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I'm a "Fat Kid" and I Find It Hard to Love Fashion, But Here's Why It Shouldn't Be

I'm a "Fat Kid" and I Find It Hard to Love Fashion, But Here's Why It Shouldn't Be
IMAGE YouTube/Taylor Swift
It's so easy for people to tell me to "just workout," but they don't know that a couple of pounds isn't the only thing I'm losing when I try to fit into commonly available sizes.

The last time I stepped on a weighing scale, it read about 200 pounds, so that’s 90 kilograms, more or less. That number shouldn’t bother me, but it still does, especially as someone who works in fashion. I’ll tell you why. 

Growing up, I was always the fat kid. There was never a time when I was, as my generation has coined it, a skinny legend. The thinnest I’ve ever been was when I was on my last leg of high school, a.k.a. the thunderdome of teenage insecurity. I won't get into specifics, but it wasn’t a healthy weight-loss, and no selfies of my perfectly-chiseled jawline could justify it.

2016 vs. 2022. No jawline, but much, much happier and healthier nowadays.
PHOTO BY Em Enriquez, Matthew Yuching
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I eventually dropped the need to look a certain way and just embraced the pounds I so desperately dispelled. Looking back, it was all kind of like giving a big, fat middle finger to the beauty standards I used to subscribe to. I won’t humble brag: I graduated college at my prime, with a Cum Laude medal to boot. I achieved that and everything else with a waistline way above 30.

Fast forward to today, and I find myself working for Preview. Me? Working in the fashion and beauty industry?

Just getting hired or even considered for this job was absolutely wild to me. As 2000s flicks and satirical skits have made apparent, working in fashion has a stereotypical “look” attached to it. It’s the size 0 girl crossing the street in patent leather boots, with a stack of glossies in one hand, and a no-foam, non-fat, decaf venti latte in another. I look nothing like that—I like my coffee with extra whipped cream on top. 

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I was (and am), in fact, not these girls.
PHOTO BY The Devil Wears Prada/Fox 2000 Pictures

Though, I love fashion just as much as she does. When I graduated from wearing a blue polo and a pair of khakis to school, I made it a point to meticulously curate my outfits (I even started an Instagram account where I documented my daily ensembles.) None of my colleagues or superiors ever pressured me to dress “better,” by the way. It was just something I felt I had to do, I guess. I just wanted to look good, to look the part.

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But, as it turns out, I haven’t fully shaken off the need to “fit” in. 

We recently had a big event where we were to be dressed in creations by local designers and brands. I, of course, was excited, but I also had an immediate anxiety loom over me. “Sana may kumasya sa’kin,” I remember telling myself. When fittings were underway, I trusted the size XL tags, but, alas, nothing ended up fitting. I couldn’t even put one arm through a jacket sleeve, or have the button on a pair of pants close.

It was humiliating. Trying garment after garment in front of my peers and having none of them fit me drew me to tears that I had to hold back. While I was happy to attend the event in whatever makeshift outfit I had (I wasn’t meant to be the star of the show anyway), I was also so disappointed. I didn’t look good. I didn’t look the part.

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PHOTO BY YouTube/Taylor Swift

And that, I suppose, is the painful reality I was slapped with. Sizing is still a big problem nowadays. I’m sure that there are dozens of people who can relate to the experience of going to retail stores and having nothing fit you the way you want them to. When we do want a specific article of clothing, we resort to ordering it online or having it custom-made, which is obviously a more strenuous and costly process than just pulling something off the rack. It’s a hassle that “model-sized” individuals never have to faceand I’m not saying they have to, but why should anyone, right? 

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Recently, American model Paloma Elsesser launched several internet exchanges when she posed in a teeny-tiny Miu Miu skirt for the cover of i-D. It was empowering, no doubt, to see someone who wasn’t a size 0 rock a look that would become a defining aspect of contemporary fashion. Though, allegedly, the notorious mini had to be cut from the back in order to fit Paloma for the photo. The skirt technically didn’t fit her, and they had to compromise. Compromising is something people of a bigger size know how to do well, almost to a fault.

So, do fashion brands and designers just don’t have “enough fabric” to cater to broader sizes? Plus size influencer Gabi Fresh contests otherwise. In a tweet, she called out a fast fashion brand for advertising an “oversized blazer” that was actually meant for smaller frames. “When brands say [that] it’s too expensive to add plus sizes because of the amount of fabric it takes, but then make sh*t like this,” she captioned, “If you can make a size 22 blazer for a size 6 girl to wear, you can make a size 22 blazer for a size 22 girl to wear.”

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It's cases like this that make “Mag-diet ka na kasi” or “Just workout” comments leave a sour taste in my mouth. First of all, it's not like it's that easy. Second, it's a bigger (pun intended) issue than that. I don’t ever want to relapse into shedding away pounds just so I can shop for clothes easier. I want to be able to wear what I want without worrying if I can fit my shoulders in a blazer or if I can button up a damn pair of trousers. Fat kids should be able to wear pieces straight off the rack or runway, too.

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I know the word “fat” is historically a pejorative, and someone describing you as such—ahem, paging the titas of Manila—can pierce you like a hot knife through butter. I’m not imposing that everyone should be okay with being fat, since the way you shape your body should be your choice. Though, there is a long overdue adjustment with how we view being fat.

PHOTO BY Little Miss Sunshine/Big Beach Productions
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Even if being fat isn't something everybody desires, it also shouldn’t be such a frowned upon concept. This aversion translates into the way clothes are sized in some way. When the masses are constantly dreaming of being their thinnest selves, brands and manufacturers are led to cater to these aspirations, leaving behind people who don’t, and in some cases, physically can't alter their size.

Developing a genuinely inclusive range of sizes for any piece of clothing will undoubtedly take time and research, since overproduction and waste of fabric are both things we don't advocate for. This is something I keep in mind, too, and I hope to become more informed about it. What this entails, in my point of view as a consumer, is really getting to know who we’re making clothes for. I’m of the belief that most brands and designers aim to be as inclusive as possible, and to achieve this, I reckon that they have to really analyze the actual people they’re making clothes for. Are some pieces really only meant for the perpetually petite? Maybe, but that’s a conversation for another occasion.

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For the longest time, it was always my stature that made me feel like fashion didn’t love me back, but I know it does. I believe it does when I meet designers, creatives, and personalities who also love it and they express this love by helping to make it more inclusive. They champion the fat kids, emphasizing that one size doesn’t always fit all. I mean, the end goal here is to see a plus-sized model on a catwalk or on a poster and to not view it as such a novelty. Fat kids are everywhere. They’re not anomalies.

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I just want to keep dressing up the way I want to, and no matter what changes my body goes through, I hope that it wouldn’t be so hard to do so. I hope the clothes fit me, and not the other way around.

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