A few months ago, I wrote about what it was like to want to feel cool, especially when you never have felt that way before.
That was in response to Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO telling the world just what he thought of kids that just "didn't meet the standard of cool" shopping at his store and expecting to find satisfaction. And you'd think, in this day and age, that this sort of idiocy would be left back in high school where it belongs. However, even as adults, and especially if we're fat adults, it's perpetuated constantly. That's why I advocate acceptance, and in particular, fat acceptance, because like many, I'm really tired of being shamed for not measuring up to society's lofty ideals and as a result, being treated as less than worthy for it.
Case in point: Lululemon, a popular Canadian athletic wear company, has recently come under fire for stocking yoga pants that pilled or tore easily. When the founder, Chip Wilson, addressed this, he said that the problem is some women's bodies. "It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how much they use it," he said, according to the article.
The article linked states that Lululemon, according to some former employees, has a strategy of shaming and shunning plus-sized women. In my experience, I have one pair of Lululemon yoga pants that fits me well, at a size 18-20. Lululemon no longer stocks my size or these yoga pants. It appears they believe that plus-sized women don't engage in yoga, and what's more, they shouldn't deserve to. Why? Because their bodies don't work with Lululemon's vision of what someone engaging in yoga should look like, and well, if you're actually using this athletic wear to exercise, then you're just not using it right! Only thin women can use it the way it's meant to be used without the clothing breaking down!
Abercrombie and Lululemon are not the only entities in our culture that do this. The fashion industry in general hates plus-sized women. Plus-size often means size 6 and above when it comes to models, completely ignoring that many people in the general population are not those sizes and never will be. And when the industry chooses to focus on women who are fat, showing off their bodies and displaying clothing that will fit them, they're attacked for perpetuating an unhealthy lifestyle. I'm sick of this discrimination, and I'm not the only one.
The point that I'm making here is that it doesn't matter what your personal idea of beauty is. I may not particularly enjoy the way that women with shaved heads look, for example, but that doesn't make it right for me to exclude them and shame them for the way that they look. And as for perpetuating an unhealthy lifestyle, what do you think showing off admittedly anorexic women does?
To be fair, not all very thin people are unhealthy, in the same way that not all fat people are unhealthy. And the fashion industry has come under fire for that, as well, but thin is considered ideal, so it's not nearly as bad as showing off a fat woman in lingerie. That is the ultimate crime. So unhealthy! So disgusting! Who would ever want to look at that?
When you're constantly put up as the "wrong way to look," asked what your excuse is for being fat, told that you'll never measure up to retailers' ideas of what their perfect customer should be, and when you are singled out, it's as an afterthought, a "we'd better shut them up before they raise too much hell and ruin our business" last-ditch attempt, it's very hard to believe that you are thought of as anything but a disgusting blob who doesn't deserve to feel pretty or buy clothing that fits and is comfortable.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how you feel about anyone, you don't get to treat them as less than human because you don't like the way they look. You don't get to sneer at their rolls. You don't get to tell them that they're the problem with why your clothing is substandard. You don't get to tell them that they're not beautiful, that they're not cool, and insinuate that you'd rather they never shopped at your store. You don't get to pretend to be concerned about health, citing how "painful" you feel their struggles are, when you're really just disgusted that you have to share the same bus with them and you don't care about health at all. You don't get to do that, and what's more, you know it.
There was a good point made about this article, about Australian plus-size fashion, about how plus-sized women should not be put up as unusual or extra-special. We're not. We're women, the same way a size-6 woman is. We deserve to be represented in the media and in fashion. We deserve to be seen as normal.
Being fat, as I've said over and over again, and as the research is now showing, does not necessarily mean that you are unhealthy or going to die sooner than anyone else. Some people are just fat. Some people have been just fat for centuries. And honestly, if your biggest worry is that a child will see plus-sized women in fashion, the media, or in stores and think that it's okay to look that way . . . then you should really examine your own body issues.
It IS okay to look this way. It is okay to be a different shape and size, to have a different skin colour, and to wear any style you want to so that you feel comfortable in your own skin. That's what we should be teaching children, not this perpetual body hatred that just eats and eats away at our society, causing unattainable heights of how you should look in order to be accepted.
So here's to being fat and human. Here's to being normal, to feeling pretty, to exercising at whatever size we happen to be. Here's to walking into a store and finding a dress that fits without alterations, without ugly flowers and hideous prints. Here's to enjoying our lives without judgemental stares from passers-by for eating an ice cream. Here's to seeing characters like us on TV, smart, pretty, fat women and men who aren't the butt of sitcom jokes or villains. Here's to fat being a non-issue.
Because we're just like you. We're just a bigger size. And that's okay.
UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that I have insinuated that Lululemon sold yoga pants in a 18/20. Lululemon has never stocked a size 18/20 in yoga pants. They have only stocked up to size 12; that size fits me (at an 18/20). I was told when I tried to buy more of these pants that they didn't carry them anymore. However, I have been told that they do carry them in some stores. Sorry for any confusion.