Sewing is political. It’s something I enjoy, and a skill I use to make the things I don’t get an opportunity to purchase in stores. It’s not especially cheap, especially when it comes down to time, but it can save cash money. I would never sew as a job because the honest truth is that most people can not or will not pay the true cost of a hand made garment, but then again… we’ve all got to wear clothes as per our unspoken agreement with society, so what are we to wear if we can’t pay domestic designers and machinists? Criticising and shaming poor fat people for wearing cheap clothing produced in questionable (and often outright awful) working conditions is futile because there are few other options, and telling poor fat people the last resort is to sew their own clothes is flat out bullshit.
It’s the same argument as ‘see, this bean casserole is cheaper than McDonalds! Well, sure, if you have time and energy to soak the beans, and grow your own spinach or whatever else is in the recipe as ‘easy’. Yes, it’s easy, as a task by itself. But if you have absolutely anything else going on in your life, it gets added to the pile of Things. I mean, if you have an illness, physical or mental, if you have children or a full time job with a long commute, or you’ve been eating goddamn beans for a goddamn week, if you see another goddamn one of the rotters you’re going to snap, that’s it, I don’t care, we’re taking the kids to McDonalds for dinner. (This was the issue, incidentally, that I had with ‘Frugavore’)
Sure, we all know that Maccas, and clothes from Kmart, are no good for us or for the environment or society or all the other things. But they are valid choices a lot of the time. Personally, I’m reaching the end of my ‘tshirt and jeans are your only options’ tether. I know the issues of fit, cost, quality and ethical production are there for every size person. They just get emphasised as you go up in size. I want to acknowledge that, while there is a special kind of frustration to being the size I am, I still have my fair share of thin privilege. It’s frustrating to not be able to fit into anything in straight sized stores, AND to be too small for plus sized ones. It’s frustrating to look at the racks in an op shop and know that there might be ONE thing there that will fit me, if I care to sift through a hundred garments, and then I probably won’t like it. But one is more than none, and there is a lot of stuff that people larger than me have to negotiate that I don’t have to spare any thought for.
I’m just hoping that my sewing skills can improve fast enough to make sewing my own clothes more of a viable option before my current wardrobe starts to fall to bits. Because the pickings are slim out there, to the point of not being worth the time to pick them over, but I gotta clothe my nakedness somehow! And I’d prefer it to be with clothes I like and feel good in.