Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is Tim Gunn officially the only nice person in fashion?

"I feel like a model. It justifies everyone in my life who told me I wouldn’t be anything until I lost weight. It justifies that little girl who cried because she didn’t think she could be in front of the camera. And it’s for other girls who feel like they can’t do this or that and feel like they’re not pretty and not worthy of having their photo taken." --Gabourey Sidibe

A few days ago, I was playing on StumbleUpon (which, by the way, if you haven’t downloaded, do yourself a favor and do it NOW), when a very interesting site came my way. The title was “Full Figured Fashion Week: How To Be Fashionably Fat”. Thinking that this had to be some type of sarcastic twist on itself (they couldn’t be serious), I read on. Funnily enough, the writer, a person named Gendy Alimurung, was in fact completely serious. So serious, that the entire article was about these full figured women and how great it was that they were having their own show during fashion week.

At risk of making this entire blog about my hatred for the way that Gendy wrote about these women, I will steer my feelings towards their rightful destination: The fact that these women, be it plus sized or “fatshionistas” (yes, that IS the word she used), are NORMAL WOMEN. Those of you that know me in person (and have only met me within the past 4 years) might be saying, “Jess, why the hell do you care?” I care because I used to be one of these women. Almost every shopping trip with my mom would result in me crying in the dressing room, crying in the car, or crying at home. They just didn’t make “cute” juniors clothes in plus sizes while I was going to middle school and high school. I would have to shop in the women’s department when I was in 6th grade.

Although Gendy makes valid points with the “how to survive stylishly in a thin person’s world”, it is pointed out at the beginning of the article that they aren’t even her points! They are from these “Fatshionistas”. After rereading the entire article, that same fury that was inside me the first time has returned with full force. The world, especially the fashion industry as a whole, needs to realize that this is what real women look like. Do you ever wonder why you go to a store and the only sizes they seem to have are 0-4? It’s because nobody is that size. Take it from a girl who used to be a 24, stores sell out of the bigger sizes first.

Plus sized women are often treated as not only lesser beings, but in my opinion also like women with a deformity. Being overweight isn’t an ailment, it isn’t a birth defect (which Ms. Gendy should realize, as her Twitter picture clearly portrays her to be one of these women she is writing about). It is something that is a part of you, like a haircut. It can be changed if you want, but it’s who you are. Stop smiling at the heavy girl because she found a coat that works for her. Don’t pat yourself on the back because you remembered to not have everyone announce their t-shirt size aloud for that team building workshop. I’m not telling you not to have manners. I’m simply requesting that you understand that “full figured” women are the same as “skinny” women: the only difference is that they just have a nicer rack and can fill out their jeans better.

Yes, I understand that since the beginning of time, people have been obsessed with weight and sizes. I get that as much as I beg and plead, nobody will ever fully stop talking about it. Hell, I just took time out of my sleeping schedule to write a blog about it. All I ask is that we stop treating these women like they’re different. They aren’t. They’re normal. They don’t need their own form of fashion week-- fashion week should include everyone. (Just ask Tim Gunn. In his book, Gunn's Golden Rules he clearly states that he feels that plus sized women are treated as lesser beings when they should be treated equally.)

I want to apologize if this comes off as a rant, but this is a very sensitive subject for me. As someone who has openly struggled with body image and weight issues for most of my life, I feel that something needs to be said. I do have a message for these women who participated in this “full figured fashion week”: Good for you. And I’m saying “Good for you” in a way that you give props to your friend who just socked the prom queen in the face.