baby phat, fenty: why no love for fat girls?

June 25, 2019
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Y’all…when I heard Baby Phat was back…my 14-year-old baby thot heart was so warmed, let me tell you. Instantly, I was transported back to the bus stop bundled up in my brown and gold fur-lined bomber jacket from The Burlington Coat factory’s Jr. Plus section. And, boy, did I think I was fly. Naturally, with the revival of Kimora Lee Simmons’ iconic 2000s brand, I already knew I was gonna look fresh to death, grown and sexy style soaked in peak nostalgia. So, you might have imagined my utter disappointment and frankly, disgust over the leftover rags plus-size girls were thrown. All six pieces. Six basic-ass, goofy-ass pieces that look RIGHT out of the 2004 vault, while straight size femmes got 42 different pieces to choose from. But the gag is…women who wear “plus-size” clothes account for the majority of all the women.

So, why are we still centering clothing around the thinnest amongst o

This missed opportunity for Baby Phat comes just weeks after Rihanna announced her first luxury fashion line, Fenty Maison, would “go up to a [French size] 46,” the equivalent of a size 14 in the States. But…? “I’m thick and curvy right now, and so if I can’t wear my own stuff then, I mean, that’s not gonna work, right? And my size is not the biggest size. It’s actually closer to the smallest size we have: We go up to a [French size] 46.34 We’re saying we can meet you at any one drop that we put out.” As long as you’re smaller than a size 14. Girl, bye.

What’s funny about Rihanna is that both of her first wide-ranging ventures into beauty and fashion have practically been built on inclusion. First, Fenty Beauty dropped a comprehensive range of representational and inclusive foundation shades geared towards filling the nuanced color gaps created by white-owned makeup brands that largely target their products towards non-Black women. She even took into consideration how makeup sits on melanated skin by formulating a foundation that works well with the extra sebum we produce. For Savage X, her wares go up to a 3X — still, not large enough, but it at least meets the bare minimum standard of plus-size offerings. From a marketing standpoint, the Savage X team loooves to put diverse bodies on their social media and commerce pages.

Rihanna created wearable, sexy lingerie with fuller bodies in mind: high waisted thongs, smoothing, budge-proof strapless bras, silky robes and PJs that are actually cute. RiRi was thinkin’ ‘bout us. And I love that. I stan for that. Where did that go?

In the last year or so, Rihanna has been open about her struggles with weight and body image, telling Vogue back in 2018: “You’ve just got to laugh at yourself, honestly. I mean, I know when I’m having a fat day and when I’ve lost weight. I accept all of the bodies. I’m not built like a Victoria’s Secret girl, and I still feel very beautiful and confident in my lingerie.”

Like Ri, Kimora has struggled publicly with weight and body image for decades. At times, she has expressed disordered eating patterns and the desire to raise her daughters to be wary of unrealistic size expectations, saying “size 2 is really unreal.” And, to be fair, the models prominently featured in the revival Baby Phat ads are Kimora’s gooorgeous (and brilliant) daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.

We — fat people — know that clothing designers don’t have to make clothes that fit and flatter us. Black people didn’t have to eat at lunch counters. I know. But isn’t it a win-win if they did? Reducing fat bodies to the bleakest of clothing options is one of the more torturous shamings a fat person will experience. The normalized otherization and physical separation of plus-size clothing in retailers alone is insulting.

Kimora…babygirl. I want to buy your bedazzled tees and cropped camis. Do you not realize how perfect a chubby belly would look in a leopard crop top?!

Do that revolutionary shit and celebrate and embrace bodies of all sizes.