When you spend more than half your life living in a fat body, you systematically get conditioned to seeing yourself the way the world views you.As much as you want to, there comes a time where you cannot discrete yourself from the grander cultural narrative that is associated with plus size and fatness.
A country that has more than 50% of its population as plus size and fat, it is extremely important to have regular dialogue about body diversity, body positivity, and fat acceptance.
The need of the hour is to break all age old plus size and fat stereotypes and prejudices and educate people rather than body and fat shame them.
We cannot have yet another generation going to war with their own bodies and trying to conform in a world that worships being thin.
I Am Fat and I Am OK With It!
For a little over two decades, I have tried every trick in the book to not be me. Not that there was anything wrong with me per se. The problem was with me being a fat girl in a fat hating world.
You see, when I was growing up, there was no bigger insult that being called fat. There was always that occasional fat joke thrown my way. Or random remark made about my size and weight. There were times people would stop seeing me as Amena, a human being, and see me as an object that needs to be mocked solely because of her shape and size. If they had nothing to tell me they would just throw a fat slur my way that would cut me off at the knees and I would go from being feisty to fragile.
Anyone who has been on the opposite side of conventional thin has experienced fat shaming in some way or another. They can tell you instances of being bullied, called teasing names, put in a corner and made to feel like an outsider.
There comes a point when the voices outside your body get so loud that you eventually start believing them. I let those voices control me for far too long until it was a matter of sink or swim. I chose to swim the tide of fat shaming and make it to the other side. I am glad I did it. Once you let go of self shaming, you start seeing life from an all new perspective.
Over the years, ‘fat’ has lost its negative connotation for me. Now, it is just another word, an adjective, that describes me. I see fat and thin purely as descriptors. They are not an abomination or an aspiration. I don’t get offended when some calls me fat. Nor do I get happy when someone says, “Have you lost weight? You’re looking thin”. I am done with all kinds of body shaming.
Yes, Plus Size Fashion Blogger Is A Real Thing
Back in 2012, during my rookie days as a fashion blogger, someone politely asked, “Are you a fashion blogger? You don’t look like a fashion blogger!”
The blatant assumption that all fashion bloggers, like models, are the same size - aka thin - is a biased generalisation. Blogging started as a way to express yourself. It gave women and men of all shapes, sizes, colour, sexuality and race a space to share their personal style and views. The bedrock of fashion blogging is diversity and to exclude plus size and fat bodies from it is unfair.
For every fashion magazine that reinstates that style comes in only one size, blogging offers an alternative narrative instead.
After years of believing that nothing will flatter my fat body expect tunic top and leggings, I was finally free to make sartorial choicesas I pleased. Blogging empowered me to wear what every fashion magazine for years had denied.
Can I Have Some Clothes, Please?
When I decided to make the switch from fashion designing to fashion blogging I knew it would be different and difficult. I was not ready for discriminatory.
During my initial blogging days, I used to love attending collection previews. Not only did you get to see the new collection before everyone else, you also get to try it. I was overjoyed with this idea.
Soon my enthusiasm would turn into an uncomfortable moment for me and the brand as there was never anything that would fit Amena. “Sorry, we just don’t keep anything in your size. Would you like someone else from your team to wear this instead?”
Earlier, I would say it’s all good and agree to just pose with the clothes rather than wear them. Now it’s a firm no. If I don’t get my size, then I don’t care to be a part of it.
On many occasions I have asked brands why do they not get a tad bit plus size inclusive; there are people over size 14-16 in India. Most of then were polite and would say, yes, good suggestion, and move on, however, one brand manager was honest with me and said, “No offence, but we don’t want fat people to be seen in our clothes. That would not go well with our core audience.”
This was a major wakeup call. I have been indirectly promoting those brands that choose to look at me and women like me as less than equal, unworthy of their clothes. To think that plus size and fat women wearing their clothes brings down its brand value is not only discriminatory but also incredibly offensive.
Ever since then, I have stopped associating with that brand. On principle I can not promote something that does not believe in diversity.
One can look at their choice as a preference and not a prejudice. But imagine if they said the same thing for race or sexual orientation. That their clothes are only for white people or straight people. Would we still look at it as a preference?
As a blogger, I have the freedom to pick and choose who I want to work with. And I choose not to work with brands that are fatphobic and not democratic about size.
In the last year, Indian fashion industry has made some efforts towards size inclusiveness. However, It’s high time Indian fashion industry finally embraces body diversity and becomes body positive.
I long for a time where it will be normal — and not ground-breaking — for brands, fashion weeks, and magazines to feature plus size/fat women and men. The effort for equal and fair representation of plus size and fat bodies is a must. The only way we can end body and fat shaming is by normalising all bodies instead of glorifying a specific type.
It has taken me a few years to undo years of body and fat shaming. To be able to look in the mirror and be okay with what I see. The journey has been tough, but the end result has been the best thing that has happened to me.
I am done apologising for the way I look. I am perfectly happy being a fat woman and a plus size fashion blogger. I am proud of all that I have achieved with the limited available options. I have made peace with who I am. About time everyone else does the same too.