Fashion’s not just for skinny people

Project Runway got me all cranky last night. It was the inevitable “Real Women Challenge,” and as always, some not even thin himself butthead spent the whole episode complaining about the thickness of his client. He was overwhelmed with the challenge of designing for someone he couldn’t floss his teeth with, and was very vocal about it. He complained to the cameras, his roommates, the designers, Tim, the Naked Cowboy, a Parsons Janitor, and anyone within a 50 mile radius that would listen. Problem is, he also complained to his client. FYI world, overweight people know they’re overweight and, unless you’re a doctor, don’t need you reminding them of it.

This poor woman who was a, gasp, size 14 got an earful. The belts provided were too small, she had no shape, she made his job really hard, she might as well be a puppy exterminator cause her weight makes her the worst. This designer has some nerve. I don’t know what remote part of the world he was raised in, but clearly it was a place devoid of actual women. Call me crazy, but it’s my understanding that the average woman is a size twelve and the only women that are the same shape as dress forms are actual dress forms. And it is also my understanding that dress forms can’t buy the clothes you design cause they are made of cotton and not real.

Now that that’s out of the way, and seeing how it’s not my style to complain or talk smack, I want to offer some helpful advice from a girl who has spent most of her life being “plus-sized.” Me.

I come from a long line of physically strong and substantial women. We have muscles and curves and strong (big) bones, and even if we all went on a starvation retreat would be more like Cathy Bates than Kate Moss. But if you can believe this, despite our physical features, we are always at the top of the style game.

My grandma and mother are kick ass sewers and designers, and growing up a good number of the clothes that lived in our closets were handmade. I remember pouring over the Delia’s catalog with my mom and picking out what she would copy and make me. I remember spending a mother daughter weekend making a fur, leopard print pea coat that a classmate begged me to sell to her. I remember pictures of prom dresses that my grandma made with little more than a sewing machine and her imagination. I remember them working together to turn my Bat Mitzvah dress from a water-stained thrift shop find to my favorite dress I’ve ever worn. All of these things were designed with ease, by amateurs, for real shaped women.

That’s not to say that for fashion savvy larger women DIY is the only option. Mr. Project Runway Designer would be interested to know that a ton of people have been able to accomplish what he had such a problem with. Unknowns like PR judge Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein have all managed to make entire plus-sized lines. And boutique stores like H&M, Forever 21, Bloomingdales, Target, Torrid, Hot Topic, Ann Taylor, and Macy’s are just a few of the places where the over size 12 set can get their fashion fix. We’ve come a long way from moo moos and leggings being the only option, and I can’t wait to see this market grow even further.

Just because someone happens to be bigger, it doesn’t mean they gorge themselves constantly or are a slob, and just because someone is thin, they aren’t a guaranteed picture of health. Voluptuous women deserve to be just as stylish as skinny ones, and mainstream fashion has made leaps and bounds to honor this. That said, I hope the designer from Project Runway isn’t far behind.

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