Previous Entry Share Next Entry
catchstars wrote in fatshionista
Something that isn't often addressed critically in this community is what it means to be an inbetweenie (someone who typically wears between size 12 and 18, and can sometimes wear straight sizes in addition to plus sizes) in the context of fat activism and fat fashion. A lot of the recent posts that touch on it hit on the issues superficially: "I gained ten pounds and am too big for an XL at Aeropostale or Abercrombie! Where can I buy hoodies?" or a commenter remarking, "You aren't fat, you just have really big boobs!"

(Apologies in advance for my female-centric language in this post, but it seems to me that the concept of "inbetweenies" is more prevalent among people wearing clothing designed for women than among those who wear clothing designed for men. Anyone has had experiences to the contrary, please pipe up!)

The hourglass figure is a problematic point in this community and other fat-acceptance/fat activist groups. Some say that at a basic biological level, we are hardwired to be attracted to this kind of figure. Others say that the hourglass has been normalized by late 19th century and 20th century media and held as an ideal in much the same way waif-like models are. Regardless of the origins, the hourglass is frequently held up as "the most beautiful" shape. Body acceptance means accepting all bodies, and it can be challenging to fight these biases and hold other shapes in esteem when hourglass shapes are touted as "perfect" or "hot" within the community. All radical communities have to fight setting their version of Barbie up as the zenith of beauty. I say radical, because the act of being fat and unapologetic is radical in today's climate of thin bodies. Why do we feel we will gain cultural cachet by scaling up the standards held to thin bodies to build our own standard? Why should we care about these standards at all?

"Curvaceous" and "fat" are not mutually exclusive. However, curvaceous figures are often considered fat, because like fat, it implies a fullness of shape and weight. Still, one can be curvaceous yet wear a small clothing size. Beyonce Knowles and Kate Winslet are good examples of this. Without invalidating the experiences of people who identify as fat but do not wear plus sized clothes, are bodies of this type truly fat, or are they "othered" by expectations of a slender body?

Most people who participate in this community have a difficult time finding clothes, including inbetweenies. Yes, it is difficult to find clothing for an hourglass figure at junior's stores, because most clothing in that size range is designed for a straight-hipped figure with B-or-C cup breasts. However, size 12 is still easier to find than size 16, and 16 is easier to find than 24. Sizes above that are rarely encountered in brick-and-mortar stores. Anyone who can readily find clothes in a size that fits them is privileged in that they have little worry in clothing themselves reasonably. (Fashionably is another matter.) Does this mean we need to feel crushing guilt about privilege? What it does mean is that we need to be aware that the clothes posted about by people who take a size 10 or 12 are simply not available to a large percentage of the people in the community because they aren't manufactured in plus sizes. Is a dress from a typical teenage junior size store like Forever 21 or Sirens fat fashion? Could it be a useful post for other people in the community if it is approached with sensitivity and information on the fit of the piece? "I bought this dress at Macy's in the straight size juniors section, and the bust is really stretchy and the fabric is thick enough so it doesn't become see through or tatty looking when it stretches. I take a 42 D bra, and wear a 16 pant at Lane Bryant, so folks with similar bodies may want to check it out" is infinitely more useful than, "I wore my Lululemon yoga pants to work today."

What is the place of an inbetweenie in a fat arena?

As an extreme hourglass, with trouble finding bottoms (but relativly ok luck finding tops), I can really feel what you are getting at. I hate it when I, an 18 on bottom, go into a community and post a waist up shot, only to get, "Your not fat!" or, "You don't look plus sized..." and feeling as though I need to take a picture of my ass next to something for fat-validation. Shit, thats one of the reasons I haven't posted here -- fear of being told I'm, 'not REALLY plus sized!' despite the fact that, small boobs aside, I very often AM just that!

I personally find the, "Hey, I found this straight size 13 in wherever Juinors that works on my size 18 body fine! I'm about X"X tall and xxxlbs, tend to carry it in hips/bust/waist/knees/wherever. " Waaay more useful then, "I'm thinking about Igigi; are they good?"

(Deleted comment)
Even in the past couple years, I've worn everything from a size 10-22. I've spent most of my life as an inbetweenie. But I've definitely never stopped feeling like I was the fat girl, and I've always had trouble finding clothes that fit. At my smallest, most cute, trendy junior clothes were too small, and the plus size clothes were all too big. How annoying! (According to BMI charts, I was still obese, so I think I still qualified as fat.)

Oh yay for things that are stretchy. Honestly I don't think anything that isn't stretchy ever quite fits me right. Weirdly enough, I think I felt fatter when I was a size 12 than I do now at a 16. It's hard to say who's fat and who isn't. Just about all women think they're fat.

I think inbetweenies are the object of a great deal of the fat hatred in the US. There's a lot of us around. Many of the fashionable fatshionistas posting here seem to fall in the 12-18 range.

I dunno if any of this is relevant to what your asking or if I'm just rambling. But anyway... I think inbetweenies are fat!

ALL fatties are the target of fat hatred in the US. The inbetweenie, I think, has a hard time of it because they are so close to cultural "acceptability" but I have serious issues with the implication that they "have it worse" - not just because that's always a losing game but because larger fat folks are ABSOLUTELY the target of some truly disgusting fat hatred and it bothers me to think you might be dismissing that.

And I agree that inbetweenies are fat - I think it is a fat with a different set of privileges than larger fat folk and that's an interesting discussion to have.

It's the respect that's critical, I think - there's not a lot of supportive places for any women (and probably men) who are outside the purview of fashion design. My mother considered me unacceptably fat when I was a 12-year-old wearing size 12 clothing, and that was a lot more devastating than being a 33-year-old who wears size 22 on top and 28 on the bottom! I'd hate to see someone else in the same vulnerable situation put down as "not enough" of anything. By the same token, it was a lot easier to find clothes when I was size 14 top/18 bottom, and I'd expect respect for my fashion problems and victories in return, from people who wear clothes available in typical stores or who are a more socially acceptable shape.

Yeah. It's funny you mention that, because I have photos and outfits in which I look more like a size 14 than the size 22 I am on the bottom. I have an extremely small waist and large juicy hips. And I've been told before I don't look plus sized at all.
Regardless how I LOOK, fact of the thing is that my top half can fit shirts that're easy to find, and my bottom half needs trousers that're almost impossible to find.
I'll take fashion tips/info from anywhere.
I also want to add something I think the fat community tends to forget (not this one in particular)- really slender girls, esp those whose natural weight range falls in the underweight BMI category, have difficulty finding clothes, and deal with prejudice as bad (and, at least in the Bay Area and IME, sometimes worse) than fat girls. "Too skinny" is just as unpleasant in my mind as "too fat", and are also "othered" by the inability to find clothes that reflect the variety of their sizes.
Not that this particular community should discuss it, but I just think it's important to remember that fat bodies are not the only ones "othered" in society.

I totally agree. Growing up as "the fat girl" I was teased but actually I think my very thin best friend took more verbal abuse from our jr high classmates. The "taboo" of calling someone fat to their face had caught on with some kids, but they hadn't quite wrapped their heads around the fact that it is just as hurtful to ask someone "hey are you anorexic? eat something".

Personally, I feel like if a size 0 wants to be a part of our community and is genuinely interested in body image issues and not in feeling hot compared to everyone else, so be it. If someone posts here and is told, "you're not fat!" it basically defeats the whole purpose of this community to begin with, that all bodies are acceptable and to be loved and dressed well.

All bodies are acceptable but not all bodies are fat. That's why there is no size requirement for membership and we have many members in all sizes. However, it is a FAT-politics community, thus the size limitation on the photo posts.

And telling someone "you aren't fat" is never cool.

I think this is a really important question and one that needs more air time in fatshionista.

The truth is that the fat experience of a person who can sometimes shop in straight sizes is different from a person who can't shop at stores at all. And while I don't think it ever needs to become a matter of "who has it worse" because that sort of thing is incredibly devisive, I do think those differences need to be acknowledged, especially when it comes to clothing privilege.

I'm never going to tell a size 12 that they aren't fat. As sticky as it gets, fat is still pretty mutable.

But if I see another post from an inbetweenie full of nothing but Anthropologie and Aeropostale with absolutely no acknowledgment of the privilege the wearer has, being able to shop there, I might just, well, I don't know. But I doubt it will be good for my mental health. Particularly when those are the OotDs that get a million comments about how gorgeous the poster is - there is a serious disparity in the responses to inbetweenies and the responses to larger fat folk. That isn't even MY experience, so it isn't sour grapes, it's just something I've noticed and that other people have discussed with me. I think creates an atmosphere where larger people are less likely to post, which is deeply unfortunate. I don't think there are, statistically, that many fewer of us, after all.

I think, in many ways, it must suck to be an inbetweenie because, culturally, one is SO CLOSE to acceptability. But it also sucks to not be able to shop at more than two stores in the mall - IF one can even shop in those.

Particularly when those are the OotDs that get a million comments about how gorgeous the poster is - there is a serious disparity in the responses to inbetweenies and the responses to larger fat folk.

this pretty much sums up my feelings too. many of the posts are not about the fashion but ZOMG you are so hot. This is not bad in itself, but when the body is being lauded because it is on the thinner end of the spectrum, it just feels so wrong!

on a slightly different note, I always thought that you were on the smaller end? it's interesting how peoples impressions and perceptions differ so greatly.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Everybody has a hard time finding clothes. I think fat people have to take an extra step to get what we need, but all of my friends, from 0 to 28 all have a hard time finding clothes that fit right, look nice, etc. etc. I do not feel a 'crushing' need to guilt them about the fact, it's just not that big of a deal for me, I guess, I've accepted it and have moved on. I think if people do feel that need that says something more about their emotional maturity than anything else.

I'm not even going to touch 'shape privilege' with a ten foot pole. Arbitrary standards of beauty are everywhere and we're all attracted to whatever it is we're attracted to. Period.

As far the 'inclusion' of inbetweenies here, I'm pretty on the fence about it. I guess there is no 'litmus' test for fat, but I really to question the motives of someone that is less than say, a size 14 participating here and posting OOtDs. I don't think it's so much about clothing sizes to me, it's just more of a sense of community. I mean, is someone that is say, a size 12, really going to be able to relate much to someone that's a size 28? Sympathies and everything else are nice, but the fact of the matter is these two people are going to have very different experiences in this realm, and I personally would like to have a place to see fat people talk about fat people and fashions. I'm wouldn't exactly be overjoyed seeing a size 12 girl that bought something in the juniors department because it was 'surprisingly stretchy' showing it off here, on the other hand, it could give me an idea for an outfit that I want to do or something. Like I said, I'm on the fence, and at the end of the day, I don't really care about the political ramifications of including and inbetweenie in the 'fat movement' or in this community. I just wanna see some hot plus-sized ladies looking good, and maybe get some ideas so I can look good too.

Wow, sorry, my comment is tl;dr.

i read it anyway, SO THERE!

my friends who wear an XS and/or petite have just as much trouble as i do shopping for clothes. it flat out SUCKS to be 31 years old and very curvy, and be told to shop in the kid's or junior's section because my friend is only 4'9".

Looking at your points separately, I remember being so frustrated when I was a 12-14 the first time in college. I couldn't find or didn't know how to find clothes anywhere. I was too small for LB and too big for everywhere else, or so it seemed. My best friend at the time was a fairly standard (in terms of fit) size 6 so it seemed like I was some freakish outlier, unable to shop at Express and Victoria's Secret. I was too absorbed in my own experience to look around me and see everyone's else's issues with fit and fashion. After graduating, my girlfriend was 5 feet tall and a size 0-2. Nothing fit her anywhere. We shopped together, both ranting and sharing the same frustrations. My point here is that it's easy, as an inbetweenie, I think, to feel that we have fewer or more frustrating choices because we're caught in the middle of the sizing range, so close to clothes that fit on either side but not quite there. What's important to remember is that so is almost everyone else, at either end of the range. Of course, the issue is complicated when we move beyond clothes to the fact that one end of the range is socially acceptable and one isn't.

As to the hourglass figure vs fat irritates the crap out of me when magazines/websites call those women fat or larger or zaftig or anything. I'll take voluptuous but just barely. Not that they aren't gorgeous, but an hourglass figure does not a fat women make. Even America Ferrar isn't fat--she just looks big next to the hollywood thin women on the red carpet with her. I have an hourglass figure--when I weigh 150, I'm not fat, but when I weigh 250, I am. (I have a hormone disorder--weight fluctuation is a familiar face here.)

I definitely don't experience that same fat hatred at 200lbs that I do at 300lbs. It's a huge, no pun intended, difference.

I'm rambling now but I'll say that I would like to hear more specific clothes posts, and it would be fine if they included clothes that are considered straight size. Since my top is about a 12/14, it would be useful, to me, to hear from others in the same boat. Also, I would love to see more pics from women on the larger end of the range--I'm sorry if I've contributed to a feeling that those pics are wanted!

Yeah that always bugged me, America Ferrara is a size 8/10. Bah! I should repost my ANTM plus model rant here one of these days.

Yeah well I'm a size 16 hourglass, nowhere near a size 12, and because of all of this wailing about hourglass figures I no longer feel welcome posting my own photos here. Tough nuts for me I suppose.

And we're not playing oppression olympics here but I can see why people react the way they do, mostly because yeah, my day to day issues are absolutely pitiful compared to what someone who is 50, 100 or 300lbs larger than me experiences on a daily basis. Dresses are cut to fit shapes that not all women have and it can be intensely more frustrating to try and dress the way you want at an apple shaped 300lbs than it is to find a hoodie in an XXL when you're a 210lb pear.

That being said, I will concede that not all inbetweenies are fat in my own opinion, but that when I hear people complain it makes me want to claw my eyes out.

I would like to see more larger ladies post again, because I already have my merit badge in Surprisingly Stretchy, and I learn new things from how they dress without fighting their shapes. If you want inbetweenies to post less, well that's a little sticky, but the easiest thing is to encourage larger women to post more. I'm an inbetweenie and I can't post for them soooo well, you know.

Edited at 2008-03-20 01:36 pm (UTC)

"because of all of this wailing about hourglass figures I no longer feel welcome posting my own photos here."

How is a discussion about shape privilege "wailing?"

And if you think that the OP (or anyone) was implying that in betweenies shouldn't post here, then I'm sorry to say that you missed the point.

I also sometimes get discouraged by some of the "OMG You're So Pretty!" comments, but then I realize that often it's about a certain aesthetic that is very youth-culture oriented, and of course, true "fashion" oriented, and that often conforms to this certain "rockabilly-hipster-cool" sense of style that I see so many of our members with. So that, when a larger person with that same sense of style posts, they also get major kudos. But when someone (usually a bit older) posts a more "mainstream" outfit, it gets less comments.

This is entirely natural, as this community is about fashion as much as activism, and the medium of LJ is still somewhat skewed to the young anyways. But let's think about what that *might* mean... younger people *might* be more likely to be inbetweenie or "less fat", where older people (who have had more years, possibly more health problems, etc.) might be more likely to be "more fat". Younger people tend to have more disposable income for things like clothes and accessories (not more income, just more *disposable* income). They also tend to have more time to think about it all, as they are not *usually* juggling kids, work, etc.

So - I'm not able to really put all these thoughts into a nice little summary thesis statement, but I guess I'm just saying that I think all this works together, to both ensure that the younger (often slimmer) bodies do get more attention, as well as possibly more posts. Those who are larger/older/more mainstream (or just not conforming to the current "anti-conformity" uniform) are going to attract less "OMG You're So Pretty!", and less comments in general. BUT, that's no reason to stop posting, it's just a reason for those of us in the latter category to remember to take a moment and post support for those of us brave enough to post!

Hope that made any sense - early in the am still...


I know that the posts I've said "OMG- HOTT!" have generally been women who're smiling, obviously comfortable in the clothes they're wearing, and dressed in colors/shapes that really work for them.

I guess the size thing isn't what I notice- I'm far too "ooh shiny" for that. I notice bright colors, sexy hair and makeup, and funky looks.

I may not feel the same about pastel pantsuits. :)

(Deleted comment)
I have a big stomach and smaller hips and breasts, and everything makes me look pregnant.

Dude, right here. I am a 18/20 straight-hipped B-cup, and nothing I try on at LB or Torrid is designed to fit me. Most plus size clothing assumes larger breasts and hips and smaller waist.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
I feel as though the place of an inbetweenie in a fat arena is just that, an inbetweenie. I feel as though it would be unfair for this community to discount inbetweenie postings, and while I am aware that it probably will not happen, I would just like to throw in my two cents. I'm a solid in-betweenie, apple shaped, 200 or so lbs. at 5'7-8"ish, and a 38D bra. By definition, regardless of the number that is in the tags of my clothes, this makes me fat. I have a solid belly, big boobs, wide hips, with slimmer legs and arms. Therefore, I enjoy seeing outfits put together by women of my size.

I also appreciate, however, outfits posted by women who are much larger than me, because even though I might not be able to wear their clothes, I can draw inspiration from the way they dress as well, whether it's with sexy cleavage or belly-hiding or even "this is my first time trying on a sleeveless top...does it look okay?", which are all, of course, issues we all face.

I feel as though this community is called fatshionista for a's about women who are at the larger end of the size spectrum coming together to gripe about clothes, problems with fit, and other general fatty issues. In large print in the community's info it reads "We are a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, trans-inclusive, queer-flavored, non-gender-specific community, open to everyone." Shouldn't this include all ends of the fat spectrum? I understand that this community has been overrun with inbetweenies recently, and that a lot of the "real" plus-sized members are undoubtedly feeling underrepresented, and I think that it's sad that many of our members have to feel that way. I usually choose to stay out of the fat politics aspects of this community, but isn't a little hypocritical of members in this community, which is supposed to be "diverse and fat-positive", to be biased towards inbetweenies, when they themselves know how it feels to be biased against? I think it's ironic that in a community supporting fat women, there is a standard that you're not fat enough, and doesn't that itself invalidate what we are trying to work towards?

I usually don't post OOTDs because my camera is on the fritz, however, as a lover of fashion and someone who has been involved in the fashion world since about age 6, I love helping other members by offering constructive criticisms and advice on their outfits. It's nice to feel good and have someone compliment you, whether it's coming from a fellow sizs 26, or a size 14. I feel as though perhaps we should move towards making OOTDs more constructive, as opposed to the Paris Hilton-esque "That's hot!", so that all members feel included and comfortable posting.

I think the issue is that inbetweenies enjoy a privileged status in the community, not that they aren't welcome to post - I know I'd never support a rule saying inbetweenies aren't allowed to participate because that WOULD be ridiculous. But because that privilege seems to go entirely unacknowledged, it creates an atmosphere in which many larger fatties aren't comfortable participating. I think, ultimately, it goes back to the whole "if THAT is fat, what am I, some kind of whale?" question that gets asked when really thin people start talking about how fat they are.

(Deleted comment)
This is a topic that I've been trying to collect my thoughts about... keyword there is "trying" :)

I do know that it seems like everyone has trouble finding stuff that fits and looks good. Some people have more challenges with this than others.

A while ago, I had *one* pair of pants that fit and looked ok. I went to numerous common US brick and mortar stores, finding nothing. Eventually, out of desperation, I gathered enough courage to go to Avenue [I didn't have the funds at the time to do online orders and returns at a lot of places]. I chose Avenue over LB because I thought the store would be pretty empty at the time of day I went [and it was]. The 2 salespeople gave me "looks" when I entered... somehow I walked up to them, told them about the pants I was wearing and asked them if they had any suggestions for what I was looking for. After they realized how terrified I was [I'm not outgoing in most situations] and that I was, in fact, wearing a size 16, they were really helpful.

For me, it seems like I'm often not fat (or thin or anything like that) until people find out a number. My size at a certain store, my weight, my measurements, something. Upon finding out that number, their brain tells them what category I fall into based on their experiences. Certain family members, for example, seem to really think I look great... then they hear the numbers and it doesn't work with their idea of what those numbers should translate to in a physical person.

in my mind there is a simple solution...

while I can see the value of this conversation it does sort of seem like the oppression olympics is happening here.

Also people are complaining about the frequency and kind of comments given. First of all you do not know what is exactly in the mind of the commenter and if a simple "pretty" makes you uncomfortable because you feel like kudos to a certain person is a rejection of you- well you are projecting. It is unfair, unrealistic, and silly to ask the mods to be the thought police.

If some young hot thing is posting a picture all decked out in whatever trendy pieces they love, its by far more likely they are doing it for validation than to make you feel bad.

Basically I think people need to be the change they want to see in the community rather than asking others to change how they do things. If you are a size whatever and you want to see more of that size them post pictures of yourself, post pictures of people similar that you admire, compliment peeps that embody that.

Re: in my mind there is a simple solution...

Hey there I'm letting you know I'm friending you. We are in a few of the same communities.


Log in

No account? Create an account