Nike enlisted as allies to the glory of obesity, or: Fat People Are Entitled To Clothes Too

I’m back! After a couple of weeks of being locked out of my WordPress due to an update issue a couple of dear friends have helped to get me back in. Aside from having to deal with a hacked blog post, I’m back.

With that in mind I do have a couple of posts lined up that I’ve had ready following on from LondonEdge but I’ve not had a chance to since having my issues. But I wanted to write this out first as it’s kinda current and I just wanted to share my thoughts on the matter.

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New Year, same shit.


There’s been a trend among brands in recent months that, honestly, is pissing me off.

Christmas and New Year is always a rough time for anyone battling with body issues as it’s rife with jokes about feeling fat/eating everything/feeling gross and associating it with fatness. The usual rude associations with fatness. But what I find most galling with this is it’s a lot of plus size brands doing this. It’s bad enough that we have limited clothing options as it is without further narrowing our parameters to not include brands that are literally insulting their demographic.

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My Tattoo and You: The Opinion No One Asked For.

I’ve been part of the alt-scene since I was about 14 years old. I haven’t seen my natural blonde hair since I was 15. I got my first piercing at 16, much to my parents disdain, and my first tattoo at 18.

It’s a phase, you’ll grow out of it.
I turned 30 this month and it seems I’m still waiting to grow out of it.


Being a mosher in school caught me a lot of grief from bullies. My friends and I were often threatened or teased. Once I was followed from town to a friends house and had stones thrown at me the whole time.

During the 90’s there was a huge divide between ‘moshers’ and ‘chavs’, and the tension was often dangerous and in some instances fatal, like the tragic case of Sophie Lancaster. Sophie and her boyfriend were attacked by a mob of people in a park simply for being goths. As Sophie protected her unconscious boyfriend she was repeatedly kicked and stomped on the head, causing her to fall into a coma from which she never recovered.
As with everything trends and cultures shift with more ‘alt’ fashions and music becoming more commonplace. Remember a couple of years ago when you could buy cross covered goth stuff in New Look?
However, just because something is more commonplace doesn’t mean that its wholly accepted. Tattoos are more popular than ever but you’ll still struggle to find work with visible ones and hooooboy do people like to tell you how they feel about them.
Women in the subculture have always been subject to derision by the masculine gatekeepers of extreme music and the tattoo subculture. It seems implausible that women would attend gigs because they enjoy the music and must surely be there either a) because their boyfriend is there or b) they are looking for a bloke.
Like most of our culture it is dominated by men: film, music, sports to name a few. When women are seen participating it must be under mitigating circumstances and always open for criticism. The alt-scene is no haven from this, despite what some might lead you to believe. A friend of mine published an article calling for an end to the accepted rape culture and brutalisation fantasy within extreme music. She received a number of rape and death threats for it.
Women are often mocked for their tattoo choices, with such ludicrous phrases like “tramp stamp” used to humiliate, with nothing said for the poor choices of their male counterparts. Woman in tattooing have to work extremely hard to be taken seriously.
This is nothing new to me. Growing up within this subculture I saw the roiling misogyny that continues to plague it. But what I have noticed is, with the popularity of tattooing on the rise, the still evident pervasive attitudes towards people with tattoos, and specifically towards women, outside of the subculture.
An example of this recently was some vitriolic comments aimed at model Georgina Cox of FullerFigureFullerBust. Posing in a bikini on Lilly and Lime’s Facebook, Georgina was subjected to rude comments about her body and her tattoos, and when trying to defend herself was accused of being rude. The hypocrisy.  Another example is a Facebook group I follow dedicated to vintage style I’ve seen instances of ladies sharing outfit photos only to have people’s rude comments about their tattoos because it doesn’t fully fit into the twee vintage aesthetic and also people have some really outdated and toxic assumptions about the type of people who get tattoos.
We seem to be caught in this limbo of tattoos becoming more mainstream and still subject to moral criticism from previous generations where it was more taboo.
It’s just another means to view women as public property and to pass our opinion and make decisions about their bodies that in no way affects or involves us. Topless photos of David Beckham covered in tattoos wouldn’t get anywhere near the same level of nasty comments as the incidents I mentioned previously.  People feel so entitled to their opinions, to women’s bodies for consumption, that they feel so affronted when they don’t fit the idea they had in their minds.
If you don’t like tattoos, don’t get one. People with tattoos don’t care, or make assumptions, about people that don’t have them.
These kinds of incidents are not just shaming, they’re misogyny at work. You have no right to tell a woman her choices are disgusting when they affect no one so take a seat.

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There isn’t enough room for all this bullshit recently shared this photograph from selling website/app Wish, that were advertising a pair of plus size shorts:

Charming, huh?
As noted in the HG article this is an incredibly cruel way to advertise clothing. Naturally there’s been some uproar over social media. Christina, of Interrobang art, who makes and sells clothing up to a 34, posted this fantastic response on her Instagram account

But this isn’t the first time this sort of cruel marketing has been used. AliExpress were under scrutiny back in 2015 for using this image to sell plus size leggings

The Big Bloomers Company, a site dedicated to plus size underwear use this to advertise their plus size tights

Aye, you keep smiling it up Sally Small.
I don’t doubt there are many more, these are just the ones I was able to find first. So what’s the issue? 
In laymans terms it’s disrespectful as fuck to use this sort of strategy to advertise plus size clothing. 
The photos are utterly ridiculous, verging on comical and circus-esque. “Look how HUGE this product is! You can fit a whole other person with room to spare!”
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? We don’t see fat people as real people but rather bodies that can’t be comprehended without using “normal” bodies for scale. You want to advertise plus size clothing, and demonstrate how big your products are? USE ACTUAL FAT PEOPLE. Use a diverse range of sizes to demonstrate the variety of sizing you offer. “Here’s a body wearing a size 12, and here’s the same product in a 32.” It’s NOT HARD. 

There are so many fat people out there who would offer their services. Look at how plus size brands have tapped into using bloggers to model for them. The sizes are out there: you just won’t use them.
Frankly I am sick of companies humiliating fat people and in the next breath taking our money. If they aren’t using micro-aggresive language like “flattering”, “slimming” and other such crap to suggest our fat can, and should, be magically hidden then they are outright removing us from their brick and mortar stores. 
What is even the logic in this? Do they not think fat people are going to take one look at this and close the fucking tab? Bullying people does not a profit make. Too long have companies tapped into a person’s low self esteem to sell you a product you don’t need, for an imaginary issue you don’t even have. But people need clothes. What we don’t need is being made out to be circus freaks. 

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Us VS Them.

Peeps, I’m mad. I’m just going to get straight to it.

If you happen to follow Taking Shape on Instagram, or Twitter, you probably saw the absolute clanger of a PR stunt, and the subsequent (and throughly deserved) follower shit storm that ensued.
For those of you not in the loop allow me to fill you in.
TS saw it perfectly ok to build a “bird watching booth” outside London Fashion Week in order to do a bit of “skinny bird watching”. The ‘skinny birds’ in question being the runway models.


If you’re anything like me you probably thought “what the [insert chosen expletive] is this?”

Well, for me, this is everything you do wrong in plus size PR. Where does one even begin?
Aside from it being incredibly dismissive to refer to women as “birds”, it’s body shaming and creating an “us vs them” mentality. Something we, as the fat community, are desperately trying to fight against.

I am not for a moment suggesting that this kind of body shaming is on par with what fat people experience. Not for a second. What I am saying is that, in order to be accepted as fat people, there needs to be a dissolution of a body ideal. Upholding one body type over another is simply the same fight, with thin taking fat’s place. Simply put this crap needs to stop.

This othering of bodies, of objectifying women, is another battle we face. This kind of objectification is not “tongue- in-cheek” it’s just an outright cheek. You’re not being edgy by ‘sticking it to the skinnies’ and ‘showing them how it feel’s, all you’re doing is playing into the hands of the same archetypal system that seeks to oppress.

Even sadder is, despite much criticism, there has been no apology. Not even an acknowledgement of the criticism. Nothing. Just carrying on as though nothing has happened.

I was due to attend a blogger party this weekend at a local TS store but I simply refuse to support a company that upholds these ideals. There are plenty of plus size brands out there who listen to customers, and have great relationships with bloggers, who are far more deserving of support and promotion. Let’s start talking with our wallets and see if they start to listen.

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