First & foremost, if I say something that makes you uncomfortable or is fucked up, please let me know if you feel up to it. I've been thinking about all of this for awhile but it's still not fully fleshed out and I'm totally open & encouraging dialogue.
I used to post OOTDs on fatshionista. I stopped because I noticed a lot of things happening that made me uncomfortable - specifically an imbalanced ratio of comments on posts by smaller fats vs. bigger fats, comments that focused on body parts in an objectifying way, and an onslaught of "straight-sized" clothing that would not fit a fattie outside of the inbetweenie range. And I understand and get that everyone is in different stages with different goals and definitions of what fat/fat positivity/fat activism mean, but I want us inbetweenies to think about the latter and how it fits into a fat-specific fashion community.
I still sometimes post outfits in various groups on Flickr, including the Fatshionista group. I fully acknowledge that in a lot of my outfit photos, I appear smaller than I am/feel and that this could be the case for other people too. But does that matter? If the outfits are showcasing plus size clothing, then I guess it doesn't so much. But when the outfits are all comprised of straight sizes, from companies that most fat persons cannot fit into, why bother posting them in a fat fashion group/community?
I know, I personally question what I am actually contributing in terms of resources and availability for fat sizes by posting primarily straight sizes on a fat community. I justify it sometimes by making sure that I am posting an outfit that either contains a vintage article of clothing or a plus sized article of clothing. But if I am not wearing either of those, I will often choose to not post in the fat-specific groups/communities and instead focus on non-size specific communities, because even though I may not be wearing something plus-sized, I am still not skinny, I am still fat, and that still counts for a lot when I post in communities that feature primarily skinny/smaller people.
And let's face it - plus sized vintage is tough to find but it's still relatively easy for me to find vintage clothing that I know is going to fit me. I am nearly positive that bigger fats (even a size or two bigger than I am at a 12/14) can not make such claims. And that goes for straight sizes too - it's been years since I've gone into a store and not been able to find something that fit me. Yeah, sometimes it's hard for me to find button-up blouses that don't gap at the chest because of my wide ribcage and shoulders. Problems like this though seem to be more of a universal than fat-specific thing.
Additionally, while the fashion/beauty industry doesn't show me women/people/bodies that look like me, real life often does. In terms of clothing sizes, I wear the size of the average woman. I hold a lot of privilege with that fact. And I'm not trying to minimize my fat experience or anyone else's, especially given the fucked up societal beauty ideals & the pressure behind them because they are very real and being a woman, regardless of size, is hard but I think it's counterproductive to lump my privileged experience in with bigger less-privileged people in the community.
I fully acknowledge and respect how unproductive & fucked up it is to tell someone that he/she/ze is not fat enough to claim "fat." But on the other hand, Inbetweenies, where does our accountability come into play? How do we actively participate in fat fashion communities while still respectfully acknowledging our privilege as smaller fats? Is it fair to talk about & post photos of clothes that are typically unavailable to bigger members of the community?
I also try to check my privilege by commenting on outfit posts where the clothing worn/showcased is plus sized, especially if it's sizes 20/22 & up. Granted, I won't comment if I don't like the outfit but I am also much more likely to comment on those posts than say, if a smaller fat posts something from Anthro or Forever 21 (although I guess the latter will soon be sort of changing but not by much).
What I'm long-windedly trying to get at is how, as a community, do we open the dialogue to inbetweenies/smaller fats about self-accountability of privilege without policing or dismissing their experiences as fat people? And why aren't we having this dialogue more often and more openly? I'm seeing a lot of smaller fats practically running with their privilege or if you're like me, just kind of stunted and don't know what the fuck to do. On the other end, I'm seeing closeted bitter remarks & comments from bigger fats about that sometimes comes off as jealousy but I think is more about resentment maybe and mostly the lack of acknowledgment on behalf of smaller fats. None of those scenarios are productive and yet we're still afraid of stepping on each others' fat toes.
So to my fellow smaller fats/inbetweenies, please step up and self-examine your role in the fat community and what you are contributing to it! The importance of supporting and appreciating bigger fats & their experiences is immeasurable but don't dismiss and forget about the privilege some of us has have from being smaller. Also, if our outfit posts/discussions don't necessarily "fit" (excuse the pun) into the fatosphere, there is still political implications to posting them into "straight sized" & generally small/skinny fashion communities. The more different/bigger sized fashionable bodies we/people in general are exposed to, the more normalized they (rightly) become.
Briefly ETA: I originally posted a rough draft of this on my own journal in fat filter under the impression that my original audience was aware of what I meant by "privilege." I neglected to acknowledge that might not be the case here and the awesome sparkymonster helped point that out in this thread and then provided a very succinct and valuable definition/discussion on privilege in this thread.
- Can we talk about the inbetweenie privilege issue?