There’s been a major conversation happening lately among sewists about size inclusivity and the lack thereof in the indie sewing community. It’s been intense, uncomfortable, and necessary.
Here are some of my thoughts.
Size charts reinforce toxic norms.
The average American woman wears size 16-18 misses, but 16-18 tends to be on the top end of misses (“regular” or “normal”) sizing, or these sizes tip over into plus sizing.
There are fewer fashion options for bodies that measure in the plus-sized range, and the options are less fashion forward. In recent years, some non-runway-model-sized actresses have shared their difficulties finding designer gowns for events. Ladies’ lingerie behemoth Victoria’s Secret has nearly one-third of the underwear market — but its marquee event, its annual fashion show, utterly lacks body diversity.
So, even though the average is 16-18, garment creators constantly send the message that greater body volume is inconvenient and not ideal.
This passionate blog post from Shannon, a queer, fat sewist, talks about impact and intent. Lots of people in fashion and sewing don’t intend to exclude marginalized bodies, but their choices on sizing charts and models send messages about what’s valued when it comes to beauty and style. (It’s a powerful read; highly recommended.)
It’s important to take a hard look at one’s own biases.
I’ve never worn plus-sized clothing. Because of this, I have no doubt that I’ve benefited from biases that favor “skinny” people.
It makes me sad to think that my body’s been labeled “good” as other, more voluminous bodies have been labeled “bad.” I don’t need to tell you that this idea is reinforced CONSTANTLY. (Cough, diet culture, cough.)
What effect has this had on MY biases as I’ve moved through the world? I don’t own a scale because I’d rather not know my mass; if it’s not the “magic” number, I get anxious. And I also judge the squishiness of my tummy on the daily.
I’m not fat, but the FEAR of fat is real. So, if I’m afraid of fat, how do you think I (unconsciously) treat souls who live in fat bodies? Ugh, this question fills me with shame.
A body does not define who you are as a person.
I love my body and what it does for me. It let me carry two beautiful babies. It lets me run, lift weights, practice yoga, and ride my bike. It lets me enjoy physical sensations: kisses from my husband, the warm sun on my skin, the bitterness of a cup of coffee.
But, my body is not me. I believe that I’m a soul who lives in a body.
The way you love — yourself and others — is what defines you as a person. This is elementary school stuff: the idea that judging people based on what they look like is a bad idea that sells everyone short — the judge and the judged.
Pattern designers have been listening to the call for size inclusivity. For example, Helen’s Closet aims to expand its size range by the end of 2019, and Closet Case Patterns is working on updating its range, too.
In the interest of size inclusivity, I suggest refreshing your social media to include a greater diversity of sewists. I’ve done it, and it’s made me think about my practice in a whole new way. A great place to start is to follow Curvy Sewing Collective on Instagram.
Whew. That’s some heavy stuff. This dialogue about size inclusivity has given me so much to think over as a burgeoning pattern designer, and I hope it challenges some of your ways of thinking, too.
What are you thoughts on size inclusivity? Please sound off (respectfully) in comments. Thanks for reading!
This post first appeared in the February 2019 edition of the Sie Macht email newsletter. If you like what you read here, please consider adding your email to the Sie Macht mailing list for monthly sewing radness. 🤘👩🎤
Photo by Daria Volkova on Unsplash