Guest Blogger Tasha Fierce: Jillian Michaels Be Illin’!

Tasha Fierce is THE shit! Her work been featured on Racialicious and Jezebel. She’s the creative director and the real boss of IFMiB, which is to say she handles all the administrative duties while I dish Milos Forman!

Shapelings, show your love for Miss Fierce.

So screeching, overly pushy Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels refuses to “ruin her body with pregnancy“, in other words, fatten up. Think of the stretch marks! The post-baby pooch! Apparently Ms. Michaels was fat as a teen and just can’t handle having a baby mess up her weigh ins again. I don’t want to judge her choice to not bear children, it’s her body – but I don’t appreciate the implicit fatphobia implied in saying pregnancy would ruin her body.

This celebrity aversion to gaining weight during pregnancy is nothing new, of course. It’s unfortunate that it’s the case, however, because it just ends up fat shaming women, who don’t have access to trainers or 5 hours of time to spend every day working out, and tend to gain much more weight while pregnant. And again, it just goes back to the general fatphobia constantly pervading our collective consciousness, to the point that the natural and needed weight gain associated with pregnancy is something to be reviled and avoided at all costs.

The whole celebrity “lose the baby weight in 10 days” drama plays out on the pages of tabloids every day. Because female celebrities are unfortunately seen as role models for everyday women, losing the weight fast after pregnancy is seen as a primary goal to be reached, even to the detriment of a woman’s self-image and esteem – or even health. Women are made to feel bad if they gain too much weight during pregnancy or take too long to lose it.

You see the effects in makeover shows featuring women trying desperately to lose the baby weight and devaluing their own bodies for the changes it went through during pregnancy. If we can’t be fat at the one time in our lives that weight gain is supposed to be healthy, that obviously doesn’t bode well for those of us that are just plain fat. So please, Ms. Michaels, adopt as many kids as you want and never bear a child, but refrain from saying that a fat body is “ruined”. Of course, when your whole job consists of fat shaming, this may be too much to ask.

Links: Ladies We Love

Kate writes a mash note to Gabourey Sidibe of Precious, who could not be any more fabulous if she was abducted by aliens from the Fabulous Nebula.

Long-time SP hero Lesley from Fatshionista is the star of today’s Boston Globe! Congratulations, Lesley, on your continued march toward world domination and a more fatshionable world. We adore you!

Items… Of … Interest!

Please read the post title in a Futurama announcer voice.

Welcome to 2010, Shapelings! Have some links.

Kate takes on the “no fatties” dating site controversy at Broadsheet.

Jezebel’s Jenna discusses V Magazine’s latest plus size fashion shoot, which features back fat and belly rolls! For reals!

Lauredhel talks full body scanners, disability, and privacy at FWD.

Latoya inaugurates “Moff’s Law” at Racialicious, and we are totally copying her on that. It starts so deliciously and just gets better:

Of all the varieties of irritating comment out there, the absolute most annoying has to be “Why can’t you just watch the movie for what it is??? Why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do you have to analyze it???”

If you have posted such a comment, or if you are about to post such a comment, here or anywhere else, let me just advise you: Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Shut your goddamn fucking mouth. SHUT. UP.

Read the whole thing.

“The most beautiful girl in the world would be completely picked apart”

Behold! The Queen of the Fat-o-sphere and the, uh, Fairy Princess of Plus-Size Modeling have combined powers! Kate interviews the lovely Crystal Renn for Salon. They talk about eating disorders, the treatment of models, and Crystal’s new book (cowritten by Marjorie Ingall, who delurked here recently — hi Marjorie!). It’s a terrific interview, and I for one am delighted to hear what Crystal Renn has to say, so we can put a voice to that gorgeous face.

Don’t be this boring, ever

Actual sentence appearing on cnn.com today as a caption to a photo:

Jessica Ordona (in white) disliked the fit of her jeans, so she signed up for a class she says addressed the issue.

Dear inhabitants of planet Earth: If you need a special class to make you like the fit of your jeans, YOU ARE WEARING THE WRONG JEANS.

This obviously is infuriating for all the usual FA and feminist reasons, but what’s killing me today is the sheer fucking drabness of a world where people are convinced that instead of thinking creatively about how to dress, they should pay money to sculpt their asses so they can wear the same fucking clothes as everyone else. There is a whole world of creative people out there who look awesome in clothing, and it’s not because they spend five days a week doing ass workouts. It’s because they use their fabulous minds rather than their six-pack abs to decide what to wear.

Don’t like how you look in skinny jeans? For god’s sake, wear something else. Someone profited by convincing you to put on the jeans in the first place; don’t let someone profit off the fact that they don’t fit you now that you have them.

Hidden Plus Sizes on Etsy

You may already know that Etsy is a middle-class fat girl’s dream when it comes to stores like Jane BonBon, MissBrache, and SelenaEon (reviewed by stitchtowhere on Fatshionista), all of whom specialize in or at least explicitly advertise plus sizes. If you’ve got the money to buy new clothes but don’t think you have the money to get everything bespoke, Etsy sellers skirt that line — affordable personal seamstresses for all! Marianne collected a bunch of plus-size sellers in a recent post, and her readers actually turned me on to a few shops I hadn’t known about (I spend a LOT of time on Etsy, but it’s also a vast site with a lot of chaff to sift through). For fatties with the freedom to spend about $100 on a dress, there are plenty of talented dressmakers working in 14+. Kate, incidentally, wore a Jane Bonbon custom creation for her party; there was some waiting involved, as there always is for handmade stuff and especially for Jane because she’s in high demand, and the dress still required a little alteration when she got it, but she got to set the parameters of the dress herself and work with someone who knows how to design for fat bodies. (Jane’s making me a skirt too, and she asked me whether I had a sticky-out butt — she likes to add a bit of length in the back for the big-arsed among us, so that our skirts maintain an even hemline. That’s service!)

What you might not have known is that not all the plus sizes on Etsy are out in the open. Because of the high level of customization and personal attention that’s generally involved in an Etsy store’s business model, many stores displaying a standard straight-size range will happily open their size charts’ borders to let in paying customers. SM and I both had experiences recently with sellers whose posted size charts top out at L or XL, but who are still body-positive and happy to make their wares you-sized. Below the fold, we offer reviews, with links and (headless) pictures.

Continue reading

Party Pictures

As most of you know, one of the reasons I’ve been largely absent from the blog recently is that I was planning my wedding reception — for 6 months after the actual wedding. In another state. WHILE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FUCKING BOOK TOUR. Boy, am I ever not going to repeat that mistake with my next wedding.

Anyway, the party was a total blast — I honestly didn’t expect to have as much fun at my own reception as I did. For your enjoyment (and to get a post up without my actually having to write anything intelligent), I present the following pictures. I tried to include the best available shots of my dress, which was a custom Jane BonBon — essentially this plus this plus a boatneck, with all the detail tone-on-tone. I cropped Al out of the last one, since he doesn’t like me posting pics of him (even though I have before, oh well), and I left three of my grad school besties in the group shot, because I’m pretty sure they’ve all authorized me to post photos of them in the past, but, uh, HI GUYS IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE HERE E-MAIL ME.

So. Friday night, everyone who was already there met up at a pub, and then a group of the most accomplished drinkers continued on to the fucking ridiculous penthouse suite we got free for a night as part of the hotel’s Please, Please Have Your Wedding Here Even Though There’s a Recession package. Four of the most accomplished drinkers, of course, were Fillyjonk, Sweet Machine, Marianne and me:

As Fillyjonk said, the Photoshopping makes them look both more disturbing and soberer.

As Fillyjonk said, the Photoshopping makes them look both more disturbing and soberer.

The next afternoon, I went out to get my hair and make-up done. Here is the kind of responsible, organized person I am: I made sure to arrange in advance to have my friend Chris show up with champagne for me to sip during this process (see below), yet I completely forgot to get SOMETHING TO PUT IN MY HAIR, which was kind of a crucial part of the planned ‘do.

Arty!

Arty!

Fortunately, one of the nice things about throwing a big party is that the morning of, everyone you know asks if you need anything. Naturally, none of them expect you to say yes, but when my friend Jo asked, I was all, “Yeah, could you swing by Target and find me ANYTHING to stick in my hair? Bobby pins with pearls on the end, or the least tacky fake flower available or something?” She accepted the mission — and recruited her husband and our friend Meg to join her — but the poor things got more than they bargained for. Target had squat. Macy’s had squat. Much furious texting ensued, and finally, I was like, “Can you find me a live flower?” Please note that Jo, her husband and Meg were all very much from out of town, so I was sending them running all over a strange city because I was too scatterbrained to remember a hair accessory. That is love, man. And eventually, they came through with something way better than I would have gotten for myself:

I didn't look nearly this good from the front.

I didn't look nearly this good from the front.

Here I am with the three aforementioned grad school friends, illustrating why women with huge boobs are often advised to avoid boatnecks. (On the up side, I was able to wear a full-coverage grandma bra and never had to worry about my boobs falling out of the dress — or about the traditional Beginning of Summer Heat Rash I had all over my chest. Woo hoo!)

Hence the term "Rack of Doom."

Hence the term "Rack of Doom."

Here are Sweet Machine and Fillyjonk, all gussied up and minus heads. (FJ ‘shopped the other one for me, but my skills are limited to inelegant cropping.) Fillyjonk scored that dress at Marshall’s a few hours before the reception, and I cannot believe it fit her that perfectly off the rack. NOT THAT I’M BITTER OR ANYTHING. She was shedding glitter everywhere all night, but she looked amazing — as did Sweet Machine, who is wearing a dress she got at Vive la Femme, in case any in-betweenies are wondering if it’s worth a trip. (Also, when I did the reading there, the friend at the far right of the pic above — who I think wears about a size 4 or 6, usually — managed to find a 0x top that looks great on her. So the bad news is, some “plus-size” designers are fucking looped in terms of sizing, which we already knew, but the good news is, if you’re a smaller fat or even a non-fat, you might be able to find something at Vive.)

HEADLESS FATTIES FROM THE INTERNET (except for how one of them's not fat)

HEADLESS FATTIES FROM THE INTERNET (except for how one of them's not fat)

The dome thingy where we did cocktails and dancing (at the Millennium Hotel Minneapolis, if anyone’s looking for a venue) looked awesome once the sun went down, as did Marianne. Well, she looked awesome in daylight, too, but I love this picture. Her dress is from Torrid — I believe it’s this one.

Head-ed fatty from the internet!

Head-ed fatty from the internet!

Al and I both brought comfy shoes to change into, but holy shit, I waited too long. I mean, my original shoes were fairly sensible, all things considered — Naturalizers with only about a two and a half inch heel. Problem is, I have plantar fasciitis in my right foot (or at least, I’m 99% sure I do — have never gone to a doctor about it), which almost never bothers me because I wear flats with ridiculous arch support 99% of the time. But when I wear heels? It always bothers me for a day or two afterwards. When I dance in heels for two straight hours before remembering I brought flats to change into? Turns out I wake up the next morning, take one step, scream in pain, and seriously consider sending Al to CVS to buy me a cane. (I managed without one — it’s always worst right upon waking, and the pain soon downgraded itself to a non-screaming level — but I was limping for a day and a half. Definitely the worst foot pain I’ve ever had, which probably means I really should go to the doctor and get custom orthotics instead of relying on Danskos and Mephistos to keep it at bay.) Anyway, these (Borns) would have been great, if I’d put them on sooner:

ow ow ow ow ow

ow ow ow ow ow

And finally, we arrive at the end of the evening, where I am soaked with sweat from dancing all night — turns out when the playlist is almost all songs you picked, you’re not as motivated to take a break as you might be — looking both happy and slightly evil, which kind of sums up my relationship with Al.

Sweaty fat girl!

Sweaty fat girl!

There you go, Shapelings. I wish you all could have been there, except that would have been really expensive.

Now that I’m done with the planning process, I’d like to say I’ll be around more often, but honestly, I just started working on another book proposal, so don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, FJ, SM, and AS will be doing what they can, and you can use this thread to talk about whatever you feel like talking about.

Wait, you mean there are supposed to be WOMEN inside these clothes?

You might have noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of content lately, because things happen — most notably, Kate and I have to go be professional writers sometimes, not to mention the fact that we’re both pretty strenuously ADD, and SM and A Sarah have the equally if not more time-consuming demands of academia. Also, sometimes we burn out on blogging. We’re grateful every time you guys pick up and run with an open thread or a Friday Fluff, because even though this is one of the most rewarding hobbies in the world it is still a hobby, and some days when you only have the mental energy to keep yourself fed, exercised, and employed, it falls by the wayside.

Anyway, like last time we were silent for a while, we’ll offer up as a consolation prize a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of how it works at SP. A reader sent us a link to this article, and the following conversation ensued:

FJ: Can anyone tell what the hell this article is SAYING?

Kate: No, no I cannot. I think maybe it’s that fatphobia doesn’t exist because capitalism does.

FJ: I’m getting something like… standardized sizes don’t fit anyone, so they don’t fit plus sizes, so you should stop selling plus sizes.

Sarah: My most charitable read is that she’s distinguishing the average weight from the mean weight.  Her argument, as I see it, is that it’s in the economic interests of the clothing companies to make clothes near the mean (rather than the average simply because that’s how they can maximize the number of people who can wear their clothes while minimizing what they spend on developing different sizes.

IOW, even though the “average” size may be a 14, that doesn’t mean that’s the single size (or range of a few sizes) that the greatest number of women can wear.  There’s a big range of sizes above a 14, obviously — and those all affect the average size, but that doesn’t mean that any *one* (or two or three) of those plus sizes is common enough to pull in lots and lots of customers, at least to a brick-and-mortar store.  So the sizes promising the greatest numbers of customers wouldn’t be the *average* size (or range of sizes), but the *mean* size, which (she claims) brick-and-mortar stores already do try and cater to.

As I say, that’s my most charitable presentation of her case.  I have no idea if it’s true.  I also think that her main thesis – i.e. that not carrying sizes over size 14 isn’t sizeist, just good business – is hogwash.  Indeed, though she doesn’t say so, her own analysis kind of calls attention to the reason why it’s horseshit.  If having an “uncommon body” (her words) means you shouldn’t expect to be accounted for by apparel companies, then whence the proliferation of size 0 models, mannequins, and readily-available clothing?  Oh, uh, well, you know, we meant “uncommonly BAD, i.e. FAT” not “uncommonly BEAUTIFUL, i.e. extremely thin.  Because we’re happy to have THEIR business.”  Sort of like Paul Campos’ point that finding Keira Knightley attractive isn’t seen as this odd, weird fetish… whereas finding someone 350-plus pounds attractive is.  Even though both kinds of bodies are equally “uncommon,” statistically.  So even if her math is correct, her presentation of it is still really othering.

Also, this isn’t the first time this point has come up about plus size women not spending as much on clothing in the recession.  What’s going on there?  I’m intrigued and pre-emptively pissed off.

FJ: OK, Sarah can write about it.

A Sarah, as it happens, is working up something else, but luckily the good folks at Jezebel (which I used to turn my nose up at — why?? I still skip all the celeb stuff but they do meaty topics with aplomb) have offered an insider’s take on the “it’s more cost-effective to clothe size 8s even though the average woman is a 14 because the majority of people are not average” argument.

Tatiana the Anonymous Model’s article makes really good use of the analogy between plus and petite clothing, but in my book the last graf is the real money, and the nut of my initial reaction to the Postrel article. She writes: “Moreover, the excuse about cost boils down to complaining that making clothes that fit most women is really hard — and that doesn’t sound quite right coming from companies who are in the business of clothing women.” Word up — how lazy is it to say “oh, fat women’s bodies have all these idiosyncrasies, we’re just going to throw in the towel”? I’ll buy, I suppose, that the average size 8 woman is shaped a little more like a size 8 fit model than the average size 20 woman is shaped like a size 20 fit model. That claim erases a lot of women’s bodies if you cleave to it too strongly, but I could be convinced, at least temporarily for argument’s sake, that there’s less range among most thinner women in a particular size. (Of course, most non-fit-model-shaped fat women I know deal with this by buying one size in tops and another in bottoms, but moving on.) If I believed that clothing manufacturers responded to body variation by actually trying to accommodate various bodies, I’d buy that this puts a bigger burden on them — and even though they don’t, I can see why they might find it more cost-effective to simply stop making the sizes that tend to fit more women less well, and keep making the ones that fit fewer women better. Maybe.

But I’d still find it fucking reprehensible. This is your excuse? That fat women are hard to fit? I watch Project Runway; I’m not surprised that fashion designers would grouse about the fact that there are supposed to be women under those clothes. Making clothes wearable for women who don’t look like models is so harrrrrrrrrrd! But using that as the basis of a claim that the fashion industry isn’t fatphobic is just a bit absurd. If you deliberately ignore a huge portion of your potential clientele allegedly because working with them potentially makes your job a little tricky, you’re pretty much either a bigot or a lazy ass. If clothing manufacturers aren’t fatphobic, they’re even bigger slackers than we are at this blog (and they’re getting paid).