There are many ways to fight fat shamers, among them critical analysis of body image, social media campaigns that combat oppressive cultural stereotypes about fat people, television, writing, and, of course, plus size fashion. Plus size fashion is arguably often kept separate from the wider discussions of fat phobia and body shaming, relegated to the fashion and beauty verticals of women's media sites or personal blogs. Have you ever considered, however, that perhaps plus size fashion can be used as a weapon to fight body shame? If you ask me, I think it's one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposals — and one we're not using nearly enough to take down diet culture and general body shaming norms.
In feminist and social justice spaces, I often hear all about how "the personal is political," meaning that the things you do and say in your everyday life have a lot of power on a cultural spectrum. Activism doesn't only look like chaining yourself to buildings or marching in rallies. It also looks like standing up to misogynists, using hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter on social media, or wearing a bodycon dress when you're above a size 20.
If you're curious about how you can use plus size fashion as a weapon against fat shamers, here are seven ways to do just that.
1. Dress For Yourself, Not Your Body Type
You've probably heard this idea of "dressing for your body type." It's basically code for, "You should cover up if your body doesn't meet societal expectations of beauty," which I think most of us can agree is total BS.
Instead, you can use plus size fashion to blatantly ignore this rules and dress for yourself. Think outside of what you're being sold and told by retailers, fashion magazines, or your peers, and contemplate the colors, styles, fabrics, and looks that you like. The next step is to incorporate those into your wardrobe.
2. Deliberately Show Skin
Fat people are regularly told both directly and indirectly that we shouldn't show any of our skin. Instead, we should be ashamed of our fat and hide it from plain view. You can easily disrupt this fat-phobic notion with plus size fashion by choosing to show off your wobbly bits. Rock a crop top, wear a short dress, flaunt your cleavage, and do it without apology.
3. Opt For The Styles That Aren't "Flattering"
You've no doubt heard of dressing to "flatter" your figure, which is a body shaming crock of BS if I ever heard one. Get rid of the idea that you need to dress in order to "flatter" your body, because the truth is that you look great in everything. So treat "flattering" like the new F-word and ban it from your vocabulary and your wardrobe.
4. Wear Body Positive Clothing
You can use your clothing to make a blatant statement by wearing articles that are body positive, be it in their logos, prints, or the ideas they convey. Looking for some inspiration? Check out brands like Feminist Apparel, SmartGlamour, and ModCloth, which all offer body positive clothing that is size inclusive. Any sort of T-shirt with a Riots Not Diets-esque mantra will be a great place to start.
5. Post Photos Of Your Outfits Online
Simply being a visible plus size woman who loves her body and the way she dresses it is radical, so start showing off your fashion. What we dress our bodies with is unbelievably political, so this is definitely a valid form of body positive activism. Loving yourself openly in a culture that tells you to hate yourself and your body is an act of incredible courage.
6. Break The Rules With No Shame
There are so many types of clothing that plus size women are told not to wear, from shorts to crop tops to large horizontal stripes. A great way to use your fashion as a fat shaming weapon is to vow to break all of these rules unapologetically in your everyday life. In doing so, you'll be giving the symbolic middle finger to all fat-phobics.
7. Stand Out And Be Proud Of Your Style
Fat people are often told that we should try to make ourselves smaller, both literally and figuratively. So instead of wearing big clothes to try to cover up or blend in, stand out from the crowd with your beautiful individuality. Try to stick out and show that you're fat, you know it, and you're damn proud. Through fashion, you can celebrate your unique sense of style and your ownership of your body.
Want more body positivity? Check out the video below, and be sure to subscribe to Bustle’s YouTube page for more inspo!
Images: Erin McKelle Fischer