The Other F Word: Why Are We Still Uncomfortable With The Word “Fat”?
This article was originally written for and appeared on Refinery29. You can view and comment on the original here: http://www.refinery29.com/fat-fashion
When I wrote about Gabi Gregg’s capsule collection for swimsuitsforall just a couple weeks ago, I honestly was not expecting the level of ire that came with using the term “Fatkini,” a term coined by Gregg herself.
You see, I’m fat. You can call me plus-size, curvy, voluptuous, or full-figured, and they’re all accurate descriptions of my body shape. And so is fat. That word once had a huge negative connotation behind it to me, and I’ve shed tears over being called “fat,” so I can understand the anguish that can come with such a tiny word. But I have embraced my body, my weight, my size. I’m active and I eat a plant-based diet; I know I’m healthy, and no amount of pounds is going to tell me otherwise. This is my body, and I accept it as such. So, I no longer view “fat” as an insult — to me, it’s become more of a descriptor word (like skinny, tall, short), and nothing more. But not everyone views “fat” the same way.
The most vocal of our readers jumped to the attack, or the defense, on Refinery29’s Facebook page. With comments running the gamut from, “That is the most horrible thing you could have said,” to, “My fat ass will look fabulous in one of those bikinis,” it was clear that “fat” can bring up some heavy feelings.
While the body-acceptance movement has encouraged us to embrace the word fat, the feelings within the plus-size community are still mixed. There are those who accept the word at face value, like blogger Gabi Gregg and Cult of California designer, Jen Wilder. “I learned about women reclaiming the word eight years ago and haven’t looked back since — it changed my life,” Gregg explained. “Realizing that I could be simultaneously happy, beautiful, AND fat was definitely a turning point in my life. I still strive for health, but I realize that my health is between me and my doctors, not strangers on the Internet or on the street, and it isn’t determined by a specific size.” Cult of California designer Jen Wilder shares Gregg’s sentiments. “It’s true I am FAT. I cannot deny that. But I am NOT any of the things you are really calling me, which are stupid, lazy, slow, outcast, etc. It’s not the word; it’s what they MEAN when they say it!”
But not everyone is eager to start calling themselves fat. “The word ‘fat’ has negative connotations, and is never used to compliment. I prefer being called curvy, full-figured, or plus-sized,” explained plus-size model Katherine Roll. “Plus means ‘in addition to’ and therefore, simply defines my size as additional sexiness added to the straight-sized woman!” Aimee Cheshire, founder and CEO of Madison Plus Select, can see both sides of the spectrum. “I personally do not use the word ‘fat,’ not on MadisonPlusSelect.com or in my personal life. I have too many sad memories associated with the word. I do appreciate that the plus-size blogger community wants to reclaim the word back, and more power to them. While I understand why, and I truly love what they are doing, it just won’t find a place in my vocabulary. I have too many other battles to fight.”
In a society where we’re striving for body acceptance, is supporting “fat” a step in the right direction? Whether you’re embracing the word, appalled by its usage, view it just as a descriptor, or feel altogether something else about it, we want to know. What does fat mean to you?
Photo: Courtesy of Lydia Hudgens
Why Is There Such A Weighty Debate About Plus-Size Mannequins?
This article originally was published on Refinery29. You can read (and comment) on the original here: http://www.refinery29.com/2013/03/44975/plus-size-fashion-industry-growth-mannequins
As you may have already seen, a photo of two mannequins from Swedish department store Åhléns has been circling the Interwebs. While two plastic women typically aren’t the catalyst for a surge of body-image discussions, these mannequins struck a chord across the globe due to their size — approximately a size 10 and 12.
With comments ranging from accusations of promoting obesity to sheer delight over seeing a “normal” sized mannequin in a non-plus-size-specific store (and a few trolls thrown in for good measure), it truly brings up an issue that no one seems to be discussing. Why is this such a big deal?
Don’t get it twisted; we’re all in favor of having mannequins (and models) of every size, in both department stores and on the runways, but the fact that the installation of larger mannequins in a “regular” store is so controversial seems ridiculous. Why hasn’t this happened sooner? Why aren’t more stores commonly using mannequins of varying sizes to showcase their products?
With more than one-third of U.S. adults classified as obese, according to the CDC, and the average American woman wearing a size 14 or larger, it is no surprise that, according to Business Insider, those labeled as “plus-size” account for approximately 67% of the apparel-purchasing population, bringing in a retail revenue of nearly $16 billion. Therefore, it could be financially foolish to not display mannequins of larger sizes, even within non-specialty stores.
Plus-size sales are poised to jump 5.2% annually in the next five years, while overall apparel sales will only climb a modest 2.7%, according to research firm IbisWorld. The category is expected to hit $9.7 billion by 2017, up from an estimated $7.5 billion this year and $6.6 billion in 2009. “The issues that plus-size women face in store translate into the biggest opportunity for brands and retailers to grow their businesses today,” stated Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, Inc. “There are so many consumers who wear at least one item that is plus size, and yet the market is dramatically underserved.”
With the average non-specialty clothing store offering up to at least a size 14 (some, like Old Navy, carry up to a size 18 in store) and the growth of plus-size consumers, it makes fiscal sense to provide mannequins that reflect the size of their increasing customer base. By displaying larger mannequins, not only could women see how the clothes would potentially fit their shape, they would also feel more body confident thanks to the increase of plus-size representation within the fashion industry, and therefore, be apt to purchase more.
Overall, the fashion industry needs to accept that the majority of their customers are larger than their current mannequins, and that it’s about time they feel represented and included, instead of demonized for their size. Because the truth is larger mannequins aren’t promoting obesity; they’re reflecting reality.
Spring into Style!
When the temperature reminds me of spring and I just can’t bare to wear any more black, I search my closet for the girliest sundress I own. And while I don’t have any baby pink, bow-y, and frilly dresses, I think a thin white sundress covered in multicolored butterflies is pretty damn girly.
I topped off the dress with a thin cropped cardigan for a little warmth and added coverage. The straw tote helps complete the “spring” vibe, and the nude platform pump is not only leg-lengthening, it also allows the dress to shine without competing with the overall tone of the outfit.
While I’m positive I’d burst into flames if I walked into a church, I imagine this outfit would be perfect for a Sunday church service or Easter mass. Happy Easter (or whatever you do/don’t celebrate) everyone!
Dress: Old Navy
Shoes: Betsey Johnson
Oh the weather outside is frightful… but this outfit is so delightful…
And comfy. And cozy. And warm.
I will admit that the majority of my outfits are not based in comfy-ness or coziness, but due to the nippy weather I threw all of my outfit guidelines out the window and snuggled up in the biggest, brightest and softest sweater I own.
The distressed torrid stiletto skinny jeans are a recent gift, and they fit into the dressed down/but not dressed down feeling I was going for. Their rips are expertly placed, and they hit at a slightly sexy ankle length. (Remember when a woman’s ankle was considered scandalous? Me either, but I’ve heard such stories…).
I threw on a knit cap to help keep out the chill (I’ve always heard you lose the most heat from your head, but that might just be an old wives tale), and I grabbed my trusty Remi & Emmy snakeskin print hobo bag. This bag is fantastic; not only does the neutral shade go with everything, it’s deceptively large and has been immensely helpful during fashion week.
And I’m mesmerized by my glittery Dolce Vita bow flats; they remind me of a modern version of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. I wonder if I click them together three times if they’ll transport me to a wonderful place filled with warm weather.
Sweater: Forever21 (Size XL)
Jeans: Stiletto Skinny by Torrid (Size 20)
Flats: Dolce Vita (Size 9)
Bag: Remi & Emmy
Bracelets: Electric Picks
Meet 6 Superstar Models, The Faces Of Plus-Size Fashion
(This article was originally written by me and published on Refinery29.)
Say the word “supermodel” and one immediately thinks of women like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Iman, etc. But with the broadening body- acceptance movement and the increase of full-figure fashion, the general public is being exposed to supermodels of a different size.
They may have been dubbed “plus-size” models (seriously, we should just call them models!) but these beautiful women prove that they can hold their own among the under-size-4 set. Whether they’re starring in banned commercials or strutting down haute couture runways, these are some of the hottest size 14+ supermodels in the biz.
Tara Lynn — Tara Lynn radiates sex appeal, regardless of if she’s swathed in a black tankini for H&M’s plus-size line or dressed only in stilettos and red lipstick in V magazine and Vogue Italia.
Photo: Courtesy of Tara Lynn/Marcin Tyszka
Fluvia Lacerda — Dubbed the “plus-size Gisele Bündchen,” Lacerda is one of the most delicious Brazilian exports since cane sugar. Besides modeling for Torrid and Monif C., she has also recently collaborated with La Mafê on a plus-size collection called De onde eu vim (Where I come from).
Photo: Courtesy of Fluvia Lacerda
Ashley Graham — Who ever thought curves could create such a scandal? Plus-size women everywhere found out just how controversial their curves could be with the banning of Ashley Graham’s Lane Bryant lingerie commercial. You can view the commercial here.
Photo: Via Ford Models
Tess Munster — Whoever said models have to be toweringly tall and beanpole thin? Standing 5’4” and wearing above a size 20, Munster has utilized her unique beauty to destroy stereotypes with her modeling career.
Photo: Courtesy of Tess Munster
Candice Huffine — After ignoring the suggestion to lose weight at age 14, Candice Huffine went on to model for a multitude of well-known brands and magazines, from Bare Necessities and Torrid to Vogue Italia and V magazine.
Photo: Via Ford Models
Velvet D’Amour — Whether a press ploy, a response to the strict negativity against super-skinny models, or just his love of the female form, Jean Paul Gaultier sent model Velvet D’Amour down his spring ‘07 runway in skimpy lingerie. While still modeling, D’Amour has also stepped behind the lens, as well as launched the magazine Vol-Up-2.
Photo: Courtesy of Velevet D’Amour
Grey and yellow, grey and yellow,
grey and yellow, grey and yellow
Yeah, uh huh, you know what it is
Everything I do, I do it big
Personally I’m a fan of doing what others say I cannot do. (not in an illegal sense, mind you…) Tell me I can’t wear stripes, that I can’t wear bright colors, that I can’t wear body-con clothes, that I can’t mix patterns, and I’ll tell you exactly where you can stick your suggestions.
So, that being said, I’ve been obsessed with these neon yellow GAP pants ever since I came across them online. Their vibrancy is on par to a jar of highlighter fluid under a black light, but considering I’ve never met a neon I didn’t like, I was more than happy to blind all those who dared to check me out that day.
Now, while I love me some neon, I didn’t want to literally be brighter than the sun, so I toned down my pants just a bit by adding a grey blouse and grey snakeskin textured bag. I recommend pairing any shade of yellow with grey for an unexpected balance; if you wear black & yellow you’re bound to look a bit bee-ish, (which could be your thing).
And instead of wearing plain shoes, or grey or neon yellow ones (because you know I own a pair of neon yellow heels), I strapped on my geometric-heeled pixilated-floral Aldo Rise heels. It adds to the quirkiness of the outfit without overpowering the entire look.
Top: Old Navy (Size XXL)
Pants: Gap (Size 18)
Shoes: Aldo Rise (Size 10)
Just call me Tiger Lady.
I know I talk up my love of animal print (oh New Jersey, can I ever escape you?) but this is taking it to a whole new level.
With being smack dab in the middle of the season and temperatures finally dipping (seriously, snow last week?), I’ve finally been able to break out my Fall fashions. From vegan leather and cable knit to plaid and oxblood, I’ve been dabbling in all the trends.
I love the shape of this pleated vegan leather skirt, and the long sleeve tiger shirt turns it into more of a fit and flare than just a… flare. With the addition of opaque black tights and a rugged high-heel boot, it ups the Fall feel and increases the badassness by just a bit.
Roar. Welcome to November.
Shirt: Walmart (Size L)
Skirt: Kirna Zabete for Target (Size 16)
Sunglasses: Street Vendor
Bag: Pat Field