If we don’t owe pretty to anyone, why are we fatshionistas?

In particular, the following quote has been making the rounds on Tumblr, and it totally revolutionised the way I see dressing myself, and putting on make-up and generally getting all fanced up.

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

Now I don’t know about you, but this was pretty revolutionary for me.  I’ve always been the fat girl, all I have is my ‘pretty face’, which means that since I was old enough to be allowed to own make-up, I’ve been putting on make-up to make my face pretty for every opportunity at which people would be able to comment on my pretty face.  Which let’s face it, is pretty much all of life.

But this makes sense to me.  I’ve known for a long time that the reason I wear make-up is to impress people.  For example, in a work context, women who wear make-up are thought to be less professional than their female colleagues who do wear make-up, and their male colleagues in general.  When I go out it’s to attract men.  When it’s with my friends it’s to get compliments and look nice in photos.  Very rarely was it about me wanting to look nice because that’s what I wanted.  In fact, I can’t count the times that I put on make-up in the sweltering heat even though I really didn’t want to, because that’s what people expected.  Or when I just wanted to duck out to the shops but put on a bit of eyeliner and mascara ‘just in case’.  Hell, for my 25th birthday I wore a full coat of foundation with eyeliner and waterproof mascara to go to Dreamworld for the day.

So I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t owe pretty to anyone. I’ve even come to terms with the other revolutionary idea put forward by a few fatshionistas about rejecting the notion of the flattering outfit, such as in this post by Natalie. I still instinctively go for the outfits that show off my boobs and narrow waist, but hell – my boobs are amazing and I like my narrow waist!  Importantly though, I’m becoming less attached to sleeves to cover my batwings every day, and on several occasions I have worn skirts, dresses and even shorts that are above my knee!

But if it’s the case that I don’t owe pretty to anyone, and that flattering outfits aren’t important, why is owning fabulous clothes to put on my body so important to me?  To us all?

I’d like to think it’s because I like to look nice.  I really enjoy beautiful clothes.  That blue dress that I wore o my friends wedding – it is the most amazing thing I have ever owned and unless I find something better, I would like to be buried in it.  I’d like to think that the only reason I spend hours online looking for fabulous clothes, measuring myself to make sure I’ll fit into things I’m ordering from overseas and braving malicious sales people in mortar and brick stores is because beautiful clothes help me feel good about myself.

But I know that’s not entirely true.

I know another reason I’m looking for great clothes that make me look great is to give the forks to all the people who think that fat people can’t look fashionable.  I know it’s for the look of surprise when I show up to an event looking even more ravishing than my conventionally beautiful and more sought after friends.

I know it’s because I want to look pretty, because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do.

Maybe everyone else out there has it together already, and is doing it because they like clothes, but deep down I know I’m doing it to fit in with the rest of society.  It’s not just a big “F- You” to the world, on some levels it’s also a very meek and shy “Look at me, I fit in, I look just like you, please don’t make fun of me anymore.’

And you know what?  Neither of those are okay.  I shouldn’t have to give the forks to the world to make a point about finding clothes that fit my body and look good (according to whatever the fashion standards of the minute are).  Nor should I want or need to fit in with everyone else, and fear being ridiculed if I am not.

As a result of the influence of people like Erin and Natalie (and countless others), I now ask myself WHY I’m putting on make-up, and whether it’s really important if that dress doesn’t totally flatter my figure if I feel fabulous in it.  But I still wonder how much of what I do is in order to bend to the dictates of society, and how much is just because I like being pretty.

I’m still just a baby in the world of FA, and I have lots to learn about fashion and fatshion.  Maybe you could tell me – why are YOU into fatshion?  Is it really possible to want to look good for any reason other than to live up to society’s expectations of what people should look like?

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