I really wanted to write up a couple of happy and upbeat entries (especially given that I vanished for a week, leaving a screechy post raging at society to "leave Susan Boyle alone!") before I slipped into my ranting pants again, but alas, I can not hide my true, rage-filled colours.
Apparently, disposable clothing chain Forever 21 is launching their new "plus-size" line, Faith 21, tomorrow. Normally, I would be all over this like Whitney Houston on a crack pipe, but everything I've been reading about this launch is making my scalp crawl.
CNN recently published an article about Faith 21 and the fashion industry's "stretch" to produce plus-size clothing. First of all, I'm a little weirded out by the fact that CNN is reporting on the goings-on of Forever 21 -- was it an exceptionally slow news day? Totally off topic, but it's a little jarring. Second of all, can we address the fact that F21 felt the need to produce a sister line? What's wrong with simply adding larger sizes to the existing stock? Having a separate line featuring separate clothing that will no doubt be shoved into a corner of the store isn't empowering for bigger girls, it's shaming them. And we all know that what full-figured ladies need is to feel more shame about their size, especially when they're teenagers.
Which brings me to what I think may be the most hateful quote I've read in a while:
"However, when you look at the human cost, what we're doing is we're on the Titanic and rather than forcing our children into the lifeboat, we're telling them to join the band. Worrying about fashion rather than worrying about the food is a horrible message that we're sending these kids," -- MeMe Roth, president of the organization National Action Against Obesity.First of all -- and I don't say this often, since it's wholly unhelpful and dismissive -- STFU, MeMe. You know not what you speak, although it is painfully obvious you speak out of your ass. Catering to women of a larger size is not "worrying about fashion" it is clothing the masses -- literally, given that the average woman is a "plus-size" 14.
Hatefilled, deeply disturbed people like MeMe* and willfully ignorant high-end designers like Miuccia Prada continue to ignore the fact that the average American woman is considered "plus-size" in hopes of shaming them into a more slender shape. Refusing to clothe them is not a solution, just as holding up a size 00 as the ideal will not inspire them to "put the food away" and hit the gym. It will, however, inspire more disordered eating -- both of the anorexic/bulimic variety and of the overeating+depression variety. Either way, people aren't going to be healthier, nor are they going to have anything to wear.
Plus, newsflash, people: if shame could actually make people thin, there would be no fat people to hate on. Get a fucking hobby that doesn't involve passing vitriolic judgment on others. I hear knitting is very "in".
Moreover, while actually catering to the majority of women is commendable, it does not make you a saint. It makes you a sensible business owner. I know I will catch a lot of flack for this, but just as I despise the pervasive fat hatred (for lack of a better term), I don't understand the suffering stance so many are taking when they actually provide clothing over a size L/size 10. Just as the Roths and Pradas and Lagerfelds of the world need to cry themselves a river, build a bridge and get the fuck over it already, I feel that those who deign to cut a larger swatch of fabric are just as obnoxious. Again, you're drumming up further business, not sacrificing yourself for the good of the fashion industry. Now stand up straight: that martyr pose only further reveals your judgement.
I guess this can be interpreted as though I am damning the fashion industry for both ignoring AND supplying, but I'm really not. There is a difference between saying "We recognise that women come in all shapes and sizes and we're going to do our best to provide them with fashionable clothing options" and "Aren't we sooooo brave and wonderful for daring to venture into the double digits?! PRAISE US." I just don't buy into this "A for Effort" nonsense that's being awarded to designers and companies that actually dress the average woman. Especially when, as in the case of Faith 21, the sizes really aren't that inclusive: Faith 21 carries XL and XXL. This, coupled with parent F21's tendency to size smaller makes the whole exercise feel, like, well, an exercise and not so much a valid foray into offering plus-sized options.
I think there can be a happy, healthy middle ground where women and fashion can meet and discuss the new trends for the summer season. However, that middle ground rests on society's ability to recognise that women run the sizing gamut -- from a slender size 00 to a voluptuous size 30 -- and all deserve to have options. Beautiful, fashionable, flattering options that cater to the beautiful, fashionable, incredible woman wearing the clothes. We're just not there yet.
*Based on this article -- which is HIGHLY inflammatory, and will cause you to headdesk repeatedly -- I think it's safe to say Roth has some serious psychological issues with regards to food. I genuinely hope she gets some help.