A couple of years ago a dime-a-dozen generic website dedicated to plus-size fashion featured me in one of their What To Wear articles. (“Well, of course they did, Buttercup!” I fondly imagine you interjecting, my lovely tumblr playmates, “Surely no such piece would be complete without a picture of your perennially stylish self?”) Indeed they employed not one but two of same. But being of the school that advocates the strict avoidance of horizontal stripes and anything that could reasonably be described as a colour, said images were used purely to illustrate Heinous Fatshion Crimes Against Humanity. To wit: wearing “zany prints” in the hope of deflecting attention from my fatness. (Gotta love the logic. I stand five foot three and measure three-and-a-half feet around. In whose universe would that even work?)
Obviously my initial reaction was self-congratulation on a job well done. Little pleases me more than giving the tasteful, slenderising black ‘n’ navy brigade something to fling up their arms in horror about. However, hot on Pride’s heels came Rage and High Dudgeon. It wasn’t the pilfering of my photographs without my permission that rankled, though this certainly pissed off some of the other folk whose pictures they half-inched from the fatshionista flickr pool to make similarly egregious use of. Nor was I in the slightest bit gutted they poured scorn on my favourite coat. Nay, I was outraged by the fantasy they spun around my motives for dressing the way I do; at the gross misrepresentation of my character. And I was positively incandescent they had used me – someone who seeks to inspire confidence and creative self-expression in my fellow fats – as a weapon to bludgeon them into shameful submission. I wasn’t a person, I was a lesson to be learned, and a harsh one at that. (And, boy, did I let the writer and the site owner have it with both barrels, but that’s a tale for another day. Suffice it to say they invited me to guest blog and I refused. As if ).
So blow me down if I didn’t have a déjà vu moment after reading one of Lesley Kinzel’s pieces on xojane the other day. The theme was whether pro-ana blogs should be banned, and Lesley had some salient points to make in defence of not doing so, not least that fat positive blogs might similarly be outlawed as health hazards in the current climate. The responses were varied and interesting, until one snarky, mean-spirited baggage revealed she used fatshion rather than pro-ana blogs as thinspiration. Oh, she was at pains to point out it was only those tiresome, deluded activist types, wantonly courting attention with their loud colours and fugly prints, that she used to prop up her precarious self-esteem, because she hates that shit on anyone no matter what size they are. Jeez, it wasn’t like she was judging fat people or anything!
She They just can’t carry off that hipster nonsense is all.
I didn’t for a moment imagine she was talking about me since I’m hardly a prominent blogger and doubt I’m a blip on her radar, plus I’m way to old to be a hipster. But I’m only human. My gripe is that I’m sure she’d beg to differ. See it matters not a jot to those who are so busy gawping at fat people they don’t actually see us, that we are individuals with vastly differing life experience, cultural backrounds and world views. Who gives a shit when our sole purpose in life is to make the shallow and self-loathing feel better about themselves? So this outfit – in all its shrieking, neon-peppered, migraine-inducing glory, is basically a big, raspberry-fuelled Fuck That Noise to those who would seek to deny any of us our true stories. I dress the way I do because I’m a trained designer with a good eye for colour, who writes about the creative industries and educates those who aspire to work in them. I’m witty, playful, not entirely grown up and would rather be overdressed than underdressed any day.
I’m Buttercup. And I am not your cautionary tale.
So fucking lovely.