Saturday, February 4, 2012


I have an admission to make: I don't think that I am "fat".

Yes, I know that I am a larger, curvier woman, but when I see references to me as "plus sized" or "fat", I cring. Perhaps I am giving too much power to the word itself, as it is, after all, just a word. I have an extremely negative association with the word "fat" specifically,  it reminds me of when I had a deeply negative self image. Back then, my inner dialogue consisted of "You are so fat, it is disgusting. How can you even eat?" etc. Granted, I very seldom have those thoughts nowadays, but the sting of what constantly ran in my mind still remains.

But I do think there is something to be said for publications and media outlets which choose to tout the fact that you can be "plus sized AND stylish" as though the two are mutually exclusive. Personal style has nothing to do with size or ethnicity or wealth. Just as it is kind of offensive when someone proclaims how amazing it is it that a black girl has style, it's equally insulting to be referred to as a curvy girl with personal style. Yes, you can live on a small budget, be a visible minority, not be a size 0 AND, heaven forbid, actually look pretty cute most days.

I think another reason I tend to recoil from the title "fat fashion" or "plus sized" is the fact that I don't shop at plus sized stores or even wear plus sized clothes. (DISCLAIMER: I love my plus sized ladies, since all sizes are frickin' beautiful) As Kaelah pointed out, it's a little hard to be referred to as plus sized/get asked about plus sized clothing when I don't really don't have much knowledge about it. I feel taken aback, mostly because it is a strange feeling to labeled as something that you are not. I usually wear a size 12-16, or a large or x-large, and still shop in "straight" sized stores. It's can be difficult to find great places to shop when you aren't straight sized (I've heard really awesome things about ASOS Curve), but sometimes I'm at a loss when asked for advice.

Essentially, what I'm getting at is: it's really lovely to see the fashion community finally accepting more diversity, but I would appreciate less focus on size and labeling. and more focus on quality, creativity, and personality. I feel that labelling only creates divisions and separation, when the whole joy of being in a community is togetherness and solidarity of common interest. What got me started on this topic was a BUST article, and since then I've come across several which address similar topics. Check out Kirsty Lou's post, as well as Erin's post for a little more insight.

What do you guys think? Is there too much focus on labeling what a person is, or isn't? Or is it not a big deal?

Just as a sidenote: some readers have been asking for curvier bloggers out there, here are a few of my current favorites!

Fatty Unbound, Nicolette Mason, Fashion Haley, Curious Fancy, GabiFresh, Elsa Bilgren, Here's Looking At Me, Kid and Big Hips, Red Lips

illustration: tumblr (sorry don't remember quite where!)

In regards to anon comment about "losing weight": I realize that yes, technically, I am overweight for my height. But there is something to be said for allowing others to be however thin or large they want to be, as long as they are happy.


Anonymous said...

one thing bothers me - why don't you just... lose weight? I don't mean to be rude or anything, it's just.. you just need to stop eating so much. I know you don't feel bad about your look, but wouldn't it be easier to be NOT larger? You say you still have this thoughts, so maybe just do something about it

Anonymous said...

I believe that some people always want to feel better than someone and they will do whatever it takes to do so (i.e. Anonymous.)

I have a fuller figure than what most believe is acceptable. But, I feel as long as you feel good physically, emotionally, mentally; why should it matter how big or small you are.

Sadly, some people only have being skinny because they lack personality. and intelligence.

Anonymous said...

When you have to say "i don't mean to be rude" its usually rude so why just don't say it. It shouldn't bother you why people don't lose weight or how much they eat. A person is beautiful fuller-figured, stick thin, or in the middle, as long as they're happy with it.

larissa bree said...

I think theres far too much pressure telling anyone and everyone who isnt size 4 that their fat. Ya sure I may like to have a smaller chest and lose a bit but in reality I know im not fat. I have always been on the bigger side I have lots of muscle. But everywhere I go something is always telling me that my size is not ok.

I wish it was different, but we have to be the ones who stand up and tell the world they can suck it.

Unknown said...

I totally agree with you ! I'm at the opposite, and it drives me mad when people keep talking to me about my size. It doesn't matter for sure ! The most important is elegance and you've got it !

See U !

Yin Pang said...

I understand what you're pointing out but I think it's important to remember that some of those questions about how you shop in bigger sizes sometimes come from girls who are not a size zero themselves, and I don't think it should be a bad thing. It's people who admire you, wants to know how you dress so well and where you shop. But then again, I am not you and people don't really label me in the same way.

To your question about the focus on labeling people; yes sometimes but then again, when you name your blog 'fatty unbound', 'big hips, red lips' or maybe 'skinny bitch something something', then it's hard to look past and then I honestly think you're on your own about the variety of size related questions you may receive or the titles that people give you in some sense. But that's my opinion.

Chebab said...

As a curvy girl who is also not quite plus sized but still wears larges, you are one of my favorite blogs to follow. I've been skeptical about creating my own blog with my roommate(who is significantly thinner than I am), not because I ever compare the two of our bodies but because the natural thing for readers might be to label us the "fat" one and the "thin" one.

I think it's ridiculous to even suggest that someone, based on their size, might be less able to dress well, though I do understand that it is frustrating sometimes to find cute clothes that fit right on your body when you have curves. I still get incredibly discouraged sometimes when I go into a store and nothing really seems to fit me right.

Anyways, I said all of this to say you aren't alone in your frustrations. Hopefully in a few years enough girls of all varying sizes will break these stereotypes that it will be something we can look back at and laugh at.

That's what I'm hoping for, anyways.

Lydia said...

Anon #1: You are entitled to your opinion, but nowhere in this article did I say anything about wanting to be smaller... The point isn't my size. And you claiming that it would be "easier" to be smaller a)presumes that it would be better or more desirable b)that I want to be smaller and c)proves my point exactly. Valuing one body type more than another makes for unrealistic ideals and standards for everyone.

Yin: I totally understand what you are saying about the questions. I didn't mean to sound as though I hate those questions, I meant that it is hard for me to answer because I honestly don't know. I do appreciate that they would like to know where I shop, and I'm definitely not offended by that! I more or less don't know how to help because I feel uninformed about it.

everyone: thanks for your opinions so far! I've had this discussion in real life, and have been wondering what the dialogue would be online. :)

Shelby said...

I quite agree about the whole labeling thing. I really wish things were different and instead of being a size, you could just be "pretty girl in the pretty dress or something."

It totally annoys me when magazines do a "plus size" shoot and all they talk about is the size of the model and not their talent. Not to mention that "plus size" models are not large at all, probably no more than an 8 or a 10.

Anyway, I found your post to be really refreshing and I completely agreed with you. Thank you.

Rebecca Jane said...

I still similarly shop in straight size stores, although I'm in the L/XL category in most of them. When I look at fellow bloggers I always focus on their style not their body, everyone is beautiful in their own way, in my opinion, although that being said my own size has been a factor in not posting outfit photos namely because size seems to matter so much in the blogosphere when you'd think it wouldn't.

Loved the article from Bust, and also your recommendations for great bloggers, I had heard of and was already following a couple, but made some new discoveries too so thanks!

Unknown said...

Lyddy, you are babely and so intelligent, this is such a well-written and insightful post. I love you soso much!

PS. Anon is just an atttention-seeking troll disregard/delete this lonely person's comments.

Melody Rich said...

You just NAILED everything I've been thinking for years! If you don't mind, I'm totally linking up to this post on my blog Monday!

Jenni said...

There is so much wrong with that first anon comment, it's not even worth starting with it.
I really appreciate it when bloggers talk about their body issues. For a community that's supposed to be about showcasing stylish people from all walks of life, there can be a lot of body shaming directed towards style bloggers. I remember reading Keiko Lynn saying that people have called her fat--that just goes to show you how narrow some people envision the range of representable bodies, even in so-called participatory web cultures.

cristina pires said...

i dont think your 'fat' either. i would say curvy is more accurate. as long as you move your body & eat healthy good foods, then who cares what size tag you wear? congrats on the BUST feature as well!!!

islabell said...

Lydia you stylish babe, I love this post.

anon, you disgust me.

Lydia Armstrong said...

First disclaimer to anyone reading the comments on this post, my name is ALSO Lydia and I am not the author of this blog!

This post pulled me in a lot of directions. I felt you going in the direction of loving your body and being proud of it, but then I felt vibes of shame around the word "fat" and whether or not you shop plus-size. I'm not saying this was your intention directly, but this is basically the emotional reaction I felt when reading this. It felt a little conflicted to me.

I also think people have asked you about shopping plus size because they look up to your style and hope you can help them. Reading your blog, which I love, I would also assume you wear some plus-size. I did read your response where you said something along the lines of not meaning anything bad by your comments about that, you just don't have any advice for them, but the tone of your original comments in the post almost seemed a little defensive. It read to me like "why are all these people asking me about plus size clothes, I don't wear plus size clothes, I'm not fat!" That's where I sensed the discomfort and maybe some shame surrounding those issues.

Whether we call ourselves fat or plus size or curvy or heavy or larger or large or big or thick or whatever, it doesn't change how big or small we actually are-- it doesn't really change anything. Do I think, at 5'7" and 185-190 lbs, a size 12-16 as well, that I'm fat? No, not really, but it doesn't change my actual size, which is actually... kinda fat. Maybe this is why words like fat and plus-size DON'T make me cringe-- they don't change anything but the tape playing in my own head. "If I call it curvy, it sounds cute. If I say "largER" and not "large" it sounds more subtle." I can call it curvy all I want, but I still can't fit my damn butt in most pants.

Would it be easier, per anonymous, to be smaller? Yeah, for me it would. I once was. Getting dressed was WAAAAYYYY easier. And that's not really because of my body, it's more because most clothing companies don't cut for people shaped like me, but when I was thinner, more things fit. For me, I just am fine with how I look and don't care enough about losing weight to actually make it happen.

This comment is getting crazy long, so I will just say that I do think it's harder to dress how you want when you're bigger because things don't fit as easily, and I don't think we should shame adjectives describing our sizes. And I think you do a lovely job of dressing and chooses clothes for your body, and you are gorgeous.

Unknown said...

Thank you for writing this! From a feminist point of view, all of this body-shaming is really hurting all of us women - it's divisive and it's shallow and it's keeping us down. And this goes for bashing skinny women, too. We just need to leave each other alone and find better things to talk about than each others bodies!

I'm a size four white girl, and I love reading your blog because *gasp!* I love your style I love your attitude and I get inspiration from you, just as I get inspiration from women who are thinner than I am, women who are taller than I am, shorter than I am, have bigger boobs or thinner legs than I do, as well as women who have roughly the same shape. It's helpful for me to see bloggers who have similar coloring or a similar shape or similar hair play with style because it gives me a more personalized sense of what might work for me, but when it comes to things like playing with layers and playing with pattern, or just finding awesome new pieces, these things come from all sorts of places and have nothing to do with our physical similarities or differences.

People can say anything they want about being "concerned" for others when they say someone should "lose weight" because they must not be "healthy," but those people can go to hell. There are people who are thinner than I am who I know aren't healthy, and there are people who weigh more and are far healthier. Size is really not that great an indication of health - it might indicate SOME things, but rarely conclusively and sometimes not at all. So anyone who is saying anything about your weight and pretending it's because they're concerned is just lying to you and to themselves. They're victims of the same negativity that's keeping all of trapped in a cycle of self-loathing and lady-bashing and keeping us from talking about far more important things.


So, in other words, you rock, lady! And I know you don't need to hear it from me, but keep on keepin' on.

Liz said...

having great style has nothing to do with your dress size or your weight. it has to do with self confidence and being comfortable in your own skin.

if you're happy and feel good, then that's all that matters!

Robin said...

u know i don't really look at fashion magazines or models, I find them a bit boring i guess, I find bloggers and regular people more interesting when it comes to fashion, the best advice I ever got is that you can't controll what other people do, think, or say can only controll how you respond to them. Just keep doing what your doing thats all that matters.


Kirsty Lou said...


This post is kind of splitting me, and I wanted to actually comment about it, because you are fierce as hell and one of my favourite bloggers.

On one hand, I understand why you feel the way you do, and obviously I would echo a lot of your sentiments (and did when I posted in the blog you linked!) about focus on creativity instead of size. I'd love for fat fashion bloggers to be able to occupy the same ranks as more mainstream bloggers, but I feel like it's a long way away because of the shame associated with identifying as a fat fashion blogger outside of those immediate circles.

I do feel like you are lashing out about fat here, and that makes me uncomfortable as a fat woman/blogger, with a significantly larger body than yours. I totally understand that you probably have negative associations with it as a word, and I have had a problematic history with it too, that I won't talk about here, but applying such negativity around the word itself is pretty triggering and hard to deal with for other fat people.

The thing is, that while I appreciate that you're less fat than your average "plus size" blogger, you are still fat, or curvy, or larger, or however you want to phrase it, and that does form part of your blogger identity. I totally agree that it's insulting to be compartmentalised because of it, just as it is when any minority identity is, but lashing out against it isn't maybe the best response. The fact that you dress so beautifully and have a different body to many mainstream bloggers was one of the reasons that first brought me here, in fact. Actively embodying that difference makes a blogger awesome to me, regardless of how you are labelled and/or label yourself.

You're lucky that you have options outside of plus size ranges (because most of us who do shop in those ranges don't really get other choices), and that's a privilege that larger bloggers don't have - trust me, I wish I could leave the hanky hems and badly fitted clothes that are often all that is offered to people my size behind. However, for many of us, it's just another variable to contend with, and another privilege that we have to struggle with in order to dress the way we want to.

K x

Annebeth said...

your body is your own, simple as that. So people should not feel as if they have the right to comment on it or advise you to do anything about your appearance.

But I'd see the questions about plus size or fat fashion as a compliment: after all, we are bloggers, and we take a place in the public eye. This means we are a point of reference and that people look to us for inspiration. You can take that as a positive point! Help girls who have problems with insecurity (and don't we all at some point in life?) and offer them some solace in beauty and the honest wisdom you have acquired in your life, just like a girlfriend would do :)

Annebeth said...

and anonymous should just shut the fuck up. Seriously. Your body is not someone else's body, and losing weight is not as easy as just "not eating so much". I have the luck to be naturally thin but I LOVE to eat and I would HATE to limit myself in that aspect of my life. It's not easy, and I wouldn't recommend it to Lydia. Besides, weight and health are not one and the same. I know loads of bigger girls who eat better than me and excercise more, but I "look" healthier. Don't judge things you know nothing about. If a thin person has every right to eat whatever and not excercise, why should a big person feel bad for not excercising and eating what they love? Just because they aren't conventionally pretty? please, superficial much?

Unknown said...

i have a friend whos a model, she is size 10/12 and she models as a plus sized person. yes really! i am so annoyed about this. she is so skinny and why is she modelling for plus size? im left confused too. is plus size like size 14+. i have been wanting to be plus-sized model for a quite long time and i was always 'too big' to model. im size 14-16...! hello!!! society out there on sizes are god awful and im so ashamed of actually living in this kind of world. but ah well, this probably wont change in a world we want it to be. rant over.


Zoƫ, Lion Heart Vintage said...

I posted a response on the above post, but I just wanted to say this is an AMAZING discussion happening here. How awesome is it that this post brought up such a great and informative dialogue (apart from those crazy Anon-trolls)?

Emma said...

There were some things in your article that I really do agree with. That being fashionable and "bigger" shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

But, when I really read in between the lines, what I hear is that you want or in some ways do disassociate yourself from being "plus-sized." The fact that you are taken-aback that people ask for your advice on where to get plus-sized clothing seems to suggest that you want to be seen as NOT plus-sized - therefore, you are distinct. Instead of getting rid of labels and arbitrary lines you have created one. There is plus size and not plus size, and you make it clear that you fall into the not category.

I don't say this to attack you or your article in anyway, but that alot of times we need to take a step back and ask WHY we are REALLY offended or feel a certain way. Sometimes we don't always like what that says about us. Regardless, i really commend you on trying to sort it all out. I hope that you know you are beautiful regardless of any category you might or might not be in. I love your blog and your thoughts.


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