Even if I weren’t “plus size’” “goddess size” or, as I prefer, unapologetically fat, I would write about fashion. I would still mix the mixed-message misogyny of the likes of Cosmo (or anything fashion based by Conde Naste and Hearst) with ancient copies of Ms. and current copies of Bitch. I would still find Bust’s pseudo-inclusiveness troubling.
I am a feminist, and I love fashion. I do not love fashion culture: starving models and discussions revolving around body fat, calories eaten or those adorable shoes found at Ebay. People reserving happiness for a size 2 (or 0, these days.) People getting “retail therapy” only to depress themselves further with ridiculous debt. Girls screaming “I broke a nail,” for attention. These are shadows of fashion I do not like, and that’s what I would guess many of the anti-fashion types think of when expressing distaste. But this distaste extends, becomes a stereotype, and somehow leads to me having conversations about girdles, sales and “fashion tips” that I don’t believe in giving to anyone.
I get away with being a “not shallow” fashion writer because I write about plus sizes, and at the moment, the plus sized are a cause. Fat people have existed forever, but since sometime in the twentieth century fat went from one of the possibilities on the spectrum of being to a social faux pas to a social issue to OMG, crisis! – I am now “allowed” to explore the “shallow” avenues of clothing design and construction because I come from a “socially challenging” angle.
Even if I were a size 0, I would write about fashion. I love clothes. Despite family calling me shallow for loving clothes – (bullshit, one of those lies my family told me about myself in a thankfully failed attempt to tell me who to be) – there is nothing shallow about my interest.
Clothing is your socio-cultural letter to the world. Clothing is how you tell people to see you. Clothing is a glamour, sends a message, can get you in some doors and get some doors shut in your face.
Clothing, the appearance you put on every day, is an act of intention.
This means that fashion and how you apply fashion is an act of magic.
Do you check the mirror every day? Do you think about “what’s appropriate” to wear before an event? Do you sometimes wear something you don’t want to because it will “keep peace?” Do you sometimes wear something just because it will tweak someone? Each and everyone one of those involves some sort of intention, whether that’s “keep my job” or “piss off my in-laws.” Even “avoiding an arrest for public indecency” on some level frames an intention.
You may not think as consciously about clothing, but at the very least wearing it is part of the cultural oxygen.
Like most women in the United States, I find myself juggling multiple personas and that means also juggling a wardrobe that fits these personas. There’s who I am in professional situations: lots of high-button blouses, long skirts and kitten heels; there’s who I am among fashion types and fellow bloggers, there’s who I am at home and there’s who I am when I’m dealing with Pagans/fellow science fiction fans and trying to create real relationships rather than those built on superficial professionalism. While I can’t say I need all the clothing in my closet, I need a good chunk of it – somehow, people at Pagan gatherings get just as uncomfortable when I go “in goth” as I do when I go wearing a business suit and nice blouse. Some of the fashion brands I work with wouldn’t know what to do with me if I showed up wearing my “You never forget your first Doctor” T-shirt.
To me, clothing is anything but shallow – it’s one of my first and most important decisions every day. How I dress in part defines what I do, and what I’m doing in part defines how I dress. It is an act of magic, to me – because it’s my shield, the message I project to you, a first stab at how I want you to see me.
I think of this now because I’m overhauling my bedroom closet. That will take a lot of intention, and attention. I must audit every piece of clothing I own, right down to the last sock, and ask myself “What message do I send with this?”