On this blog, I tend to shy away from offering anything approaching concrete advice. I’m just not good at giving advice related to style (other kinds of advice I can be positively obnoxious about, but I digress). Style, in my opinion, is extraordinarily subjective; so long as you feel good in whatever you’re wearing, I really have nothing to add. If you’re happy and feel good in it, my perspective really ceases to apply.
I do talk here a bit about my philosophy of fatshion, so to speak. And a big part of my style philosophy, as well as my general philosophy of life, is what I call the Fuck-You Factor.
Broadly defined, the Fuck-You Factor is a committed effort to not give others an undue amount of influence over your individual choices, and a willingness to follow your bliss despite expectations. For fat folks specifically, the Fuck-You Factor is about not apologizing, not participating in body-hating, diet-centric cultures, and not letting anyone tell you what your body ought to be. Broken down, it’s a literal “fuck you” to cultural pressures that attempt to enforce standards of conformity and normality on a diverse and unpredictable world.
For me, the Fuck-You Factor is also about being seen, and resisting the urge to be safely invisible. Stylistically-speaking, I do this with color, with my failure to wear anything but dresses. Socially-speaking I do this by standing out and speaking up. If I hear a racially offensive joke from a friend and instead of being silent, I respond to it critically, that action is part of my Fuck-You Factor. If a coworker is pushing diet talk on me and I carefully and firmly explain that it’s unacceptable to me, that’s my Fuck-You Factor. If somebody says fat girls ought not to wear muumuus, I will try to break through that convention just to make a point. Fuck-You Factor.
My individual clothes have their own little Fuck-You Factors as well. I originally came up with this post because I got a sweaterdress in the mail yesterday, one I’d ordered online. When I tried it on, I saw that it was a little more fitted around the middle than I expected. To me, it didn’t look bad, but I’ve no doubt many other folks would deem it fatally “unflattering” – as it true of a ton of my clothes, I’m sure. So I found myself in a position of deciding whether I ought to keep the dress I personally like, or return it exclusively out of concern that hypothetical other people might think badly of it.
I decided to keep it. Because I like it. And fuck those other people.
Though “fuck you” as a phrase is certainly loaded with confrontational import, I’m not really using it here to draw a battlefield divide between me and the world. I’m using it to force said world to acknowledge an underrepresented perspective; an unheard opinion; an unseen experience. I’m using it to get people’s attention. I don’t want to drive folks away; I want them to hear my fuck-you and want to know what I’m on about. I want them to hang around and find out why I’m saying fuck you, because everyone, no matter their situation, has some pressure they’d like to just say “fuck you” to, some expectation they’d like to leave behind or overcome.
Try it. Choose your battles, and say “fuck you” once in awhile, when you’re feeling it. It’s a healthy reminder that disagreeing with majority perspectives and opinions is not the end of the world. And ultimately you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
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