Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

August 25, 2011

Codie Young: Size Zero Scapegoat

Codie Young is a really skinny girl.

Do you know what that tells me?

It tells me that Codie Young is a really skinny girl.

It doesn’t tell me anything about her health, her lifestyle, anything. For all I know, the 18 year-old model whose photos for a recent Topshop campaign are causing all sorts of a ruckus about promoting eating disorders, could spend her mornings farming organic kale and her afternoons running marathons.

Or she could smoke 50 cigarettes, drown a kitten and then snort a line of cocaine longer than her own photoshopped neck, possibly off the corpse of someone’s dead grandmother. It’s anyone’s guess.

Topshop took down the offending photo and replaced it with one that hides her supposedly purge-triggering body behind a coat and offered the reading public a little bread to go along with their circus:

“Topshop is confident that Codie is a healthy young woman and we do not feel it necessary to remove her from our imagery,” said a spokesman for Topshop, “However we do recognize regretfully that the angle this image has been shot at may accentuate Codie’s proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body . . . We have taken down that specific image at the earliest opportunity. Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.”

Want to see the photo? Here we go.

So here’s what really happened:
Topshop hired a very skinny model and through photography and Photoshop made her look even skinnier because that was the exact look they wanted.

They got busted and now the blame and vilification is falling on the shoulders of a teenage model who, she insists on her blog, is just naturally thin.

Now okay, let’s be honest here, after poring over Ms Young’s blog I’m pretty no one is going to confuse her with Noel Coward in a dark alley so some of her statements aren’t exactly…mature:

There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend them![…] And funny enough saying I’m anorexic affends me just as being called obese affends overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!

but what about this?

Firstly this is very hurtful to me as I am naturally skinny; and anyone who knows me would know that I have been naturally skinny my entire life as my dad is 6’5 tall and skinny an my mum is also skinny, not to mention that my entire family on my dads side are all tall and skinny like me!

For someone like Ms Davies to say its not okay for me to be this thin ( which is how I was created) basicly says its not okay for me to be who I am!

Okay yeah, just put a gigantic sic. next both those quotes but replace “skinny” with “fat” and how many of us can sing this song from heart? I know I can.

The problem isn’t some size 0 teenager got a job modeling trickledown fashion. The problem is she’s impossible to tell apart from all the OTHER size 0 teenagers who get jobs modeling fashion, trickledown or otherwise.

Ms Young is just another very tall, very thin, faceless automaton who gets jobs because that’s what the modeling industry wants now, to the worrying exclusion of almost anything else.

so when I read this:

“Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.”

Like this, but thinner

I sound a rueful yawp. Can you have a rueful yawp? Well, whatever I did it was loud and rueful. And yawpy.

No, Topshop. No you don’t celebrate individual-looking girls. If you did, there would be more than one body type in your campaigns. YOU, Topshop, celebrate tall, thin girls with faces that are half Eastern-European automatons and half dead-eyed child nymphets. The problem isn’t her body type, the problem is you only hire girls who look like Ms Young so these girls only ever SEE one body type. THAT’S what messes girls up.

There’s nothing wrong with the way Ms Young looks, and maybe girls would feel better about seeing her body shape along side a size 6, a size 10 or *gasp* even a size 16.

Your clothes go up to a 16 so ostensibly you want that business, why not show someone actually wearing that size…or is that too much “unusual beauty” for you?

January 24, 2011

Thoughts on Capital F Fashion

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the exclusivity of fashion and I’ve decided I just don’t buy it.

That being said, we ought to differentiate between Fashion and the Fashion Industry.

The mainstream fashion industry and media has its head so far up its own emaciated backside that it can use its own lungs as convenient and ergonomically sound in-flight neck pillows.  That’s not going to change any time soon, so take whatever good you can find from it as a pleasant surprise and leave the rest. My current scientifically bangin’ measurements are 53-361/2-54 and I cannot buy ready-to-wear from any major designer.  That is screwed up.  I have –albeit on a larger scale– pretty the exact same proportions as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and the Venus De frickin’  Milo.  If you can’t design clothes that look great on my figure *coughMiucciaPradacough* the problem? Is not with me.

But Fashion? Fashion is by no means the exclusive provenance of 15 year-old Eastern Bloc automatons with bones but no faces. Sure that may be what we see on the runways right now –although admittedly with the revival of the early 90’s looks, we’re getting a bit more diversity of look on the catwalk– but after poring through thousands of editorial fashion images this weekend, particularly from the How to be a F**king Lady tumblr stream which is beyond fabulous I’ve decided one thing:

When you create something unusual, maybe even shocking, put it on your body and  sell it so hard that it becomes fabulous by sheer force of will, THAT is Capital F Fashion. It doesn’t belong to the thin or tall or blonde or rich or whatever actress has a new movie coming out. It belongs to anyone with courage and courage doesn’t give a damn about measurements.

Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with wanting to be pretty, but good Fashion –like all good art– is challenging and challenging ain’t always pretty.

So take this as a call to arms.

If we want to do Fashion, we can do Fashion. In fact, as big girls, we might actually even have a natural advantage because we command more attention with our physical presence. After all, there’s a reason Cadillacs are in parades but those little SmartCars aren’t. BE the Cadillac, girls and go commit some Fashion.

October 27, 2010

Dear Maura Kelly and Marie Claire

I was all geared up to do a Suck It: Marie Claire and Maura Kelly for the execrable piece of trash Ms Kelly wrote and Marie Claire published that, had it been said about any other minority group, would have gotten her fired.

But I’m not.

Because rule one of being a decent human being is not to beat someone when they’re down.

Mostly I feel sorry for her. That is not the writing of a happy camper. If her body issues are so severe and long-lasting that she’s still making physical size into a moral issue to the point where she would be:

“…grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.”

That’s just sad. I mean it’s outrageous and embarrassingly immature and ignorant, but mostly it’s just sad.

Think about it: Would you ever want to feel like that? What kind of life is that? How much self-loathing does one person need to have where watching fat people in the act of EXISTING is an offense? I don’t hate her: I pity her.

So Ms Kelly, here are some things you need to hear:

You are beautiful. You are beautiful at whatever weight you are now and you’d be beautiful 100 pounds from now. You might not feel it if you were fat, but I’m not all sure you feel especially beautiful now. Beauty has breadth, it has depth and the more you look for it, the more you will find. Wouldn’t your life be better if it had more beauty in it? The way to find it isn’t to narrow your definitions.

–If you rely on having a certain socially-accepted body to feel good about yourself, you are fighting a losing battle. It will hurt you. It’s probably hurting you now. It’s a shell game, sweetheart. There will always be someone younger and prettier than you are, with a “better” body. Always. God-willing you’re going to get old, you’re going to get wrinkles, you might even get fat. Gravity will take its toll and someday you and everyone around you will refer to your looks in the past tense. You will be someone who once was pretty. If that’s all you’ve got, I hate to break it to you but not liking to watch fat people will be the least of your worries.

Since you don’t have fat friends, I’ll give you a pass for not knowing that a lot of stereotypically Great Catches –you know, those David Beckham body doubles with great jobs and healthy emotional boundaries– are into big girls. Not just because “beauty is on the inside” but because they actually physically prefer overblown curves. So those rolls that make you sick are incredibly sexy to a shocking (even for me) percentage of traditionally hot guys. Being fat doesn’t mean you have to settle, it just means you’re fat. I’m a size 20. My gentleman caller is an athlete and fitness model who should be on a Calvin Klein billboard, which a) is bragging b) illustrates my next point:

The only thing you’ll get with a man who likes your physique to be just so is a guy who will leave you when you don’t look that way anymore. How can you have a successful romantic and sexual relationship if you’re constantly worried that once your package has expired (and it will expire) you’ll get tossed in the trash? I couldn’t handle that sort of insecurity and I don’t exactly suffer from a lack of self-esteem. It’s useless at best and dangerous at worst to assume you have to have a certain body to attract a man with a corresponding one.

Not all science is good science. You know how the little trope about how women’s brains are smaller than men’s was used for more than a century to support the idea that women are intellectually inferior to men? That’s bad science and it’s dangerous because it perpetuates dangerous biases. You’ll find equally incendiary-to-our-ears biases about other minorities in old textbooks. Blacks are such-and-such, Jews are such-and-such, Gays are such-and-such, all with the same result: it dehumanizes the group and by making them Less Than, thus giving society permission to treat them without basic human decency. There’s a lot of bad science out there that will “support” popular ideas. Don’t swallow them wholesale.

Fat people can be healthy, check out the Health at Every Size community. Or heck, check out my friend Kerrie and all the women like her who run marathons and triathlons as a big girl. Are you really going to call someone who can run 26 miles unhealthy? Crazy yes, but not unhealthy.

Don’t kick someone when they’re down.

Listen, Ms Kelly, the reason I’m not laying into you is because I’ve been where you are.

I’ve made an ass out of myself in print before. I said I didn’t want to look like a tranny in a pretty major publication. It was a cheap throwaway joke and because I’m so vocal about my support for GLBT issues –I’ve even driven the big convertible in a pride parade– it didn’t even occur to me that I’d offend anyone.

Wrong. I got hate mail by the bucket.

It took a bizarre personal experience of having my OWN gender questioned –and I’m just this side of Jessica Rabbit on the femininity spectrum so imagine MY surprise– for me to realize how wrong I was. I can’t know what it’s like to be born in the wrong gender. I can’t know the pain of coming out, either as gay or transgendered and having my entire world turn against me –or feel like it– just because I want to live my life honestly, and because I can’t know I have no business talking about it or making high-handed moral declarations about it.

You can’t know what it’s like to live as a fat girl in a world where fat girls are treated as less than fully human. You just can’t. All we can do is empathize and do our best to remember that everyone wants the same thing: to be loved and happy, just as they are.

What you did was dangerous and hurtful.

It was stupid too, but I don’t really care about the stupid part. I do stupid stuff all the time. Generally I’m smart enough not to publish my stupidity, but hey everybody makes mistakes.

You know first hand what it’s like dealing with an eating disorder. Do you have any idea how many of my readers –not to even think about the Fat World in general– are recovering from eating disorders and have gotten fat because their metabolic system has been permanently damaged? Do you have any idea how easy it is to slip back into disordered eating and the psychological shame spiral? I have a feeling you do. I also have a feeling that you know what a trigger is. Your little post was a great big trigger for a lot of people, I guarantee it.

Finally let me make this clear: It truly doesn’t matter to me what you think of the way I look. You don’t hold any power or authority by right of your thinness. My life is great. I’ve got a great job, oodles of fans, love, happiness, flawless tits and a freakin’  Birkin I didn’t have to pay for. I’m doing Just Fine.

What does matter to me is that you learn something.

This ugly situation can be a great jumping-off point for an open and honest exploration of your fairly apparent body issues. With any luck this will lead you to be a little more thoughtful about the reasons behind your body image issues and help you develop a more loving relationship with your own body. Other people don’t need to be bad to make you feel good. Other people don’t need to be ugly for you to be beautiful. It’s not a zero-sum game. Never has been. Your bio says you’re in your 30s and have never been in love. That’s unfortunate too, but not surprising. If you don’t love yourself, regardless of measurements, how are you going to love anybody else? Think about it sweetheart, and try to get better.

Gin and tonics,

Miss Plumcake

August 29, 2010

Suck It, Kim Tran!

Filed under: Suck it — Twistie @ 12:41 pm

Kim Tran runs  a nail salon in DeKalb County, Georgia. One day recently, Michelle Fonville came into said salon for a mani pedi and a bit of eyebrow work. Everything was just fine until Michelle got the bill. She was puzzled by the extra five dollars on said bill. When she pointed it out to Tran, this is what happened:

“I said, ‘I’ve been overcharged. She may have made an error,’” said Fonville. “She broke it down, then told me she charged me $5 more because I was overweight.”

That’s right. She was charged extra for being fat for a manicure. Why? Tran says it’s because fat people break her chair. She claims that the chairs will only hold 200 pounds and cost $2,500.00 to repair and that fat customers need to pay for the damage they are doing in her salon.

“Do you think that’s fair when we take $24 [for manicure and pedicure] and we have to pay $2,500? Is that fair? No,” Tran told Philips.

No, that wouldn’t be terribly fair. On the other hand, I don’t see how $29.00 covers the cost of repairing the chair, either. I don’t see why the work cannot be done in a chair designed to hold heavier customers. I don’t see why the standard costs of doing business (wear and tear on furniture and equipment is part of the calculation used to determine the price of a service, anyway) can’t be prorated across all customers. I don’t even imagine that every average weight customer is careful with the furniture. Does Tran think extra-lightweight customers should get a $5 discount because they place less wear and tear on the chairs? What about if they flop down hard on the chair or spill food or fail to take off their spike heeled shoes and rip the cloth? Do  they get to keep on paying $24.00, or do they pay extra?

When Fonville protested the unfair extra fee, Tran did take it off her bill… and then told Fonville to take her business elsewhere if she wants her nails done.

I’m sure Tran thought that would be the end of it and she would never see or hear from Michelle Fonville again. But Fonville went to the press.

Look, according to the law of the land, there is nothing to stop Kim Tran and others like her from charging extra for dealing with a weighty customer. And there are a lot of people in this country who probably think she should just charge every fat woman who comes into her salon $2500.00 for a manicure. In the end, though, these people are flat out wrong. Charging extra for the same service is wrong. Just because airlines keep getting away with it (and guess what? They’re wrong, too!) Doesn’t make it right.

All we want is a fair shake. Extra charges for being fat are not fair.

Suck it, Kim Tran.

Oh, and Michelle Fonville? You are my new hero. How many other women would have simply left the salon, had a good cry, and went looking for another salon. You went looking for justice. Thank you.

August 7, 2010

Suck It, CNN!

Filed under: Suck it — Twistie @ 11:49 am

Who in the Sam Hill approved this guanofest of an ‘article’, and how soon will that person be in an unemployment line?

You see, Laura Day of was given precious web space to say on an otherwise usually reasonably respectable news source that if you’re fat, it’s because you’re self-medicating with food for someone else’s emotional problems. And it’s true! Because she says it is! And because she uses lots and lots of exclamation points!

It’s an unquestionable fact(!) that other peoples’ emotional issues are germs that lie in wait for us all, like athlete’s foot in a shower. That’s why so many fat people have thin spouses. The fat one is eating the thin partner’s emotional problems.

I guess the good news is that fat people have no emotional problems at all. It’s all the thin people who are emotionally scrambled! But being fat is still our fault because we haven’t placed sufficient boundaries around ourselves to keep from overeating for other, more screwed-up people.

Seriously, this sort of twaddle ought never to be published by any vaguely respectable source save as a target for the most rigorous ridicule.

For publishing this nauseating pile of steaming horse hockey, suck it, CNN!

June 6, 2010

How Not to Settle a Neighborly Dispute

Filed under: Suck it — Twistie @ 11:23 am

Last night my next door neighbors held a party. They were celebrating a birthday. This is good news in my world. You see, it meant that Mr. Twistie and I were invited to come over and eat homemade posole and flan. It also meant hearing a really great live mariachi band.

Okay, in our neighborhood there is an accepted rule: you can be as loud as you like until ten at night. That’s when live music is supposed to stop. The rule was set decades ago and is recognized by pretty much everyone.

Last night the mariachi band played until (GASP!) 10:01. Yeah, one song bled over by a  minute. Not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

What happened next, though, well and truly smacked my gob into next week. You see, just as the band was taking their final bow and starting to break down, two eggs came hurling over MY fence into the party! Not only was my cat not in the backyard (he’s indoor only), I know he isn’t that good a pitcher. Mr. Twistie and I live alone with said cat, so I know it didn’t come from my house. Nobody at the party thought that we did it, either, what with the fact that I was right there petting the chihuahua and Mr. Twistie was getting details about the band in case he ever needs a mariachi band for any reason… including a possible future party at Casa Twistie. Besides, we’re buds with the family. We wouldn’t hurl eggs at them.

I have my suspicions about who threw the eggs, but I can’t prove anything. I will however tell them here and now to suck it. Suck it for behaving so childishly. Suck it for choosing to involve MY yard in your nastiness. Most of all, suck it for not having the cojones to identify yourselves as the complainers.

If you have a problem with a neighbor that doesn’t involve immediate physical danger to you, have the guts to come over and deal face-to-face. If there’s physical danger involved, call the cops. A party where the band plays one minute over the curfew? Is not a physical danger to anyone.

Oh, and if you simply must take the most immature route, leave my backyard out of it.

May 15, 2010

Underweight Is Too Fat

Filed under: Models,Suck it — Twistie @ 8:30 am

You see this girl?

Alison Boxer She’s fat.

Her name is Alison Boxer. She’s sixteen years old and a contestant on Australia’s Next Top Model. She stands 5’6″ and weighs 120 pounds (55kg), which puts her firmly in the underweight category according to the BMI (for what that measure is worth).

And yet one week into filming the reality show, which starts airing in July, the network has asked her to lose weight.

The network says they asked for her to lose the weight from her waist, while Boxer says she was asked to lose it from her thighs and hips. Frankly, I don’t care which area(s) they want her to slim down. She’s already very thin, and they are trying to demand that she become thinner still. Why?

“Hopefully, we have a range of body shapes, faces and personalities, but tall and slim is what works,”

What I want to know is how having only tall girls who are extremely thin can provide a ‘range of body shapes.’

Suck it, Australia’s Next Top Model.

Alison, you don’t need to lose weight. Young women watching television don’t need to hear that extremely thin is too fat.

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