The other day, after I had posted a selfie in a Slack full of friends, one of them said that I always wore such great clothes. That’s the ultimate lie of outfit blogging right there, isn’t it? This idea that we are all 100% of the time 100% put together? That we never just wear boring shit.
Let me tell you, internets, I am wearing boring shit right now as I write this. Because no one can see me and I’m home alone and the cats genuinely do not care what my face looks like.
But also sometimes I wake up still exhausted and running too late to even deal. That’s not because I don’t have exciting things that are easy to reach for – it’s because my emotional capacity to deal with clothes on top of all the other stuff rushing through my head is just not there.
The emotional labor of presentation
On the one hand, I am so completely invested in presentation as a means of self-expression and radical community signaling and I talk a little bit about that here. On the other hand, I’m also a big supporter of recognizing that our energy in this world is finite and some days that energy is going to be taken up by other things.
As much as I love the power of clothing, and as much as I’m never going to be one of those minimalist fashion folks who wear really beautiful uniforms to work every day, I think this is one area where fatshion blogging has kind of led fat community down the garden path a little bit. The vital and electric constant influx of fat people who look amazing has convinced a lot of us that we need to engage in the respectability politics of always being on our A+ game.
Which, I mean, is problematic.
Because if there is only room and energy and emotion for our clothes then we lose out on room and energy and emotion for praxis – not just for fat acceptance but for anti-oppression work in general. And, you know, for living our lives.
We take strength in our presentation a lot of the time – and I’m not down on that. But when we do not have energy to burn and we start beating ourselves up and feeling like we are failing fat people because our hair isn’t perfect? Then, y’all, lines have been crossed and we need to chill just a little bit.
Some mornings are rough
I’ve been sleeping pretty good these days but some mornings are still a struggle. And on those particular mornings, there’s a pair of pants for which I reach that make me yawn even as I put them on. They’re a black ponte knit sort of pant from that old standby Lane Bryant. They’re too short because every couple of years I fall for the absolute lie that petite pants from LB won’t shrink in length.
Spoiler alert: the petite pants from LB always always shrink up in length.
So, I mean, not only are these pants boring, they’re also fucking ridiculous because they don’t break right across my shoe. But they are comfortable as hell because they don’t have a tight waistband and I can throw on a long-sleeved black shirt of whatever nondescript variety and be done getting dressed.
If I am feeling proud of myself for putting on pants, I’ll pair them with some interesting Dr. Martens at least but generally I’m putting on some beat up Converse All Stars.
Being boring is nothing to be scared of
Inevitably, on these boring outfit days, I run into someone I haven’t seen in ages or otherwise have reason to wish I’d gone all out. But mostly I’m glad to have worn something that lets me, to some small degree, blend in and signal that, hey, I’m just kind of tired and don’t want to engage with whatever bullshit is bullshitting around. It’s a little bit of protective camouflage in as much as a great big opinionated fat woman can ever be camouflaged really.
Also, though, and here’s the really honest thing, I’ve reached the point in my life where it is okay if I don’t stand out for reasons I strictly control. It doesn’t change how often or not that I get cow called but it does have an impact how many people treat me like I’m a human being – if I’ve gone through a lot of effort with my presentation, I am absolutely treated better when out in public. If I’m in boring streetwear, then more people think they can get away with ignoring me or otherwise treating me like my fatness is ruining their day.
Maybe I’m a terrible person, but those moments are great to me now. Because how dare they? How dare they make the assumption that I’m an easy target just because I’m not wearing all of my warning colors?
People almost always seem to regret that mistake. And it warms my cold cold heart.
Wear whatever the hell you want
Stop feeling guilty because you’re wearing jeans and a nerdy t-shirt. Stop feeling guilty because you don’t put on a full face of makeup to go to the grocery store. Stop feeling guilty because sometimes you are too tired to change out of your pajamas. You are not failing anyone, yourself included. You’re doing just fine.
At some point I’m going to replace these damn pants with a pair that isn’t too short. I’ll hate them in other ways because the rise will be too long or the waistband will fit funny or whatever. But they’ll be my trusty boring pants for the days when my will and energy are directed elsewhere. In the meantime, this is what I’ve got and this is what I’m going to keep doing and if you see me, know that it doesn’t mean I’m any easier a target.