Rayne Fisher-Quann was scrolling through her Twitter feed one day when she spotted a post that didn’t quite sit right with her.
The 18-year-old journalist was confronted by an image of two plus-sized women wearing T-shirts tucked into high-waisted denim shorts and chunky sneakers. A lewk. But it wasn’t their casual style that Fisher-Quann took issue with — “these fits are fire and they both look cute” she later wrote on Twitter — it was the way the now-deleted post viciously mocked the women’s outfits and their bodies.
And thousands of commenters were echoing the same thought.
a tweet making fun of these 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 bc, as always, fashion is judged exclusively by the bodies that wear it pic.twitter.com/eBZ6P3Zrmh
— rayne fisher quann (@raynefq) July 14, 2020
“In the replies to the original tweet, people were going in on these women,” Fisher-Quann told In The Know. “I just kept thinking about the fact that the women in the picture are real people, and one day they were walking on the street wearing jean shorts, and someone decided to take their picture just because they were fat and post it online.”
“Suddenly, there are a hundred thousand people calling them trashy and ugly,” she continued. “How is it that someone could do that and feel good about themselves?”
So, the student-activist took a screengrab before the post could be deleted and tweeted it out with her own thoughts on the matter.
“A tweet making fun of these women has 100k likes,” she wrote. “But I swear to god if Bella Hadid wore this exact outfit it would be on a million ’80s casual inspo’ Pinterest boards bc, as always, fashion is judged exclusively by the bodies that wear it.”
Fisher-Quann’s message clearly struck a nerve on Twitter, where it has since gone viral with over 528K likes and 100K retweets — and it seems she is undeniably right about the matter. Similar laidback outfits have made literal headlines before when worn by the likes of models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.
Even budding TikTok fashionistas have widely striven to emulate the exact vintage vibes displayed in the photo, right down to the “ugly” sneakers.
So why were thousands quick to tear apart the exact same look when displayed on two women with bigger bodies? Fischer-Quann says the issue is more deeply rooted in racist fatphobia and classism than most people even realize.
“Skinny, rich people love making fun of fat people who shop at Walmart,” she told In The Know. “I think it goes without saying that oftentimes, whenever we make fun of how fat people dress or when we applaud how skinny people dress, we’re often using their clothing as shorthand for the bodies underneath.”
In a recent article for InStyle, Amanda Richards explained that the problematic concept of “playing with class aesthetics” in fashion — i.e. wealthy people stealing “Walmart” or street fashion and turning it into the trend of the moment — isn’t new at all.
“Clothing once associated with poorness — chunky shoes, ‘unflattering’ cuts, T-shirts that look like they were purchased at a boardwalk gift shop, for example — can eventually receive fashion’s stamp of approval, along with a few subtle detail changes that ‘elevate’ the look,” she wrote.
The major problem here is that the (often working-class) communities these looks are co-opted from are almost always kicked to the curb once a “trend” is adopted by brands, making the look inaccessible to the very people who inspired it.
“The reclamation of a previously ridiculed or marginalized aesthetic only works if you put it on an aspirational body; and in fashion, aspiration equals thin,” says Richards. “The same clothing on a fat body shatters the idea that the look could be aspirational, leaving the person wearing the clothing subject to criticism, no matter how trendy the physical clothing she’s wearing might be.”
Sadly, this insidious trend runs deep in the fashion world and lacks a simple fix. But a good place to start is simply calling out those who attempt to exclude people from partaking in current trends based on their size, as Fisher-Quann did in her viral Tweet.
Fisher-Quann also advises taking the time to examine your own inherent biases when it comes to the accessibility of fashion and begin to question why you might think that way.
“Why is it that skinny people can wear whatever they want, and fat people are mocked for wearing the same thing?” she said. “So many of today’s fashion trends are only fashionable when they’re worn by skinny, hot, usually white people — clothing like the stuff that’s sold on FashionNova or Brandy Melville isn’t really inherently stylish, it’s just meant to show off the body underneath.”
If you enjoyed this article, read about Hayley Kiyoko’s journey toward self-acceptance.
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