Fuck 'flattering' fashion.
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
By Clodagh Meaney
Why my plus-size style deserves to be bolder.
For me, music and fashion are two of my favourite ways to express myself, and most of the time, those things go hand in hand.
I've recently gained a few stone, and found myself returning to a size 18; a size I haven't been since I was 16 years old. Nine years ago, there weren't many alternatives to thin models, singers, or actresses in mainstream media to inspire me.
When I was younger, I was I was obsessed with Paramore, and their lead singer, Hayley Williams' style. I bought similar style clothes to imitate it, as every fashion conscious teen does with their icons, right?
However, the media I was consuming, and society conditioned me to think that because of my larger body, I wasn't worthy of loud prints, block colours, leather trousers and crop tops. I would try on the purchased clothes, and never touch them again.
Here in 2019; I'm delighted to see more alternative body types in the media rocking the styles that appeal to me. We have also been blessed with bop-star and Body Positivity Queen, Lizzo.
Lizzo radiates body positivity through her music, particularly her latest song "Tempo" ft. Missy Elliot which asserts because of her beautiful, bigger body, she needs some tempo to dance to.
Lizzo is one of many icons for me with regards to plus-size fashion, and expression. It is women like her who have helped me get past the idea that the clothes I wear should flatter me. There is a lot more acceptance and positivity surrounding different bodies, than there was when I was plus-size previously. With modern day social media, namely Instagram, we are able to pick and chose what exactly we consume. For the most part, my feed is very diverse.
However, there are people who still seem to think that plus-size people should be attempting to hide their bodies.
A few months ago, Penneys (@Primark) shared a photo of a plus size model on their Instagram account. Among the comments, some of which were simply disgusting, were supposed compliments. But they weren't. They said things like:"I'm happy to see a plus size model, but she could have worn something more flattering."
Which translates roughly as"I'm happy to see a plus size model, but she could have worn something that makes her look thinner."
This woman's style is similar to mine. Comfy patterned trousers, converse and a sexy crop top. I have worn a similar outfit. But why are people so shocked by the image, and being so rude about it? When people see a beautiful woman embracing her body, what part doesn't sit well with them? Is it that she doesn't feel the need to wear something to hide herself, or make herself appear smaller? Is it that you can see the outline of her stomach through her trousers? Well guess what, when you're plus size, that's exactly what you're gonna look like.
That's exactly how my stomach looks too.
When it comes to plus sized bodies, "flattering" is generally a word is used to describe something that makes someone look less fat. If you want a "flattering dress," what you mean is you want something that makes you look skinnier or curvier in all the right places.
If you Google search the word "flattering" and switch to the news tab, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Numerous news sources presenting us the latest flattering top in a high street store that will cover those arms, and cinch that waist.
A 'flattering' bikini to 'cover' your stomach.
Why are we always being told by the media how to dress to make ourselves look less fat, when we look fucking stunning in all our plus size glory anyways?
Louise McSharry, pictured below, is another style icon of mine who breaks all the 'flattering' fashion rules. You know the ones, don't wear horizontal stripes, don't wear bold prints, or block colours. She looks really incredible. I adore this picture of her, and when I first saw it, it inspired me. It told me I can wear the fashion I really like and radiate confidence. The world needs more people like Louise McSharry.
"Brave" is another word that people use in a bid to police fat women's bodies. Fat women are told we're "brave" for wearing red lace bodysuits, and short skirts. Why brave? Because the standard is that these things are for thinner bodies only.
I'm actually OK with looking larger, because I am larger. I will wear crop tops, and horizontal stripes. Hell, if I want, I'll wear a crop top with horizontal stripes. I'm a size 18, my body will be a size 18 regardless of if I wear black, and cover myself or not.
Thanks to wonderful women such as Tess Holliday, Poppy Adams and La’Shaunae Steward before me for breaking the mould, and showing me I can completely be myself. I can be plus size and wear really fun clothing.
I've decided to throw out the rule book.
I've decided I am going to wear what I want and how I please.
Why? Because my body deserves to be celebrated in all its glory, instead of being dressed in a boring way, all for the sake of being flattering, and hiding my body.
I deserve to be bolder, and you do too.