Things I Shouldn’t Wear: A Lookbook

Hello, my name is Krys and I am a fat woman. I don’t use that term in a self-pitying way, it’s just a descriptor for the shape of my body. I’m fortunate that I generally don’t interact with people who make disparaging comments about my size, but posting pictures of myself on social media means risking that happening. Back in the summer, I posted a picture of myself in an outfit that I thought was really cute and received a comment from a man (because it’s often men who feel the need to voice negative thoughts about women’s bodies) saying something like “that’s disgusting.” It didn’t bother me because honestly, the negative opinions of anonymous internet people mean nothing to me. But it did inspire me to put together a plus size fashion lookbook featuring outfits that some people might think I shouldn’t wear as a fat person, but that I have totally worn anyway. It took me months to finally get around to it, but finally here we are!

I styled all of these outfits as I would wear them out of the house were there not a pandemic, down to accessories and makeup. Also, these photos are unedited, except for cropping them because shooting photos alone is tricky and I wound up with way too much headroom, lol.

OUTFIT 1: Easy, Breezy, Summery

WHY I SHOULDN’T WEAR IT: A bit of my stomach is showing, plus I’m exposing a lot of leg and upper arm, body parts that overweight people often feel self conscious about.

So let’s start with the outfit that kicked everything off, this crop top and shorts combo, which was really just an experiment for a warm summery day spent hanging around at home. For ages I didn’t understand why companies made crop tops in plus sizes, but I like the fit of this one a lot. However, it does have the unfortunate habit of riding up in the front, because my stomach is larger than my bust, which is why I usually wear this top with a high waisted skirt. I did make one improvement over the version of this outfit I posted in the summer and that is the belt. I bought these shorts a couple summers ago in the size 24 I buy all my pants in, but because clothing sizes make no sense they turned out to be a bit too big. The belt holds up the shorts so I don’t show more belly than I want to in an everyday outfit. (I love this belt, btw, because it is reversible! I’m wearing it brown side out here, but usually wear it black with my work pants.)

OUTFIT 2: Let’s Go For a Swim

WHY I SHOULDN’T WEAR IT: A fat woman in a two piece bathing suit that exposes her midriff? Preposterous!

I hopped on the “fatkini” trend before I gave in to crop tops because I was sick of hanging around waiting for damp tankini fabric to dry. It just can get kind of clammy and gross. I like a skirt bottom not because I’m self conscious about my hips/butt, but because I just think it’s cute! This top and bottom were both bought at Torrid a few years ago. The top is maybe a little too cleavage-y to wear at a pool where children might be, but no one has criticized me to my face yet. The top does ride up on me in the front because it’s in that “long line bra” style, but I appreciate that it isn’t a halter top because so many swimsuits are built that way and I haven’t found a way to wear one without being strangled.

OUTFIT 3: I’d Wear This On a Date If There Wasn’t a Plague

WHY I SHOULDN’T WEAR IT: Horizontal stripes! And also here are my legs again.

I’m a big lover of stripes, and there was a point in my life where I had so many I had to literally make a rule that I couldn’t buy any more. This particular top is about decade old and it’s got this button detailing on the long cuffs that I just adore. The skirt is a newer acquisition from Torrid and I love the slightly vintage vibe to it and that it has pockets. Some people may think that blue and red is a weird color combination, but I’m quite fond of it and wear it often. I think this particular outfit would also be cute with some black tights and boots, but I felt showing my legs was more thematically appropriate for this post.

OUTFIT 4: Glam Time!

WHY I SHOULDN’T WEAR IT: It’s very tight and look! There are my upper arms and legs!

Because of the size differential between my stomach and my bust I struggle with dresses sometimes, but this one is thankfully not awkwardly loose in the bust. I love this teal color and gravitate towards it a lot, especially for fancy party clothes. I would absolutely wear tights with this if I was going to be leaving my house in it because it is so short there is a serious risk of flashing people, but even with tights I consider this the sexiest dress I own. It’s still relatively modest though thanks to the bars of fabric across the neckline. A funny story about this dress is that one time I was wearing it while out with friends and one of them looked at me and said, “It looks like your boobs are in prison.”

So if by now it isn’t apparent to you, I’m a big believer in wearing whatever it is you want to and feel comfortable in. Some people spend way too much of their time policing the things other people wear when it really isn’t any of their fucking business. I just thought that maybe posting these outfits might help someone else to realize, “if that person can wear that thing I’ve been wanting to try then I can too, regardless of what assholes want to say!”

In many aspects of life I have yet to master the art of not giving a fuck about other people’s opinions, but when it comes to clothing, I’m pretty much there. So why not try something new you’ve been wanting to try?

“When are you due?”

It was Saturday afternoon, and I was stuck at the car dealership, as not only was my regular maintenance being done, they were also dealing with a flat tire that had turned up on my car the day before. One other woman was waiting at the same time as me and, as happens sometimes, small talk sprouted.

I misheard her at first. “I’m a receptionist,” I replied, thinking she’d asked, “What do you do?” And then she repeated herself.

“No, I asked, when are you due?”

I felt blood rush to my face. “Oh, no, I’m not pregnant,” I told her.

The woman I shared the car dealership waiting room with turned into a fountain of apologies, which I in my shocked state quickly accepted, eager to end the interaction.

In my surprise I didn’t have it in me to be offended or mad at her. I carry a lot of my weight in my stomach and when I sit/slouch it kind of gets all pushed together and forward in a way that could perhaps look like there’s a baby inside, especially in certain clothes. This is what I was wearing at the time (the picture is from last year).

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This dress used to be a favorite of mine, before some shit happened this spring and the happy memories attached to it became painful. I still bust it out from time to time, because it’s still cute, and also work appropriate. But that empire waist cuts me off under the bust and emphasizes my stomach, again, especially when I’m sitting down.

Thankfully, I wasn’t trapped in waiting room purgatory with that woman for much longer. When I left the dealership, the first thing I did was park in the lot of the Home Depot next door to return a phone call from my mom. And then when I got off the phone I was hit with a wave of emotion, now that I no longer had to put on composed front for strangers. I’m not too proud to say that I started crying in my car.

I had occasionally joked to myself and others about the chance that someone might mistake me for a pregnant person. But now that such a thing had happened to me, embarrassment and shame overrode my “crack a joke to lighten the mood” reflex. I texted my friends about it and they reassured me, but I still felt pretty terrible.

I’m not a fucking idiot. I know I’m fat, but very rarely do I feel bad about it. I’ve reached a place in my life where I feel good about my body just the way it is, and think that anyone who has anything negative to say about all 240-ish pounds of me can fuck right the fuck off. (Although I do keep health concerns in the back of my head and try to make good choices as best I can, naturally, because while I love my body, I know obesity is not healthy.)

But somehow this one woman’s inquiry about a baby that doesn’t (and hopefully will never) exist turned my self-esteem on its ear. I felt incredibly self-conscious. I wondered how many other people had ever looked at me and though the same thing she did. I thought about how there were probably a number of people out there who had probably talked smack about me, at least in their own heads, because of how much space I take up.

I felt fat, in the most disgusting way.

I don’t know why people feel the right to ask about the bodies of people that are strangers, or who they don’t really know well personally. I have one coworker who will occasionally ask me if I’ve lost weight, phrasing it in a kindly “you’re looking really great” kind of way. I know that I haven’t; whatever I happen to be wearing on the days that she asks must just be particularly flattering. It just makes me feel kind of awkward, because I’m receiving praise for something I haven’t even done or really have any serious plan for pursuing.

And it seems that with pregnant people it’s twofold. The coworker I’m closest to is pregnant with her second child right now, and she was showing me pictures from the baby shower the office threw for her first child and in one of them basically all the other secretaries were crowded around touching her stomach. From my outside perspective watching her pregnancy, it feels like once you’ve got a baby in you everyone is so excited that you’re continuing the human race that they feel entitled to ask you invasive questions.

What if I had been pregnant but I’d miscarried? Or I’d recently carried to term, but then the baby was stillborn, or born with medical issues? Or if I was just fat, but trying desperately to conceive without success? She’s lucky she asked me if I was expecting, someone who’s only overweight and not interested in starting a ruckus, instead of someone who might’ve had a larger reaction.

But anyway, I digress. Let’s just discuss the rest of my day.

I had originally planned to grab an early dinner from one of the restaurants up by the dealership, but considering crying had made my face all red and awful that was out of the question, even at the shitty diner, because what if I ran into someone I knew? And besides I was suddenly torn between two competing urges: order and eat a whole pizza or not eat anything for the whole rest of the night.

I settled on something in between. I drove home, crying on and off along the way. I changed my clothes and washed my face, browsed the internet a little bit to calm myself down. And then I went to my favorite local burrito place and got my usual shrimp burrito, which is only just slightly too much food for me. I still felt emotionally wrecked, but not as emotionally wrecked as I knew I would’ve been if I’d just stayed home and dwelled on my thoughts.

After dinner, I had a really specific craving for rice pudding, so I went to the nearest grocery store, feeling every feeling from Sabrina Benaim’s poem “The Loneliest Sweet Potato” as I wandered the aisles.

 

The trouble with rice pudding is that only one brand really makes it, and they only sell it in a giant tub, or in packets of 6 pudding cups, which really is more rice pudding than I ever want during my weird, occasional rice pudding craving times. Basically after I eat a little, then I’m good, and then I’m left with way too much extra. But then I spotted it.

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Single serving rice pudding. It wasn’t great, to be honest. The grains were bigger and harder than I would’ve liked. But it was good enough for what I needed in that moment.

I don’t really have a good moral or anything to wrap this up with. Just…please think before you speak. Don’t ask people weird questions that aren’t any of your business. That’s all.

–Krys