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  • Writer's pictureTeam DesignerShala

The Rise and Fall of Fat Shaming in Fashion

Fashion has always been a part of us. Since we were young kids, our parents and we made sure that everything we wore looked beautiful. Our culture celebrates children who are exceptionally healthy and have puffy cheeks, but as we grow older, we are exposed to the polar opposite. Thin, sleek, and slim bodies are desired. Society, our families, and everyone else whom we don't even know make us feel like we must reach the body type regardless of health conditions, ancestry, or even choice. Finding the ideal clothing for our body type has been challenging owing to society's hypocrisy. It turns out to be harsh for those with larger body types and finding a fit for them is nearly impossible.

Looking for a plethora of stores to find your chosen apparel does not appear to be the ideal path we are on. Clothes are our fundamental requirements, yet someone telling us to lose inches to fit in isn't fair. The saddest aspect is not being able to wear what everyone else can because of a lack of availability, not a lack of resources, but as a precautionary step to minimise losses. Brands would rather burn tons of clothing in the name of keeping their standards than produce clothes for plus-size customers and instead charge them more for it. It appears reasonable for businesses to apply fat tax since they prefer to justify it by claiming that it requires more metres of fabric and labour to make it accessible in sizes larger than extra-large. So, the question is, is it fair for brands to levy a fat tax? I would strongly say NO. We're not asking for some extra toppings on our pizza; we're talking about our bodies, which vary from person to person. No one wants the luxury of having additional cloth stitched up, only the fundamental need of having a good fit like anybody else.

You would undoubtedly have some clothing in your closet that no longer fits you but is kept in the hopes that you would lose weight to fit into it. Isn't it the role of clothes to fit our bodies, yet we emphasise the opposite? The flood of fat shaming has already raged across society, but shouldn't we start within ourselves to quell those flames and accept ourselves? The notion of fat shaming is making news today but let us go deeper to understand how this big issue began and how we are trying to stop it.

The beginning of the fat phobia

Fat phobia isn't new; it's been around for centuries. For many years, the ideal way of life has been portrayed as being slim and sleek. You've probably heard stories from your grandparents and great-grandparents about how they met their better half. Not usually because of compatibility or love, but because of their appearances and other factors, a wider topic which was problematic. Finding a match for a plus-size person was not a piece of cake. Women used to pay dowry on top of what they already paid. These are just a few examples of how the rage of hatred for a particular body type began, but it still being prevalent in the twenty-first century is worrisome.

Source: From the book, Fearing the Black Body, titled The Hottentot Venus in the Salon of the Duchess of Berry, by Sebastien Coeure.

Fat policing, the belief that it helps but harms

People have been sharing their presumably valuable opinions on everything around us and policing fatness has been a popular topic. The belief that making such comments motivates people to lose weight is false; it works the opposite way. It makes you feel bad about yourself and causes physical and mental problems. Stress eating, depression, and suicidal thoughts are just a few examples. When constant bickering on the subject prevails not only among colony aunties and uncles but when our close relatives become involved, nothing seems to help, and self-harm takes a toll. But is being a little different, a little unique, a wrong way to live? Certainly not! Because our five fingers are not all the same, why society expects everyone to be in the zero-figure shape is an important question to think about. Remember, even if I've never met you, I admire you for being who you are. Because you are only beautiful if you believe it and embrace it, regardless of whether you are thin or fat.

Campaigns on body inclusivity

In recent years, the conversation about body inclusivity has accelerated. Brands have begun to portray and highlight plus-size models as any other to educate the public on the importance of accepting and respecting their bodies. The superficial definitions of bodies are gradually being eroded. Breaking the stigma and promoting people of all shapes, sizes, and colours, as well as providing a platform for them to share their stories, is a laudable effort. Every brand is doing something related to this campaign, but my big question is whether they truly believe what they advertise or if it is just a part of a marketing ploy.

Source: Tess Holliday walks the runway for Chromat Spring/Summer 2020 during New York Fashion Week. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Chromat

The masked face of the fashion industry

Not to mention that many brands truly understand the gravity of the issue rather than viewing it as a fad. Many masked faces in the industry make us wonder if what we see is the entire picture. To begin, consider how these plus-size models are treated differently. The pay disparity between a plus-size model and the society-approved ideal figure model is significant. When questioned on the subject, brands believe that plus-size models earn exposure, and it fills the gaps. Look, I said the industry isn't what it appears to be! Not only do models face unequal discrimination, but so do customers of such brands. Even after their massive cash advertisement, when it comes to selling it to the customer, they are advised to lose inches before wearing their attire or pay the add-on cost. Imagine the hypocrisy if these conditions were laid out after those advertisements!

One can be fat and fit

Fatness is not always the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Many factors contribute to changing the facade. People who spend hours and hours in the gym are still portrayed as fat by society. Does this imply that the individual is unfit? No! Nobody should force themselves just to be validated by others. It's their choice to do whatever makes them happy; if that means going to the gym and hitting the ground, great; if it means having a good meal and staying in, I'm still with you. Everyone else will accept you if you love yourself first, and if they don't, you'll be fine without them, that’s how simple life should be viewed.

The movement that changed everything

The fat acceptance movement was the first step toward ending the world's fatphobia. The movement began in the 1960s in New York, with 500 people at the time. It aimed to provide fat people with the same dignity as everyone else. It all started in 1967 when Steve Post took the initiative because he was 210 pounds and faced a similar situation. This sparked a revolt, not as large as ending an international war, but as the first of millions to raise awareness. Its central belief was to persuade the public that it is not glorifying obesity but rather advocating for equality. Llewelyn Louderback and activist Bill Fabrey founded the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance intending to end fat-phobic thoughts in society and make the world a safer place for people of all sizes. Many such organisations arose in various countries, and the issue received the attention it deserved. Today, when we open our social media accounts today, we find millions of people taking a stand on this case, all thanks to the uproar created in the past.

Source: Center for Discovery, a still from a video featuring members of the Fat Underground.

Have we truly dismantled the pillars of fat shaming?

It's an unequivocal no. Even though the issue has been discussed, there is often no clarity on the extent to which the fashion industry solidifies with it, not only them but often us unknowingly as well. The smallest of the tiny bits can pour the water down the pot because we may think the words don't mean much, but they do. Not only people around them are constantly commenting on their bodies, but they also face discrimination at work and in other parts of the world. Surprisingly, health care is included in this circle, making it even more difficult for them to reach out in need. Clothing being a basic need, we must do everything in our power to meet it. Every style and trend should be available to everyone - because all bodies are human beings with feelings, traumas, and a variety of other health issues, regardless of shape, size, gender, abilities, or ethnicity. Sooner than later, the fashion industry has recognised its error, but we must continue to fan the flames so that it does not become a fad but a lifelong necessity

Written by-

Veronica .

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