Plus-size fashion is in the spotlight thanks to the work of bloggers, magazines and clothing retailers who see the need for it. This global community wouldn’t be where it is today without the success of the body positivity movement. While some people still struggle to reclaim this three letter word, fat feminism and fat acceptance are the sagely ancestors of body positivity. Our modern-day hashtags and campaigns began with the Fat Liberation Manifesto in 1973.
Like all movements, fat acceptance has seen waves of change. Fashion became an important part of the body positivity wave soon the start of the new millennium. Bloggers such as Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista, Chastity Garner of Garner Style, Monique Frausto of Curves and Chaos, Allison Teng of Curvy Girl Chic and Gabi of GabiFresh are among the pioneers of the plus size fashion blogging revolution.
Former plus size models Emme, Gwen DeVoe and Velvet D’Amour have created important platforms for fashion, mentoring, modelling, advocacy and writing. Magazines like Plus Model Magazine, Daily Venus Diva and Skorch magazine keep readers up to date on plus-size fashion trends, highlight major events like Full Figured Fashion Week and contribute empowering body positive articles. Body positive advocates such as Virgie Tovar, Jes Baker and Ashleigh Shackleford highlight the importance of intersectionality in fashion. Retail clothing companies like Smart Glamour, Ready To Stare and Chubby Cartwheels are setting the bar for diverse fashion representation.
So how exactly do we infuse body positivity into plus size fashion?
Here is how Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista does it:
“You know what? A lot of times, we speak and push the body positivity message without really realizing it. Sometimes just posting an image of yourself, sharing a picture of someone’s look you love, or an article that speaks so much truth, is a form of incorporating body positivity into our work. For me, it had always been about the clothes and the options and along the way, the advocacy, body image focus, and self love topics came about. Funny how that worked! Now? It is always at the forefront of any conversation, event, image that we share!
“How do I incorporate it into my articles? I think about representation: is the model visibly Plus, am I featuring a diverse range of women, am I featuring women of colour, have I shone the light on others in the game who may not get love? How transparent am I being? (This last question I have found is where most of my body positivity comes in, as I share my own hangups, thoughts, and insecurities. Sometimes knowing you are not alone in your thoughts is refreshing and takes the weight off your shoulders!). So I share!
“Body positivity allows me to bring other conversations to the mix, to the blog, and to others! I have been very fortunate to also have new contributors who share their voice, thoughts, and ideas, bringing in varied perspectives, walks of life, and views!”
This is how Katana Fatale, the plus size model, blogger and body positive advocate, integrates it into her work:
“I incorporate body positivity through my posts by ensuring that I’m posting content that shows my journey of self-love through fatshion. Why do I wear crop tops practically every day? Because I hid my stomach every day of my life up until a year ago. I spent so much of my life trying to look as if I took up less space, that I now feel my posts are all about accentuating the space I take up. Adorning that space. I only hope that that fuels others to do the same.”
Some of us in the community — like yours truly — come from a feminist and mental health perspective on body positivity. That is how I choose to incorporate the importance of banishing diet culture and body dysmorphia. Instead, there is an emphasis on self care, the importance of addressing internalized fat phobias, questioning the beauty standards we are expected to uphold and appreciating the imperfect human body. Fashion is a fun way of making a body positive statement — Here I am, a plus size woman of color, loud and proud! My reasons for highlighting the body positive aspect of fashion run parallel with Marie and Katana’s, and it is safe to say that a lot of us plus size bloggers or people working within the industry feel the same way.
Body positive fashion is about doing away with the labels that come with a size and taking away the shame that has been ingrained by society’s views of plus sized forms. It is about having pertinent discussions on reclaiming our bodies and being vehicles of change. It is about denouncing the “perfect” plus sized body and showing the spectrum of silhouettes we come in.
Body Positive hashtags, campaigns and movements are all for naught if we do not showcase plus size people of different genders and sexual orientations, plus-size folk living with disabilities, plus size people of color and different ages. There is great power in these images we share, and they encourage those of us who have shied away from visibility to finally gain acknowledgement.
Maybe you are overcoming your fears of wearing what you want to wear in defiance of the years you have been told what would best “flatter” you, or you would like to change up your wardrobe so you finally have one that reflects more of who you are. The plus-sized form is celebrated today more than it ever has been — despite what the trolls may say. Body positivity is the means by which we are allowed to challenge ridiculous notions of how plus sized people should exist or feel about ourselves.