Myer don’t really have a fabulous selection of plus size fashion in Brisbane stores anyway!)

So yep. Bare legs tomorrow night at the Chambord awards, and now you know why.

Brisbane, Fashion

Up on the hill

12 August, 2010

Photo of the long stretched afternoon shadows of Nick and I.
Wednesday was an Ekka (the Royal Show) holiday for most Briswegians and I wanted to get out of the house for a little while because working at home is great and all but sometimes you want to do stuff outside!

Photo of the Brisbane skyline from the top of Mt Coot-tha.
We went up to the top of Mt Coot-tha. That’s Brisbane! I wish you could see the river weaving through the buildings but the angle isn’t quite right I guess. Can we move the mountain a few kilometres that way please?

A photo of a bronze plate in a column with a map envgraved on it. The sun is long and there are long shadows of four people in the background.
It’d been raining in the morning but then suddenly this glorious day happened. It was pretty much a perfect Brisbane winter day, even a little bit colder than usual! (It’s a sub-tropical city… winter is very mild here.) There were lots of people visiting the look out, lucky it was such a nice afternoon!

Photo of me on top of Mt Coot-tha. I'm wearing a long purple top over a fringey purple skirt, a grey long cardigan and scarf with black tights and shoes.
I was wearing clothes, as I am wont to do. I had unknowingly coordinated in grey, black and purple.

Top – Evans
Skirt – DIY
Cardigan – Big W (thanks Mum!)
Scarf – made by Sheila, my other Mum!
Tights – City Chic
Shoes – Crocs
Sunnies – Karen Walker
Bag – Dangerfield

An awkward close up shot of me. My sunglasses have purple lenses and they match my tshirt!
Oh and I got a new hair cut! It’s very very short on the left side of my head! It’s ok, I asked for it to be that way :)

Photo of me on top of Mt Coot-tha. I'm wearing a long purple top over a fringey purple skirt, a grey long cardigan and scarf with black tights and shoes.
I made this skirt the same way I made the black fringed skirt but I doubled over the fringing to form loops!

Photo of a tangle of bushes with the bright sun and blue sky coming through the leaves and branches.
I love afternoon sun coming through trees, it’s the best.

Photo of dark trees against a blue cloudy sky with the sun glaring through the branches.

Fashion

Proof I wore clothes on particular days

9 August, 2010

Outfit photo of me wearing a white tank top with a black/ grey animal print pencil skirt and a pink cardigan.

Hello and welcome to my whimsified outfit photos take two! Please step into my Monday afternoon consisting of changeable winter weather, awkward poses and coffee with my mother.

Outfit photo of me wearing a white tank top with a black/ grey animal print pencil skirt and a pink cardigan. I'm walking towards the camera with my hands on my hips, smiling.
Allow me to demonstrate the items of clothing I selected for my body to wear today. Recently I’ve been having wardrobe dilemmas, and in years gone by I would resolve these dilemmas by going out and purchasing new clothes. Since I’ve committed myself to the next few years as a struggling artist, and especially since I do not like starving, I have chosen to forgo much of my spending on fashion and think a bit harder about combining things I own to create new outfits. It’s a challenge, indeed one of the delightful first world kind, but enough to make me feel mopey about posting new outfit photos because I don’t have much new to show off!

Tank – Sara
Cardigan – Sara
Skirt – Yours Clothing
Shoes – Evans
Necklace – Silver chain with a pendant from an Etsy seller whose name escapes me.
Sunglasses – Karen Walker

Macro photo of a bronze pendent that consists of a disc attached in the centre to an arm. The markings around the disc read "I love you - Not at all - Madly - Very much - A little"
I love this pendant. The disc spins, not very well, but if you hold it just right you can ask, “Do I love ________?” and let the disc guide your answer. The reverse has each segment in French. My favourite is “pas du tout” for “not at all”. I like to say it with an air of indignation.

A photo of my Mum, a slender white woman in her early 50s with short brown hair wearing my big squarish sunglasses. She's posing in a very avant garde way, like Lady Gaga.
I can’t not show you this photo of my mother looking adorable and posing in the Karen Walker sunglasses perhaps how Lady Gaga might.

Photo of Nick wearing my big squarish Karen Walker sunglasses, grinning and stroking his chin.
These sunnies make everyone look awesome.

Photo of me wearing the big squarish Karen Walker sunglasses.
Actually they barely conceal my own poor humour on this particular Sunday.

Outfit photo of me wearing a white t-shirt with a grey knee length full skirt and a buttoned grey and black striped cardigan.
Here’s what the rest of me wore on that day. We went out to have brunch at the Alibi Room.

T-shirt – Yours Clothing
Skirt – $2 at the Valley Markets in 2000.
Cardigan – I can’t quite remember
Shoes – Crocs
Bag – Dangerfield
Bangle – City Chic

Overhead shot of my arm, wearing a floral bangle, holding a pen drawing diagrams on a slip of paper with a cup of coffee to the left.
A working brunch. I have approximately a billion notepads but I leave them in strategic positions, none of those positions ever being my handbag.

Fashion

An OOTD experiment, including some amazing sunglasses

31 July, 2010

An overly edited photo of Natalie walking away down a wooden walkway, a sunflare blowing out most of the top third of the picture.
If you like checking out other people’s outfits, you’ll have come across this sort of photo before. Now it’s my turn to bastardise the whimsical outfit photo! (I’m not hating, I swear!) Yesterday was a day of huge amusement, with all the Lane Bryant/ #teamfance drama so I was feeling a bit playful and asked Nick to take a bunch of silly photos so I could run them through the whimsy machine (i.e: Photoshop).

An overly edited photo of Natalie wearing a pair of sunglasses with heavy black squarish frames.
I think my day started off on just the right note when there was a knock on the door and I got a big parcel from Kiki that included these AMAZEBORLZ Karen Walker sunglasses. I won them in her giveaway, can you believe it?! I feel shit hot in them, pardon my Français.

An overly edited photograph of a sun dappled walkway with the sun shining through tree branches. A bicyclist rides away from the viewer.
Nick and I managed to get out of the house in the afternoon to visit the Ron Mueck exhibition at GoMA. We’d made a date earlier in the week to see it Friday, but the morning drama threw a few spanners in our planning. We simply HAD to see the Mueck show, because it’s closing this weekend and neither of us had seen it yet.

An overly edited photograph of Natalie on the GoMA Brisbane lawn, the river and CBD in the background.
I’m not usually the type of blogger to post lots and lots of photos of my outfits. For me it’s strictly about documentary and visibility, because my camera’s not so great and in order to pull off the editorial style of other bloggers a lot of time and effort must be invested. (I’m also convinced I need a fancy DSLR for that kind of thing.) When I throw the camera at Nick and order him to snap a photo of what I’m wearing, we’re usually running late with no time to dilly dally! I’m also pretty shocking at posing, I just feel so awkward. And not lookbook.nu kind of awkward either, sadly.

A photograph of Natalie against a decorative brick wall. She wears a black bubble dress over black leggings with a gold/black pin striped blazer and sandal boots with buckles up the front.
Let’s come back from whimsy land so you can see what I’m actually wearing!

Bubble dress: Yours Clothing
Leggings: Asos Curve
Blazer: Ebay score for $11 (including postage!) from years ago.
Shoes: Evans
Sunglasses: Karen Walker Sir Bookies
Rose and circular gem ring: City Chic
Amber rectangular gem ring: Evans
Floral bangle: City Chic
Scarf in my bun: Gift from Sonya

Photograph of Natalie's right hand, she wears two large rings: one a 3D pink flower, the other an amber rectangular gem.

Photograph of Natalie's left hand, she wears a huge round black faceted gem ring and a plastic bangle with a floral print trapped inside.
And don’t you love these massive rings? I do. I would love nothing more than to have hands clad in grotesquely ginormous jewellery. (Oh yes, in posts I need to write in the future: How Fat Girls Don’t Always Have The Best Accessories, Because Things Like Rings and Bangles Are Usually Too Small.

So I hope you enjoyed this epic outfit post. I’ll endeavour to spend more time taking photos of what I wear but it does require a big time and effort investment. I honestly can’t hate on the bloggers who do edit their photos like this and post multiple shots. Lots of toil goes into it!

The Ron Mueck exhibition was wonderful, by the way. If you’re local to Brisbane you have until Sunday to get yourself to GoMA!

Fashion

The best argument against the evidence of democracy in fashion is a conversation with a fat woman

27 July, 2010

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the thrill of being involved in an arena of fashion I have never sought to enter. Threadbared have been discussing the issue of democratisation of fashion recently, and my invitation to cover fashion awards as a blogger could well be evident of this new democracy in action, but the thing is… I still don’t fit in. Literally. There is a spectrum of people that fashion caters to, and I do not fit within it, so even though I have been an invited blogger and my involvement and views were welcomed and paid for, I still felt like somewhat of an impostor. Let me flesh it out.

One sits quite comfortably within the spectrum of fashionability if one is young, slim, of average height, with no visible disabilities, socially well-connected, and can afford to look fashionable. The fashion industry caters to the spectrum and seeks to make people within it feel welcome and included. Fitting in is not just easy, it’s taken for granted, and that’s part of the privilege people within the spectrum enjoy. It may not be so apparent to those people that there are people outside the spectrum who might find it difficult.

As a tall plus sized woman I might think it’s fairly obvious that I sit well outside the spectrum that the fashion industry caters to. In my mind, it shouldn’t take a great deal of observation to see that I am sized out of straight size fashion. My clothes look different, for better or for worse, and my possibilities for self expression are narrow. However, I’ve been utterly amazed by the amount of people who deny that my access to fashionable garments is limited. It’s not usually vicious either! An acquaintance whose partner runs a vintage clothing store recommended I check it out, and when I mentioned that vintage clothing to accommodate a 52” bust was scarce, well, he was surprised. Those who are catered to by fashion assume that pretty much everyone has the same degree of access – and that’s simply not the case.

Those outside the spectrum on the fringes are Othered and essentially excluded from enjoying the benefits of existing within the spectrum: for those with a disability, clothes may fit poorly or inhibit movement; garments could well be out of one’s price range; language, even a strong accent, may be a barrier to establishing social networks; or one may simply just not fit into fashionable garments due to being too tall/ short, plus sized/ petite. To many operating from within the spectrum of fashion, they might not be aware that many are just not comfortable socialising within the spectrum due to occupying the space of The Other.

Being othered by fashion affects one’s chances of networking further within the fashionable spectrum and in most everyday social contexts too, beyond complaints of clothes not fitting and being too expensive. If fashionable garments are not available, one has to make do with what is available. As a fat lady, I’m painfully aware that I have a handful of clothing options in Australia and online options in the UK and US. Plus size fashion usually lingers a couple of seasons behind the local fashion industry, so the outfits I roll up to events in are likely to draw a few questionable glances, and let’s be honest, a bit of “OMG what is she wearing!“. And that’s what I’m used to. It doesn’t make me feel welcome or included – it makes me feel like I oughtn’t be there. So by not ticking many boxes that gain me inclusion within the fashion industry I’m disadvantaged, but by making do with what is available and still turning up – I attract more derision which in turn makes me feel even more of a fraud! Many may choose not to get to know me further just because what I wear doesn’t meet a fashionable standard, or because my body doesn’t display clothes in a fashionable way.

It might be true that human beings make sense of the world by exercising judgment and grouping human beings together by characteristic, but that doesn’t mean it’s ideal or helps contribute to a better, more inclusive world. Fashion has a long way to go before it is democratised. It’d be great if fat people could wear amazing clothes, shit it’d be a good start if my husband could find a collared business shirt that fit his neck! While some fashion industry participants might be ignorant of barriers to involvement, I know a lot of the decisions leading to othering are financial too. I think we need to talk about that, as a community of human beings that are required by social convention to be clothed, because if we’re going to have standards just so human beings on the fringe can be looked down on – that’s pretty horrific and unjust. By blogging about the problematic parts I hope to contribute to a wider discussion of the issues, because I see democratisation as a pretty nice goal – but it’s certainly not happening right now just because a couple of bloggers sat in the front row of a runway show.

And at the end of the day – I still don’t have anything fashionable enough to wear to the Chambord Shine finals. It’s pretty bloody frustrating and upsetting.