It happened again.
I saw a stunning woman at the gas station today. She had a thigh-length, flowing, bright red dress and lipstick on. She was blonde and confident, and minus glasses, she looked like I imagine I look sometimes (stunning).
I pulled my car up by hers to say I loved her dress and asked where she got it. She directed me to Miss Guided, and in our exchange I told her about ModCloth, where I get a lot of my cute, plus-friendly clothes. I felt good about seeing someone who looked like me killing it out in public, telling them I loved their outfits, and checking out this new website I’d previously never heard of. She said she had gotten the dress for a mere $25 or so and most of the clothes on the site were very reasonable. WHAT. Give me this red dress please!
I just went to check it out, and the sizes only run up to a size 20. I’m a size 30.
This happens to me often. I go into plus-friendly groups online or in person and feel so excited to be with other people who look like me and deal with the same kinds of struggles I face in finding everything from bras, underwear, regular clothes, or baby carriers that will actually fit my body and make me feel good about wearing them. Then I discover that okay no, many folks who look like me in shape are actually a smaller size.
I know I’m not the only one who makes these kinds of guesses and judgments, because other plus/fat friends will make assumptions that I’m their size when they make recommendations for products – when really, we’re just the same shape.
Sometimes, this feels really alienating to me. It’s hard not to feel disappointed and alone when you think you’ve found someone else who shares your struggle – someone you have an immediate bond with – and then it turns out you guessed wrong. I’ve felt lots of small disappointments as I realize some of the fat activist or fat fashion bloggers I follow are not as large as I am even though they are shaped like I am.
I still feel pretty often that I am invisible or uncared for, even in fat activist kind of circles. Sometimes I feel weird seeing #effyourbeautystandards on posts from people I really admire or enjoy the content of because they still have a lot of the same trappings of celebrated small-sized beauties or they enjoy some form of validation that I don’t have access to. People like Tess Holiday or Luciana are large, and they also have classically beautiful faces, flawless skin, or contours to their bodies that are traditionally celebrated. I love to watch them. I love to watch and consume the content of another fat activist and style blogger who I know, as an aside, does sex work. I’m a sensual person and I have a high drive to be found desirable; I’m envious that they have the gratification of knowing other people find them highly desirable.
These are things I don’t have. I do not have flawless skin, nice hair, the kind of exaggerated curves that are allowed to be celebrated, and I don’t even know how to do makeup well. I don’t have a pocketbook or lifestyle that allows me to have a vast and testing wardrobe.
I fully support people using #effyourbeautystandards. I love the concept and the execution. I use it, too. But I find myself using it when I’ve done my best to emulate the trappings of small-size beauty, with makeup or fancy clothes or even just using my nicer camera to try and capture the look. I feel weird about it. I wish #effyourbeautystandards was more about people who are shaped AND sized like me, who don’t enjoy some of the same benefits of small-sized beauties. I wish my size wasn’t still so invisible for clothing and products.
I wish I could stop myself from assuming based on shape, too. I know it’s a side effect of internalized sizeism and the classifying that humans are so good at doing poorly.
Alas, what to do? Blog about it, I guess.