Take The Cake: Actually, #DONTDropThePlus

The first time I heard about the #DropThePlus campaign I was of two minds. On the one hand, I understood the argument that having a designated "plus size section” made consumers feel alienated and marginalized. It’s not right that manufacturers don’t make sizes that fit all their customers.

On the other hand, I truly believe plus size fashion is its own unique world, and I am stoked about that. Plus size fashion is not an extension of straight size fashion, it is an entity all its own with different style, different needs and different potential.

For instance, one of the things that always bugs me is when a manufacturer uses tiny prints on plus size items because they are using the same material for every size they carry — from petite to plus. A subtle print with tiny ½ inch diameter cat faces might really work on a size 2, but on my size 20/22 body I look like I’m covered in smudged, misshapen polka dots. If I want a dress covered in cat faces, I want them to be legible and that means they’ve got to be bigger. Because I’m bigger.

Likewise, a person with a bigger body can rock an enormous pair of earrings or a necklace or an enormous tulle skirt in a way that maybe a person with a smaller body can’t. Because symmetry. A bigger body means more real estate! When we own that real estate and recognize it’s not something to be ashamed of, we can accentuate it rather than attempt to minimize it.

When I was in the fitting room trying on all the booty I had gathered, I was paying special attention to the way my body looked in each piece. I was reveling in the ways that my body changed the garments, stretched the prints, and created opportunities for exposure that maybe the designer hadn’t anticipated. My body was defining the clothes, not the other way around.

I think the trouble with treating plus size like it’s an extension of standard or straight-size fashion is that we limit the possibilities of our fat bodies as possessing unique fashion assets.

Additionally, it becomes harder for us to re-envision the multiplicity of what bodies look like in garments. If we weren’t comparing the way we look in shorts to the way a petite person looks in shorts, then we would recognize that there are a thousand ways shorts can look on someone and all of them are rad.

We need to recognize that we are allowed to accentuate the differences among bodies, rather than mute them. We need to recognize that when you have a belly or big arms or big hips, then fabric sits differently and that difference is amazing. We need to recognize that body diversity — including the diverse ways that bodies look in clothing — is something worth celebrating. If we stopped seeing fashion as a way to conform to one standard of normalcy, then we’d see we have a whole world all our own that we can create and play within.

Earlier this week I was trying on every single bathing suit in the plus size section at the Forever 21 in downtown San Francisco. I talked with the chubster cutie who was working the section, tested the give of the fabrics, and began envisioning my new life filled with body suits and tiny floral shorts.

When I was in the fitting room trying on all the booty I had gathered, I was paying special attention to the way my body looked in each piece. I was reveling in the ways that my body changed the garments, stretched the prints, and created opportunities for exposure that maybe the designer hadn’t anticipated. My body was defining the clothes, not the other way around.

For years, this used to be a source of shame for me. I wouldn’t let myself wear pencil skirts because I had rolls and “everyone knows” that pencil skirts are only for people with no rolls. I wouldn’t let myself wear sleeveless tops because “everyone knows” that those are only for people whose arms are taut. I wouldn’t let myself wear short shorts because “everyone knows” that short shorts are only for toned thighs.

Once I started spending time with unapologetic fat babes, I started to break the rules. I began to play up the parts of me I had been taught to cover up. I started wearing bright colors, big prints and over-sized jewelry (which on me was perfect-sized). My idea of what looks good shifted. I realized that I had inappropriate and thincentric expectations of what my body should look like in garments, and was consequently limiting myself.

A lot of what stops our creativity is the idea that we should attempt to mimic what thin bodies look like in clothes. But I’ve discovered that that’s boring. 

My body interrupts the oppressive history of long lines and flat stomachs. My body is the farthest thing from a hanger. It’s a force. So, I say DON’T #DropThePlus. I want to recognize the whole new world of fashion we can create when we don’t shy away from what we’ve got. 

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