Marginalization Doesn’t Stop At Your Size

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I love the body positive community on Instagram. It’s full of people I admire and respect. However, when I read this post from GlitterAndLazers, and then found the post in question, I felt angry. And sad. And depressedly very salty. I love that bathing suit pattern from ModCloth; last season I bought and tried it out. It wasn’t even close to fitting my body. GlitterAndLazers is a wonderful blogger and I adore her as a role model; her body is differently shaped, but she can still fit into the pretty narrow range of sizes ModCloth offers even in their plus sized offerings. I can’t.

This morning I saw Jes Baker’s latest blog post. Again, someone I really admire, I love her book (for real, I think you should buy it) – but she was talking about her outfit and body in revolutionary terms with a shirt that stops at 2x in women’s shirts. Baker even says, “check the men’s sizes if you need larger,” but that feels pretty flippant as the men’s only goes to 3x. People who are larger than 2x should be able to find their size in the cut style they like, regardless of the gender they identify as. I commented saying so on the Facebook post, but no response as of yet. (And I don’t really expect one – she’s a big name these days.) UPDATE: She responded, both here and on her FB page – in a big way! ❤ She apologized for sounding flippant and made a separate call out for super plus size clothing retailers. ❤

A similar thing happened a few weeks ago when a friend was singing the praises of Fresh Apparel for using plus sized models – which was really awesome for my friend. She was seeing models that looked like her! Truly excellent. However, the clothing doesn’t go past 2X. The models don’t either, presumably. I pointed this out to my friend, who understood immediately, thankfully (they’re a gracious learner). UPDATE: the owner, Amanda, contacted me. She wanted me to know she’s working on more inclusive sizing; she linked me to a few items that come in 3x or 4x. She’s also wanting to send me some stuff to review! Pretty great!

You can see a similar effect happening with SWERFs and TERFs – or a white person who’s in a LGBTQIA+ category refusing to acknowledge issues of race or a person of color that advocates for equal wages is also against LGBTQIA+ rights. People often stop being an advocate for something where their experience of oppression stops or once their own needs have been met. It’s natural – but at best it’s oblivious and harmful and at worst it’s maliciously harmful.

To quote Janelle Monae, “let’s never forget that none of us are free until all of us are free.” She was paraphrasing Emma Lazarus, who penned “The New Colossus,” which appears in part on the plaque of Lady Liberty. I’m sure some of you are thinking omg, really? You’re quoting that about fashion access? Yes. “Artists get to be honest. We get to tell it like it is through our work,” Janelle said. Fashion is art and when artists – including small boutique companies – choose not to be size accessible, choose not to have diverse models and testers, or profit in some other way from oppression (stealing art, cultural appropriation, or careful neutrality refusing to take a stance, etc.) they’re telling us how they really feel about us – their customers and potential customers. The message I’m getting is that me and my fat dollars aren’t wanted.

It’s incredibly frustrating to see people championing products and companies for moving forward in body positivity when they don’t include the most marginalized bodies. It doesn’t mean these changes shouldn’t be celebrated – I’m just still over here making do with what I can find, waiting for more companies to become more like a few rare companies that come to someone like me for celebration, products, and marketing.

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