Maybe it’s a natural part of turning 40 to look back on being 20; the days since my birthday have felt like a long series of moments full of deja vu. When Marilyn Manson released a new single, the idea that I had woken up in some weird Groundhog Day AU of 1997 struck me and I laughed and laughed as I reached for the same Dr. Martens I bought and wore that year. Hell, I’m not sure Torrid even existed in that year. I was working looks cobbled together from my job at Lane Bryant, the Hot Topic clearance racks, and Ross.
But the truth is that, for me at least, turning 40 has been very much like turning 20 – a new freedom and a new perspective and the feeling that anything is possible. Except all of that feeling is amplified by how much more competent I am at being myself. My 20s were shit, folks. My 40s are going to be phenomenal.
Blogging at Old
So, why blog about that? Especially in the context of clothing? I mean, fatshion blogging is predominantly the domain of the young and (generally smaller) fat among us. Fashion itself often targets a youthful market and I have no reservations saying I am glad to be out of that. (My kingdom is now apparently skin care meant to minimize the signs of aging, whoohoo.)
Honestly, I’ve been putting on clothes for 40 years. I’ve been doing so with differing degrees of deliberation for 40 years. And I’ve spent the last decade especially watching the evolution of the plus size clothing market with a special kind of awe.
For me, clothing is always political because clothing is tied to presentation. Our ability to freely present ourselves in the manner that best suits us is a fundamental marker of identity – as well as how we signal all sorts of things from subculture markers to situational messaging. Our clothing is our advanced warning system, our armor, our plumage attracting the fat community we want to see in the world.
Why I’m here now
Back in the day, on the Livejournal community Fatshionista, we used to joke about how much we wanted to have a secret handshake. I think about that desire to connect even now when I pass a fat person in a stylish outfit, their movement confident and their gaze direct instead of apologetic about their size.
The accessibility of fat sizes has changed a lot – for the better in some ways and distinctly for the ill in others – over the last ten years. And I thought I was content to observe as I largely have been in general, especially since a series of unfortunate events led to the loss of all the content on therotund.com (which still makes me sick to my stomach so maybe I’m never getting over that). But – in an amusing parallel with how I came to be a fat acceptance blogger in the first place – I can’t seem to stop talking about clothes lately. Don’t get me wrong: I’m no fatshion blogger. Other people are way fucking better at that than me and always have been. But, and this is what I love about blogging, this is my party and I’ll talk about ethical plus size shopping versus accessible plus size shopping if I want to.
Putting clothes on
I’m a 40-year-old superfat femme with a mobility impairment and a real small closet. Every time I leave the house, part of how people treat me is determined by the image I construct for them, the artifice and the artificial, all of it genuine. This body I spent so long making peace with and coming to love still needs to be clothed.
When I was 20 years old, I was stubborn and particularly bad at being told I couldn’t do something. The intervening years have moderated all of that somewhat – but at my heart, I’m still real bad at other people’s rules.
Which is maybe why I said all of that to say: Hey, I wear a lot of Torrid, and I am EVANGELICAL in my fervor for their bralettes, but that fashion show, whew. Read this article and think about what a damn low bar we have set at this point for plus size brands that this happened and people keep writing about it in the media like it’s the Seconding Coming of Fat Jesus.
We deserve better.