I trekked to Wicker Park Sunday to participate in this clothing swap:
...and was very glad I did. I brought four Peapod bags' worth of clothing in sizes 26-34 (4x-6x) that I hope all found good homes, either with other nice fat ladies there or at Howard Brown Brown Elephant, which is where I understand anything leftover went.
It was, note, a scrum, an absolute, fabulous scrum. I had to wait a few minutes to go in when I first got there, as it was at capacity. The venue (Kathryn Kerrigan Shoes) was too small and needed much more seating, but I am disinclined to fault anybody for that, as it was the first such event. I saw so many smiling faces. The organizers of the event--and okay, honestly, even now I am a little confused about who exactly was organizing (partly thanks to my design-based aversion to Tumblr)--it seems like there were a lot of people behind it, not all of whom are local--were also great. I want to send special thanks to Rachel, who gave me a t-shirt from this Etsy store (and a hug) when I said I hadn't found anything in the clothing piles myself. I also got some free slippers from Junonia across the street at Vive la Femme. I hadn't been there for quite a while--since that store moved from their other location across the street--so it was fun to look in.
As I walked down Damen Ave. that night, which was, unsurprisingly for February in Chicago, dark, grey, sodden, marked on either side with piles of dirty melting snow, lined with subdued storefronts, the building where the swap was, by contrast, the proverbial ablaze with light. It was brilliantly bright inside, full to the gills with chattering, happy women. If I were an entrepreneurial type I would have stopped right there and said: Hey, what's that rush about. How can I harness some of that.
It continues to fascinate me--and please my sense of prediction, which I hope isn't too smug--that clothing is such a flashpoint for action and organization around issues of size. It is a huge point of financial and political power for fat women in this country. We need clothes, whether we hate our bodies or love them, especially as more and more people are fat, and at younger ages. A lot of the women at the swap seemed to be in their late 20s if I had to guess, sort of more of the third (fourth?) wave of fat activism, which has to a degree organized around the issue of what we put on our bodies. What we can fit on our bodies. What we can find to put on our bodies. How we dress, how and what we buy to dress ourselves. How we (don't) hide. How we show ourselves, how we ask for what we need and what we want. It was cool to see it in action.
Well done, Gold & the Beautiful. Hope it happens again!
p.s. I donated a 5x shirt of this design (love this photo & the way it's cropped), by Substantia Jones of Adipositivity. Hope somebody's wearing it!