There is a lot of fat fear floating around in the world right now. A LOT. That fear generates bullying, prejudice, policing, and judgment from sources both expected and unexpected, and it is a fear that is both socially sanctioned and systemically encouraged. Since I don’t believe that weight is the sole factor in determining health, and since I believe that the health of others is none of my business, I write and speak out frequently about the issues surrounding fat fear and hatred.
It was recently brought to my attention that I don’t spend much time examining the other side of the coin. Fat girls get teased, told they need to go on diets, inundated with hurtful comments about their shape and size. Skinny girls also get teased, told they’ve got eating disorders, inundated with hurtful comments about their shape and size. The world loves to criticize big bodies, and the eagerness to do so seems to be very much on the rise. But the world can be pretty keen to wag fingers at little bodies, too. Think about how many “she needs a sandwich” comments you’ve heard in the past few weeks. Contemplate how dismissive the “real women have curves” rhetoric could feel to someone who lacks those curves. Consider how quickly people jump to judgment upon seeing a prominent collarbone or set of slender arms. Women who are naturally thin can become targets for brutal body snarking, as The Waves described in her guest post on what it’s like to be a model. And while certain thin bodies receive social privileges, there is often an undercurrent of anger and judgment even as those privileges are doled out.
Originally posted 2012-07-23 06:47:09.
I talk a lot about traditional figure flattery. In no small part because that’s what you folks tell me interests you, and because the questions you have are typically very specific and include topics not covered by style books and magazines. I find it fascinating to learn about the challenges you face in dressing your personal best, and love to explore options with you.
I’m also fascinated by the F*ck Flattering movement which was more or less sparked by a tee shirt designed by Gisela Ramirez, and have read with interest the responses to this conscious rebellion against fashion rules and dressing norms. In common use, “flattering” means something that “makes your body appear tall, thin, balanced, and hourglass-shaped.” It also implies limiting jiggle, covering cellulite, wrinkles, and scars, keeping a large bust in check, and lots of control-related mandates. Traditional ideas of figure flattery are rooted in a very narrow beauty ideal, tied to the male gaze and heteronormativity, and extremely exclusionary. Looking past the obvious sizeism, consider that some petite women will never appear tall and some thin women will never appear hourglassy. “Flattering,” in common use, tries to force a marvelously diverse population of women into a very specific idealized shape.
Originally posted 2013-07-22 06:02:00.
Reader Nicole wrote an e-mail asking for some posts that discuss style for very thin women. Specifically:
Advice for dressing thinner frames, both petite and lanky – like what flatters the parts to flaunt and enhances any curves. (It took me about three unfortunate years to realize clothes that “drape” are better than skin-tight fabrics that show everything you’ve got.)
Slender frames come in as many shapes and sizes and configurations as curvy ones, so this is a tough question to tackle! Also, as you may have noticed, I’m on the curvier end of the spectrum myself, and therefore have no personal experience with flattering a very thin body. So I will outline a few suggestions that have worked for my slender clients, and send you to the comments section for more input.
Originally posted 2012-08-08 06:50:28.