I think in general, we underestimate the power of pictures. They create a subliminal visual experience that excites, connects with and conditions our senses... whether we like it or not. The images we repeatedly view create our concept of "safe" and when we see something that doesn't fit into our curated comfort zone... well, we promptly lose our shit. I talked last August about a few of the reasons why the general public is so often shocked, disgusted, and scandalized by fat bodies:
"We all know the scenario. An 'overly' fat person is walking down the street, thighs touching, pace slowing, arms jiggling, breath heavy and the people... oh, the people, they gawk. Oh that poor thing they say, horrified. Or, look at the whale someone else spits. Society as a whole; mourning, berating, pitying, hating, and mentally crucifying a complete stranger's outer shell. But WHY?
We are repulsed by fat people because our reality has no frame of reference for us to sort them out in. They are not represented in the majority by our media and we don't know how to visually process a human that isn't lean, airbrushed, and perfectly put together. They must be a mutant! we silently gasp. And... when we do see some fat people in the media? Well, they are usually portrayed as evil, silly, or stupid. Ursula, Suki, or Costello anyone? Evil, silly, stupid and sometimes old. Rad.
No matter how you slice the cake, fat people inevitably make others uncomfortable due to the societal consensus that they are and will always be unacceptable. The feeling of discomfort is what drives painfully deep into our insecurities and searches out our fear of ourselves not being okay. We get scared, and then we get angry. So you're scared and angry, I'm scared and angry, he's scared and angry, we're all scared of and angry about something that has absolutely nothing to do with us: a strangers body shape. "
This is the same reason that the Attractive & Fat photos drew such a strong reaction and exactly why they are critical to social change. Not only was there a fat body in a positive sexy situation, but there was a CONFIDENT fat body in a positive sexy situation. Cant...compute...brain...broken.
Seriously. It breaks our brains.
Seriously. It breaks our brains.
So what is the solution? As mentioned before: it is to make "the combination of contrasting bodies as ubiquitous as the socially accepted ideal." We need MORE pictures showing "inclusivity" of all body types. Together. Positively. Forever. And ever. Amen.
The reason I bring ModCloth into this picture is because they're already doing this, and they're doing it knowingly. They have a profound platform as a large online retailer with an already developed "regular size" section that they can merge with plus clothing, but they don't necessarily have to merge them. It's quite common for us larger ladies to go to an entirely different section of the store to find our size. Sometimes retailers even create separate website brands. I suppose the thought is that it will make it easier for us to shop this way, but really what it's doing is dividing it into "Us and Them" sizes... and there has got to be a better way.
I love these images from ModCloth because they pair both ends of the body spectrum seamlessly. It's an inconspicuous melding of diversity. An effortless marriage of "acceptable" and "unacceptable". Paring plus and regular instead of highlighting both separately is a quiet form of resistance; a subtle revolution. And we all know how much I like a good revolution.
But ModCloth will even do you one better; they will also sell all of their clothing together. No "ModCloth Curve" separate from the regular ModCloth. And if you want to only browse what is available in your specific size, they have a filter for that too. This post isn't sponsored and I only know these facts because of the summit, but it started my gears turning and they haven't stopped since. My point is: this is the first step towards a world where we are no longer shocked by fat in contrast to skinny. A world where no one gives a shit about my A&F photos, because they've seen it all before. A world where my blog is useless because body acceptance is a given, and size discrimination isn't in the dictionary anymore. I want to live in THAT world.
ModCloth isn't the only one doing this, but they are a visible contributor. This reminds me of that old standard (and seemingly eye roll deserving but actually not really) phrase: "United we stand, divided we fall." It's ancient, but it's the answer in this case. Yes, it is AWESOME to have "fat-only" photography and art. We have to compensate for the lack of fat positive images in our media. This is critical, crucial, and necessary (I'm being redundant to highlight the importance here)... but fat acceptance is not just about the FuckYeahFatPositive Tumblrs. It's also about merging fashion, media, and marketing worlds so that all figures are represented equally. So that all bodies hold the same value. Only when we are all visually together (and brains are not breaking) will change happen. ModCloth is doing it. I'm doing it. Some of you are doing it. Now we're just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on.