I’m not sure exactly when I started to emerge from this sad situation, but I can date back to about the beginning of last summer, when a Lisa Says Gah dress – pink and white and bright green and patterned with small cartoon sheep – popped up on my Instagram feed and caught my eye. I had already started browsing plus-size retailers like Wray and Nettle Studios, but stopped imagining myself pulling off the looks that the gorgeous, chunky models on those sites pulled off with such aplomb. Sure, they look great, but I’d look crazy, I thought to myself as I put on my default uniform of sweatpants and baggy t-shirts for trips to the park with friends.
When this Lisa Says Gah dress crossed my path, something changed. The coat was short enough to show off a generous helping of newly acquired thigh meat; sufficiently buttoned and ruffled to make me appreciate its know-how; and, above all, colorful enough to stand out in the crowd, which I had feared for months. It was loud, slightly unpleasant, and about within my budget. I took a deep breath and pressed “Buy“, slightly terrified but imagining what it would be like with my Crocs rig.
I was the first to admit that I might look a little silly in the dress, especially when I paired it with my favorite Glossier eyeshadow in an acid green shade dubbed Lawn, but I also knew that I would be something I would long dread – visible.
Eight months after that first dress arrived in my mailbox, I look through my closet and barely recognize what I see – a bright pink silk vintage camisole here, a neon green studded one-shoulder top there, a pair of zebra-striped culottes between a banana yellow strappy dress and a 60s cashmere blouse. , waiting for my next Sunday morning hangover at the taco breakfast truck near my house (because, after all, you can’t expect to turn a glance every second of every day).
It would be a much simpler story if I could say that introducing bright colors into my wardrobe totally cured me of body anxiety, but I think we all know that’s not how that works. I learned to peacock with my clothes specifically because I often wish I was smaller – not just because I deserve to dress exactly how I want (as well as all fat people, everywhere, whether or not they fit the average height mold of the fashion industry ), but because when it comes to body confidence, sometimes you have to fake it until you get there. When I pair a pair of orange slice dangling earrings with Marc Jacobs teal eyeliner and a vintage red and white polka dot summer dress, I tell the world that I’m no longer interested in be his self hating stock fat girl.
I still love that shot of Didion against the Corvette, but these days I don’t fetishize dainty wrists or visible collarbones. My mental mood board is full of pictures of Mama Cass and Paloma Elsesser and Barbie Ferreira and Precious Lee, fat people who dress loud and talk loud and enjoy their lives and are generous enough to let us watch. God bless them, and God bless the sheer boldness of the fat beautiful girl I once saw walking down the street in a neon orange crop top; every day, I dress for her.