This was originally a rant in a private group, but fuck it, I think it needs saying publicly. This is aimed at certain types of plus size women, the kind who harm a positive movement with their nastiness.
Society is entirely geared towards judging women by appearance alone, we are taught from a young age that we must be pretty, we are sold princess merchandise and dolls, we are given pretty but less practical clothes, we are taught to be passive and pretty. And of course pretty is a set of restrictive ideals, we must be thin, but not too thin. Sexy but not slutty. Modest but not prudish. Curvy but not too curvy. Unless we are one of a very lucky few we will never fit those ideals, for those of us who are overweight we absolutely will not fit into those ideals. And we are reminded of this by stores that refuse to sell our size, stores that sell our size but hide it in a back corner or only online, stores that sell our size but only sell shapeless figure hiding clothes. We are reminded by stores who sell our size but refuse to use women who are anywhere near our size to advertise them. We are reminded by a media that hard sells diets and weight loss to us.
I am so fed up of being told how unacceptable my body is, how my body does not adequately serve it’s primary purpose – which is, of course, to be a passive object to be gazed upon.
So when I am involved in something to do with the plus size community, whether it’s a private group for plus size women, or a store’s page for plus size women, I want them to be as positive as possible. I want them to give me a small break from the reminder that I am deemed unacceptable. But what I’m seeing more and more often is other plus size women saying phrases like “sausage squeezed into a miniature skin” which aren’t exactly helpful when aimed at themselves, but they are disgusting things to aim at other women.
Yes, society might have convinced many people that those of us with a bit of fat need to hide our bodies in loose, shapeless tents, and so it’s accepted that a dress can be too tight when you can see every “lump and bump”. That is an opinion though, some of us have no problem with our lumps and bumps showing, because those lumps and bumps are a part of us, and we are learning to love all of ourselves, not just the bit that fits with societies beauty standards. I will only accept a dress is too tight if it is uncomfortable, literally bursting it’s seams, or not possible to get on at all. Anything else is preference and therefore not a hard and fast rule.
One of my favourite pictures of myself is one where I’m wearing a tight bodycon dress, with my belly clearly showing. My belly which is saggy and large and overhanging. No doubt that picture counts as “sausage squeezed into a miniature skin” but I felt wonderful, and it was a powerful moment for me. It fits, it is comfortable, it is at no risk of structural failure, but it is tight. As far as I’m concerned it’s just as tight as I want it, and if someone else thinks it’s too tight because it shows my figure without disguising/slimming it? Tough.
Saying, “oh well, I’m just trying to save [her/you] from ridicule on the street” is stupid. I already know what society thinks of my figure, I already know how my body repulses people. When I’m in a plus size space I do not need reminding of that, what I need reminding of is that it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to hate myself for not fitting a narrow ideal.
As for, “they shouldn’t post a picture if they didn’t want an opinion”, there’s opinions and then there’s nastiness. And not everyone who posts a picture is asking for opinions. Then you also need to think of those who didn’t post the picture but might have a similar body type. Seeing other women with similar body shapes to my own being told they need to hide or disguise parts of themselves is hurtful. Saying, “well, they did ask” is no consolation.
Here’s the thing, you aren’t saving people by saying it either. If they are in this group they are larger than society deems acceptable, so there will always be nasty fuckers taking the piss. Even if they dress in a way that hides all the lumps and bumps people will take the piss. What we need to do is equip people with the confidence to ignore the shitheads, build them up so they feel so good about themselves that no one can take it from them. And this means telling them they look good, regardless of whether they have made efforts to hide their wobbly bits. And if you can’t compliment them then just keep fucking quiet. Otherwise you are just another shithead taking the piss, but you are doing it wrapped up in faux concern and friendship, and that’s far nastier.