Fashion Hayley Talks Body Image

One of our biggest blogging exports has to be Gala Darling (if you haven’t seen her blog, it is a must read!). So when she put a call out to fashion bloggers for their two cents on body image we were excited to see what a massive and positive response she received. Another hugely successful fashion blogger is Fashion Hayley, perhaps because she is a refreshing break from the typical model-esque willowy bloggers that make up the majority of our online reading. Hayley wrote a thought provoking piece we really wanted to share with all of you.

“Body diversity in fashion blogging is out there, if you know how to look for it. In fact there is a whole world of plus size “fatshion” bloggers getting together, having blog conferences and getting sponsorship from brands and designers just like you all in the “straight” sized blogging world do (straight sized is the respected term within the fatshion blogging world for, for want of a better word, normal sized people). The reason you straight sized bloggers aren’t aware of it is because you don’t have to know about it, if you know what I mean. If your a size 8 then you probably have never heard of EvansMonif CCity ChicTorrid or even clicked over to ASOSCurve, all of which are leading Plus Size brands around the world. Because your not googling those words you don’t see the terrific blogs out there in the fatshion world, blogs like Young Fat & FabulousFat AusPocket RocketFatshionableNicolette MasonMusings of a fatshionistaLe blog de Big Beauty and many many more.

For me as a blogger I sit between the two worlds. I am what the plus size fashion world calls an “inbetweener”, I can wear straight sized clothing from designers and regular chain stores but can also shop at plus size stores too. So I see both sides of the blogging world, and that’s the thing, there are sides and I do feel my blog, or any other plus size blog could never reach the heights of Rumi or Jane blogs, I mean Chanel won’t be inviting me to no ball any time soon. In terms of my blog and sponsorship I am lucky that in Australia I have been accepted by the mainstream blog-osphere and as such have worked with top chain store Sportsgirl (An Aussie version of Topshop if you will), helped Target launch their recent Stella McCartney line and been featured in many top magazines (Cleo, Shop Til You Drop etc) but I do also know I have missed out on opportunities offered to others because of my size. Some brands just can’t see through the fat, so to speak, and decide to spend/send their promotional dollars/products elsewhere, even though my readership may be larger than the blogger who they finally choose. Its about branding, and if a brand, which is used to size 8 models isn’t prepared to get in on what makes fashion blogging special, which is seeing a real person talk about and wear the clothes that they make and are promoting than that’s their loss really. On the flip side my size has given me opportunities that I would have otherwise missed out on. For the past year and a half I have been blogging for Australia’s leading plus size retailer, City Chic, and essentially I get free reign on all product in stores (fun!) and last year they sent me over to New York for a plus sized blogger conference, which was more fun and inspiring than I could have ever imagined (more on that later).

I find when I talk to my straight sized fashion blogger friends they start to feel uncomfortable at the words we use within the fatshion blogging community, words like Fat & Fatshion, they are more comfortable with nice sounding words like curvy, whilst we are trying to reclaim the word fat from its negative connotations to become a positive body acceptance word. Lets not dress up what it is and speak the truth, because with the truth comes acceptance. On the other hand I can see that the language used within the plus sized fashion blog-osphere can be a little daunting for those not aware of the fat positive message that is being discussed, without intending to it can exclude others from the conversation. It can get very heated and political as the fatshion world is not always just about pretty clothing, its about changing attitudes and society to be more accepting of fat, which is pretty hard considering the media’s current portrayal of fat people.

There are people on both sides of the blogging divide who are negative about others bodies, yes on the plus size side you can get chided for losing weight, the opposite of what would happen in the straight sized fashion world. I just try to avoid the negativity and look at the positives. I love the strength of the community within the plus size fashion blogging world. Last year when Gabi, from Young Fat & Fabulous organised the YFF conference in New York for plus size bloggers andbrands I got to meet with some of my most admired and respected bloggers in the world whilst also meeting with buyers, designers and CEO’s of the worlds leading plus size brands. The highlight was meeting Gabi herself, a powerhouse in the plus size fashion blogging world akin to the likes of Rumi with her god like status amongst us mere mortals, Gabi has been a leader in the plus size blogging world, one of the first to really embrace her curves and make others have the confidence to do the same.

My personal struggle with self acceptance is all over my blog, especially in the early years (I’ve been blogging for five years now). Of course I still have days when I wish I was thinner, but not as many as I used to. One of my most popular ever posts was this one (and Gala you actually linked to it) where I discussed ways to dress for curves, which I now see as a self concious way for me to address the fact that I felt alone at the time, like I was the only fat fashion blogger in the world. At that stage I used to get emails from people saying “I love that your a role model for us plus size girls” and it used to both annoy and frighten me, I thought my being plus sized was my little secret (Yes, secret! Even though I was posting images of myself all over the internet) and definitely didn’t want to be a role model for others, I mean how could I? I was still in the doubting myself and hating my body stage. That’s where the fatshion blogging community stepped in and showed me the way to self love and acceptance through seeing that I was in fact not alone, that there were other girls out there just like me, being fat and looking fabulous.

What it boils down to in the end though is the two blogging worlds are separate because the shops are separate. Well, that and a few other reasons, but hey, at least now you know we are out there, and we rock!”

Image: Fashion Hayley, Words: Fashion Hayley for Gala Darling

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