To me, my clothes feel like armor. They form an outward shell that tells anyone who wants to that they can’t fuck with me. They help me leave the house on mornings when the outside world seems unbearable. They’re my best self-care mechanism. They help me hold myself together when someone shouts at me, instead of hurting for days like I used to. They help insults bounce off my surface, instead of hitting deeper than I’d like. The way I dress is an expression of both who I am and who I want to be. Dressing offers me a space to explore identities and play with facets of myself. It makes my body visible in spaces where I’m often forced to hide it. It allows me to have fun with my body in a way that I never could whilst conforming to an endless set of fashion rules.
Fashion is often held up as frivolous, conformist, unnecessary, and capitalist-engaged, within both fat-positive and feminist circles, scholarship, and activisms. While I don’t deny that it can be some or all of those things, for me it’s also been a survival strategy and the most important way of negotiating my relationship with my body. It’s so much more than looking good or bad or fitting into dominant or subcultural aesthetics; it’s become a radical political mechanism that resists the daily oppression I face and reclaims the body that I have always been told is not my own.
To you, it might just be an outfit, but to me it’s performance, play, care, support, resistance, survival, and fighting