Sunday, 26 February 2012

"You're not fat, you're curvy": some thoughts on the politics of fat

I was troubled by some of the responses when Karl Lagerfeld recently said that Adele was "a little too fat".  I mean, obviously it's a rude, dickish and horrible thing to say, and obviously Adele is absolutely beautiful, but a lot of things I read online were aghast that he'd dared to use the 'f' word - fat - and overlooked the really problematic word, "too". 

Close analysis of Lagerfeld's comments isn't what I'm here for though; I'm interested in the reactions to the 'f' word.  Because I think it's comments like "you're not fat, you're just curvy," that help to contribute to a culture in which the accepted formula is that fat = bad; fat = ugly.  People are so scared of the word, the concept, that they won't use it.  Whereas actually, as a statement of fact, it's often true.  I am fat, in that - like Adele - I have a higher proportion of subcutaneous fat than that which society currently designates as desirable.  I am fat, in that I wear size 16 clothes not size 6.  I am fat, in that I have 36H boobs which add a huge amount onto my weight and therefore my BMI.  Do I feel that being fat is a problem?  No, I really don't.

One incident apart, I have never felt less of a person or less attractive because of my weight (that's not to say I'm brimming with self-confidence, I'm really not, but if I ever feel unattractive that's more to do with not perceiving myself as pretty than due to my size).  I've only ever once been fat-shamed, by my friend's brother at her wedding in Italy.  Even though he's widely acknowledged to be a bit of a twat, even though I don't value his opinion too highly, it still hurt, but it didn't make me feel ashamed, as I suspect it was meant to.

Claire, who blogs about fashion and baking (amazing combination!) at French For Cupcake.

Until fairly recently, there were very few places to see women's bodies in all their various shapes and sizes.  The rise of the fatshion blog has changed all that.  While I've been plowing my particular fashion furrow of dress and cardi for a long time, I can't tell you what a difference it's made to my confidence seeing women my size, and over, wearing similar things to me and looking amazing.  It's so rare to see anyone over a size 8 on TV or in magazines that until discovering the world of fatshion, there was nowhere I could see a true reflection of how clothes might look on my body.  A few of my favourites include Australian blog Frocks And Frou Frou, the Northern Irish French For Cupcake, and in England Messy Carla, and Arched Eyebrow.  The last two, particularly, are expressly stated to be fatshion blogs.  I particularly like the announcement on Arched Eyebrow: "No diet talk: IDGAF what you're eating so I don't expect you to GAF what I'm eating."

Bethany from Arched Eyebrow.  I have such major coat-envy.

I know too many people who have spent years on the Weight Watchers/Slimming World treadmills, losing weight then gaining it before starting the whole sorry process all over again.  The whole idea of self-denial in relation to food is anathema to me.  If I want a biscuit, I eat a biscuit.  And then another one.  Because for me, being fat, being curvy, whatever you want to call it, is preferable to living a miserable existence trying to get into a size 10.  My body is healthy and happy: it can climb mountains, cycle 15 miles, swim endless lengths.  Karl Lagerfeld would no doubt think that I, like Adele, am a little too fat.  But I really don't care.


  1. love this too. your lifestyle is just amazing, I'm size 8 and envy you..! :) cheers x