Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hey Fat Chick!

My only concessions to vanity these days are (1) having my hair professionally colored on a strict monthly regime, and (2) biweekly manicures to maintain my "perfect" acrylic nails.  I blame the cross dressing circle I sometimes hang out with for the latter indulgence.  Their nails always look fabulous:  I know one cross dressing engineer who sprays his press-ons with model enamel and an air gun.  (Their wigs, sadly, are another story.)  For all I poke fun at the cross-dressers, who sometimes represent to me "the worst of both worlds", they have taught me a lot about how to perform my gender.  (And I knew that I had overdone my makeup when I was identified as a cross dresser in a gay bar once.)

It's not that I've become indifferent to fashion.  I love pretty clothes.  It's simply that I enjoy seeing them on other people as much as wearing them myself.  Maybe that's a function of my age.  As we get older, and our youthful beauty inevitably wanes, we turn outward, away from the mirror.  So we take up gardening, painting, photography, and other hobbies that invite us to look beyond ourselves for visual pleasure.
Iris Apfel, 90-year-old New York fashion icon
Unless we're Iris Apfel, that is.
When I was younger, it was an ongoing challenge for me to find fashionable clothing that fit, even though I was only a size 16-18 in college.  In high school, it wasn't being fat that held me back socially so much as not having the proper clothes to wear for dances and sports.  As a result, I learned to configure "uniforms" that basically consisted of jerseys and jeans, or black knit pants and blazers that could have doubled as kevlar armor.  I managed to look presentable (albeit a bit matronly), but dressing remained a chore, never a pleasurable means of self-expression.

That's why I find the young "fatshionistas" (of widely varying degrees of girth) on blogs like Hey Fat Chick fun to follow.  Most of their get-ups would not be "age appropriate" for me (i.e., too too short), but sometimes I get ideas about what I could wear, and where I could obtain such items. And I'm always inspired by their gumption, their joyful defiance, their refusal to be repressed, ignored, or "shamed."

A young fat woman nowadays has an array of choices that would have boggled my mind thirty years ago.  (Unfortunately it is also true that unless she lives in a large city, she still must shop primarily online, which requires its own skill set.) And although I am not a "fat apologist" by any means, I celebrate that young women of all sizes can enjoy dressing in ways that exercise their creativity and make them feel good in their own skins. 

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