Thursday, January 26

On bodies, respect and blogging

Okay, so as a blogger, I consent for my images to enter the public realm. This has been good for the main part, and I've made new friends, established myself in a body positive online community, and gotten a lot of support for my body from lots of people. However, there are horrible aspects too - images being taken without my consent, lots of internet snark, and occasional abusive comments. This also sometimes comes from within the fashion community (sometimes within the plus size blogging community too, which really makes me sad, as that's a space where I believe we shouldn't be exposed to diet/weight loss chatter).

The main thing I've wanted to explore lately is the interconnection between being a fashion blogger, a visible female, and being body positive. More mainstream fashion communities are intensely body policing and based around body hierarchies that mean that one body can look better in another. Even plus size stores like Evans preach dialogues of "flattery" and dressing to "suit your shape", which means that even shopping often involves the ongoing repetition that your body is inferior to others. These communities often seem to fragment our bodies, and I've seen my own body receive the same treatment quite a lot lately, because I don't hide my fattest parts. My belly is on display too much, my necklines are too high, my skirts are too short, and this must make me a bit delusional (because I wouldn't show these parts if someone just pointed my error to me!). We're almost told to "take responsibility" for our bodies and hide these fat parts for the sake of others - as if our bodies are public property that must be managed appropriately.

I've participated in fashion communities for years, when I was dieting and since I've become fat positive. I do so because I like clothes, and that's something I refuse to be made ashamed of. However, I don't believe that as a fat woman, I have to made any sacrifices for my body. Following these set rules and conditions to dress acceptably mean that shopping and dressing is no fun for me, as I'm constantly trying to fit within a strict set of variables, and hey, shopping for fat sized clothes is already tough enough as it is without rules to add to the mix!

I believe that one item of clothing can look amazing on a variety of different shapes. There isn't a body hierarchy to me because of this because of this. I don't believe that, as a female identified person or as a blogger, I am obliged to dress in any way - and I don't believe that anyone else is either. If you're fat and you want to wear spandex, or a unitard, or leggings as pants, or mini skirts, hot pants, body con dresses, and it makes you feel good then wear it. Similarly, I don't believe that anyone is obliged to dress "on trend" or in anything other than what they want to wear. Fashion is fun for me, but if it's not for you, then you don't need to spend time on it. I believe that part of feeling good in your body is finding a way to feel comfortable in it, whether that's dressing high fashion or low maintenance. I'm not interested in making anyone feel bad for having less (or no!) commitment to fashion than me.

It's disrespectful to comment negatively on someone's body in clothing (and out of clothing, and ever!) to me, for a variety of reasons. For one, you don't know what access they have to certain resources (I get pretty angry when people ask me to get a better bra, for instance, because large back small cup bras are pretty hard (and expensive) to come by), or how they feel about their body, or anything about their relationship to themselves. Also, dressing is personal expression for me, and, controversial as this opinion may be, I don't really believe in a right or wrong way to dress - just what works for me, personally. If you don't like the way someone dresses, don't read their blog. Learn to comment in a way that respects the poster (you can constructively criticise an outfit, but in a way that leaves body commentary out). Don't presume you know better than them, or anything about them.

Right now, fashion isn't a democracy (sadly it probably never will be). It's an industry that makes money out of telling people to "better" themselves constantly. Most of us will never be the person in fashion advertisements, but brands will have you believe that with the right amount of money, commitment, and weight loss regimes, we can become that. I believe that blogging can help to shift these attitudes, and help to focus on inspiring people of different shapes, gender identities, colours, abilities to dress the way the want to, not the way they've been told to. I appreciate the diversity I see in fashion blogging now, but I also acknowledge and hope that there could be a lot more. However, this won't happen unless fashion blogging becomes a friendlier, and more respectful, space.

No comments:

Post a Comment