Archive for August, 2011

So long, suckers

Corpulent will be going on a short hiatus as I’m leaving for a six week trip to London/Portugal/Spain today. *high kick*

I’ll still be twittering, so if you can’t bear to be without me you can look me up at @awesomefrances.

Gisela Ramirez launch (the short version)

Tonight, I attended the launch of Gisela Ramirez‘s very first plus size collection. It was spectacular – the clothes and models were fab, the turn out was fantastic and I am so, so proud of her. My intention is to write a proper post on it (with pictures!) but I board plane tomorrow, so that will have to wait.

Gisela was sweet enough to invite me to introduce the show; here’s the transcript of my speech.

Good evening and welcome to the official launch of Gisela Ramirez’s first plus size collection.

I met Gisela on the internet almost a year ago. I liked her immediately – she’s a very cool chick and is seriously passionate about what she does. When I heard she was designing a line, it’s fair to say I was a wee bit excited. I knew that her line, however it turned out, would go some way to filling the sizeable gap in plus size fashion.

Despite how frivilous it may sometimes seem, I do think fashion is important and can be quite political. The way we present ourselves through our clothes sends a message about us before we even open our mouths.

The limited options available in plus sizes – especially in Australia – mean that the messages we are able to send with our fashion are, in a way, censored. It is much easier to think of fat women as homely and sexless when the fashion choices available are largely homely and sexless.

The bulk of plus size fashion caters to our insecurities. It assumes that we all must be ashamed of our arms, our bellies and our arses. That our sartorial goals only revolve around flattering our figure.

The idea of a ‘flattering’ outfit being one that highlights my good parts while minimising my flaws. Beyond the fact that no waist-cinching belt will transform me into a size 10, what the designers of ‘flattering’ garments fail to realise is that all my parts are good parts. I can’t minimise my flaws because I have no flaws.

When writing this speech, I was looking through the first emails Gisela and I sent to each other. All those months ago, she said to me that she designs for the “type of girl [who] isn’t hung up on her body, is confident enough to stand out in a crowd and wants to be the centre of attention.”

Now how amazing is that?

In an industry that tells fat girls ‘Don’t draw attention, don’t wear bright colours, don’t wear tight clothes but don’t wear shapeless sacks either’, Gisela Ramirez has created a line from superhero spandex and sheer silk chiffon.

That’s what’s so exciting about this new collection. She caters for the middle fingers. For those of us who wear our freak on the outside. Who don’t walk when we can strut.

Gisela is not flattering our figures with these clothes. She’s going one better. She is embracing our bodies. She knows that when our clothes send the world a message, we should be the ones dictating it. The main message for tonight? Fuck flattering.

The Corpulent Declaration

I’ve been getting a few emails from people and companies that have profoundly misunderstood what I’m about and what I stand for. Sometimes this means that they haven’t read my stuff closely enough, but I suspect that I haven’t signposted my core views as much as I should have.

In order to avoid having the same three conversations over and over again, I present to you the Corpulent Declaration.

1. Yes, I am fat

I should not be required to defend the way I classify my body, and yet…

I am fat. According to my measurements, I am plus sized. I weigh 95kg/210 pounds (give or take a few). According to my height and weight, I am obese. When people talk about the obesity epidemic, they are talking about people like me. I have had people tell me that they are worried about my health because of my size. I’ve seen the frenzied whispers when I wear something ‘too tight’. I’ve heard people snickering over the size of my arse. In my view, I have fulfilled the selection criteria.

I recognise that I am not very fat. I’m conscious that I have a measure of thin privilege. But that doesn’t negate the fact that, yes, I actually am fat. As Kate Harding said in a really awesome article on Salon:

It’s … OK to point out that I’m not that fat, so I’ve never personally been the victim of the worst fat hatred our culture has to offer — that’s the plain truth. But telling me I’m not fat is a goddamned lie.

2. My fashion doesn’t flatter

This is aimed at the clothing companies – and PR companies representing clothing companies – that email me promoting their “tips to look slim and sexy instead of fat and frumpy” or “Sizzling Swimsuits to Flatter Any Figure” (those are direct quotes).

I’m down with people wearing whatever they want. Some fatties want slimming clothing and that is their prerogative. But I wear miniskirts, spandex, bodycon, horizontal stripes, bright colours, shapeless sacks and leggings as pants. Fat girl fashion rules mean nothing to me.

3. Good health is a fine goal, but it’s not what drives me

The argument that fat and health are not mutually exclusive is a worthwhile and valuable one to make (and one I make fairly often). Having a fat body is not a health problem in and of itself except in the most extreme of cases, and fatness is no barrier to healthy behaviours. Health at every size (HAES) is a fantastic alternative to weight loss and absolutely deserves to be promoted.

However, I am not a HAES advocate and Corpulent is not a HAES blog. It is not my job, nor my purpose, to encourage fat people to lead the healthiest lives they can. I don’t advocate for fatties who meet a certain set of criteria. I just advocate for fatties.

I know that some people are fat by choice. I am well aware that some fat people don’t exercise, don’t eat well, have health issues or have mobility problems. I’m not ignorant; I just don’t care. No matter our situation, we are all worthy of respect and dignity from ourselves and from others. That’s the point of it all.

The Ongoing Adventures of a Media Tart

I’ve been seriously low on blogging mojo, but here I am again. I missed you too, fatosphere.

While I was absent, I was featured in the winter issue of Peppermint magazine. Peppermint is a “green fashion magazine, celebrating eco and ethical style”. It’s the most positive women’s fashion magazine I’ve seen and I’m proud to be in their pages. This issue is still on sale, so go buy it – stare at my mug AND support an awesome independent Aussie mag at the same time!

The feature was called ‘What is Beauty?’ and asked a variety of women of different ages, sizes and cultural backgrounds exactly that question. This was my part of the spread:

My section says:

I had pretty low self-esteem throughout my adolescence. I grew up in a coastal town and all the girls there are tan, fit and blonde whereas I’m bigger, bi-racial and a completely different body shape. I wanted to look like someone that wasn’t me. While I’m actually bigger now than I ever was in high school, the one thing out of all of my ‘flaws’ I thought I could change was my size, so that’s what I attacked. I went on my first diet when I was 10 years old.

Those years were seriously bleak. When I was 18, I made a conscious decision that I wouldn’t hate myself anymore. It has been an incredibly long process – I still have bad days sometimes – but seven years later I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a single thing about me. Not a single freckle and not a single gram.

The cultural messages on what is aesthetically pleasing seem to be more and more uniform. Perfection exists in such a tiny Goldilocks-style window (not too fat, not too thin, not too dark, not too pale, not too soft, not too muscular…) But truly beautiful people are not photoshopped. Inspiring music is not auto-tuned. Important art is not precise. We need to remember the appeal of imperfections.

A couple of years ago, I set up a tumblr blog called Hey, Fat Chick! Spending so much time looking at pictures of bodies outside the beauty ideal has blown my mind. It has helped me realise that there are no bad bodies. When beauty ideals are so prescriptive, making peace with your body is a revolutionary act. Smash the ideal. Never apologise for your body!

I feel most beautiful when I’m at home, in varying states of undress, doing something completely mundane with my boyfriend. Those quiet, unconscious moments are the most beautiful of all.

Here are a couple of extras from the associated photo shoot I did with Leanna Maione:

Coat: Second hand from Shrinkle on etsy (BEST PURCHASE EVER EVER EVER)
Dress: Asos
Tights: We Love Colors (Free shipping to Australia and New Zealand on orders over $30 with the code WELOVENZAUS. Offer valid until 31 August.)
Necklace: Dinosaur Designs
Belt: Second hand from GlobeAmaranth on etsy
Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell from Solestruck

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