Finding clothing while fat, queer, and nonbinary is regularly difficult and often a drain on my self esteem. In my experience, when overt femininity fails (if stores even try femininity or bright colors for plus size fashion), the clothing feels like a circus tent and I feel like nothing short of a hippo. Of course, that’s if I’m lucky enough to find anything in my size because fat women are still being ignored by fashion companies or not actually being represented in the models showing off clothes. (Apparently plus size in the fashion industry can start at a size eight ?!? and seeing anyone who fits a size 20 or above is very difficult…)
But I’m not the only one to feel shame or overwhelmed with shopping for new clothes – one writer described their experience as:
Being fat is not easy because there is too much baggage you carry with yourself and one of the worst things is shopping for clothes.
The shopping struggle is almost always emotionally overwhelming with an incredulous, inevitable thought that either nothing will fit or whatever fits will look repulsive.
When I go shopping as a fat person, I hear again all of the awful things people have said to me or about fat people. I remember being called “fatty” on the street or all the times my family has been “concerned” for me and actually said something awful. I think about all the negative stereotypes or things said about fat people in the media and usually I leave a store with more tears and self loathing than clothing.
Being nonbinary, queer, and fat all at the same time makes it difficult to shop because there’e not much clothing that’s truly meant for me. Androgyny seems like it would be the solution to some of my problems but in women, it has often come to be an exceptionally narrow and exclusionary view that really just helps to reinforce mainstream beauty standards instead of push against them.
And because I’m fat, I don’t fit into those same standards and again, pushed off to the side. Georgina Jones wrote about the politics of androgyny, saying that as a fat woman, she never felt comfortable enough to try and navigate the aesthetic:
My issue, before all else, is the common misrepresentation of female androgyny solely being portrayed on flat chested, thin, able and mostly white bodies. For me — for many other fat women and others in general — these kinds of representations of what androgyny means pulled me straight out of my David Bowie daydreams and straight back into a world where my body cannot be perceived as anything other than “fat.”
Ultimately, I’ve spent pretty much my entire life dreading the moment I need new clothes because shopping is always a stressful and horrible experience for me. Trying on clothes in a fitting room is my own personal hell because it’s in that room that I’m reminded of all the people who say I should not exist, of all the people who hate me because I am a fat person, and that I don’t fit into what it means to be a woman as someone who is nonbinary.