I’m fat. That shouldn’t be an insult, it’s a known fact, an adjective. People like to use it as an insult, but I like it because I can tell people I’m also phat.
Some girls are skinny. That shouldn’t be an insult either, but it’s turning into one.
In an age where the awareness of body-image issues is growing, it seems that in order to tell fat girls it’s alright to be fat, we need to tell skinny girls that there is something wrong with them. In fact, it’s apparently completely acceptable to tell a skinny girl to eat a sandwich but never tell a fat person to stop with the delicious jelly babies.
Today Mamamia published a post that really upset me. Written by Lucy Gransbury, the post was called ‘Unlike the Heart Foundation’s BMI calculator, clothing store Kookai thinks I’m fat’.
Lucy was complaining that she had gone into a Kookai store that sold only size 1 and 2 clothing which she couldn’t fit into (see further down for what that translates to in regular speak). This upset her because she, a ‘secure, self-assured female (and actor, which means I deal with having my flaws pointed out on a regular basis)‘ didn’t fit into their clothes. It made her feel shitty.
When I first started reading, I thought ‘fair enough’. She doesn’t like that she wasn’t fitting into the clothes. Let’s face it, the fashion industry is a mean, mean, meanie. I can totally agree with that – I’m not here to defend it. As I’ve said before, women just can’t win when they have unrealistic, photoshopped images shoved into their faces. That’s not the fault of skinny girls.
Lucy didn’t really attack the adulteration of women in advertising campaigns. Instead, she went on to say ‘At the very, very least, you should be catering to the entire healthy weight range, and not making perfectly fine females like me want to stick their fingers down their throat just to wear your summery yellows and Tiffany blues.’
HOLD UP, LADY.
So you’re a perfectly fine woman but girls who can fit into Kookai’s clothes aren’t?
In trying to make herself feel better about the fact that she can no longer fit into a brand she apparently wore six years ago, Lucy has essentially insulted every thin girl on the face of the Earth.
How dare you put down skinnier women to make yourself feel better? There is a serious problem with telling skinny girls that they are the way they are because they stick their fingers down their throats. There is a problem with telling girls to eat a sandwich. There is a problem with making skinny girls feel like they are the biggest jerks on the planet because they’re skinny. There is a problem with telling skinny girls that they’re not ‘real women’ because they ‘don’t have curves’.
This isn’t just a problem for skinny girls who are made to feel shit because of the way they naturally are. It’s a problem for girls who are a perfectly healthy fit for their own bodies, because it says that if you want to look the way that a naturally thinner girl does, all you have to do is stick a toothbrush down your throat after every meal. What a dangerous, fucked up idea to be promoting.
Let’s get one thing straight – people come in all shapes and sizes. I have a very good friend who I’ve watched eat an entire kilo of sausages on a thick, white loaf of bread, doused in tomato sauce, washed down by a 1.25L of Coke. I could literally make a life-like mannequin of her using just my left thigh. In fact, I could probably make her super-skinny teenage children as well. Apparently her petite figure has nothing to do with what she eats, same goes for her male and female children (although, she does have a really, really high cholesterol level).
Let’s get to the actual practicalities of these ridiculous comments that Lucy has made.
‘At the very, very least, you should be catering to the entire healthy weight range.’
What the hell kind of stupid statement is that? The entire healthy weight range? Please enlighten me, Lucy. What size is a ‘healthy weight range’? A woman can be a healthy weight at all different sizes. Some size 12 women are in a healthy weight range, some aren’t. Some size 6 women are in a healthy weight range, some aren’t.
Although BMI is a useful tool, it isn’t a perfect indicator of a ‘healthy’ size. What sizes should every store you feel like shopping at stock? 8-14? 6-12? 6-16? 6-78? Should we have health professionals sitting outside of every store, armed with a measuring tape and set of scales, sit there and determine if shoppers are a size that falls into your definition of a ‘healthy weight range’ before entering?
Before I continue though, let’s have a look at this post from Kookai’s Facebook page. In 2011, a woman was complaining of the same thing. This was the response:
Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
Now let’s look at the idea of making this a ‘specialty store’ that caters to skinny women. Could you imagine the absolute uproar that would result from a store that wanted to sell clothes just for petite women? Sure, a major chain is allowed to have a petite line – but a whole brand just for petite women? I can see it now – the absolute barrage of hate mail and accusations of fat-shaming and setting women up to unattainable standards – even if the store is there FOR A DIFFERENT TARGET MARKET. Stores are resorting to these tactics instead; stocking clothing that meets their petite demand, and good on ’em.
It seems that stores are allowed to cater to bigger women, but not smaller women. I’m a walking City Chic wardrobe. They opened up to fill the void that was stylish, plus sized clothing. I have had so many friends grab a dress off their rack, only to be disappointed that it didn’t come in a size 10 or 12.
Wait, hang on! LET’S THROW ROCKS AT THEM. Let’s stop them from making clothes for plus sized women. Only healthy weight ranges should be catered to. Fat women are heifers that should be banned from wearing clothes and only ‘fine females’ who are ‘fairly fit and normal’ like Lucy should be allowed to wear clothes.
It’s like all the middle aged men who complain about Justin Bieber and One Direction – YOU. ARE. NOT. THE. TARGET. MARKET.
That brings me to my next point.
‘by not classifying yourself as a specialty store, you are promoting an unhealthy body image, which is particularly concerning for the many teenage girls with more money than I had at that age, who actually try on your stretchy clothes in your fancy change room, and end up crying at their reflection.’
Well, apparently at 20, when you had ‘slightly less chub’, you were fitting into their clothing. At that point, you did meet their target market. At that point you weren’t crying at your reflection. What if you read your post all those years ago when you were wearing that fabulous green, silk dress? How would you feel, knowing that some ‘fine woman’ thought you had stuck your finger down your throat to get to that size. In Judge Judy’s words – YOU ARE OUTRAGEOUS, MADAM.
Let’s flip this around. What about all the skinny girls who aren’t catered to in most stores – I’m not talking haute couture fashion here. I’m talking accessible, wearable fashion that can be worn by your regular, everyday girl. Don’t they cry when they walk into a store and try on the smallest size, only to slip into a tent? Don’t they deserve to be seen in fabulous outfits and not chastised for their petite frame? Do skinny girls have to be left to alter their clothes so that you and your ‘healthy weight range’ girls are satisfied?
But go ahead. Petition the store. If their size 10 is much smaller or much bigger than the average size 10, throw a fit – that’s a perfectly fair thing to cry about. Write to the Prime Minister if you must. Don’t flip this around on skinny girls and make them out to be these body-hating-food-expelling-non-existent nobodies, even when it’s just through association. It’s more harmful than you think.