Tag Archives: fashion

Paris Cracks Down on Super Skinny Models

French MPs have voted to make it illegal to put models who are too thin on the catwalk.  Modeling agencies who put models on the catwalk who are deemed too thin face significant fines (up to $75,000) and even more astonishingly up to six months in prison.

The MPs are engaging in this crackdown in an attempt to help curb anorexia and other eating disorders in France.  The fashion industry, especially in Paris, has a very important cultural effect on young women.  And there is no question that the average Paris fashion model is startlingly thin.  According to the WHO, a BMI under 18.5 is considered underweight.  18 is considered malnourished and 17 is considered severely malnourished.  The average fashion model is 5ft. 9in. and weighs in at just over 110 pounds.  This makes the average BMI in the fashion industry a 16.  The French MPs have thus far failed to determine what BMI will be considered too low for the fashion industry.

The lower house of Parliament also voted recently to mark all photos of models that have been retouched to change body size or shape and to make promotion of anorexia on the Internet.  One supposes that it is fairly easy to legislate the first of these ideas, but I admit, I’m not sure how they will enforce the latter.

While we all know that BMI is an unreliable indicator of health, nevertheless extremely low weights (along with extremely high weights) are associated with health risks.  In particular, extremely low weights are sometimes indicative of Anorexia–a serious eating disorder which has proven the most deadly of all forms of mental illness.  While one could imagine that some of these women are simply naturally very thin, it is unlikely that all or even most of them have a natural BMI that low.  And first hand accounts from many models who speak of living on diet coke and cotton balls, and who pass out at photo shoots from lack of nutrition, lead us to believe that achieving a weight this low for many models requires extreme measures.

Naturally the fashion industry is fighting back.  They state that just because their models are thin, does not mean they are anorexic.  And there is a certain amount of truth to that.  If we are going to argue for body diversity, we must accept that some people are naturally very thin, just as some people are naturally very fat. And if we ban very thin models, shouldn’t we ban very fat ones too?

Personally, I think it’s important to recognize that the Paris fashion industry is not representing body diversity on the catwalk.  The average Paris fashion model’s body size is far, FAR below the national average for BMI.  And there is virtually no representation of even averaged sized women on the catwalk.  By focusing the fashion shows on body sizes that are way below average, the modeling industry creates a “new normal”.  As people come to see a body type that is not healthy or normal for the vast majority of the population as the right and most desired one.

So what say you?  Do you think these proposed French measures go too far?  Or not far enough?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Fatshioning a Better Relationship with Clothing Companies

Plus-size model? Most of the world doesn’t seem to think so.

I was reviewing my email when this article from Digiday entitled “For brands,  marketing ‘plus-size’ is a tricky line to walk” showed up.  The article talked about the recent uproar about Calvin Klein model Myla Dalbesio’s interview in Elle Magazine where she referred to herself as a ‘Plus Sized Model’.  Social media outlets erupted in anger as many people rightly pointed out that as a very tall woman who is size 10 at most, she is considerably thinner than the average American woman.  And while she might qualify as “plus-sized” in modeling terminology (which can apply to any woman over size 6 according to the article in Elle) she certainly doesn’t qualify as plus-sized in the way that most of us understand it.  To be fair, I think it’s important to note that Calvin Klein did not label her as plus-sized.  It simply put her in a group of models of varying sizes to promote their new Perfectly Fit line of underwear.  Myla described herself as plus-sized.

But this pesky question of labeling has come up since the early days of the “husky” department and most retailers still don’t seem to get it right.  We had the kerfluffle earlier this year when some online catalog pages identified Wal-mart Halloween Costumes “Fat Girl Costumes”.  Many people took exception to this labeling as extremely rude, while at the same time, many people in the Fat Acceptance community who identify themselves with the word “Fat” thought it was just fine.  As a woman who calls herself “The Fat Chick” I wasn’t offended.  But many people were.

Walmart’s Halloween section before the site got changed and the company apologized.

Add to this, Dillard’s debacle which Ragen Chastain blogged about today and you have to wonder, who the hell is doing this marketing stuff anyways?  Who at Dillard’s thought it would be okay to put a sign that says “Dear Santa, This year give me a fat bank account and a slim body.  Please don’t mix them up like you did last year.”  Do they do any market research?  Do they understand how this will be perceived in the marketplace?  Or do they see it as clickbait with the idea that all attention is good attention as long as they get the URL right?

And then we have Old Navy, catching online flak for making their plus-sized clothing more expensive than the exact same garment in a smaller size.  There is now a national petition circulating on Change.org asking Old Navy to unify pricing for women’s clothing of all sizes.

What in the name of all that is retail is going on here?  How can these companies with so much money and such big advertising budgets and so much access to sophisticated market research continue to get this so wrong?  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but it seems to me that a few simple tips are in order:

1.  Lose the labels.

Why do you have to call these clothes anything at all?  Why do you need a plus-size department?  Or a women’s department?  That label always made no sense to me anyway.  Does that mean that all the other smaller dresses in the store are not for women?  Are they for dancing poodles or space aliens?  Why can’t we just say that we have clothing sizes 00-30 and call it a day?  If you are talking about tags for a search engine, then fine.  Tag away.  But you don’t need to call these clothes out in a special heading.  Because you are also following step two which is:

2.  Have more than a few token items in a variety of sizes.

The sad truth is that larger sizes are often relegated to their own department because such a small percentage of the store’s stock comes in any thing over a size 12. Larger people get really tired of flipping through cute and gorgeous things that don’t come in their size.  If most things on the rack had a size 14 through a size 30 or 32 or 40 on them, we wouldn’t need to go to the “plus-sized” department or the “women’s department” we would go to the clothes department.  The special sizes departments are just to keep us from hanging ourselves with a pair of stripy tights because we’ve looked at 85 fabulous things that only come in a size 4.

3.  Don’t charge a premium for larger sizes

You don’t charge more for a size 10 than a size 0.  So there is no reason to charge more for a size 16 than a size 10.  Just average the prices down the line and charge accordingly.  See?  That was easy!

4.  Treat all of your customers with respect

Treat your customers of all sizes, just the way you would like to be treated.  Do you want to see a sign suggesting that Santa bring you better judgement, more kindness and some freaking common sense?  No?  Then don’t put out a sign suggesting that Santa bring your women customers or your young girl customers a new body.  There!  Done!

I think everybody should be able to approach the holidays in some fabulous clothing that makes them feel comfortable and happy.  So retailers, listen up!  There are lots of people who aren’t size 4 or even 14 and have lots of money.  So if you really want to start the day after Thanksgiving “in the black”, get it together.  I think that is something for which we could all feel truly grateful.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Want me to come talk to your organization about “plus-sized” clothing and fashion for folks of all sizes?  Click HERE to see some video, learn about my speeches and book me!

P.S.S. Want to connect in and get free stuff?  Join my mailing list HERE.

A Killer Green Dress and other Fashion to Die For

Recently I heard about Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century a new exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada.  The centerpiece of the exhibit is a bright green ballgown from 1860.  Like many other fashions of the time, the bright green color was accomplished with a dye created with arsenic.  The vivid green color was very popular at the time because it looked beautiful under the new electric lighting.  Other arsenic-laced fashions on display include electric green shoes, gloves and other items.

These arsenic laced items were known at the time to be dangerous to the fashionistas who wore them.  Arsenic was absorbed through the skin when the wearer perspired and frequently caused rashes and worse conditions.  And the garments were not only very dangerous to those who wore them, but also to those who created the fabrics and made them into clothing.  Similar to these dangers in dressmaking were the frequent poisonings by those who created the fashionable hats of the time.  The demand for a larger number of felted fur hats, required cheaper fur which used mercury in the finishing process.  Mercury is known to cause a wide variety of damage to the brain and nervous system.  The poisoning of hat makers became so well known that the phrase “mad as a hatter” came into widespread use.  Add to this the generally poor working conditions for those working in the garment district including terrible fires like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and you see a whole class of workers dying to help others look good.

The desire for using cheaper materials to replace more expensive ones, led to an explosion in products available to the middle classes, but sometimes it simply led to explosions.  On display at the exhibit you will find some hair combs created from celluloid rather than the more expensive tortoiseshell combs.  The material was so flammable, that houses burned when the combs came too near a fire.  The material was also used as a film base for motion pictures, and theater fires at the turn of the century were dangerous and sometimes deadly.’  Also on display in the exhibit are tightly-laced corsets and extremely narrow shoes and gloves which were considered fashionable during the day.

One might be tempted to believe that we have moved beyond all that and are no longer willing to die or kill for fashion.  But I wonder if this is really true.  We certainly have stricter regulations regarding the dyes we use in clothing.  And many items are now fire retardant.  But there are some studies indicating that the fire retardants themselves might be bad for our health.

Studies in laboratory animals and humans have linked the most scrutinized flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, to thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, advanced puberty and reduced fertility. Other flame retardants have been linked to cancer. At the same time, recent studies suggest that the chemicals may not effectively reduce the flammability of treated products.

And while corsets are more often decorative than function in modern fashion, how often do we use spandex “shapewear” to smooth our bodies under certain kinds of clothing?  Even though we know that it literally squishes our internal organs and makes us more prone to yeast and bacterial infections?  And some women go as far as painful and dangerous surgery just to look better in their Jimmy Choos.

Fashions are still based on a very narrow vision of beauty attainable by no-one without a huge budget, great genes and Photoshop.  Women are still dying in droves trying to make their bodies conform to a size and shape that may not be attainable by anyone without significant photo retouching.

And plenty of people are still dying to create inexpensive fashions.  We may have created work regulations that make the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire  unlikely here in the U.S.  But plenty of people are dying in other countries in order to offer us the cheap clothing we still desire.

All of which leads me to ask this question.  When will it end?  When will we decide that it is unfashionable for people to die so we can buy more clothes?  When will we start demanding clothing fit us instead of asking our poor bodies to be starved, mangled, stretched and permanently damaged to fit clothing?  When will we stop impregnating our fabrics with chemicals that cause brain damage and cancer?  I hope it’s soon.  But however fast it is, in my opinion, is just not fast enough.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

How to Dress When You’re a Fatty

BethDitto

I was so excited this week to see this piece outlining some “fashion rules” from Beth Ditto.  Now here’s a woman who has created her own fierce style and is not going to let anybody else dictate how she should look.

But everywhere you look, there are people out there lining up to give fat people advice about what to wear (and not wear.)  Don’t wear horizontal stripes.  Wear black.  Wear Spanx.  Don’t forget your high heels.  Wear A-line dresses.  Don’t wear halter dresses.  There are so many thin people eager to tell us fatties how to “camouflage” our bumps and rolls to make us look “more acceptable” and at least “three sizes smaller”.  Well, I call bull cookies on that nonsense.  We don’t have to camouflage a single thing, baby. You know what we fat people should actually wear?  We should wear whatever on earth we want.  We should wear big horizontal red stripes and mini skirts and tube tops and sequins and blue jeans and white cotton–whatever makes us feel good.  Because I believe that an important part of “being the boss of our own underpants” as Ragen Chastain so wonderfully describes it, is deciding which underpants we want to wear.  Cotton granny panties.  Fine.  Hipsters, bikinis, french cuts, tangas and thongs?  Yes, of course!  You get to choose whatever panties make your fanny happy.

That’s not to say fat fashion isn’t challenging sometimes.  This week, I also ran across this delightful tumbler feed called “WTF Plus Size Clothing Manufacturers” that calls out clothing retailers and fashion designers for some of the more disastrous offerings hung on the plus-size clothing racks.  This wonderful site allows you to laugh through your tears as you contemplate some of the desperately ugly things that make up the limited choices available in plus-sized clothing.  There’s no question that us larger folks have fewer choices when it comes to fashion. And we are usually asked to pay more.  Sometimes we are asked to pay a LOT more.

So yes, it can be challenging to pull together a look that expresses your own unique and personal style without creating a credit card bill that arrives like the angel of death at the end of the month.  Sometimes it can be a real challenge to find just the right outfit to fill your heart with glee.  Maybe you’re just a person who doesn’t care that much about clothes and shoes and jewelry and hats and purses and stuff–which is also totally cool.

Just remember, that at the end of the day, the only rules of style that need concern you are the rules that you create for yourself.  Oh, and if you’re going to be the boss of your own underpants, make sure they are FABULOUS!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Big Girls on the Red Carpet

Jeanette working the Red Carpet with the two directors of the Haute Curves Fashion Show for LA Fashion Week: Angela Rene’ AKA “The Purple Diva”, CEO of PurpleDivaDesigns.com and Jasmine Epperson, CEO at Kris Eliza Boutique

On the list of things we big girls are told we will never experience, you can add wearing beautiful clothes.  As a kid, I never thought I’d get to wear gorgeous things and the idea that there would be plus-sized models seemed extremely remote.

So in my week of saying “neener, neener, neener” to the list of stuff we fluffy folk “shouldn’t expect to enjoy,” I’m telling you that the models ROCKED THE HOUSE at this past weekend’s Haute Curves fashion show for LA Fashion Week.  For over two hours we watched unbelievably gorgeous men and women of all sizes, small to super-sized, strut down the runway in some extremely gorgeous clothes.  And folks, these were not your mama’s muumuus.  There was an awful lot of extremely beautiful clothes from delightfully weird to sporty to super sexy on that runway.  Angela and Rene put on an absolutely spectacular event!

The Fat Chick near the runway at the Haute Curves fashion show.

So besides the need to feed my considerable ego by showing you pictures of the cool thing I got to do on Saturday night, why am I sharing this with you?  I think it’s important to bust myths about what people of size can expect for their lives.  I know for me, the panic over the things I thought I would miss as a plus-sized woman, like true love and a kickin’ black leather skirt I could wear, once filled me with feelings of panic.  And I think in some cases our loved ones (especially our parents) are unduly fearful of the things we will miss out on or can’t have if our bodies are larger than societal ideals.

It took several decades, but I now realize that there is virtually nothing completely unavailable to me as a person of size.  (Well maybe a comfortable coach-class airplane seat, but I’m not sure ANYBODY feels comfortable in one of those.)  And it has taken several decades, but those who love me most have come to realize that I can do all that I want and have all that I dreamed of without losing 100 pounds first.  And let me share with you, it has been an absolute blessing and a joy for all of us to just calm the heck down about the whole thing.

Yes Virginia, there is a Sexy Santa Claus costume just for you.  There’s even a fabulous black leather skirt in your size, just waiting for you to claim it.

Love,

The Fat Chick

When Life Gives You Lemons–Work Out!

The Fat Chick now appearing in the fall issue of Volup2 in English and French. C’est chic, non?

Hello my little Chicklettes or mes petits poussins as the case may be. I’m so excited to share with you my first fashion magazine appearance in the ever so very awesome VOL.UP.2 with Velvet D’Amour! Truthfully this was so much fun. First, shopping for props with my super awesome husband. Next the photo shoot with the incredibly talented Kelly Varner.  And finally the final product. I’m so excited to share this with you!

I’m also pleased that this spread captures what I really believe. I do think that you can work out anywhere without fancy equipment. I think exercise should be fun. I don’t think you should take yourself too seriously. And I think when life hands you lemons, you should make a workout!  And never miss an opportunity to go to the beach.

Speaking of the beach, if you’re in the LA area, you’re in for a real treat this coming weekend.  On Saturday, September 29, local size-diversity activists are hosting Take Back the Beach in Huntington Beach.  Join us for this free, fun, joyful event including a “flesh mob” led by the amazing Ragen Chastain and an LA beach version of a Hot Flash Mob with the Menopause Mambo.  Click here to learn the dance!  I hope you can come.  But those of you who are far away (even in Paris) can always join in vicariously via the photos and videos I’ll surely be posting!

So my little chicklettes, in closing I’d like to state, life is a beach!  So you might as well don your swimsuits, grab a towel and soak up a little sun.

Love,

The Fat Chick

On the Red Carpet with some Lettuce (With Not-So-Fancy Dressing)


Hello my chicklettes! I’m back from a crazy whirlwind trip to New York City where we recently performed our Hot Flash Mob in honor of Menopause Awareness Month. While there I also stopped off at Plus Night Out, a size-friendly version of Fashion Night Out.  I’m here on the red carpet with Aida Romaine, a spokesperson for healthy eating that is associated with Divabetic–a diabetes outreach group for women.  I ended up wearing my blue shirt to the event because the US Airways lost my luggage and that oh so fashionable number is all I had to wear.   But despite my difficulties, I have to admit the event was super fun, and there were a lot of amazing designers and gorgeous models rocking the runway.

All in all it felt like progress.  It was exciting to have an event for people of ALL sizes to enjoy fun and fashion together.  But I look forward to a day where we don’t have to have separate fashion events.  I look towards a day where there isn’t petite fashions and plus-sized fashions and straight-sized fashions but just fashions.  And I can’t wait for the day when every runway rocks models of all shapes and sizes.  Nevertheless, I’m glad I got to rock the red carpet with the lettuce lady.  Maybe next time my suitcase will arrive and I’ll manage some slightly fancier dressing.

Love,

The Fat Chick