This post explaining why I think the plus size blogging community needs to fix up may not be very interesting to non-bloggers, so feel free to skip if you don’t write about fatshion and bodies yourself!
Last week I went to the Gok Wan Simply Be underwear soirée on Wednesday, the first day of Plus London 3 (brand day) on Saturday, and the second day of Plus London 3 (community day) on Sunday. Two of those three events were heaving, not just well-attended but actually extremely busy. One of those three days was not. Can you guess which one? Yep, it was community day. Even between the brand day of PL3 and the community day of PL3, there was a drop-off of, at the very least, two thirds of attendees.
To break it down, thing that motivates bloggers: clothing companies; thing that does not motivate bloggers: panel discussions on fat confidence and sexuality, learning how to alter clothes, talks about blogging, body-positive yoga.
I’ve been very vocal in the past about not feeling compelled to support every single ‘plus size’ project or brand just because I’m fat. I’m absolutely not saying we all need to have the same concerns and the same interests. The bottom line is this: it seems when there isn’t backing from a brand, no one’s interested, and I think that’s a problem. Now, I’m not ‘hating’ on anyone who couldn’t / didn’t want to / didn’t make it to Sunday at Plus London 3. I’m sure everyone had their reasons, and I’m 100% not thinking of anyone in particular as I write this. I’m just wondering if it had been reversed and the day that revolved entirely around sponsor companies had been on the Sunday, interest in the Saturday would have been low.
Maybe I just have to accept that some people are purely interested in The Clothes™, but it feels like a community without context, without analysis, without anything beyond pretty dresses is a hollow mess. A community that competes with itself, and a community that asks ‘why didn’t I get invited to x?’ or ‘why didn’t I get x free thing that x got?’, is descending down a slippery slope to somewhere ugly. I’ve learned not to tweet asking ‘who’s going to x press day?’ because I’ve learned that if I do, it’ll just spark entitled bloggers demanding to know why they weren’t invited. We’ve become a community that asks, non-stop, ‘what can I get out of this?’, and for a community that had some fairly radical beginnings, that feels like something of a failure.
Yes, it’s nice to open my blog email account and see an invitation to somewhere fun, or an offer of some free clothes, but surely at the very foundation of what we’re doing is for the days where I check my messages and I hear from a girl who tells me she could never wear what she wanted, or hated her body, or thought herself unworthy of love, and that reading fatshion blogs has changed that. I don’t really know if my thoughts on this are even valid or useful, since I personally have been very fortunate to, for example, work with Evans on their ad campaign for the Clements Ribeiro Swan collection earlier in the year. But I really, really believe you can do both. Do the clothes, and do the context.
Fundamentally, I think The Clothes™ are so, so important, as is improving the quality of fashion available to us through working with brands. But given that as fat women we all know the amount of shit you get for being a fat woman (ie, for existing), shouldn’t our priorities also extend to a more generous and diverse sense of community and working together? How radical is our practice if all it does is reproduce the capitalist patriarchy that oppresses us for being fat, when as a group we’re up against so much?