So this is a totally useless rant, but as a skinny girl, I’m getting extra, extra tired of fat-shaming.
I work for a corsetier at a Renaissance Faire. We sell corsets. Not flimsy bullshit costume corsets; like real, durable, waist-training corsets. Today a woman came in with her boyfriend, so I helped her pick out a corset and try it on. While her boyfriend—who was decidedly enthused about the whole corset thing—sat watching me lace her in, he told me, grinning, “Of all the good jobs at the Renaissance Faire, I think you have the best.”
I shrugged in agreement. “I touch butts and reach down cleavage all day; I mean…” Because we like to be a bit rakish at the Faire, and, y’know, it’s true. Tying people into corsets pretty much invariably requires getting handsy.
The couple laughed at that, and the boyfriend said, “That’s the job I would want!” But then he chuckled again and said, offhand, “Or maybe not; while we were looking at the racks, there were some pretty big sizes on there!”
Our sizes are all done in inches, and the biggest we make is a 46. And you’d better believe our large sizes sell. For a second I wasn’t sure what to say to the guy’s comment, but I answered him casually. “We get a lot of beautiful big ladies in here.” Because we do. “We make corsets for real women, not Barbie dolls,” I added. Wasn’t trying to be smart, just kind of tossed it out there because that’s the line we like to use when people ask about larger sizes, and because, again, we do.
The boyfriend went quiet at that; I didn’t think anything of it, I just kept on lacing. A moment later, he said, a little awkwardly (but sincerely enough), “Didn’t mean to be offensive.”
I quickly smiled and brushed it off, said he wasn’t, said I was just saying. (Don’t want to make the customers uncomfortable, you know?) And that was the end of it. His comment had rubbed me the wrong way, but it wasn’t a big deal. Now, I wear a 20-inch corset. I’m a few cup sizes short of being one of the Barbie dolls. Like his girlfriend, I’m one of the “hot chicks”; he doesn’t have to worry about offending me by implying that I wouldn’t be fun to poke and pull at.
Honestly though, of all the people I fit sexy technically-undergarments to in a day, fat girls are maybe my favorite people to lace up. Because they are just so damn happy that we have stuff that fits them. They are so damn happy that the corsets we make in their sizes are all the same pretty, shiny colors and cool flower/dragon/skull/etc. prints that the smaller corsets are, not ugly beige and boring “granny” colors. They are so goddamn happy that at least one (of several on the grounds) corset shop carries things that they can wear, that they actually want to wear, and that they look fucking awesome in. This is only my second season working, and we’ve fit 60+ inch waists and double-K busts. The only people we’ve ever had to tell sorry, we don’t have anything that fits them, are twelve-year-old kids.
It’s half-wonderful, half-heartbreaking how excited those women get. Women who say with sad smiles, when we ask if they want to get fitted, “Oh, no, you don’t have anything that fits me,” and then are stunned when we’re 300% confident that yes we do, and we have options. Women who can’t stop smiling and looking at themselves in the mirror after we’ve got them laced in.
I had a lady last week whose waist I measured (cinching the tape tight, as per procedure) at 41 inches—honestly not all that big. So she picked out a 41-inch corset to try on. I could tell halfway through getting her laced that it was going to be a bit big for her, so I mentioned it and said she might do better to try a smaller size. She started crying on the spot. She was so overwhelmed; she couldn’t believe someone had just told her that a 41 was too big. She told me about how hard clothes shopping was for her, how her mother would tell her she needed an XXXL instead of an XXL, how she had recently lost weight but still couldn’t wear certain colors because they didn’t fit or she wasn’t confident enough.
She did end up getting her corset, and after I checked her out she asked if she could give me a hug, so we ended up standing there hugging each other for a minute. While we did, I told her, “Do not ever let anyone tell you any bullshit. You are gorgeous.” She said, “I have a new boyfriend and he keeps telling me that.” I told her he was right, and to just keep telling herself she’s gorgeous; it was okay if she didn’t always believe it, but to keep telling herself anyway. (That’s how I talked myself through shit when I had bad anxiety.)
We all know fat-shaming is bad. The stupidity, fatphobia, and misogyny of it has pissed me off since I first became aware of it. But working with clothing, especially as figure-hugging and precise as corsets, has given me a new perspective on it—how much it affects people and just how shitty it is. Like, what does it say that I had a grown, only average-big woman crying into my shoulder because she was so overjoyed not to be the uppermost extremity of what a manufacturer can clothe?
My job rocks and it’s really rewarding, but sometimes it highlights some of the ugliest shit about society. I’m so glad I work at a shop that’s not bullshit about body types and operates with more people in mind than just scrawny white chicks like me. The fat women I work with are a ton of fun to lace up, and they’re so much more than their size—they’re cool, they’re smart, they’re funny, they’re sweet, they’re great to talk to, and yes, they’re hot. I’m so damn done with them getting short-changed and shamed by petty fucks who refuse to make them nice clothes, who refuse to even try to work for them, who refuse to consider them pretty. This whole rant was useless and won’t get read, but I had to vent because it’s been driving me nuts.
So actually, screw you, random dude. Fat girls are the highlight of my job.