Silent Movie

Megan Wornette rocks a look a mime would love



What inspired this outfit?
Well, I’ve been looking for an excuse to wear this beret for a while now, and this is pretty much the perfect dress for it. It wasn’t a particularly cerebral decision.

Tell me about one of the items you are wearing.
This dress is the first thing I bought from Target last month! $25! And it breaks like all the fat lady rules – peplums, stripes, body con – so of course I love it. SUCK IT FAT LADY RULES.

What is the best book to read in this outfit?
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

What style icon would wear this outfit?
If Marcel Marceau were a lady, he’d be all over it.

outfit credits // dress by Mossimo, beret vintage, sunglasses from Smart Set, shoes by Aetrex, earrings unknown but probably somewhere like Zellers cuz that’s how I roll.

Change Room

A tale of great customer service—or a SPIRITUAL AWAKENING?

As a plus-sized woman, clothes shopping is the bane of my existence. I can spend over an hour eyeing the racks at the stores looking for Whitney-friendly wear (loose-fitting or oversized tops, stretchy sweaters, princess-cut dresses, and nothing that can be described as “form-fitting”), only to meet my match in the fitting room. The worst is when the mirrors are outside the change room, forcing me to walk the plank and parade around in front of everyone in the store. This almost always comes with prying eyes from the skinny salesgirls and customers, whose main concerns are if a colour looks good on them and not that they’d look like a stuffed sausage. It’s the same story, repeated again and again—I’ll leave the store with only a broken spirit.

Until one fateful evening in Montreal, that is. After hours of trying on baggy tunics in a bunch of outlet stores, I noticed a brightly lit Betsey Johnson store, appearing as a beacon in an otherwise gloom-filled day. Frilly frou-frou dresses, bedazzled cardigans and sky-high heels hung from racks, sat on shelves and burst from display cases. Wall to wall were rock-chic tutus, gloves, arm warmers, and berets shimmering with decals; purses in leopard prints, shiny metallic silvers, blues, reds, and purples; and bold, sparkling belts and jewelry. I stared longingly at all the clothes that I wished would fit my plus-size physique; this was, in every other way, “Whitney’s Wonderful Emporium.” It was the intersection of so many fun and wonderful places, containing the glamour of a rock show, the whimsy of Willy Wonka’s factory, and the meticulous curating of a museum. And like a real museum, I dared not touch anything. I took one wistful look around me, then turned around to leave.

I didn’t get far before a sales associate stopped me, asking if she could help. Normally, I would have politely said “no thank you,” but I couldn’t abandon those clothes without giving them a fair chance (Did I mention the tutu?). In a small voice I explained that while I loved every single thing in the store, I bore no delusions of petiteness and knew nothing would fit. But the sales girl wouldn’t take no for an answer.

She plunked me in the change room and set out to navigate the wild rapids of frothy dresses, bringing me lacy and delicate garments I would have never dared pick out myself—one wrong move and I would split these in half like the Hulk. But she encouraged me to give them a try.

After building my confidence with a few sunnily-patterned sheath dresses, I found myself worming into a tight black pencil skirt with a jaunty peplum. I was attracted to that skirt, but in the same way I might be attracted to Leonardo DiCaprio—that is to say, from a distance. Actually trying it on could be enough to end a love affair; if this one didn’t fit, that would be the end of this little pretense. With a loose white cashmere poncho on top and a pair of electric blue heels that felt alien on my feet, I was ready for my usual disappointment.

As I emerged, the customer in the change room next to me said “Whoa.” I looked in the mirror and was shocked; I had legs. The skirt fit perfectly and clung to my body in all the right places. I looked tall and polished and felt flat out sexy. For the first time ever, I felt great in a fitting room.

I purchased the outfit and sincerely thanked the sales associate. I wish I could remember the name of the woman who guided me through this intimate awakening. I never go shopping with girlfriends, mostly ’cause we can’t shop in the same stores, so I could never relate to other women who spoke of shopping as some female bonding experience—until now. What was probably a regular work day for this woman helped me overcome some pretty deep personal insecurities. I walked out of the store grinning and high off my epiphany into a twilit evening. Suddenly all these possibilities were in front of me, and I couldn’t stop putting outfits together in my head. Was it an artificial high brought on by consumerism? That’s one way to interpret it, but I finally felt like I could fit in with these cultural arbiters so often relegated to femininity (after all, it’s a lot easier to think about subverting convention when the rules automatically apply to you). I finally knew how Becky Bloomwood felt after a particularly erotic session of shopping at Prada, or the cult of Carrie Bradshaw that swept the nation in the late ’90s.

This was going to change everything.

photography // Brianne Burnell

Fear of Fat

Gabi Gregg of Young, Fat, & Fabulous

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘fat’? Do you think of Nutrition Facts labels and the first column you look at before deciding whether to buy the crackers? Or maybe you think of elementary school, when the best insult little boys could come up with for girls was “well… you’re fat!” (Good for you, little boys. You’re… dumb.)

Well, I don’t think of anything – or I try not to. To my editor’s dismay, I generally refuse to use the word, except when referring to this blog post. (“What are you working on right now?” “The ‘Fear of Fat’ blog post… Social networking…” “Hey, you said it! You said ‘fat’!”) She thinks “fat” should be used as an adjective, just like “thin,” or “tall,” or “short.” It shouldn’t be a negative thing – not if it’s true. I have a hard time agreeing with her. Nobody wants to be called “fat,” is my rebuttal.

But why not?

It’s not that I have memories of being called “fat” as a kid. In fact, despite being technically – or pretty close to – a “plus-size” (even though I refuse to buy plus-sized clothing, but that’s just a whole other story) for most of my life, I don’t ever remember being described that way. I still have friends who call themselves fat to get others to argue that they aren’t – something else I refuse to do. Be warned: if you call yourself fat, I’ll probably just agree with you, even if you’re a size 4. Because, what’s fat, anyway?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across Gabi Gregg’s blog, Young, Fat, & Fabulous. “She’s almost the same size as me,” I thought. And she is. And she calls herself fat without cringing. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Can you tell me what you think of the word “fat”?
I think the word fat is unfortunately extremely stigmatized in our society, and that needs to change. Just because someone is fat does not mean that they’re lazy, unhealthy, unworthy, ugly, sloppy, or any of the other things that many people unfortunately associate with the word.

The word seems to have several negative connotations – many people I’ve talked to have said this is because “nobody wants to be called fat.” Why do you think that is?
We grow up in a society that tells us that being fat is a bad thing. We are constantly inundated with messages and images that portray thinness as the ideal and fatness as this “evil” thing to avoid at all costs. That’s why many people don’t want to be called fat, even when they are fat. It’s understandable because of what we are taught, yet that does not mean it’s okay. People should reevaluate the word! Being fat is simply a description of someone’s body type.

What do you think of the common association of “fat” with poor health?
I think that there are healthy fat people and unhealthy fat people, just like there are healthy skinny people and unhealthy skinny people. I don’t think anyone is arguing that it’s good to sit around all day and eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, it’s important not to assume anything about anyone’s health based solely on their weight. A size 16 woman might well be healthier than a size 6 woman. It depends, and it’s important to realize that other people’s bodies and health are not anyone’s business but their own.

My editor thinks that the word should be used as a descriptor, just like you would call someone thin. Nobody would get mad at you for calling them thin, but some people would definitely be offended if you called them fat. What do you think about that?
I agree 100%. It would be nice if the word fat could be de-stigmatized and used simply as a way to describe people. That is how I use it.

With your blog, you refer to yourself and other plus-sized girls as fat. Clearly you are working to change the meanings or associations the word possesses. Why do you think it’s important to embrace the word “fat”?
I think that giving other people power over the word does no good. Once fat people embrace the word “fat” and stop fearing it, they don’t have to walk around wondering if other people think they are fat or not, or be afraid someone will use the word against them. When someone calls me fat now, I just nod. It’s not an insult to me. I use the word in my blog, because too often fat people are thought to be ugly and unfashionable. I wanted to juxtapose the word fat with fabulous and show people that it’s possible to be stylish at any size.

- Stephanie Fereiro. Photos from YoungFatAndFabulous.com.

Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves

I must admit, I’ve never been one to keep up with models. I adore Heidi Klum for her often ridiculous critiques on Project Runway, but otherwise no one model has won me over as a big fan. However, I have recently become enamored with Crystal Renn. Not only do I find her beautiful, her lack of sexy-face brings something new and interesting to the table. Of course, she is known for more than just her expressive photographs; Renn is a size 12 and the leading “plus-size” model working in the industry right now.

At 23, Cystal Renn has been working as a model for seven years, a career she documents in her memoir Hungry (penned with Marjorie Ingall, a former Sassy contributor). Reviews of the book, or articles about Crystal Renn, all seem to provide the same synopsis of her life. She was discovered at a charm school in Mississippi by a modeling scout who told her she could be a supermodel if she lost nearly ten inches off her hips. To achieve this goal, she began dieting heavily and developed an eating disorder, bringing her weight down to less than 100 pounds. She realized the scope of her illness and was able to recover and has now become a very successful plus-size model that works in mainstream fashion magazines like Vogue. And of course, that is all true, but in this book she engages critically with her past, the industry, and her continuing career as a model in a way that is sold short by a sound bite summary. Her recollections of filling her mouth with peanut butter only to wash it out, crying, are enough to make me hungry. While she writes a personal memoir, Renn’s accounts of sitting starving and miserable in her crappy New York model’s apartment bring into focus a larger reality that exists behind the glossy pages.

The chapters that follow the Renn’s life are staggered, with chapters dissecting body image and the inner workings of the fashion industry. Size and beauty are concepts that are intrinsically linked in our society, and Hungry provides more analysis than I expected. One point that Renn focuses on is how the issue of extreme thinness in the fashion world is consistantly made out to be someone else’s problem. Magazines claim to show women who are thin because designers send them sample sizes, but of course designers say they are making clothing for thin women because the magazines define this size as what is in style. And when blaming each other doesn’t work, it seems that the industry blames the models themselves. The book also discusses how the “waif look” (read: skeletal) seems to be tied to xenophobia. While of course there are waifs of many colours, Renn notes how the seasons that are populated by extremely thin woman on the runway (a recent trend) are overwhelmingly white. She believes this is tied to people’s belief that thinness connotes higher class; marginalized populations (which include millions of people of colour) have higher obesity rates, so therefore whiteness and thinness can be read as signifiers of luxury. And what is luxury if it doesn’t exclude 99.9% of us? Or employ a migrant work force of teenage girls?

Renn comes off as a likable, introspective person. I can definitely see how this book will appeal to WORN readers; she poses some serious questions about how we view our bodies through the lens of fashion, but she still takes time to gush about working with Jean Paul Gautier and Steven Meisel. Her life story is no doubt similar to other young models, but because she has become so successful she has the opportunity to speak out. And luckily for us, she is ready and willing to intelligently examine the fashion industry, while still enjoying the widespread acceptance she has received by it.

Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves by Crystal Renn and Marjorie Ingall (Simon & Schuster 2009).
Reviewed by Hillary Predko.