By Katiee McKinstry & Janey Conroy-Quirk
Let’s talk about thin privilege and style, shall we?
Recently, on the social media circuit, we’ve seen celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid praised for their “retro style.” We’ve also seen fat women wear almost identical retro outfits to theirs, only to be torn down and ridiculed. Social media has always amplified thin-privileged rhetoric, but it seems to be intensifying lately- and that’s not okay.
“A tweet making fun of these [plus] women has 100k likes, but I swear to god if Bella Hadid wore this exact outfit it would be on a million 80s casual inspo pinterest boards,” Twitter user Rayne Fisher Quann said. “As always, fashion is judged exclusively by the bodies that wear it.”
This tweet began to trend quickly on Twitter, as many came to the defense of the plus women who were ridiculed online for their outfit choices. It should be noted that it was a sunny day, and the women pictured were wearing shorts, as they should when it’s hot! Not to mention, they look stunning!
As the Tweet grew, more Twitter users presented photos of Jenner and Hadid wearing almost identical outfits to the ones the plus women were mocked for daring to debut. The Tweet also drew links to articles on the models and these outfits, outright praising them for their style choices.
“I think this says all that needs to be said on the subject,” Twitter user @adinarising said.
Let’s take another look at Quann’s astute observation: “Fashion is judged exclusively by the bodies who wear it.” Social media allows fatphobic people to sit behind a computer screen and say hurtful things about fat women, and wonderful things about thin women. It’s the easiest way to bully. It also allows anonymous bullies to make stupid rules about size. The size rules often cover health, value, beauty, and of course, style. As a societal standard, we are taught to believe that thin bodies are the only beautiful bodies, and the only ones worthy of decoration in the form of fashion. This is a horrible, tired lie.
How about The Strawberry Dress? Have you seen it? This dress has become popular for its cottagecore aesthetic, and recently started trending in the media because thin TikTok creators were wearing it. However, famous plus celebrity Tess Holiday actually wore the dress back in January. That went unnoticed.
“Every time I see someone losing their mind over “the strawberry dress” I get furious that Tess Holiday wore this dress back in JANUARY and no one said a thing,” Twitter user Audrey Lynn said. “Now that a bunch of skinny TikTok girls have it, it’s suddenly the hot item. The fatphobia is not it guys.”
Absolutely true. And yet, Fatphobia is still alive and thriving, despite the efforts of so many. Why are fat women made fun of, or ignored, when they wear the same styles as thin women? Thin women have the privilege of wearing whatever they want, whenever they want, and not having to think twice about it. Even the “sweatpants and a bun” look is “adorable” on a straight size body, but labelled as “sloppy” on a plus person.
So, should Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and the TikTok creators be faulted for their style choices? Absolutely not. They are allowed to wear what they want and express themselves through their style, just as any members of the plus community are. But, as we step towards acceptance and equality (on so many levels), it is important to remember that the freedom to style oneself should include everyone. It is imperative that we have conversations surrounding thin privilege and fatphobia inside the fashion industry.
All bodies are good bodies, and all bodies are beautiful. We know this! If you feel like wearing shorts and a t-shirt, do it. If you feel empowered being more covered up, that is beautiful too! Fashion is an expression of who you are, and you should never be ridiculed for it. In order to combat this blatant fatphobia, we have to lift each other up and spread love always. Wear what makes you feel beautiful, and never apologize for it!
And maybe toss out a compliment and nod of support to a body that looks different from yours. Can’t hurt!