I told Ragen Chastain about my epiphany when I was interviewing her for the Brain Child article I wrote about the childhood obesity crisis. It was in 1999 and I was feeling pretty lousy about myself. I felt schlumpy and lumpy and altogether unattractive because I’d gained weight and I’ve never been a small person or all that comfortable in my body to begin with. Then one day I was folding laundry and watching TV when a commercial came on for the (since discontinued) diet drug Meridia. I found it on YouTube and you can see it here.
I know, I know. The quality is terrible but hopefully you’ll see what I saw, which is that those women look great! I didn’t notice the little leftover bits of food or hear the list of scary side effects; I saw gorgeous women being happy and active and loved. I saw women who had nice hair and make-up and some snazzy striped pants. That ad didn’t make me want to go get on Meridia — far from it. That commercial made me want to be fat and happy and buy myself some new clothes.
I realized that I had a dearth of images of fat, happy, lovely women in my life so I went out and got myself a subscription to the (sadly defunct) magazine, Mode, “the new shape for fashion.” I left the cover pic there enormous because I think it’s so great. I remember having that issue and really loving her bright orange. Fantastic!
If you’re a plus-sized woman struggling with self-acceptance, I encourage you to check out some of the many “fatshion” blogs when you’re feeling down. You’ll see women of all shapes and sizes who are talking about clothes, talking about feeling good about themselves and sharing tips on everything to finding the right jeans and sourcing boots for wide calves to dealing with critical friends and family members. It’s like the Meridia commercial without the hard-sell to diet. It’s smiling, happy, active women in great clothes.
I’m not really a fashion person (and I have the wardrobe to prove it) but I love the fatshion blogs for the insistent pride of the women who share their self-portraits. Here are some places you can check out when you need an encouraging dose of body diversity:
- The Fatshionista Flickr Pool
- The Fatshionista tag on Tumblr (it’s where all the young’uns play these days)
- Or if Pinterest is more your style (plus you can repin!)
- Fatshionista! on LiveJournal
You can find individual bloggers by doing a google search.