Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Politics Of Compassion

When I started this blog five years ago I was largely preoccupied with body positivity. The feeling that women over a certain dress size were belittled, refused correct medical care and on a really basic level unable to buy clothes to fit enraged me (it still does) not only did I feel I wanted to write about these things but also by virtue of being a visibly fat woman show that size and shape were no barrier to leading a full, fashionable, happy life.
Wearing a top by One of One an ethical company from the UK

I like to think I succeeded in some small part. I have received many messages over the years from women, telling me that the simple act of me putting  a photograph of myself on the internet wearing beautiful clothes had giving them the confidence to also start enjoying fashion.To take up space, to no longer feel they must try and become invisible.
The promotion of body positivity and plus size fashion kept me very busy for years but over the last year I have started to feel there should now be more to this conversation.
When a group of people have been marginalized all their lives the first task is to give them a voice. The huge growth of plus size blogs and the increase of plus size clothing lines being added to brands tells me this voice is certainly being heard more than before. 
Yes fashion lines still often end in a size 24, excluding thousands of women and labels still continue to use body positivism as a marketing gimmick but the landscape is much improved from where it was even five years ago.This makes me very happy. 
Do we need to stop focusing on able bodied white chicks, oh for sure, would I like to see more over a size 24/over age thirty bloggers used by brands hell yes but this is a drum which is already being banged loudly including by many  high profile bloggers who are keen to include fellow sisters in the action. There is a lot of good work going on. 
What for me is slightly missing from the conversation is this:  
If we are to create a brave new world where prejudice is unacceptable, where to abolish discrimination or marginalisation is deemed the cornerstone, can we be comfortable making it just about the clothes we wear. 
When so few stores offer clothes in our size its not surprising that we have mostly just breathed a sigh of relief when a brand opens the door for us but have we let this relief blind us to how most of these clothes are created?
 Do we put our empowerment above the needs of women in other parts of the world who face a completely different fight, the fight of having to work in terrible conditions to simply feed themselves and their families. 
Beth Dittos recent collection really opened up this debate for me. Created without the use of slave labour, the price point was deemed by many to be completely unacceptable. Women already feeling ostracised by fashion felt the double betrayal of having one of their icons create a range that they simply couldn't afford. This is where this conversation gets hard.
Why do we as fat women have to take on board all the worlds problems?  isn't it enough that we are largely ignored and shunned by society?  why do we need to start giving  a crap about other women in other countries. I totally get it, I also just want a frigging Beth Ditto dress without having to sell a kidney.I also know that I am lucky that I am able to choose clothes at a fairly varied choice of outlets, a luxury unafforded to many of my friends over a size 26 but I still find the idea of mass produced cheap clothing troubling.
 I know taking on board the provenance of clothes will reduce my buying options, I know that my love of fast fashion will suffer but now the genie is out of the bottle I'm finding I cant ignore it.
 170 million children are said to employed in slave labour with many involved in the making of textiles for fast fashion. Yep little kids are helping make my plus size fashion dreams comes true. This really sucks.
Child labour-probably responsible for many of the clothes I own

A conscience is a really awkward thing. It makes you feel like a killjoy, it makes you feel separate but it also makes you feel awake. 
I feel confident enough in my body positivity journey now that I feel I can start to ask hard questions of myself, the clothes,food and products I choose to purchase. 
I'm at heart a really frivolous person. I love pretty shiny thing, cuddling kittens, playing with make up. I don't want my life to become some worthy crusade where I'm a bit smelly from using a lump of salt to deodorise my pits and all my clothes are a bit shit and ridiculously expensive and made of hemp. What I cant do though is continue pretending that my choices don't  have consequences.
The items I wear, recommend and promote all have a footprint, and when I do an outfit post that contains a dress that isn't ethically made I need to acknowledge that. To accept that the footprint may be of a child, that it might be bloody.

I have no grand finish with this post, I don't expect others to follow me or agree with me. I have always used this blog to discuss how to challenge inequality and  this is no different.
I realise this is  a much harder fix than simply encouraging women to show off their VBOs or rock stripes but I still think its a conversation that should start to be included in debates about plus size fashion. When we demand more should it just be for ourselves?


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Brand New Limited edition Design  over at  Nicky Rockets



We have a new tshirt available from the shop today "Rocket Rider" Our very first design on a baseball shirt - It's limited edition, so if you want one, hop on over to www.nickyrockets.com and get yourself one




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4 comments:

  1. I love this. You are right. I have always found myself conflicted over the lack of plus sizes in ethical fashion.

    I have been to a couple of talks by the charity Stop The Traffic. They have some great advice about what ordinary people can do and how to put pressure big brands to improve their supply chains.

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  2. This is a really good post. I don't know what the answer is but I think being aware there IS a problem is a good start. xx

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  3. Very honest and wonderful post. It's a challenge to wean ourselves from fast fashion and be happy with less, ultimately more special things. There are those who can only afford the very low price point that comes with sweatshop production, and learning to sew is a wonderful idea but the time that would take is a luxury few of us can afford. Great subject to think about!

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