These black denim ASOS Curve dungarees were my fave things I bought last year, so they’re having a comeback. I mostly wore them on Saturday because all my other jeans and trousers were in the wash, but no matter, they ended up being an excellent choice for a friend’s picnic. I’m really enjoying a femme vibe at the moment, so didn’t want to dress the dungarees down too much. I thought this sweet polka dot shirt (also last year’s) and rolling the legs up slightly would have the desired effect.
Shirt : ASOS Curve / similar here
Dungarees : ASOS Curve
Sneakers : Superga
SimplyBe are helping me out with a dress for a wedding in a couple of weekends’ time, and very kindly sent me a few other things to try while we’re at it! First up is this truly excellent drop-waist check dress. I feel like this is not a style usually offered up to fats, and am really glad Simply Be went for it. Not gonna lie: there are surely, by this point, enough skater and wrap dresses marketed at fat women and we probably don’t need any more. This shape is great, and not one I’ve seen from a plus size retailer before. The material is really satisfying: silky but strong, stretchy but not clingy. I love the colour, I love the check, I just really love it. The more self-conscious of you, dear readers, might think (possibly because chub retailers never make them) that this shape is a bad idea for fats, but if you buy the right size so the drop-waist effect is still apparent then this is actually a really sweet, chic, kinda flirty design. I’m sold.
On Saturday I turned 25. Not content with just one day, I decided to spin the whole affair out for three days, declaring Friday, Saturday and Sunday my ‘birthday weekend’. I only managed to get photos of two outfits, as I neglected to photograph my excellent ‘goth Mama Cass’ look from Saturday night, but here they are!
First up, for dinner, ice cream and drinking with Rob, my favourite.
Cardigan : H&M
Dress : ASOS Curve
Sneakers : Superga, a gift from Cloggs
Bag : Kate Spade
And then this, for my Sunday afternoon/evening spent with most of my best pals (cake was consumed in honour of absent friends). We hung out at my friends’ flat and ate massive amounts of cake. I thought I would dress like I was going to a children’s birthday party and wore my new Collectif sailor dress. The style of the dress is wonderful, if a little long (I’m 5ft9 and would be surprised if it worked on anyone much shorter than me), but I had to have two buttons sewn back on the front during the course of the afternoon by my darling friend Beth, who is handy with a needle and thread. Not ideal!
Dress : Collectif
Sneakers : Superga, via Cloggs
Oh, and they gave me the bumps…
I was dancing in a queer club the other weekend, in a little shorts playsuit. As the night wore on, more and more people were embracing the gleeful spirit of the occasion and taking their tops off. So I did too, and I danced half-naked, visibly fat, obviously sweating PROFUSELY, wearing only short shorts and sandals, and I thought, to quote one of my favourite songs ever, ’Well… how did I get here?’
I listen to people talking shit about fat people all day. How they can’t eat that because they’ll get fat, how they can’t take that birth control pill because they’ll get fat, how they want to get ‘thin and hot’ as revenge on their ex who dumped them, how they would essentially rather be dead than fat. There is no secret that in the society I operate in, fat is a four-letter word. Even fat people hate fat people. And I’m proud of myself, and grateful to myself, too, that I’m capable of being the person I am, and simply being able to get on with everything I want to do, in spite of that. I don’t look at clothes and think ‘I would wear that if I was thin’ anymore. I look at them and think ‘I would wear that if the retailer thought I was valuable enough to make clothes for. And they’re losing out on my money.’ I don’t see these things as ‘my fault’ these days. It’s not only me, it’s them too. There are two forces contributing to the absence.
The thing is, when I was growing up, I never imagined I would be fat as an adult. It just wasn’t an option, it wasn’t going to happen. I would magically, one day, wake up and I would be Grown-Up Bethany: thin, palatable, lovable and conventionally attractive. I had a vision that was roughly like the Special K lady: long brown hair, pretty, permanently dressed in red. I don’t know why, but that’s what I thought I would end up being.
Once I got my head around the fact that whatever I was like in the future, I was fat then, I thought I was only ‘allowed’ to exist as a fat woman if I observed all the other aesthetic codes of respectability. Like I could wear a swimsuit in public, as long as it was a one-piece. And I could only be fat and wear a one-piece if I shaved my legs and armpits and didn’t have cellulite and my skin was tanned rather than radioactively pale.
If you’d shown preteen/early teen me a photo of 24-year-old me, the disappointment would be not just crushing, but confusing. The fact that I hadn’t had a lightbulb moment, a moment where I flicked the switch and became that fictional vision of myself, would have blown my mind. I never realised there was another option: that my body would stay the same but my mind would change. The idea that one day I would choose to leave the house in a revealing playsuit and sandals, where you could tell that I was fat, where you could tell that I hadn’t shaved, would be truly unthinkable to me. That I would feel good about that, even more so.
With hindsight, one thing is clear: the Bethany of the olden days wanted was to have the kind of body that meant I could wear tight, short, revealing clothes. I wanted a body that meant people I fancied found me attractive. I didn’t want to feel like I’d been left out of the loop, somehow- that my body was denying me experiences other (thinner) girls could have, and I knew that the only way to have this would be by losing weight as soon as possible. But I have all that right now. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, and my personal grooming has never been more minimal, and yet I’ve never felt more comfortable in myself or less inhibited by my appearance.
I think that might be what fatphobes object to the most about fat people. It’s like we’ve used a cheat code and skipped the steps that someone told them was important. They’ve bought into the same myths I had as a child, but they’ve never grown out of them. They think you only deserve good clothes and hot partners and happiness and success and sex and romance and self-confidence if you’re thin, because you have to work to be thin, and we’re a culture obsessed with work. How galling, then, that someone as undeserving as me has all the same stuff as them (and, in some cases, better) without working for it.
The only thing that can stop me is everyone else. I’m on top of my shit as much as is humanly possible, and beyond that it’s other people’s responsibility to fix up and sort out their frankly bigoted views about fat people. I’ve stopped stopping myself, and that feels good. It’s everyone else’s responsibility to treat me well, not mine to behave in a way that suits their views and panders to their prejudices.
This is most evident in a shift I implemented a couple of years ago: I *love* online dating, and have been a happy user of OkCupid for nearly 4 years. For the first 18 months, I had a lot of dates, and met a lot of people who were really taken with me. What never happened, though, was that I was interested in them. I realised I was consciously choosing to message and meet people who I thought would find me attractive. Then, 18 months down the line, after a particularly bleak date with someone I should never have met, I made a snap decision. I would message and meet only the people that I found attractive, with little regard for whether I thought they would deign to date me, as a fat woman. What do I know about them? About their psychology, their desires, what they want? All I know is that I’m attractive, valid and worth dating, so I might as well be the mistress of my own destiny. (I have a lot more to say about how being fat interacts with dating, and specifically online dating, but I’ll save that for another day!)
And that, I suppose, is just how I’m trying to live in all ways. Going through life trying to take everything I want from it, because I deserve it, because I’m human. It’s easy to miss those facts when you’re fat, because you’re so often viewed as being unworthy of love and respect, and I’m thankful every day that I somehow found a way to push through that and found a way to be the girl with the most cake – literally and metaphorically.
I’m trying to get out of the habit of dressing like a slob for work and never making an effort, so I thought I would take my new pinafore dress for a spin on a Monday! This is the kind of item I’ve often desperately wanted and lamented the fact that plus size retailers have never bothered to make, so when I saw Alice & You had made a perfect black denim version, obviously I snapped it up. I think it works well with this slightly cropped, long-sleeved breton t-shirt from H&M’s main range and bare legs, but I’ll be wearing it with my American Apparel fisherman’s sweater in autumn, I’m sure.
T-shirt : H&M
Pinafore dress : Alice & You at ASOS
Sandals : Dr Martens
And I went to visit my pal Cathy’s kittens! Here is me with the tiniest of the two, little baby Jules <3 I’m growing out my hair into a bob because I can’t remember what it was like to have a bob (my two optimal styles are pixie cut and graduated bob, and can’t decide between them), but my hair looks so bad at the moment that I’m trialling a hair scarf situation to conceal that fact! This brilliant pheasant-print number was a gift from my darling friend Beth, who I believe acquired it from her aunt. Fashion is a flat circle.