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Old 04-25-2018, 07:30 PM   #1
Martina
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Default Is hyperfemininity expected of fat women?

Femmes, what do you think?

http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/...-women-opinion

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Why is hyperfemininity expected of fat women?

The ‘just rolled out of bed’ look is fine if you’re thin, but for fat women, make-up, dresses and perfect hair can feel like a necessity rather than a simple preference.

When I’m in a group of fellow fat women, I often catch myself mesmerised by the attention to detail they have each put into creating an outfit. It is not unusual for us all to be rocking full faces of make-up. Most of our pouts will be lined in red, and atop our heads rest perfectly curled curls or sleek, straightened fringes.

Our curves will typically be highlighted through either pencil or swing dresses. The former show off the voluptuousness of our bodies. They transform us into perfect hourglasses that wouldn’t look out-of-place beside Marilyn Monroe. The latter frame our waists while hiding everything below them: the softness of our bellies and thickness of our thighs are made invisible. No one walking past us will necessarily know whether we have cellulite or stretch marks or rolls of fat lurking beneath our garments. Or at least, they’ll never know the degrees and layers of fatness that exist there.

When I’m in a group of thin women, I am instead mesmerised by how effortless their ensembles look. It’s okay for thin women to slip into stretchy jumpsuits, wear plain tees or crop tops with a trusted pair of mom jeans, or eschew makeup altogether in favour of a more ‘natural’ look. It’s okay for thin women to be emblems of the ‘lazy girl trend,’ an entire aesthetic rooted in looking like you haven’t spent more than two minutes getting ready because you’re just that chill. Nevermind that the word ‘lazy’ is one often used to shame or ridicule fat people, who are perpetually accused of being undisciplined and inactive. Both sartorial and regular, old laziness seem perfectly acceptable if delivered in thin, conventionally pretty packages.

“It’s okay for thin women to be emblems of the ‘lazy girl trend,’ an entire aesthetic rooted in looking like you haven’t spent more than two minutes getting ready because you’re just that chill”

“The level of femininity fat girls have to perform to not be seen as ugly or weird is phenomenal,” plus size style and beauty blogger Stephanie Yeboah recently tweeted, and she’s not wrong. It’s an often unspoken (once in a while, spoken) fact that fat women will be better received by society at large if they somehow make recompense for their fatness. If we post daily gym selfies, at least people will know we move about. If we share clips of the salad we’re eating for lunch, maybe they’ll recognise that we are ‘health-conscious.’ If we exude a kind of hyper-femininity at all times, at least we’ll be slightly more palatable. We’ll remind people that not only are we worthy of our womanhood, but of our basic humanity, too.

There’s a reason my doctor will tell me I’m ‘looking healthy’ when I’m dressed to the nines (as if health correlated to the amount of blusher piled on cherubim cheeks). There’s a reason he’ll ask to weigh me, to take my blood pressure, and to hand me a pamphlet on clean eating when I’ve rushed over in my sweatpants and bare face after a rough night’s sleep.

There is nothing inherently wrong with femininity, of course. In fact, the varieties of femininity that exist can be, and are, incredibly beautiful things. For many fat women, be it consciously or not, femininity can also be an incredibly useful tool. It can help us be taken seriously. It can help us be better treated in day-to-day interactions with other humans. It can, ironically, help us blend in regardless of how made-up and pruned we actually are. It can also be a genuine preference. Some of us love everything about the classic pin-up aesthetic, for instance, and it’s a love we should be allowed to explore. There’s no shame in striving to make one’s life more bearable or pleasant, whatever that means to you.

What’s shameful is the imposition of femininity onto fat women. Our bodies are never not on trial, and one way to proclaim innocence is to be as feminine and womanly as possible in every respect outside of BMI.

As writer and style blogger Ragini Nag Rao wrote for xoJane in 2013, “Pin-up is glamorous, it is ‘womanly’ in its celebration of the curves we are constantly told to play up. As a fat woman, I’ve lived through most of my life being told that I’m less of a woman because of my size, a girl who’s not really a girl. Beauty, glamour, and sexiness have all been denied me because I’m simply too big for them.”

“If we exude a kind of hyper-femininity at all times, at least we’ll be slightly more palatable. We’ll remind people that not only are we worthy of our womanhood, but of our basic humanity, too”

It is because of this predicament that pin-up and otherwise ladylike styles can grow all the more appealing. Fat women are constantly towing the line between being entirely desexualised or over-sexualised; but in either case, we are usually de-womanised. When we are denied femininity, reclaiming it can be a powerful thing. Exercising our right to pretty things can be a powerful thing.

What we need to move past are the ideologies that force us to box ourselves in. In that same essay, Nag Rao wrote, “When you restrict yourself to a ‘curve flattering aesthetic that caters to all the traditional notions of beauty, you restrict yourself to a very small part of what fashion has to offer.” This is undeniably true, and for a lot of people, it leads to a hell of a lot of restriction of the self in general. We risk limiting ourselves to someone else’s idea of beauty, or femininity, or womanhood, or worth. We risk losing the aspects of our identities that make us each interesting. We risk forgetting that we are multifaceted, and talented, and nuanced, and attractive, and worthy of respect whether we’re in leggings and a tatty band T-shirt from 2007 or a pink tweed co-ord set from that vintage-inspired boutique.

There’s nothing wrong with femininity. What we need to get rid of is the simultaneous denial and demanding of it that fat women face daily. Like ‘womanhood,’ our femininity is our own to define or to reject entirely.

@mariesouthardospina
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Old 04-26-2018, 03:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Martina View Post
Hi Martina,

I will start by being honest, I have read your posts and have never responded even if I have felt I had something to add because you come across as so well informed I think I have been a little in awe of you and never felt I could bring anything of use `to the table ` as it were ! {this is said as a compliment not a criticism } So I shall address that now !

Yes I do think it is expected of bigger women to make more of an effort to compensate for their weight/body shapes/figures. Too often we hear the phrase `oh she could put a bin bag on and look fabulous` and its nearly always said about `slim` women. I think there is a view that if a big woman has a full face of makeup and a smart pulled together outfit that by `making an effort` she has pulled back a few points {as society sees} that she lost because of her weight. And then of course you will hear comments like `oh shes so pretty, always makes such an effort with herself, if only she`d loose some weight she`d be perfect`

As I have answered your post it just dawned on me that when my own weight fluctuates and I`m a few pounds heavier/bloated etc and I try on something that feels tight and uncomfortable instead of just choosing something smart but that I know is roomier I fear I instead select something ultra comfy, oversized, dare I say shapeless which isnt so bad in itself but I now realise I then usually either dont bother with make up or use less and tone it down, put my hair in a ponytail instead of styling it, in short everything is taken down a level based on my not being able to squeeze into a particular size dress or skirt. I wasnt really conscious I was actually doing that until now. I need to be aware of that though its probably linked to issues with selfcare from my childhood.

Interested to hear other Femmes thoughts, thanks for the thread Martina.
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Old 04-26-2018, 05:55 AM   #3
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When i first recovered from anorexia i gained significant weight (almost 1/3 of my total weight). I absolutely felt obligated to start making more of an effort with my face/hair/wardrobe/accessories.

Having the experience of having been in a very small body and then a larger body both in the same year was extremely revealing to me in terms of how pervasive body-shaming really is and how powerful thinness is.

Our society believes 100% that fat is the worst thing a woman can be, and sees anyone who can be fit into that category as dismissible.

Online dudes always fall back on body-shaming eventually any time they argue with women online-- because it is the ultimate indictment in our society.

If you can make "fat" stick it does not matter that you were just getting your ass handed to you buy a PhD when you thought you could mansplain her field to her-- and you don't even actually have to be fat, just the slightest imperfection is enough.

Let your thighs touch just slightly and any authority you have can be ignored

Its like maintaining thinness is women's threshold for minimum achievement-- the foundation you must put under everything else you do, and society would like to see you take care of that before you come bothering them wanting to try anything else, and doesn't mind if you sideline yourself for decades while you solve that little problem for them. Whatever it takes-- postpone your whole life! An all-consuming focus on this is lauded and encouraged.

When we try to move forward without first securing that compliant size, the resistance is so fierce that you try to compensate by being beyond reproach in all other areas. Extreme femininity is absolutely one way to do this.

A lack of gender compliance is society's second-favorite thing to weaponize against us, anyway-- probably more than body compliance was, until recently. If you don't have one you're not going to get away with lacking the other, too.
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Old 04-26-2018, 08:23 AM   #4
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This is interesting.

I had a conversation with a young woman who identifies as bisexual (in a relationship with a man) and she “came out” as “fat” to me. What I mean is, she both told me she feels people only see her weight and, as a result, she feels she must perform. So she always wears dresses, makeup, etc.
I began to reflect on this and realized that my other friends or other women I know often do this. A close friend said she always dresses up because she’s insecure about her weight and dressing up makes her feel better. So, it seems to be multi-faceted and performative for an audience as well as the self.

One friend’s insecurities stretched so far as her desire to be catcalled— she’s never had that attention and for so many women, including myself, it’s routine. She began to invite it, which alarmed me.
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Old 04-26-2018, 08:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dark_crystal
.... Gender Compliance ..... (post snipped for brevity)

I like how you invoked Gender Compliance in tandem with issues of societal policing of what constitutes items associated with brands of feminine expression of our personalities or sexual identification or how we identify our type of gender.

No one gets to police my identity or type of femininity. I think how I chose to dress or express myself is in itself unique to who I am, as much as its unique to any other woman.

It's never easy to reject or accept aspects of ourselves when societal pressure to conform is greater than what we will accept or reject.

That blog post you found Martina, is very interesting. Thanks for sharing it, in our online community.
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