Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fat women, fat clothes

I've been thinking about clothes lately. I'm in no sense a fashionista and all my friends will tell you I mostly wear black clothes that are loose and a bit large. While I choose black in part because I believe it makes me look marginally thinner, I mostly wear black because I'm a chronically sloppy person whose ink pen will die or her latte explode or she'll spill soup down her front and the black covers up more of those stains than lighter colors. And I wear fairly shapeless clothes that are a little too large because I can't stand anything tight. I began wearing elastic waist pants when I was in my 20s and still very thin. I hated jeans (too thick, too tight), I hated the confinement of belts, I hated the itch of tight sweaters even when my breasts were enviable.

So as I've gained weight over the last 15 years, my clothes haven't changed all that much. I like cotton knits, I like soft fabrics, I like things that don't make me sweat (I abhor most synthetics).

But do I dress this way because I'm fat?

I've noticed over the last months, especially over the summer, that a lot of somewhat younger (30-50) fat women are wearing very tight clothing. They wear tight jeans, tight shorts, tight layered thin T-shirts. Their fat thighs show, their belly rolls show, their breasts are barely contained in their bras. I don't know if this is a defiant fashion statement (these are the same kinds of clothes worn by younger, thinner women and appear in the store displays) or whether they had these size 10 clothes and when they got to be a size 20, they just went on wearing them.

I wonder if men find these women sexually attractive with everything on display.I went through a brief period in my 30s of wearing somewhat provocative clothing (low-cut tops). I was thin or at what the culture defines as a good weight. In addition, it was a period of high sexual activity for me and when I met my next steady boyfriend, most of that display disappeared, so maybe that's why they wear it. But I don't find it any more attractive on them as I would on me.

I guess what I'm really wondering is what's a good look for a fat woman. My friend Jan is heavier than she'd like to be and she wears beautiful clothes: suits, jackets, sweaters. But it's all hot and heavy and doesn't appeal to me. She's also a public speaker and dresses up for work. My cats and my computer could care less what I wear.

I'm glad there are real options, catalogs and online shops like Land's End and Ulla Popken, who make what I think are attractive clothes for those of us who are obese. But somehow I can't let go of the image of Sarah Ferguson, the former princess, who became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and took off her loose comfortable dress to show us the skinny body in the slinky wrap skirt. Is that what I'm supposed to aspire to--something tight and clingy?

No comments: