You can’t bully me out of my skinny jeans

If you follow me on twitter or tumblr you might know that one of my photos was submitted to a hateful and fatphobic (transphobic, ageist, etc etc) facebook group: “There’s a weight limit on leggings & skinny jeans.” I have posted photos of myself on the internet for years, and have copped a huge variety of flack (but WAY more compliments!) So I wasn’t really upset that someone had taken a photo I had posted to an outfit website, and submitted it to this nasty group, after all it was just a matter of time – and who knows, more of my photos could be posted in any number of bigotry-filled hideyholes online. I have heard so many jabs at my fatness that insults just sound like caricatures of other insults these days, but for many other people it is really upsetting and distressing.

Firstly, you know how I feel about body shame that is dressed up as fashion advice. It’s bogus. No one should be harassed, mocked or attacked for wearing clothes (or NOT wearing clothes). There is absolutely no weight limit on leggings or skinny jeans. There is, however, an abundance of people who are falling into a trap of being way too invested in what other people do, and wear. Why do they care so much? Probably because it gives them a sense of being better than other people, but that is a terrible foundation to build one’s self esteem upon. It’s a foundation that benefits business, not people, and it suits the beauty, fashion and weight loss industries to have every day people like you and I reinforcing arbitrary beauty standards that help shift units so people can feel better about themselves by putting other people down, therefore reinforcing arbitrary beauty standards (stop me before I get sucked into this infinite loop here guys).

I reject those arbitrary standards. I reject the imaginary line between skinny and fat, the line that’s a size 6 for some people and a size 14 for others. And if you’re friends with a fat person, they lose 4 imaginary dress sizes on the basis of that friendship (“Oh honey, you’re not fat! Don’t be so mean to yourself!”). I reject the beauty ideal. I reject the idea of the “flattering outfit”. I reject the gender binary. I reject being ladylike. These standards are not nobel things to uphold – they trap us, and constrict us. They push us into target markets so we can be sold things more easily. And while I can say with 150% gusto that I reject these things, I can’t help but toe the line sometimes without even realising. Societal conditioning is that strong, it’s that pervasive.

So when someone makes fun of me for: being fat, wearing “unflattering” clothes, looking like a man, being a bitch, having acne, not being polite or gracious, wearing too little perfume, wearing too much perfume, having gunk in my eye, wearing a t-shirt that shows my belly when I raise my arm, perspiring a lot or laughing too loudly… It’s totally personal, but then again, it totally isn’t. We all have a variety of unique and personal characteristics, and they might read a little differently depending on where you live, what you look like, how much you earn, the colour of your skin or what gender you are, but at the end of the day those criticisms are about hemming you in and disempowering you. I can’t even get angry at people who insult me anymore because I know most of us are conditioned to think this way.

I know for a FACT, despite the protestations in this particular facebook group, that seeing a fat person in leggings or skinny jeans will not cause injury. I’ve read quite a few comments from members who seem personally insulted when they see someone wearing something they don’t agree with. This is hyperbole. This is like when Mr. Burns (from the Simpsons) puts his arms in the air and flails them about. I like to imagine these people doing the Mr. Burns flail. It’s that comical to me. So, when I discovered the person who submitted my photograph to this group (please note, it’s NOT the group owner) I wrote her a message and I didn’t rip her a new arsehole. I just couldn’t, you know? Here’s what I wrote:

Congratulations for contributing to girl on girl hate by contributing to a fatphobic and anti-woman facebook group. I don’t have anything against you personally for submitting my photo, but I encourage you to look at yours and other women’s bodies more positively. For your own benefit.

I’m still going to wear skinny jeans and tights, because there isn’t actually a weight limit and I am fairly impervious to body shame these days. I don’t know if you’ve heard of body acceptance, or fat acceptance, but I’m an active participant within the movement and I invite you to come check out some blogs and open your mind to an existence where you are free to love your body, instead of feeling ashamed of it.

I don’t want to attack you, because body negativity is encouraged in our society and it’s pretty much the norm to make fun of people to make ourselves feel better. Funny thing is, it doesn’t work like that. I could call you any name under the sun, and you’d only come back at me with more names, and none of us would get anywhere. For sisterhood, for solidarity, I wanted to reach out to you.

Cheerio!
Natalie

I am so privileged to have so many supporters, and I received a metric buttload of messages yesterday from so many wonderful people who reported the group, and the use of my photograph. I can’t help but feel sad for other people who have had their photo posted without permission, who don’t have so many people reporting the misuse of their images. I tried to go through and report as many as I could, and I encourage you to do the same. I’m not linking to the group, however, just because I don’t want to give it too much publicity.

Today I discovered that my photograph had been taken down by facebook but there are hundreds of other photos still up. I’m grateful that facebook actually took notice of the literal army of people who reported my photograph on my behalf, but it’s still sad that the group is still active. I don’t know the best way to combat this kind of harmful attitude, but I think discussion plays a big role. That’s why I wrote a note to the person who submitted my photograph, and that’s why I’m writing this blog entry. I want to contribute to productive discussion, even though a part of me wants to call them giant dirt-sucking arseholes.

Let me promise you, and me, one thing. I will NEVER stop being visible, online and offline because not only do I have a right to visibility, but when I make myself and my fatness visible I make this personal. I get the impression that members of this group don’t think the people in the photos they submit are real, but they are. And they write messages and blog posts, and have the support of the Fat-o-sphere as well as other allies, friends and family.

323 comments

  1. hey! i think that side bangs would looks really good on you! your definately gorgeous, dont let people get you down!

  2. You're gorgeous Natalie! Beautiful inside and out. If the world had more people who loved themselves like you do, it would be a much more pleasant place to live in. Unfortuantely we live in an ugly world, but humanity makes it this way. We are so focused on how others view us, we forget to accept ourselves and love ourselves.

  3. I am profusely offended by fat people. That makes me a minority, since I am the only one I know, and being a minority means I am a victim, and being a victim..let's see…oh yes, the goverment sure owes me MONEY! Get it?

  4. i think she looks AWESOME in that whole outfit. You know it doesnt matter how you look on the outside it matters what’s on the inside. She is pretty and she CAN wear skinny jeans. She looks BEAUTIFUL in them(:

  5. After spending the last week agonizing about the 15 pounds I gained this year (largely attributed to stress due to my first year as a New York City public school teacher) I came across your page. With some consideration I realized that I do not, in fact, feel uncomfortable in my skin or feel that I look bad at my current weight. Rather, my self criticism stemmed so largely from imposed societal constructs and the idea that a size 4 is thin but a size 8 is “plus size” according to Marie Claire (ridiculous). I commend your vision and appreciate your confidence and wish that more women were focused on taking care of the bodies they were given rather than mutilating ourselves to fit unrealistic standards.

  6. After spending the last week agonizing about the 15 pounds I gained this year (largely attributed to stress due to my first year as a New York City public school teacher) I came across your page. With some consideration I realized that I do not, in fact, feel uncomfortable in my skin or feel that I look bad at my current weight. Rather, my self criticism stemmed so largely from imposed societal constructs and the idea that a size 4 is thin but a size 8 is “plus size” according to Marie Claire (ridiculous). I commend your vision and appreciate your confidence and wish that more women were focused on taking care of the bodies they were given rather than mutilating ourselves to fit unrealistic standards.

  7. Thank you for your blog, and for wearing ‘skinny’ jeans no matter what. I’m rocking mine today in solidarity. You’re wonderful, and your blog is awesome. xoxo -Ruby V.

  8. You go girl…I love your outfit…i wish i had the confidence you do to wear that stuff…at my school you have to be skinny to dress nice and i hate it:/ I think i am gonna wear something nice Tomorrow just to prove to the girls at my school that being fat can have its Benifits:)

  9. oh hush. here this guy is going out on a limb and saying “hey. you know what? screw the stereotypical hatred of curvy women” and he’s getting bashed. my god you can say just about anything and SOMEONE will find it offensive, won’t they.

  10. Thanks Natalie, I completely agree with everything you’ve said. I do not follow fashion trends because they, just like body image, are a money making sham. taste, style, the perfect body image are constructed ideals. yes they are arbitrary! even though i believed this i still laughed (in my own head) at large people wearing leggings. I feel so guilty for this, now I can’t believe i did it. thank you for the shake up!

  11. I just randomly stumbled on this post and haven’t read anything else yet, but YOU ARE MY HERO!! You’re beautiful and I love that you wrote this. Keep on rocking those skinny jeans, you look fab.

  12. Something else that bothers me about bigoted individuals is that they don’t think about other causes to obesity other than that the person must eat too much and exercise too little. So, tell me, all of you who are so incredibly smart, exactly why is that? Why does someone eat too much and exercise too little, if that is indeed the only reason that someone could be heavy. You know, I’d have to say that yes, I do fall into that category. I do eat too much (of the wrong thing, not in general for the most part) and exercise too little. I have problem ankles which have always made it hard for me to exercise, even when I was slender. Food became an escape for me, however, when sexual abuse caused me to experience shame for my body. Being slender and attractive meant bad things happened. So I did what I had to do. I gained weight and stopped taking care of myself, because that was how you stopped the bad stuff. In 8th grade, I was put on a diet at the insistence of my mother and I lost. Then I was sexually harrassed by several of the boys in my school. I had been taught not to speak up, not to protest, so I was an easy target. That summer, I put on 35 pounds. Any time I started to lose weight and got any kind of “compliment”, I would immediately gain again. And every time I lost, I attracted bad stuff to me. I didn’t realize that the conditioning I’d received as a child just seemed to get the baddies to gravitate to me. Now, at 35, I’m healed. It took me years to get here. I’m still heavy. But now, bad, easy foods (normally fast food) are an addictive habit. I’m slowly changing, cutting out unhealthy foods and substituting healthy foods, and I’m trying not to obsess over my weight. I’m trying to shut out the world’s view of me and only listen to God’s love for me. I always thought if I lost weight, I would never know if the guy I attracted liked me for me or for my body. I never thought I’d meet someone while I was heavy. But I did. He’s amazingly wonderful. He accepts me for me. He thinks I’m beautiful just as I am. He’s a youth pastor, and he just radiates God’s love. It’s unconditional. We are both trying to get healthy, because we want to be around for a long time, and my weight and the stress I carried for so many years have caused health issues, but I can’t believe how blessed I am. God is so good! Praise the Lord! Now, to get on with my further points: metabolism issues, diseases, circumstance, abuse, genetics, etc. There are so many things that can cause a person to be overweight or even to just be more prone to being overweight than others. So choose your words wisely. Be more open-minded. And then speak, because you may regret your words, especially if they only help cause a girl who has been told her entire life that she’s worthless by men to feel even worse. Maybe try being a light in someone’s life, rather than a darkness, a poison. And when the time comes for your words to be judged, you can hold your head up proudly and not hide YOUR head in shame.

  13. you are one in a very VERYYYYY few group of people who are naturally fat. dont act like most fat people are naturally so; the percentage of them is ridiculously outweighed by the unnaturally fat ones.

    it also makes skinny people feel bad when most of them are natural but do I hear anyone but them complain? No.

  14. No, actually, in the United States of America, it’s an unholy sin to do so much as call a fat women fat, but it’s quite encouraged to tease, belittle, and all-out attack slimmer women, even guys! The double standards are truly sickening.
    and please, very VERY few fat people are naturally fat. don’t give me that “oh they can only be thin if they starve themselves” bullcrap. it’s called healthy eating and an active lifestyle. it’s hard but not impossible and it’s worth it.

  15. I know the media has brainwashed you intot hinking excess fat is beautiful and healthy, but sorry- IT ISN’T. Obesity is unhealthy and fat rolls that got there by not having an active lifestyle consistently and healthy eating are not attractive, they’re YOUR fault and no one else.s

    and yes technically they can wear whatever- but some of us prefer modesty, class, and to dress as though we love and respect out bodies.

  16. But that’s exactly what’s being said here. Of course there’s no such thing as ‘naturally fat’ – though there are those who are naturally predisposed to weight gain much more than others. You’ll find those people are often also naturally predisposed to have much more difficulty than others when it comes to losing that weight.

    Sometimes ‘healthy eating and an active lifestyle’ to the point of losing enough weight is impossible without putting your life on hold for a 6 months and having 2-3 hour daily gym sessions with expensive nutritionists.

    Also how is it relevant that slimmer people also get attacked? Does that mean it’s justifiable to attack people who are overweight? No. Does it mean people are arseholes? Yes. Move on.

  17. i am trying to learn to not give a shit what people think of me anymore.. and despite being on the more petite side.. this post definitley helped. i am only 16 and have spent the past 5 years of my life in a all girls school. i blame it for much of self-conciousness because there is nothing worse than walking into school everyday knowing that everyone is judging you, noticing every little change you make. and now im trying to overcome it… but i think the key step in not giving a shit about what people think of you is to not pass judgement on other people.

  18. Just found this post via Ravelry, and just wanted to say how awesome and beautiful you are. Thanks for having the courage, and classiness to make that poster think, and many others.

    CHEERS!!!! Marissa

  19. im about the same size as you and i just bought some skinny jeans, i think wearing baggy clothes makes people look bigger than they actually are. alot of guys like curves so we should show them off!

  20. hopefully this won’t be completely unhelpful. Firstly I think you are one of the better-looking people I’ve seen wear skinny jeans (and sincerely hotter than I would be given that I think my body is oddly-shaped) even though as you mentioned its not even about whether or not other people think you look good but whether or not you feel like wearing it. Your post made me think because I think my body (despite being small) is oddly shaped so I have all these rules: square or v-necks only (because I think my face is round so would never wear a round neck), only high waisted flared/bootcut/wide-leg pants (because I am pear-shaped and think my butt, stomach and hips poke out too much – I haven’t bought jeans in over a year because all the stores were doing skinny and I truly believe I look ugly in them), jackets/cardigans with the middle buttons always done up (so that it looks like I have a waist instead of being square shaped), darker colours on the bottom with lighter on top, never horizontal stripes, never flats (legs are too short), never skirts or shorts above the knee (thighs are too round), never not put on a headband (my hair is short and I think I look too boyish without one – and why looking like a boy should be a bad thing in my subconscious is something I admit I can’t answer) … the list goes on. I’m not confident enough to let go of these rules and break them. I love the idea of gender neutrality, of wearing what you feel like … and I am a big fan of what you are writing here. It’s pathetic when someone within the “socially acceptable who cares if its healthy or not” BMI struggles with body image and yet is faced with such a brilliant example of a glowing, creative, empowered human being. Anyway hopefully if I keep surrounding myself with positive role models like you I’ll learn to accept myself the way I am and ignore what society tells me I should be. In fact I’m going to try really hard to not weigh myself and keep focusing on things like eating more vegetables, drinking more water, stretching, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to enjoy moving my body and what it is capable of. I hate it that society presents us with only one acceptable body type.

  21. It doesn’t matter what you wear at ur size but..skinny jeans do not look good on you

  22. an intelligent and inspiring post. people are tremendously, unnecessarily stupid and unkind. it is amazing to come across someone as strong as you, who can respond with such dignity to such unprovoked spite.

    in my opinion there is nothing less attractive than an ugly personality.

  23. obviously never seen any of the classic art works from centuries gone by? So sad that they are just living in the little bubble that society has created for them which says OMG FAT = EXTREME BAD.

  24. I think you look fantastic in this outfit. You look a lot better than me in Skinny jeans, and I am not a plus sized girl. They don’t compliment my body shape at all, but I still wear them.

  25. Agreed. I am naturally very thin, and I have gone through– and still sometimes go through– the same things you described. *shrug* I guess that’s people for you… but people can be nice and kind, too. Guess we’re just crazy that way. :P

  26. People who make fun of skinny jeans are lemmings who can’t believe their stupid flares/bootcuts/bellbottoms weren’t the pinnacle of human achievement when it came to jeans. These 20 something year olds are all just pissed that they spent their high school years wearing and looking at women in bootcut jeans, rather than the clearly sexier skinny jeans. These people are in denial that they wore clothes that made them look worse at a time when their bodies were the best they could ever hope to be. I too am personally pissed that I spent my entire teenage years hanging curtains around my knees, when i could’ve been displaying my thin lithe ankles and cute shoes.

  27. I randomly found this entry, and seriously, now you’re like my role model.
    I’m actually in a “normal” weight range, but I always have feel disgusting. I don’t wear many tight or pretty clothes because I feel like they don’t suit me and that I look ugly.
    I admire you so much for the confidence that you have and how you managed this situation with that immature and disrespectful people, I wish one day I can love myself too. And you look completely amazing on your outfit <3

  28. I randomly found this entry, and seriously, now you’re like my role model.
    I’m actually in a “normal” weight range, but I always have feel disgusting. I don’t wear many tight or pretty clothes because I feel like they don’t suit me and that I look ugly.
    I admire you so much for the confidence that you have and how you managed this situation with that immature and disrespectful people, I wish one day I can love myself too. And you look completely amazing on your outfit <3

  29. but… you look so cute in those skinnys?

    i think when you have extra weight (as I do!) wearing those which look as though they’ve taken 2 hours to paint on are not flattering on anyone but sticks (i see size 4 girls walking around I still find them unnattractive.)

    Dressing for your size is important (when you’re a certain size, it’s difficult to look as good because they’re just not meant to be worn by anyone but a size 2) but I totally think you rock those skinnies!!

  30. and also – If you think you look good, then who cares what others think!?
    My comment was a tad condescending towards your post, but I hope you know what I meant by it.

  31. Hi, just wanted to say that you’re a fantastic individual. Avoiding the compulsion to sling more nasty hateful words back at folks like that shows incredible restraint. Society’s attitude towards body acceptance is soul-crushingly depressing; much respect for rising above it and living your life as you choose.

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  33. Natalie,
    You look fab! You really do. I’m a size 14 and I have skinny jeans heck I even have big thighs and hips but a small waist i’ve been like that since I was a skinny teen many years ago. It’s just a natural thing on me. I really don’t care what people say I did see that group and was angered. Suddenly a Facebook Group Dictates who can and cannot wear skinny jeans? Give me a break! Hopefully they will grow up soon and realize no one is perfect we are who we are. What they did was really cruel but you were really mature about it so kudos to you. You go girl!

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  35. hey natalie, 
    i came across your site cos i was looking for a recipe for sweet potato and lentil patties! i don’t know how i got here, but i have really enjoyed checking out your site. I am SOO encouraged by your wit, intelligence and awareness of how societal pressures affect us every day. I am a youth health worker and see it so much with kids these days- i know its always been around but it really does seem worse.
    Anyway, i just wanted to say you go girl. you’re super smart and interesting and i couldn’t give a shit what you look like. as long as you are a nice person and you are true to yourself.
    keep smiling!
    claire

  36. I just found your blog tonight and I was wondering – where did you find those skinny jeans? I live in a shopping hell hole and rely on online shopping. I’d love to get me some rockin skinny jeans. 

  37. Hello, I just discovered your blog through Fat Shopaholic and I have been browsing through it a lot. I agree with many of the people who read your blog. I applaud the strength in your voice and your beliefs. Its so hard to truly understand yourself, forget about being yourself. I love your art, especially your new portraits of the fashion ladies. I think you look great in skinny jeans and everything you put on, because you have a sense of style. 
    I’m sorry your picture was taken and used negatively, I can imagine the feeling. I would feel anxious and paranoid, you on the other hand..AWESOME reaction. fuck yes! 
    I hope everything is going well in Australia. 

    cheers,
    Nat :), your new admirer.
    (I draw as well…not as awesome  as you..but thats what i use my blog for. If you’re ever bored, check it out, and I hope you like it.)

  38. You go GIRL! This is the best article I’ve read all week. Keep writing encouraging words to those who need them and continue to educate the naive.

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