On Fatshion and the Privilege of Buying Clothes

I've been reading Lesley Kinzel's new book "Two Whole Cakes" for a review I'm hoping to write next week. I'm really enjoying it thus far. There is a section early in the book on fashion that does a fantastic job explaining what it means for a fat woman to just buy clothes. Its the sort of thing I imagine a lot of fat women just take for granted. I've known about the routine for a while being romantically involved with fat women. Its one of those privileges non-fat people take so for granted it probably never even occurs to them what a hassle it is for fat people to just get dressed. Lesley relates this in how she responds to people complimenting her on her good taste and how they really don't understand what goes into it. As she puts it "I SLAYED A FUCKING DRAGON BEFORE I COULD BUY THIS DRESS."

Even as a fat person, I could easily be unaware of the kind of ordeal this is for fat women. As a man, and as a comparatively thin man, I experience a lot of privilege with purchasing clothing. My wife, though really not much if any bigger than me, does everything Lesley describes in her book. Buying an outfit means maybe going to a number of stores and hoping a plus-size section might have something she wants. More likely, it means buying numerous sets of clothes online, trying them on to see if they fit, and paying to return whatever doesn't. Retail environments have withheld service from fat women, forcing them to either make due or essentially pay for the privilege of a dressing room. Do thin women get how much a privilege fitting rooms are? How much a privilege the wealth of options they have at their nearby mall is?

I'm very aware of my own privileges regarding clothing, in part because they are actually quite precarious. I'm a cusp size, meaning if I was any larger, my clothing options would plummet dramatically. I might not even need to be larger. Over the last few years, options at my size have been steadily dwindling. I can't tell you how frustrating I'm finding the fitted/slim fit movement. Its stealing the last inch I had available to me. Already, at the stores I regularly frequent, I've been shunted into online-only territory. As "fashionable" men's styles become a diverse gallery of slim fit to extra slim fit to fuck you fatty fat, online buying is getting more dicey.

Over February, I posted some Fatshion photo sets on Tumblr as I've been increasingly interested in how I related to fashion. I want to be more daring and creative and colorful and I'm already feeling constricted by the options available to me at retail. I'm not looking forward to the prospect of being further pushed aside as so many fat people already are. I'm even pondering trying to teach myself how to sew and tailor so I can try to create some styles that just don't exist. Like, I might want to try colored khakis, but right now I'm too fat for that. I'm keen on experimenting with colorful vests, but that's just not something that exists in my size. I'm faced with the prospect of commissioning garments or trying to take them on myself, either of which is a daunting prospect, but one that's just every day life for a lot of fat people. Just the fact that I haven't already been forced into this is a privilege I must recognize. I'm not sure thin people ever see just how much privilege they have in the things they regard as banal.