Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Body Beautiful

I’ve never thought I was allowed to enjoy fashion, and the fashion industry has done little to dissuade me of that notion. As a woman of size, as a fat woman, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen anyone who looks anything like me in fashion magazines or on fashion websites. I’ve admired fashion from afar, treated avant-garde pieces and couture outfits as forbidden fruit. At times, fashion has taunted me as I flipped through the glossy pages of Vogue or W or Marie Claire. I’ve admired beautifully cut blouses and billowing slacks and strangely cut but intriguing skirts. I’ve thought, If I were thin enough, I might be able to taste this forbidden fruit. I might know what it feels like to wear beautiful clothing and feel beautiful in beautiful clothing.
There are all kinds of women and men and non-binary people like me who have wanted to feel like a part of the fashion world, but who have been implicitly and/or explicitly excluded. Most designers only make clothes for very specific bodies-impossibly thin, angular, lacking in curves. And certainly, that very specific body exists, but it is not the only body. It is not the kind of body most people live in. Designers make it seem like they are not so interested in clothing women but are, instead, interested in clothing the idea of a woman. Fashion magazines only reinforce this narrow aesthetic by featuring this elusive idea of a woman on their pages.
But what do those of us who are more than an idea or ideal do? What do we wear? How do we express ourselves through clothing when we have so few interesting options? If we do not see ourselves represented in fashion, in film and television, in literature, how do we feel like we belong to a community beyond ourselves? These are questions I have struggled with for a very long time and will continue to struggle with not only as a fat woman, but as a black woman, and a bisexual woman.

Read more at NYLON
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