So yesterday I wrote about how much hassle a simple shopping trip to buy new office clothes was. Today is where I write about why my shopping trip can be analysed in a feminist way.
For starters there’s the fact that women like it or not are judged by wider society according to their body shape. In our current climate Fat = BAD and Thin= GOOD. In fact it isn’t just thin but skeletal. We don’t praise people’s natural beauty or their talents, personality of intelligence, we judge them according to their bodies. And this judgement is particularly harsh when it comes to clothes and fashion. This judgement means that eating disorders are on the rise and in a world where people are dying of starvation and poverty, in the richer west women are encouraged to starve themselves, to not eat to avoid the ‘temptations’ of the privilege of food. Before we get into this if you haven’t read Kate Hardings post on Shapely Prose, ‘Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy?’ go read it. It’s ok, I’ll wait. Also add Shapely Prose to your blog feed.
Ok. In yesterdays post I talked about the fact that I’m fat. Not in a negative way but as a statement of fact. I am larger than average, I have big boobs, big hips, big thighs, and a big tummy. What I didn’t mention (thought the bulimia may have given the game away) is just how unbelievably suicidally(and I’m not using that word lightly) awful being fat makes me feel. I quite literally hate myself. So clothes shopping is a fricking nightmare.
Renee at Womanist Musings has talked many times about acceptable bodies in Society (I’m really sorry Renee I couldn’t find the specific link I meant!!) from a racial point of view, and I think she’s absolutely spot on. The same thing applies when it comes to fat- the only acceptable bodies in our society are the thin ones. Fat women have no place. Fat men have less of a place, but fat women are written out or are objects of derision. When women like Beth Ditto get naked on the cover of NME, to make a point about how fat women are treated, whilst there was a lot of positive (and mostly feminist) response, there was also an awful lot of ‘ewww look at the fat minger ewww and she didn’t even shave her pits’ shite going on too. I won’t link to any of it, because well quite frankly it’s hate speech and I’ll have no part of that ta.
The ‘Obesity Epidemic’ is part of the same fat hatred problem- levels of obesity as far as I have read are actually no higher than 30 years ago (check out Junkfood Science for some myth debunking). The problem is society keeps moving the goalposts on what is considered obese. The fact that it is incredibly difficult to purchase clothes over a size 16 on the high street merely hammers home the simple fact that in this society, fat women are considered a dangerous threat. After all, we all know having fat friends will make you fat and we wouldn’t want any of you to die now would we?
It’s hard in the face of so much fat hatred, it’s hard to remember that size is a number, weight is an arbitrary figure and realistically speaking none of it actually matters that much, providing your healthy. I wish I had a solution to this shit- and I have a bit of one. Don’t support shops and businesses that don’t stock a decent range of sizes, don’t spend your hard earned money supporting businesses that promote fat hatred and self hatred and that don’t bother to cut clothes differently according to size. Don’t buy from companies that mock fat people in their adverts and do support shops like Monsoon who do nice clothes, cut for bigger people and support companies like Lush who make gorgeous natural preservative free cosmetics.