May 19, 2013
c/o Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch Campus
6301 Fitch Path
New Albany, Ohio 43054Hey Mike,I know you’ve been flooded with mail regarding your comments on sizeism, but I wanted to take a second to write you about a project I’ve been working on.As a preface: Your opinion isn’t shocking; millions share the same sentiment. You’ve used your wealth and public platform to echo what many already say. However, it’s important you know that regardless of the numbers on your tax forms, your comments don’t stop anyone from being who they are; the world is progressing in inclusive ways whether you deem it cool or not. The only thing you’ve done through your comments (about thin being beautiful and only offering XL and XXL in your stores for men) is reinforced the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable. Your apology doesn’t change this.But oddly enough, that’s not all you have done. You have also created an incredible opportunity for social change.Never in our culture do we see sexy photo shoots with short, fat, unconventional models paired with not short, not fat, professional models. To put it in your words: “unpopular kids” with “cool kids”. It’s socially acceptable for same to be paired with same, but never are contrasting bodies positively mixed in the world of advertisement. The juxtaposition of uncommonly paired bodies is visually jarring, and, even though I wish it didn’t, it causes viewers to feel uncomfortable. This is largely attributed to companies like yours that perpetuate the thought that fat women are not beautiful. This is inaccurate, but if someone were to look through your infamous catalog, they wouldn’t believe me.I’ve enclosed some images for your consideration. Please let me know what you think.A note: I didn’t take these pictures to show that the male model found me attractive, or the photographer found me photogenic, or to prove that you’re an ostentatious dick. Rather, I was inspired by the opportunity to show that I am secure in my skin and to flaunt this by using the controversial platform that you created. I challenge the separation of attractive and fat, and I assert that they are compatible regardless of what you believe. Not only do I know that I’m sexy, but I also have the confidence to pose nude in ways you don’t dare. You’re are more than welcome to prove me wrong by posing shirtless with a hot fat chick; it would thrill me to see such a shoot.I’m sure you didn’t intend for this to be the outcome, but in many ways you are kind of brilliant. Not only are you a marketing genius (brand exclusivity really is a profitable move) but you also accidentally created an opportunity to challenge our current social construct. My hope is that the combination of these contrasting bodies will someday be as ubiquitous as the socially accepted ideal.Ever so sincerely,
JesP.S. If you would like to offer me a “substantial amount” to stop wearing your brand so my association won’t “cause significant damage to your image”, don’t hesitate to email me. I respect you as a business man, and my agent and I would be happy to contribute in furthering your established success.P.P.S. You should know your Large t-shirt comfortably fits a size 22. You might want to work on that.
when it comes to dressing myself, i live by a very simple principle. i am fat, therefore, i look fat in everything; consequently, i can wear anything.”
— Advice from perfect goddess Kim Selling, whose writing you can expect to see in issue #2! (via filmmefatales)
Diet ideas: Eat whatever you want, and if anyone tries to lecture you about your weight, eat them too.
Before and after photos are one of those things that frustrate the hell out of me when it comes to fatness and weight loss. Seeing so many people congratulated on no longer having a “before body” is part of this frustration since we are taught to be in awe of those people who have an “after body.” Before images are always framed as being worse than the after image, in relation to weight loss it is the after image that always triumphs the before.
I don’t have a before body or even an after body; it’s a forever body. My body isn’t a failure and having an “after” image doesn’t make the before any less worthy / beautiful or as good of a body.
You all can guess at the things I did between the before and after.
* There are numerous forms of before and after photos that don’t frame the before in a negative way but I have yet to see one with weight loss.
The visual language of before/after images in a fat context is always inescapable fat shaming. No matter which way the weight goes! The juxtaposition has the same cultural currency forwards and back. Either the fat before is shamed in favor of the exalted thin after or thin before is presented to show the pitiable downfall of a fat after. Rock on subverting Before/After away from its fat stigmatizing foundation!
I’d love to see more discussion about the “how to get past the virulent message that fat people cannot have sex until they become suitably thin” part. I’m stuck there. I’ve been stuck there for-fucking-ever (pardon the pun) and I suspect I’m not alone. The caveat is the discussion cannot be more of the bullshit magical thinking “Just be confident!” crap that seems to be the only thing ever said about this.
I have yet to see a FA writer who talks about this part of the process in any way that feels similar to my experience of it. Most FA activists seem to have always been having sex, have never experienced the paralyzing pain of hitting this block and finding no way around it. It’s a part of the conversation about fat sex that’s missing. Everyone wants to skip past the hard shit of “everyone you’ve ever known has reminded you that you’re fat and therefore are not allowed to have sex or feel sexy yet somehow everyone expects you to have sex with SOMEONE” and get into mechanics/psychology for people who are already having sex (even if in some cases it’s not terribly healthy sex).
This isn’t a comprehensive answer, but for me, it was a non-intuitive piece of the puzzle.
One day, I posted a picture of me (just a regular face shot — I’d probably gotten a haircut or whatever) on livejournal. Somebody paid me a complement. I did my usual humble-I-thought dismissal.
But then the person got really mad. And like, not because I was being down on myself. They got mad because I had disrespected them.
What they said to me was really important, and it was this: When I dismiss their compliment, I’m saying that I don’t respect their judgment. And by so quickly and casually dismissing it, I’m relegating my estimation of their judgment to the lowest of the low, worth far too little to even evaluate.
They didn’t put it exactly that way, but it drove a point home. I’ve always paid lip service to being a relativist. I believe strongly that different people are beautiful to different people, and that there’s no one objective standard of beauty. And like most of us, I was conscious that I apply that to other people but not equally or fairly to myself. But I dismissed this as behaviour that, while it would be healthy to overcome for my own mental wellness, harmed only me. Not so.
When I dismiss other people’s opinions, I’m devaluing them and devaluing their input.
I was so focused inward when it came to the issue, I was thinking selfishly and not looking outward to see how it affected others.
Ultimately, it’s about respect, and about trust. I may not see what others see in me, and that’s not what I’m talking about here: I agree that it’s difficult or maybe impossible to just magically love yourself (and I don’t believe that you have to love yourself first before anybody else can love you — in fact, that’s a trivially disproven myth). What I’m talking about is respecting other people’s judgment and trusting in them to make those decisions for themselves. If someone sees something attractive or beautiful in me, even if I don’t see it, I need to have the respect for that person to trust that they see it, for themselves, and that they’re an adult who can make that decision for themselves.
If somebody thinks I’m attractive or beautiful, then that’s a decision they made for themselves based on their own perceptions of me, and that’s just as valid for them as my self-perceptions are for me, and imposing my opinions on them or thinking that they’ve had blinders on or once they see me naked they’ll think otherwise or any of those things is disrespecting their freedom and ability to make decisions for themselves, and it’s mean to them and wrong.
I’ve fallen back into the dismissive thinking, so it was good to see this post and get a reminder of that incident. The retraining doesn’t always “stick”, but I’m working on it, and I think I needed to have a kick in the butt in this regard.
so important. any time i imply to my partner that their standards are low for being with me or that i’m not “actually” attractive i’m being super disrespectful to them. it’s hard to remember that because it usually seems like the primary imperative is to make them understand why they’re making a mistake by being with me.
^^^ THIS. Even I, who have kind of stupid amounts of self-confidence, who always went around saying “everyone is someone’s type,” found I was unthinkingly doing this. Like, I said sex and all, but I kind of never like… realized to value others’ aesthetics, which included ME. I’ve been saying “Apparently I’m hot?” a lot this year. What I mean is I’m learning to believe and respect people’s tastes in finding me attractive.
“Ultimately, it’s about respect, and about trust.”
I am a kind of survivor; I think a lot of folks in the fat acceptance camp are survivors of one kind or another, and trust is hard for us. Trust is in many ways unfamiliar to me; it’s something I have to consciously remember and choose to deploy a lot of the time. This is the piece that I need to pull forward.
wait wait let me say something else though about fat & femininity
i think it’s pretty fucked up that even in the fat acceptance community, being very femme is seen as like
the acceptable way to be a fat woman
like as long as your lipstick is bright enough and your heels are high enough you can be like “yes i’m fat but i’m still fabulous!!”
i interpret my own personal femininity as like
“i’m not the person these tools were meant for but that’s not going to stop me from co-opting them for my personal self-esteem and enjoyment”
but at least when i first started being more femme there was definitely an element to it that was like “well i’ve got one big strike against me so i have to work harder than everyone else”
and that’s no way to explore an identity
it’s tough because i don’t want to say being femme is easy because in the queer community it can be really rough but
in the FA community it’s kind of the norm for fat women and you rarely see people passing around images of fat butches or trans* people being like “wow style icon” “wow fatshion idol” “fat and fabulous what a hottie”
anyway so i just wanted to say that i love being femme and i love my fellow femmes but any way you choose to express your identity as a fat person is wonderful because it’s going to be tough any direction you go
ahhhh laney i love this and i love that you tagged me in it and i am going to throw out some ill-formed thoughts in no particular order! like, the element of reclamation/reclamation definitely resonates very deeply with me especially now that I’ve embraced my queerness. not only am i not the person/body heteropatriarchy says these tools are “for,” but i’m also not employing them for heteropatriachy’s intended purpose. i attempt to court (i don’t always feel like it’s working) a deliberately queer sense of femininity? i’m thinking about how to make myself attractive to other queers, and i’m doing that by strategically employing the trappings of conventional femininity.
i think the erasure of non-femme fatties has a lot to do with how fat is coded as slovenly and how that is really a struggle to overcome once it’s internalized. and to begin with, a lot of butchness as performed by thinner people seems to be not as much about the clothes you wear as how you wear them and how they fit you, and there is a lot less precision in that and a lot fewer options for fat people—especially given how fat is coded as gendered depending on where and how it’s distributed on the body. like, as hard of a time as I have finding clothing that fits me in a way that I like, I think I would have a harder time finding clothing that fit me well if I were trying to perform a more masculine gender.
also you should be following mmmajestic if you aren’t already. and you should come to dc and go shopping for accessories with me please. the end.
Thin privilege is this series of advertisements encouraging fat people to give up on hobbies and instead use all their spare time striving to be thin.
So basically, suppress your interests and loves that make up a fulfilling life so you can look more appropriate to the kind of people that hate you. Because when you’re fat, your passions must be sacrificed the the demands of fat stigmatization.