I don’t wear the exact same outfit twice. Ever. It’s true that I probably put a disproportionate amount of thought into what I wear every day – and this goes back to the days in which I discovered Style, during my heavily subcultural youth – but part of the reason behind this compulsive behavior is the strange block I have against wearing the same outfit more than once. I find having established outfits… unchallenging. Wearing the same ensemble in the same way multiple times certainly has its merits, and is likely useful to lots of folks whose line of work requires them to meet a particular standard of professional dress. I am simply too stubborn to do it. Thanks to my Flickr discipline I can flip back through nearly two years of outfit pictures*, and I am challenged to find myself wearing the same thing, in the same way, with the same cardigan or the same shoes as I’ve worn it before. To use the Flickr parlance, I’m strangely obsessed with the remix, with reworking or revising my wardrobe on a bloody daily basis.
Like many folks, I’ve found myself shopping less and remixing more in recent months, which has increased the fatshion challenge of creating something new from the same old shit. It’s like assembling a puzzle, trying to put together new combinations. Sometimes I’m successful to the point of people thinking I’m wearing stuff that’s wholly new. Sometimes I fail and am annoyed with myself all day. Fortunately the former happens more often than the latter. I take pictures of both, but I won’t often say which outfits I’m happy with or which ones I’m not. My work in these pictures is ultimately about visibility. Not in looking good on behalf of All Fatties Everywhere, but in simply being visible.
This is obviously a common theme around here. One of my early reads in fat activism was a book (at the time, new!) called The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America, by W. Charisse Goodman (and which can evidently be had on Amazon for a penny if you want it). It’s not the greatest fat book ever, but it floated an idea – a common one, it turns out – of fat women as being invisible in public discourse. It was the first place I heard that concept. I was fascinated with extending this idea, as others have**, to the prevalent media representation and the banalities of daily life in equal measures – the idea that fat people are, overwhelmingly, invisible and interchangeable in culture. And I didn’t like that.
There are lots of ways to not be invisible. One can be loud, one can be insightful. One can also be a physical assault on the eyes, which in my opinion cuts to the heart of the matter. I try to be all of the above, when I can. A small contribution is my nigh-pathological commitment to never looking the same way twice. It’s really only a tiny bit of subtle performativity, one that most folks probably never even notice, but it gets me through the day.
* Some of those early ones are pretty, er, expressive, compared to my stylistic sensibilities today. Also, there is a rare picture of me in pants, plus pictures of my old hair. Memories.
** The issue of visibility works similarly when talking about any marginalized group, be it the effect of race, disability, sexuality, gender identity, etc., or any of these in conjunction with each other. But that would be a much, much larger post.
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