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Fashion Is Political: About The Curvy Con

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I would not call myself a fashionista, and clothing definitely isn’t something that makes me wildly excited. But I am excited about the fat community, our determination, and the noise we are currently making, that is slowly but surely tearing down oppressive boundaries that society has set. So, I was pretty hyped to be at The Curvy Con, in a space where that tear down was actively taking place.

So, what is Curvy Con? Well, as far as I can tell, it’s a place where plus size fashion bloggers/influencers come together to see what new things are happening in plus size fashion…. or something like that. People (namely women) who want to attend can choose to buy a ticket at the “general”, “teal”, or “platinum” level. This makes my blood boil. A platinum ticket costs several hundred dollars more than a general admission ticket, creating a divisive energy among attendants before you even walk in. In a world filled with classism, The Curvy Con carries that right on through their event. Instead of making all tickets one price and providing everyone the same amenities, we’re relegated to only getting brunch if you can drop several hundred dollars. Doesn’t the plus size fashion industry do this to all of us enough already? Aren’t we tired of the fashion hierarchy?

Meanwhile, the models used in the fashion show were mostly size 12-14 (I saw the model board stating their sizes, this isn’t just an assumption), brands known for their lack of awareness were used as headliners on panels, and the entire event had a major accessibility issue (ie: elevator outages*, chairs that even super thin people would be uncomfortable on). Panels consisting of brand CEO’s seemed to be presenting so that they could convince us that they care about our community, instead of being there to hear us and tell us how they’d do better by us. The entire event felt performative and removed from the fat community. In fact, I don’t think I heard anyone involved in the event even use the word “fat” the entire time I was there.

Maybe you’re thinking “why does that matter?” or “ok so that event isn’t for you” and that’s fair… except fashion is for everyone. Even when we don’t want it to be. I’m not a fashion girl, but the plus size fashion industry is directly driven by my consumption. I may not be thrilled about new Fall lines, but I still have to cloth my size 28 body. There is no way to separate the every day person from fashion – plus size specifically (because if you haven’t heard we’re 67% of the population). That makes it political.

I want us to start accepting the politics of fatness into fashion. I want awareness, and thoughtfulness from brands and the people who create events that support those brands. I want us to talk about the intersections of fatness and poverty and what it means to hold exclusive events like this. I want us to ask how we as a community continue to contribute to the oppression of fat women that don’t look like ourselves.

The Curvy Con was exactly what I expected it would be. It wasn’t life changing, it didn’t teach me anything new, and we didn’t suddenly break the mold on runway shows. It was exactly as fashion has always been, dressed up in plus size clothing pretending to be revolutionary.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the hard work this community does being exploited for capital gain. I’m tired of taking the crumbs from other people’s feasts. I’m tired of getting my hopes up. I’m not a fashion girl, but I want to be. I’m here. I’m showing up. So, when is plus size fashion going to let me participate?

*I had been informed that there actually were no “elevator outages” but that the elevators were actually reserved for platinum ticket holders only. After publishing this article one of The Curvy Con co-founders reached out to me to let me know that this was not the case (see below), but rather the elevators were for people who “couldn’t use the stairs”. During the event several of my friends who usually use mobility devices but opted out of carrying them to the conference were turned away from the elevators by security guards that said no more than “the elevator is out, use the stairs”. While I understand that this is not necessarily the fault of the event coordinators, all event staff (security guards included) should be well informed on protocol regarding accessibility. 

EDIT – co-founder CeCe Olisa messaged me via instagram to say “Using the elevator wasn’t a platinum benefit. The elevator was having issues so usage was limited so that we could properly serve those who couldn’t use the stairs. I was only able to ride the elevator when accompanying a guest who used a cane.”





ps – The Curvy Con wasn’t great, but I did get matching tattoos with my fat friends that were attending soooo… it wasn’t all bad 😉

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Mama Sass

Monday 9th of October 2017

Thank you SO MUCH for posting about this. The plus size community is constantly in danger of being ruined by the very types of companies and thinking that caused it to need to exist in the first place, and if we aren't discussing issues like these, we're going to end up just having body positivity for rich able-bodied girls who are slightly larger but mostly same shape and color and attractiveness as the straight sizes, and all the beautiful fat girls who don't fit this ridiculous mold are going to be left out in the cold again.

Kudos for raising awareness.


Thursday 21st of September 2017

I experienced just the opposite at the curvy con. It was an amazing event that catered to everybody. I had no problem using the elevator, used it all day except for when they closed it due to a medical emergency that happened. This is at no fault of the event. People are always going to hate, so this post isn't much of a surprise.


Saturday 16th of September 2017

Thank you for such an honest review, glad I kept my coins.


Thursday 14th of September 2017

Thank you for keeping it really real, Corissa. We have to integrate critique into plus size event/fashion/whathaveyou production so that there is justice for all fat people-- not just the fat people who are smaller or have money.


Wednesday 13th of September 2017

There are a few things I agree with and couple of things I a disagree with. First i doubt elevators were not reserved for plautuim people. My group was made up of general, teal and plantum and we all used the elevator together multiple times. The only time we could not get on was when they were bringing down the keynote speaker. Second, I agree about the seating. The seating was way too small and squished together. Third, yes they did have a lot of models that were on the smaller size of plus but maybe they were casted for another reasons like height and race. It was great to see shorter models. Also to see models of colour. (and i dont mean just black) my friend was so excited to see a half Asian model because she is half Asian. Fourth , I dont see a problem with the different ticket levels. I think It helps having different ticket level. The price of the Platinum tickets are helping offset the price of the general admission ticket. All the stuff the Platinum people are getting is free stuff from the sponsors. the brunch was paid for by Target. the party was paid for by Macy's. The swag bag was sponsored by Dia &co. So my extra ticket money went to making it more affordable for everybody else. If it was just one set price for everybody I'm pretty sure it would be more than a hundred a ticket. It cost over 10,000 just to hold that place for an event. If some people want to pay extra and they can afford let them. I dont think it divided us. I went solo and make friends with people from every ticket level. We hang together all weekend. Lastly the event had some kinks that need to be worked out but overall I think it was very empowering. To be able to workout ,party.and shop with people who won't judge your size is freeing. To be in a place that I dont have to embrassed to try on clothes . To be around so many positive plus size woman doing big things in life is empowering to me. Sorry the event was not to your liking.


Thursday 14th of September 2017

I have issues with my knees and can't do stairs. I was also told the elevator was only for Platinum ticket holders. I only had a Teal ticket, I was taken aback and very upset. I was there covering the event for a well-known media outlet and ended up not attending any of the panels, since I would have to use the stairs. I did the stairs once to attend the fashion show and it was painful. I was disappointed that I did not get to see Chrissy Metz speak or talk to brands there. All because I was not allowed to use the elevator. So the Curvy Con experience was limited for me because of that.


Wednesday 13th of September 2017

this is absolutely a totally valid perspective on the event and I don't ever want to discount anyone's experience.