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double standard evil fat fatties

I’m now an official expert on women’s fashion

By David Futrelle

Last week, there was a little dustup on Twitter over one online clothing store’s rather limited selection of sizes, and their goofy names.

Rabbit Goh Co sells women’s clothing that is, in the words of one journalist, “understated, classically tailored and slightly twee.” Trouble is, they only sell clothes in three sizes, which for some reason they’ve decided to call “dainty,” “fair,” and “grand.” Making matters worse, the “grand” size isn’t very grand — it’s only a US size 6.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how grand or not grand that really is, given that I’m not actually an expert on women’s fashion at all. But according to legit fashion expert Cora Harrington, who got the controversy going with a tweet complaining about the “cutsey” names for the sizes, it’s not very. As an assortment of women on Twitter confirmed:

I'm size chonk
I guess my size would be oh lawd she comin

All this is covered in somewhat more detail in a post on the controversy on the entertainment/fashion site Her, from which I borrowed these tweets and the description of Rabbit Goh Co’s style I quoted above.

And, oh yeah, the reason for my headline? Well, the post on Her also quoted a tweet by noted fashionista me.

David Futrelle
@DavidFutrelle
Replying to @lingerie_addict
I'm a big fat dude but I am dainty as fuck, dammit

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go drink some tea with my motherfucking pinky out.

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weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

There’s a Mean Girls gif for absolutely everything

comment image?fit=inside|900:auto&output-quality=90

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
3 years ago

@David: Something else to add to your CV! 😀

jone (social justice cleric)
jone (social justice cleric)
3 years ago

It must be all the clothes are Asian sizes.

When I was fat-ish, I really loved my body. But I could not buy anything on ebay, unless they had it in XXXL (Asian). I was about a US size 14-16.
I was the size of 3 large Asians in width. But I’m also way taller. Tall woman penalty. Apparently I’m at least an Asian and a half tall.
(Generalizing, obviously there are tall Asian folks).

While fat-ish, I loved that I could walk around anywhere, or go to the gym, and not literally be gawked at. I didn’t for once feel I was on display. It was so incredibly liberating.

But it turns out I have a thyroid disorder, so now I’m on the medicine I need to be alive and consequently lost weight, and once again I get the feeling that I have a sign on my back that says “RAPE ME!”
Such a delight.

I still cant wear Asian clothes, even though I’m the size of a large Asian now (with tall girl penalty). I’m about a US size 6. Which is GRAND apparently.

So very grand. Such grand to be had over here. Yay. Feel the grand.

Casta
Casta
3 years ago

jone – There are plenty of size 14 + women who have been raped. Suggesting that rape is somehow related to an individual’s body type, or clothing size is (to put it politely) uninformed.

Mabret (née Laugher at Bigots)
Mabret (née Laugher at Bigots)
3 years ago

One thing I’ve found out very quickly in looking for clothes is that women’s clothing size numbers mean almost nothing.

dustydeste
dustydeste
3 years ago

Umm, Jone, saying you’re “three Asians wide” and similar is pretty dehumanizing, maybe don’t do that, in addition to the WOWWWW a la Captain Awkward on the rape stuff.

Lkeke35
Lkeke35
3 years ago

One thing I’ve found about my own sizes is that based on where I buy my clothes, my sizes vary a great deal, which makes sizes utterly meaningless for me.

Since I’m proportionate to my weight, I look smaller than people think I weigh, and I don’t have much of a belly or butt, giving me an actual hourglass shape, which is impossible to buy clothing for, apparently. If I buy pants to fit my waist, my legs can’t get in them, and if I buy pants to fit my legs, then the waist is several inches too big. (In other words, wide legged pants, with an elastic waist, are my best friend! And they don’t match the size I wear in regular non stretch pants.)

All this to say, that that designers really don’t take into account the different sizes of women’s bodies and if you’re poor (as I was for a very long time) but you’re a woman with a lack of sewing skills, (fortunately I do), you can forget about having clothes that fit well. That right there is one of the many reasons people think fat people dress like slobs (outside of people just being jerks to fat people).

Podkayne Lives
Podkayne Lives
3 years ago

If you don’t carry anything above a six, you can call your sizes anything you want, as I won’t fit in ’em.

But even if I were thin enough for this sizing system, I think it would put me off. Too cutesy.

jone (social justice cleric)
jone (social justice cleric)
3 years ago

@Casta

jone – There are plenty of size 14 + women who have been raped. Suggesting that rape is somehow related to an individual’s body type, or clothing size is (to put it politely) uninformed.

Word, Agreed.
My intention was to point out that I get a lot more unwelcome attention at a size 6 than I did at a size 14. I feel far more threatened at a smaller size, and my feelings are backed up by the experience of being approached more often by men who don’t seem to realize I’d rather be left alone. Even if I try to politely dismiss them.
I can’t very well non-politely dismiss them, because you never know who could be a stalker or violent.
And the fact that I have to put up with that more often is awful. Nobody should ever have to put up with it, regardless of what they weigh.

@dustydeste

Umm, Jone, saying you’re “three Asians wide” and similar is pretty dehumanizing, maybe don’t do that, in addition to the WOWWWW a la Captain Awkward on the rape stuff.

My bad if I put it in a dehumanizing way.
I don’t think physical size is an indication of dominance or superiority, though that is the overwhelming opinion of the American public in general.
White people are in general taller and wider than people from Asian countries. And usually fatter, too.
I guess I could say we are all beautiful just like we are, but I don’t think it’s important to be beautiful.
What I noticed from travels to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan is that processed food is far more available in the West, and cheaper than healthy foods. It’s a big problem, but rather off topic for this post.

JS
JS
3 years ago

This is also a problem when buying men’s clothing from Asian suppliers. I’m a large in the US, but that’s frequently 2 or 3XL overseas. Slightly disappointing, there’s some really neat looking stuff from China that I’d never fit in (hats especially, I barely fit in extra large US ones).

dustydeste
dustydeste
3 years ago

@jone

It’s not about that kind of size=dominance association, it’s that you used “an Asian” as a unit of measurement. This is iffy on a couple levels, both in that it is using a type of person as a stand-in for an object and in that it reinforces the stereotype of Asian people as an homogeneous mass of identical, interchangeable individuals. Both the objectification and the implied overgeneralization are dehumanizing in this context.

serrana
serrana
3 years ago

The problem with women’s clothing is that most of it is made for imaginary women, instead of all the actual women who exist on this planet. And when designers make clothes for imaginary women, they make them for their ideal, so: tall, skinny, and young. Then they’re like, wait, hardly anyone wears these sizes and oh shit, we have to pay the bills. Quick! What weight/height/size is the average woman? Let’s extend our sizes to fit her. And if you’re just a tiny bit on the wrong size of average, you’re out of luck. You can go to a special department upstairs and around the corner and take your chances with a limited selection.

I’m 5’3″, so just a little bit shorter than average. Most of the clothing in stores is massively too long for me. You can hem pants legs and sleeves, but if the shoulder-to-waist or waist-to-crotch measurement is too long, the clothes are always going to look ill-fitting and frumpy. Luckily, I’m a size 12/large, so if the clothes don’t need to be tailored, I can wear regular sizes. But the average woman in the US is a size 14-16, and that’s about where the plus sizes start, where again, you deal with limited selections.

Further, women’s clothing isn’t made for stuff we need to deal with in real life. I was looking for a job a few years ago and got a second interview. I wanted to wear a different blouse, and my only other had a stain on it – there was not a single button-down, job-interview appropriate shirt available in the entire mall. It was July, and all the imaginary women were going to garden parties? Because there were tons of outfits for attending garden parties. I’ve never been to a garden party, and most certainly wouldn’t go to one in July in Houston. But I did have a job interview, dammit. Try finding something to wear to a funeral in the summer, or a wedding in the winter. It’s almost impossible, because it’s not what the imaginary women are doing.

I know men’s clothing choices aren’t perfect either, but at least they’re made for average sizes and expanded in both directions from there. Also, it seems like men’s clothing acknowledges that people do things in their clothes, and sometimes there’s weather and stuff. I shop for my husband and son’s clothes often, and it’s so much easier.

Thank you for reading to the end of my rant.

JS
JS
3 years ago

There was a study of clothing sizes from different brands, which found that each women’s brand had it’s own idea of how big a “size 4” person might be.

Found it, from 2003: Clothing and Textile Research Journal

Difference in waist measurement from smallest measured to largest was 8.5 inches for size 4 pants. Other sizes were only slightly better. Perhaps this issue has improved in the past 16 years?

Tosca, Chaos made Flesh, Servant of the Purring Jew
Tosca, Chaos made Flesh, Servant of the Purring Jew
3 years ago

As a professional dressmaker, one of my most profound memories was making a bridesmaid dress for a young woman. She was quite tall and built on Amazonian lines, with broad shoulders and an hourglass figure.

She was very miserable about the fitted bridesmaid dress. Because of her height and build, she could only wear Plus size clothing from shops and considered herself “fat” (she wasn’t fat). She habitually wore loose clothing to hide her body, and was convinced she was going to look awful in the fitted dress. “Like a pig stuffed into a sausage skin” was the phrase she used.

She put it on for the fitting, stepped in front of the mirror…and burst into tears. She had expected the only kind of “fitted” look she could get from ready-made clothing; at least a size too small, too short, and much too tight across the bust and shoulders. Instead, she was looking at a dress that didn’t cut in or bulge anywhere, and showed her figure off to perfection. She kept staring at reflection in disbelief, wiping away tears and saying “I look beautiful!” in a tone of wonder that broke my heart.

Fitting women can be complicated – when I custom make clothes, it’s standard to fuse 2-3 sizes at the cutting stage. I get that it’s not economically feasible for mass-produced clothing to cater to every size and shape. But fuck manufacturers who only make clothes for thin women of average height, and then say it’s your fault and make you feel bad about yourself when you can’t find anything to fit you.

Buy a sewing machine, hit up YouTube, and learn how to sew. Smash this particular patrio-capitalist dystopia with direct action.

K.
K.
3 years ago

At this point, I’m buying guys’ jeans and shorts just so I can have some damn pockets that actually hold stuff and I don’t feel like I’m sausage casing about to burst.

dashapants
dashapants
3 years ago

I was initially going to wade into jone’s comment, in a non-judgmental fashion, bringing my own eBay shopping experience with Asian-based sellers to bear on the topic, but this initiative was derailed by serrana’s introduction of “imaginary women” to the thread.

Because, omg, imaginary women! Like this totes should be a thing. A parallel universe should be running alongside this one, wherein these imaginary women dwell and attend garden parties at which they plot how best to be a nuisance to real women in this universe. Or possibly they don’t even realize the polluting effect their universe has on ours. There are so many possibilities for how the habits of these imaginary women can interfere with ordinary reality.

jone (social justice cleric)
jone (social justice cleric)
3 years ago

@dustydeste

It’s not about that kind of size=dominance association, it’s that you used “an Asian” as a unit of measurement. This is iffy on a couple levels, both in that it is using a type of person as a stand-in for an object and in that it reinforces the stereotype of Asian people as an homogeneous mass of identical, interchangeable individuals. Both the objectification and the implied overgeneralization are dehumanizing in this context.

I see what you mean. Apologies if I caused offense, and thanks for explaining.
It did not spring to the front of my mind, at any rate, that Asian people are seen as homogeneous, probably because of the personal experiences and relationships I have with people from various regions of Asia. Needless to say, they not homogeneous at all.
But if I wind my cultural awareness clock backwards and see through the eyes of someone with less knowledge about Asian peoples, your point becomes clear.

The stereotype I hear mostly white guys say around here is, “Asian people, they’re so humble/peaceful.”
It always pisses me off because I know it’s racist, but I can’t make them understand why… because in their mind it’s a positive thing to say.
Can you think of any quick ways I can make the point that it’s racist, even though it sounds deceptively positive?
(And I say quick because usually I only have a moment to speak before they interrupt me, loudly.)

I have consulted with the google already, to no avail.

epitome of incomprehensibility

Oooh yes, clothing sizes are completely irrational. Medium-sized people need to wear “large” and large people “plus size” (as if they’re some other brand of human).

Plus, there’s little internal consistency, especially with women’s clothes. I couldn’t fit into jeans at the store Garage – by the time I found a pair that wasn’t ridiculously tight on me, I was up to size 10 and they were way too long – but I’ve bought size 0 jeans from Old Navy.

And I’m one of the lucky ones for clothes – short but skinny, so clothes aren’t so hard to find.

@serrana – Is there something like Value Village/Savers* where you live? They have used clothes organized by type and size, sometimes even by colour, and when I look for something like “officey work shirt with collar and buttons” I can usually find it there.

*Confession: this is mostly where I shop for shirts and pants. Yes, I live in Montreal, and yes, I like the quirky little friperies, but sometimes I prefer to see ORGANIZED clothes, dammit.

iknklast
iknklast
3 years ago

’m 5’3″, so just a little bit shorter than average. Most of the clothing in stores is massively too long for me.

I’m 5’10” and have always had trouble getting pants long enough, especially since I am long in the legs. No matter what size a woman is, there will not be appropriate sized clothing for her, it seems.

When I was anorexic, I was extremely thin. I would still have not been able to shop at a clothing store that thought “grand” is a size 6. I am tall, and I have hips (like a lot of women; hips are a pretty standard issue body part). I also have a somewhat larger chest than the average, even when I weighed less than 100 lbs (quite low weight for my height and build). I still wore a 12, and I was not a size that most people would have called “grand”.

The entire women’s clothing industry appears to be in some sort of conspiracy to make women feel terrible about themselves, whether they are larger women, smaller women, or somewhere in between.

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
3 years ago

@David F.

I’m now an official expert on women’s fashion

Congrats on your promotion from unofficial (presumably unpaid) expert on women’s fashion to official (most likely still unpaid) expert on women’s fashion!

jone (social justice cleric)
jone (social justice cleric)
3 years ago

@iknklast

I also have a somewhat larger chest than the average, even when I weighed less than 100 lbs (quite low weight for my height and build)

I’m surprised you could survive at 100 pounds. Glad, though, of course.

This is why we should never lie about our weight. 100 pounds on me is a step away from death, and I’m 5’9. I weigh 145.
If I take a step away from this computer now and die, that would be ironic.

Ooglyboggles
3 years ago

Meanwhile I just keep wearing men’s clothing because it’s comfy and has lots of pockets. I even started using the back pockets of jeans. I regret doing that because the items tickle me.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
3 years ago

Women’s athletic clothing really irritates me. Flimsy see-through fabrics, spaghetti straps, pale colors, and teeny tiny sizes. Perfect for slightly built women who do yoga and jog along the beach at sunrise. Not so practical for basketball, tennis, inline skating, tall torsos, and muscular frames. It never seems to occur to clothing manufacturers that being fit, as a woman, doesn’t mean you’re size 0.

Meanwhile, men’s athletic clothing is tailored loosely, to accommodate biceps and movement. Men are allowed to take up space while exercising, but women are supposed to disappear.

YV
YV
3 years ago

They really seem to make clothes for only one type of woman; the tall, skinny supermodel type, who doesn’t have many curves. Never mind that those women are only a very small part of the population.
I usually have no trouble finding clothes that fit, but as a very skinny woman, who somehow still has a pretty large bust, finding clothing that flatters me can be hard. If it’s tight-fitting, it’ll almost always look inappropriate, if it’s loose-fitting it makes me look heavier than I am, because it just hangs straight down from the boobs, completely obscuring the fact that I have a waist. Luckily I have some amateur sewing skills that come in handy with this.

Knitting Cat Lady
Knitting Cat Lady
3 years ago

I mostly wear men’s clothing.

It’s cheaper, better made, and has fucking functional pockets!

I’m deathfat (thanks 20 years of undiagnosed Hashimoto’s!), have a very long torso (getting into the driver’s seat when my dad has been driving? someone please move the roof out of the way!), and proportionally short legs.

So I need plus and petite. And even then the pants legs are too fucking long.

This is why I love cargo pants. Those I wear have cords to tie up the bottom of the leg.

If only tailored clothing were affordable.

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