Fatty Winter Wonderland Event: The Power of a Plus Sized Clothing Swap
December 7, 2014
[Image: Virgie Tovar, Rev. Katie Norris, and Natasha Harden.]
Today I attended the "Fatty Winter Wonderland," a clothing swap and holiday bazaar event for women of the plus size community. The event was hosted by Fat Activitst and writer Virgie Tovar and Natasha Harden, owner of Halmoni Vintage. These two amazing women (plus many helpers) put together a wonerful event that created a very safe space for those of us who are plus sized.
At her clothing store, Halmoni Village, Natasha Harden hosts a bi-monthly clothing swap called "A Naked Lady Soiree" which specifically welcomes women of all body types. However, Natasha noticed that still, even in a space that she makes very welcoming, many of us plus sized women still feel a bit uncomfortable. She and Virgie thought that a plus-sized only swap might be just what we needed!
I have never been to a clothing swap, mainly because I knew that at a swap, just like shopping at a thrift store or any other store, my size would not be represented. I did not need another place where I just did not fit in- literally.
Since this was a clothing swap specifically for plus sized women, I knew it would be safe, and thus, I had the courage to attend. Here are five things I learned at the swap today, which is helping me on my path to body love:
It is okay to love your large body. Yes, you can absolutly be excited about a cute skirt or sparkly top and talk about it, publicly, with other people. This is revolutionary because we are taught that bigger people are not supposed to be excited about fashion and that we can not wear anything trendy. I have actually told a sales associate while shopping that I was trying on a certain clothing item, like a short sequined dress one time, for a costume. I know that people like me are not allowed to wear trendy clothes in public, so I had to make up a good excuse to justify the dress I was asking to try on.
You do not need to apoligize for your size. Those of us who are plus sized learn at an early age to make sure that we apologize for our size, especially when we are at events having to do with fashion. It may be to a sales associate when we say: "I am sorry to ask, but could you look in the back and see if you have this in a larger size." Or it could be when we say to a friend: "I know I should not wear a skirt like this becasue of my size." Or there is the ever typical response when we bump into another person: "Oh, sorry. Just my big butt getting in the way!" There was none of that at the swap, and no need for it. There was no need to apologize because everyone knew we all had a right to be in that space.
Fat bodies do not need to be hidden. There were private dressing rooms at the swap, but it was crowded and a lot of people were just trying things on in a common area. In grade school you learn that if you change in front of other people, thin girls don't need to hide, but fat girls do. I can honestly say that this is the first place I have ever seen, in person, plus sized women change in front of other people. Which leads me to my fourth point...
Bodies are not shameful and disgusting, not even fat ones. We were all chatting about how cute a shirt was or what we were going to do this weekend while we were getting dressed and undressed, and no one cared! No one averted their eyes in disgust, no one acted like bodies were gross or embarassing. It was just totally normal to be a person, with a body, trying on clothes.
You can wear what you want. I have really been working on this concept. I struggle with it daily. I have all of these rules in my head of what I am "allowed" to wear due to my size and body type. Every time I go to an event that is body positive, I start to believe more and more that I can wear what I want. Being at the clothing swap helped with this because it is different than being at a regular store. What is great about a swap is that all of the clothes are things people had worn themselves. For example, I saw an adorable short black skirt and I would have thought before that I could not wear it due to my size and shape. Then I realized that someone else, shaped like me, had worn it. Lots of people wear what they want and look fantastic. Yes, in fact, I too can wear what I want! I even bought an adorable crop top from one of the vendors at the swap, Feminine Funk Tshirts, and it says: "I wear what I want."
[Image: Photo of Feminine Funk thirt table.]
This was a really great event and I connected with other people in the community who are body positive. I can't wait for the next one and to check out the swaps Natasha has every month!
P.S.: Another woman at the swap, Angela, has a great post about a previous event, The Fat Flash Mob. Her post shows, again, just how important events for plus sized women are. As Anglea says in her post A plus-sized Rainbow: "It was a rare opportunity to show the world that we exist as more than headless fatty photos, that we're damn pleased to take up space to live and thrive. The more we can represent ourselves and be understood, the more that our society as a whole will learn acceptance- this is a key for any movement."