Listen, this is me, sitting on my loveseat at home (Klippan, from IKEA, for the curious) on a Friday night. I just got home from work – it’s been a long day. But I am logging in to tell you this.

You don’t owe the random people around you anything at all.

You might choose to take on certain responsibilities concerning your loved ones. You might value their aesthetic opinions and wear your hair a certain way because your significant other thinks it’s hot.

But that person behind you in line at the grocery store? Yeah, you don’t owe them lipstick and stylish clothes and an unfailingly cheerful manner.

It’s great to be nice to people, to practice common courtesy. But it isn’t your job to protect people from the image of you in yoga pants.

If performing high femme every time you leave the house makes you feel awesome, absolutely go for it. Have an amazing time and let’s talk about makeup. But if you’re doing it because you would otherwise feel ashamed, because you think you owe it to other people to look good? Yeah, you don’t owe those people squat.

You don’t owe 45 minutes of makeup application to the random dudes at a bar looking to get laid. I get that you are lonely (or otherwise potentially interested in attracting one of those dudes) – so dress it up and have a good time with it. But if you don’t feel like spending the 45 minutes and you still want to go to the bar? Do it! And flirt, if you feel like it, bare-faced and comfortable.

Wear whatever the hell you want whenever and wherever the hell you want.

And, sure, you can argue with me about black-tie events and school-appropriate clothing all you want but what you’re really saying, and I can hear it, is that you’d rather argue exceptions than dig the truth – that you shouldn’t be living your life in pursuit of the approval of random strangers.

Especially not random strangers on the internet.

Wear what you love. Do what you love. Have an excellent Friday night.


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28 Comments

  1. Posted February 13, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE THIS POST. so much, yup, I need to express it in CAPSLOCK.

    quoting & linking at my place, for sure.

  2. SexxxyAssMom
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    HELLLLZ, YEAH!!!!

    Latex girdle, make-up, and tight ass clothes FULL ON!!!!

  3. Posted February 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to say thank you. You made me feel much better.

  4. Jess.
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    That made me sooo happy. I know it, but it’s good to get a reminder ;)

  5. Melissa
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    That’s such an awesome post.

    I’m always running around in my gym sweats with my hair in a disarray- Why? Because everyday isn’t put on a pound of make up day.
    Once in awhile fine, but if I can’t walk around looking the way I really do then I really can’t be liking myself too much can I?

    Honestly I don’t think any of the “guys” really care what I look like and I rather feel the same way to them.

  6. Elle
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    That topic really made me feel bad, since I am consider, for the most part, the “bad fattie”.

    I’m just not physically capable of getting dressed up without planning ahead at least 2-3 days, then I have to start a round of vicodin the night before to make sure that I’m so high I can’t recall the excruciating pain I’ll be in once I’ve managed to wrangle myself into the clothes. I’m also typically so swollen in my legs, that putting on anything that even touches them slightly is so constricting that I end up with really bad indentations.

  7. Elle
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    That should have read “since I am considered”. *smacks head*

  8. Posted February 14, 2009 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    I go through moments of agreeing with you on this 100% and other times I go through the effort to unslob myself even when I might not totally feel like. My motivation at those times really isn’t so I’m personally found to be more socially acceptable, it’s more that I’m trying not to feed negative fat stereotypes of being lazy, unkempt, etc. I’m quite fat and I want to try to represent. Either way I am not about a full beauty production. I have four kids there is no way I could ever take 45 minutes on make-up, it’s likely 8 minutes at the most, 5 minutes most days, and during the days I’m not into it’s 1 minute for lipstick, blush, and a quick brush.

  9. raven
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    hell yes! i don’t wear makeup on any kind of regular basis and i run around in yoga pants in public on a daily basis. b/c that is just who i am. of course, i also appear in public in skintight latex on occasion. and in high heels and makeup too. just not every day.

  10. Tracy
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    My motivation at those times really isn’t so I’m personally found to be more socially acceptable, it’s more that I’m trying not to feed negative fat stereotypes of being lazy, unkempt, etc. I’m quite fat and I want to try to represent.My motivation at those times really isn’t so I’m personally found to be more socially acceptable, it’s more that I’m trying not to feed negative fat stereotypes of being lazy, unkempt, etc. I’m quite fat and I want to try to represent.

    Cherie, this is still placing the focus on the external instead of doing it because it feels good for you. If you want to run a brush through your hair and throw on a little make up because it makes you feel good, then do it. Doing it because you don’t want to be perceived as a “bad fattie” is allowing others direct your actions.

    TR, love this!

  11. Piffle
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    hmm, and if i want to braid my hair, cause i do it while reading blogs and it’s a good excuse to read for five more minutes, that’s internal, right

    grin

    sorry for the all smalls, my shift keys are mysteriously not working, so i don’t get any emoticons either

    pouts

  12. Posted February 14, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this! In high school, I wore sweat pants and a t-shirt a lot because a) I hadn’t discovered plus-size stores and was still shopping in the juniors’ section, so none of my jeans fit and b) I WAS ashamed of my fat. I just didn’t want to have to encounter it by having to fight with a pair of pants for 30 minutes just to get them to zip, because they were a size 16 and I was a size 20 then. And when I grew out of Old Navy’s size 20 jeans, I was REALLY embarrassed.

    In college, I started shopping at Lane Bryant, which was the only plus size store around besides Catherines (and I hadn’t discovered the joys of online shopping), and it was in the mall that my (thin) friends went to anyway. I discovered that–OMG–they actually make cute clothes for fat people?!?? Granted, LB has some notsocute stuff too, but the fact that I could go into a store and try something on besides a scarf was a huge revelation.

  13. Posted February 14, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    (er, continued, sorry.. clicked “submit” too soon)

    So I started to actually dress kind of fashionably and I wore makeup more often than not, but then I stopped wearing makeup for a few days and started to feel really self-conscious, and if I left my dorm room not feeling cute I’d walk around without any self-esteem whatsoever. Yes, I love wearing makeup and cute outfits, but if I don’t feel like primping for an hour in the morning I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it. Sheesh!

  14. Posted February 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. It is really important.

    I think I owe random people respect, but respect is about treating them like a human being, not about presenting something pretty for them to look at.

  15. Posted February 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Great reminder. I find myself not wearing something I want to wear because I get nervous about how other people think I look. Having a reminder from other people that it is ok to look how I want is nice. Maybe I won’t need other people telling me it’s ok in the future.

  16. Angellore
    Posted February 14, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks you so much for writing this. You are so spot on and I really needed this right now.

    I have been having one of ‘those’ days whre I feel like I need to lose weight, but why should I? Who would I be doing it for? Not me. My husband loves me the way I am. I’d be doing it because society thinks I should. That person in the grocery store. Well, you know what, you can kiss my fat ass, baggy pants and all ;)

    xx

  17. Posted February 15, 2009 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    “Cherie, this is still placing the focus on the external instead of doing it because it feels good for you. If you want to run a brush through your hair and throw on a little make up because it makes you feel good, then do it. Doing it because you don’t want to be perceived as a “bad fattie” is allowing others direct your actions.”

    Tracy, I guess I don’t see this the same way. I REALLY don’t care what most people think of me personally or being thought of as a bad fattie. I do care about fat acceptance and breaking some people’s stereotypes about fat people. Unfortunately most of those stereotypes are based on the external, I wish they weren’t. If there wasn’t discrimination based on external appearance most of the need for fat acceptance activism or the fight for against race discrimination wouldn’t exist. Since I can’t personally battle both people making judgements and fat discrimination at the same time I’m picking fat discrimination. Of course my hope is by enlightening people on fat acceptance they will also be less inclined to judge people based on appearance.

    I’m in no way allowing others to dictate my actions, I’m choosing my actions in pursuit of my own agenda. If I wanted to be socially acceptable to most of the population I wouldn’t be a loud, proud fattie. I would dress in a more mild manner and would engage in diet and body shame discussions rather than boldly speaking out against it.

  18. Posted February 15, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I feel pretty much like you do, Cherie. We all fight the good fight in our own way. Processing dense, complex scientific information that’s misreported by the media with the kind of incisive, number-crunching brain I lack is, for instance, awesome, (also crucial). But so is stereotype busting. I get that some people simply aren’t interested in fashion or don’t have the time, money or inclination to pursue it. Others find it appreciably harder than I do, (and lord knows, up until a couple of years ago, I found it difficult enough), to find clothes that meet their most basic needs. And it’s fine by me if clothing doesn’t figure highly on their personal agenda.

    Nonetheless clothes are not, IMO, the frivolous subject some make them out to be. (Nobody here incidentally, but I have heard it said elsewhere on the fatosphere). People do make judgements based on our appearance and, since fashion is my thing, I choose to be an ambassador for FA by the way I present myself in my dealings with the world. As I see it this fulfills two purposes: firstly it refutes the ugly/slovenly/dirty/unkempt/lacking in self-respect fat stereotypes; secondly, it (hopefully) inspires other fat folks who are sartorially inclined, but possibly lacking in confidence, to do the same – thus swelling the ranks of those busting the stereotype. I hardly need reiterate that many fat people believe those negative stereotypes of themselves so, ultimately, it has a knock on effect on society as a whole. I know, for instance, that my attitude to dressing my fat body has influenced some of my thin friends with body-issues for the better.

    I have schlubby, non-dressy-up days like everybody else and I really don’t give a monkeys if the bloke who runs the corner shop doesn’t like the cut of my velour trackies or the fact I didn’t put lipstick on that day. But, to be honest, it wouldn’t even occur to me that he’d care, much less to care about it myself if he did. Likewise I never wear anything that makes me feel physically uncomfortable. Which probably means I do dress to please myself first and foremost. Being invested in stereotype-busting is just a very big part of who I am.

  19. TR
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I do think there’s a difference between dressing to please others and using your clothes to make a political statement.

    As long as that doesn’t flowdown to what you expect from other fatties and THEIR clothing choices. Like, there are so many days when I dress because I want to be fucking SEEN, seen as a fat woman who takes up space and lives and rocks. But there are other days when I just have to get to work on time (like today) and I’m exhausted and that extra 30 minutes of sleep is more important than eyeshadow, you know?

    And other people fight battles in other ways.

  20. Alyce
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    My disinterest in blowing my hair dry (it’s at a length where it does this weird, asymmetrical flippy thing at the ends) has actually kept me from leaving the house.

    I know, when I’m having the internal debate about whether or not to go out, that it is utterly ridiculous. So thank you. Thank you for saying what I needed to hear.

    Quoting When Harry Met Sally: you’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.

  21. Posted February 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    If I’m totally honest, TR, it did bother me when I was (a lot) younger, that fellow fats didn’t “make the best of themselves”. Part of that was the frustrated stylist in me, (and the stubborn belief that everyone feels better about themselves and commands more respect from the world at large when dressed in killer duds), plus the belief they were somehow “letting down the side” – but most of it was immaturity, since I now know it takes a hell of a lot more than rocking a loud frock to change the world. I also think there’s a lot more hate out there these days, not that being fat has ever been a cakewalk. Plus I was probably the most late blooming feminist you’ll ever chance to meet. I didn’t even begin to get it till I was in my late 20s.

    Ironically I am now beginning to sample the delights of ageism in addition to sizism, something that is rarely discussed in the fatosphere because most of the movers and shakers haven’t begun to experience it yet. This manifests itself in my ability to be totally invisible to most people under thirty-five regardless of how loud a frock I’m rocking.

  22. m
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    when i walk around, i see nothing but people in yoga pants and sweatshirts, with their hair barely combed, forget about 45-minute makeup application — actually, i’ve never known anyone who does 45-minute makeup application outside of drag queens and performers — and i live in perhaps the most style-conscious city in america, so i’m surprised that anyone needs a reminder that they have the right to informal dress.

    i don’t think there is a moral obligation to wear eyeshadow, and who can stop anyone from dressing as they please, but i do enjoy being in places where there is a social expectation of dressing more formally outside the home, just as i feel wistful when i see photos of new york in the 40s, when everyone seems so chic. i dress for myself of course, but also for the kind of world i’d like to live in.

  23. librarychair
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    This is happening today:

    This girl I talk to at work is complaining about her shoes. They make her feet hurt. She has other, more comfortable shoes she could put on, easily available, but she tells me she is going to continue wearing the ones that make her feet hurt, because they’re cute. She says they are too small for her – I ask her why didn’t she get some bigger shoes? She says, they’re narrow in the toe and my feet are too big. I gave up at that point.

  24. Posted February 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I put forth the effort of cute-ifying when I don’t feel like it just because I know that once I do it, I’ll feel much better. Sometimes it’s just the getting started that’s hard.

    I do my hair every day because I seriously cannot handle how it feels when I don’t. It’s at a terrible length in the growing-out process right now, so it needs to be straightened and either fluffed up into David Bowieness or put in a ponytail or pigtails. Otherwise my head feels awful all day. Not like “oh god I look so terrible, what must other people think,” but “agh agh agh why won’t it all bend the same way.”

  25. Posted February 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    WooHoo for an awesome entry! Friday night, I had a dance for my sorority. It’s much like prom, but anyone who’s ever been an active sister in the sorority is invited. It’s a nice chance to catch up with girls that you haven’t seen in some time. But I’ve always felt like I had to do everything I could to try to impress them – as if they care. They let me into their club, right? So Friday night, I wore a dress that fits, but didn’t feel the need to wear spanxx or control top panty hose. They’re uncomfortable and what do they really do for me? And let me tell you! I was so happy that I did. It was so very much better than trying to suck it all in and not being able to breathe!!!

  26. JupiterPluvius
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I now know it takes a hell of a lot more than rocking a loud frock to change the world.

    I love the world a little better because it has your awesome outfits in it, though.

    I like to be a female dandy a lot of the time–it’s probably something to do with my Oscar Wilde thing. Beautiful, unique clothes and jewelry delight me.

    But yeah, nobody else has to play if they don’t want to.

  27. Posted February 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Aaaw, thanks, JupiterPluvius!

  28. Taylor Serenil
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I am biologically female, but for a long time I had my hair shaved in back and not that long on top. I’m also 5’8″, have a fairly low voice for a woman, and vaguely androgynous features. I’ve been mistaken for a guy when I was dressed down (big t-shirt that doesn’t show off the 38C’s, no makeup, no earrings or ones a guy might wear). I got fed up enough to grow my hair out at least–it’s about collar-length now.

    So I choose to present a minimal amount of femme (earrings, lipstick or gloss, hair accessory or spray to keep it out of my face) on most days because I find having strangers occasionally unable to properly tell my gender disheartening. It’s mostly guys, for some reason. I think I’ve been “sirred” by a woman once to probably 10-15 times by a guy.

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