Or…stop doing that.
As we slide out of the most intense portion of new year new me bullshit, I have to talk about something I keep seeing and a conversation I had on the facebook. I want to discuss the letdown of trying to jam fat positivity or body positivity into commerce and why you can’t preach health and self-love and try to market the acoutrement to those things and ignore fat people.
A while back, I spotted a FB ad for “inclusive” sport and fitness wear. A few models had not flat bellies sort of, some touching thighs, lots of Girl Power poses and some non-White models. As far as basic inclusivity they were sort of doing it. I read through their credo that had a lot of woowoo, a lot of OMG WE LOVE YOU AND OURSELVES and yet I found their branding and messaging to be lacking. This is why body positivity or fat acceptance dressed up advertising is a.) not great and b.) disingenuous.
I checked their store and they had a lot of the usual “lifestyle” type workout gear. Lots of cute if plain for the price leggings, crop tops and “bras”. Now, for reference I have been looking at work out gear for myself and my #1 concern is bras. I want something sturdy, fitting and supportive. Now, as I scrolled through the “bras” the first thing I noticed is that for the 5–6 different models of close but slightly varied sizes, none of them were busty.
I have DD titties. Not super huge, not small. They are hefty and when not held properly, they swing around when I move, and it hurts. Or if I’m stretching, I might bust myself in the lip or hit my glasses. I did in fact bust a lens out of my glasses doing yoga once, it was not as awesome as it sounds. I also am always checking for my fat and super fat and death fat friends. Always.
Their “inclusive” sizing went up to about a size 22/24 in one style of their leggings but not all of them. Their “bras” were sized nonsensically from XXS-XL which according to their sizing was a 32Aish cup through maybe a 36D. They had a high boutique level price structure so; the leggings were upwards of 40$ and the bras were in the 50$+ range.
I sent their customer service a DM to inquire about why their inclusive line didn’t include me. I’m not fat, I have big boobs. I asked about their size range and selection in leggings, if or when they’d have more sizes to yanno, include people. They gave me a good ten minutes of mealy-mouthed pap. A lot of GOSH we tried but we just couldn’t fine these things. I sent them links to a variety of very similar (similar enough they could have been manufactured by the same factory) items in sizes up through 6x.
Their response was that they “knew” that carrying things above a size 20 (most of their bottom items topped out here) would be a waste because, obviously larger people wouldn’t “need” it.
Let’s stop here.
I want to talk about a very specific type of fat misia that above most others fully enrage me. I will say the same about the muscle bros on youtube who talk shit about every fat person who does something, the people who bully fat runners, who under a video of a fat or super fat or death fat person doing stuff, talks shit about how no fatties can do anything.
I’ll tell you a story from my fat past. When I was chubby teen, not very fat but culturally and socially at the time I was super fucking fat. I wanted to try jogging. It was summer and I got myself kitted up in my work out gear and went jogging. I was hauling it up a long hill when I heard the cries of a carload of young men. “You fat fucking bitch!”
They came up at speed, turned around, came back to throw trash and scream at me until I ran between two houses and hid. Later in life, I was fat and fit and healthy for me. I went into a yoga store to buy some yoga shit so I could do yoga. I kind of wandered around until the very thin, woman working (funny how vivid these memories are) heaved a sigh and got around to asking what I wanted.
I told her I needed a bra suitable for a 40DD to wear while doing yoga. She looked me up and down and snorted. At that point I was tired and ready to call it a day, so I stood there staring at her while she tried to control her face and laughter. I asked again, she made a show of going to a single rack with one size XL bra that was not my size and said, “this is the largest size we have.” Her tone said it all as did her look of incredulity and her suggestion that I try a, “more suitable store.”
I remember going to a sporting goods store and asking the same question. The young woman was also busty, not fat but like me she breasted boobily into the world. She made a show of taking me to a far corner of “plus sized” merchandise then whispered to me not to bother because her store sucked, and they only carried what might hold up one boob for five seconds. The attitude was entirely different.
To go back to the website, I started out talking about, I dm’d them to ask again if they were going to add more sizes. No. Because of COURSE there is no market.
First problem is that, this language that snuggles up so closely to body politics is peed on by capitalism. Everything is peed on by capitalism but, over the years I’ve found that a lot of my fat community has been extra burned by it. There you are, cute fatty wanting some bike shorts or a sports bra or a binder, you see a website that speaks your language. They say they love your body; they say they got you but, they don’t, and it is really disappointing. Often when called on it, retailers whine about how hard it is or that they tried etc etc.
It is infuriating at best.
The second problem is this. You cannot demand fat people do something and not recognize that a barrier to that thing, (movement in this case) doesn’t exist. It is uncomfortable for a lot of people, fat and not fat alike, to try to do exercise or other movement without supporting their breasts. Or having something comfortable and breathable.
You can’t shame a fat person while they are exercising, for presumably not exercising especially when they are literally in front of your face doing it. Take Lizzo for instance. Lizzo sings, twerks, plays the flute in a super high intensity work out not counting rehearsals etc and yet, we see what people say. It puts the light to the lie that folks are just “concerned”. It puts a light to the lie that is the “concern” that causes a person to say to another person who is in the middle of their workout, “you pig”.
These problems intersect because the thing is nonfat folks, when people give lip service to the ideals of fat acceptance or body positivity but fail to make the moves, it is empty. Not only is it empty but it is a deep inconvenience to fat people who want to move their bodies comfortably. Don’t feed me self-love if your version of self-love stops at a size 16.
Fake woke consumerism coupled with plain old fat misia is damaging not just to fat people but to everyone. When you see it, call it out. Ask retailers who preach the love yourself gospel, why don’t they love non normative bodies? Ask them. Stay on them. See it. See it for what it is. A lie to get your money.
On the other hand, when brands especially for active wear follow through on their proclamations of love for all bodies and make the effort. Support them. Share them with your fat friends. Don’t just talk about it. Be about it.