This past Saturday, I was walking down a subway platform, late to the meet up at Lee Lee’s Valise in Brooklyn, when I heard my name called. I turned around and it was Lesley, who had recognized me based on my obnoxious dress and red boots. Meowser was right there with us as well. And as we stood there, greeting each other with hugs, three fat women on a train platform, I knew it was going to be a good day.

This is the power of fashion, of Fatshion. To identify us. I’d have known Lesley the same way she knew me – because she was wearing a loud dress, too, and a little orange cardigan (and ye shall know her by her layers), and coordinating shoes, and and and.

(It was awesome to meet both Lesley and Meowser. Seriously, y’all are amazing.)

The three of us headed over to Lee Lee’s Valise, which really does provide the boutique experience they aim to deliver. It’s far more fantastic than I had imagined and I can’t say enough good things about shopping there.

What followed was another exercise in amazement. Kate and Fillyjonk were there and meeting them has been a long time coming. If only Sweet Machine had been able to make it as well! Substantia Jones was there, which was just awesome. She also had her camera. Just saying.

There was an awesome nonblogger (she has a livejournal but it is a personal journal so I shall not link) that I was thrilled to meet. And there were other people – I wasn’t sure for a while there who was with our group and who wasn’t! Lisa, owner and diva of Lee Lee’s was running around finding sizes and suggesting garments and the place was like those scenes of awesome shopping in movies. The kind of shopping scene I had never imagined being a part of.

I just have to say, since this was the first time I got to meet Kate in actual person, she was exactly what and how I knew she would be. Kate is herself online, as much as anyone can be. I am THRILLED to be writing this book with her.

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been shopping with other fatties before. But never in such a large group and certainly never with such a large group of people who are not ashamed of themselves. We tried on clothes, traded clothes, tried on bathing suits, gave each other constructive feedback, pointed out fit issues, and kept up a constant stream of laughter and chatter. The only time we were quiet was when we watched Lisa’s bra fitting video, which was very good, by the way. We took silly photos and traded stories.

This is the power of fashion, of Fatshion. To inspire self-confidence. We didn’t once lapse into hating ourselves or talking about how fat our thighs are.

This is not to suggest that we all fit into every garment super perfectly. The black skirt with ruffles and netting with which I immediately fell in love only went up to a 3x and it was too small. But I didn’t have to be sad because there was immediately something else for me to try on. I actually wound up only getting one top (in part because I had spent part of my shopping budget on tickets to see Tom Waits but also because I buy only things that fit AND that I love) – but it white and purple and yellow and it has big flowers on it and it is NOT invisible at all.

But when clothes didn’t fit, it wasn’t my fault. When something didn’t look right, it had nothing to do with my body being defective. When I couldn’t find the size I needed, it was possible that was because someone else had it.

We shopped and traded fitting rooms and none of it felt full of import but I think it was. Because, for once, we were normal women shopping for clothes.

I don’t know if women who wear straight sizes feel any of the sense of comraderie that we felt – and, you know, maybe it was just me – but I’d like to hope that they do because it is a powerful experience to know that neither other women nor clothes are your enemy.

This is the power of fashion, of Fatshion. To unite us. I’m sure it helped that we were, by and large, all friends online before gathering in the store. But now these women amaze me in all new ways. They inspire me to wear whatever the hell I want with confidence and attitude. They lend me their power when I am feeling powerless and I hope I prop them up in the same way. This is the power of Fatshion.


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9 Comments

  1. Posted May 20, 2008 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Yay! This sounds amazing, and I’m so glad you got to do it. The way you write about it does indeed make me see that it was a very powerful experience.

  2. Karen
    Posted May 20, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    It was not just you… it was an awesome shopping trip, not just because I got a bra that fit (score!), but because it was so good to be somewhere where I’m not the freak, to encourage each other to “break the rules” (wear horizontal stripes! buy a bathing suit without a skirt!), and NOT to talk about diets or weight loss. I’m so happy to have met everyone and can’t wait to do it again. (My credit card can stand to wait, though.)

  3. Posted May 20, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Meowser and Lesley were there too?! That must’ve been one awesome shopping experience. I hope Ms Jones took plenty of pics because I’m dying to live your trip vicariously!

    We’ve spoken about this before and I honestly don’t think straight-sized shoppers do experience this type of camaraderie when they hit the mall, simply because it’s the flipside of that other experience they don’t have…that of being de trop in shop after shop after shop. Suddenly you’re a bunch of kids let loose in a sweet shop. Everything’s cute; most things fit; nobody’s judging you – except to tell you how fabulous you look in that frock and how you might look even more stunning if you try on that even more gorgeous frock over there, which is also going to fit. And every single woman in the room has experienced a lifetime of sartorial discrimination and deprivation. That, IMO, bonds fat women like nothing else. I’ve had the kind of experience you describe with total strangers on a number of occasions but having a wild clothes orgy with a bunch of online friends must have been a total blast.

  4. Posted May 20, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Some of my favorite FA bloggers shopping together? Sounds awesome, I’m glad you had a great time!

  5. Posted May 20, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m so happy you had a great time! I’ll be there next time…

  6. Posted May 21, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    You rule too, TR. It was so incredible meeting you and Kate and FJ and Lesley and Substantia and (does the last person wish to remain anonymous?). And I’d never had a shopping experience like that either, ever.

    But you forgot the funniest part — when those skinny women came into Lee Lee’s not knowing it was a plus-sized boutique, and being miffed because those great clothes didn’t come in their size! (Welcome to MY world!)

  7. Posted May 21, 2008 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Oh wait, I just read the other comments and saw that Karen did, in fact, reveal herself. Sorry Karen!

  8. DudetteAbides
    Posted May 23, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Ohmanohmanohman!! As one of the hardcore NY FAers, I really really wished I would have decided to go to Lee Lee’s myself on Friday. I would have been BESIDE MYSELF to go shopping with you fabulous ladies, and to meet you all! Oh lordy.

  9. Posted June 1, 2008 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Shopping with other fat-accepting fat women is the best way to shop. I’m lucky enough to have a couple people in town who answer to that description, and it’s awesome. That said, I wish I had been there!

One Trackback

  1. By Notes on Noo Yawk « fat fu on May 23, 2008 at 12:49 am

    [...] for clothing the full-figured form, it steals my breath in entirely the right way. And yes, as The Rotund already told you, shopping with such an extraordinary group of brilliant, talented, witty, and yet [...]

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