Reflections on St. Lucy and the “Plus” Sized Women’s Clothing Industry

…in this time of inclusiveness,

why should 80 million women be marginalized?

~ Tim Gunn, Fashion Designer on Project Runway

On the one hand, all I want to do during this month-long break from school is to rest and be lazy. On the other hand – I want to read and do things that have nothing to do with American Sign Language or interpreting.

The first thing that caught my eye on my Facebook feed this week was a short video clip from Tim Gunn, a fashion designer on the reality TV show “Project Runway.” A dear friend who lives at a distance has been helping me to come to terms with my poor fashion self – esteem, so this clip was perfect timing. Last August, just before classes started, I sent him a message that included a plea to help with ideas about how to organize my clothes. We have small closets and I had just finished adding a new bookshelf and organizing my growing piles of school books and materials. My desk and school things are in the same room that I have my closet. So, one day I went on a complete ninja culling marathon. I kept on finding ugly clothes that I never wear. I was stressed about my final and very busy year of classes for the ASL-English Interpreter Training Program that I am working on, so it makes sense that I was worrying about my looks as well.

Its interesting – it only took one hissy fit and one hour of pulling and dumping a pile of every single piece of clothing that I have in my dresser and those items plopped on the floor of the closet  – to know that I needed a friend. I was so upset with myself.

I found item after item that was either: 1: sloppy and huge, 2: impossible to fit into, 3: possible to wear, but don’t make me feel even close to good, or, 3: were totally unflattering.

So, my friend messaged: “We can do this together – do it! Garbage bags pronto!! Send me photos, I want proof that you are doing this.”

So, a few weepy fits later and about 15 garbage bags I started sending him photos.

“Good job, I’m proud of you – still too much shit there girl. Keep on dumping.”

And, it started to get fun, and I started trying things on. My friend, and then also my cousin, started chatting about specific fashion and colors that would work for me.

“You are amazing and I’m so proud!” said my cousin. “Get rid of those thick ass socks and show your legs!” said my friend.

So, the Tim Gunn clip I saw this week? It talked about how unfair it is that larger women’s clothing is not backed by the fashion industry, because it makes the industry less money and it is, well, “not fashionable” to be less than thin and fit.

Because of my classes and being mildly Hard of Hearing my self, equal access is on my mind and a part of my every single day – most often all day long. Then, the other day I stumbled onto some amazing sales at a store for larger sized women and I was incredibly excited to find some work clothes that looked and felt professional. So, the follow-up of stumbling onto this rant by Gunn about how unfair it is for my body type to not have equal access, not just to clothes, but clothes that fit right and feel spiffy – well, it cheered me up almost as much as the heeled boots I found. See for your self what the clip says:

Why the Fashion Industry Needs a Makeover

And what is the connection to the St. Lucy doodles I made a while back and included above? For the Catholic Church, St. Lucy is the Patron Saint of eyes. She was tough and blunt, and legend has it that being her own woman got her killed.

“Rather than accept the hand in marriage of a lover who desired her for the sake of her beautiful eyes, (Saint Lucy) she plucked them out, and sent them to him with this message: “Here hast thou what thou so much desirest; and for the rest, I beseech thee, leave me now in peace!” Nevertheless, as the legend expressly tells us, her sight was restored to her the next day. Her martyrdom, instigated by her rejected lover, was accomplished by a dagger thrust into her neck in AD 303.”

So…there you have it. The struggle is real, and I’m so very proud of my now very bare, but well fitted for the most part clothing collection. Moving on up!

Prayers from and to St. Lucy

 P Min projects 003

Saint Lucy

delivered her eyes to her lover on a platter
in an act of devotion
because he had once admired them
exchanging her vision for the prophet’s.
In an act of devotion,
Saint Lucy lost her sense,
exchanging her vision for the prophet’s.
She desires inspection.
Saint Lucy lost her sense
Traded spectacles for dreams
and denies inspection.
Saint Lucy, unspoken,
for she can not weep
and loves her Lord, fiercely.
Such women are disfigured by their devotion.
Saint Lucy tore out her eyes
and raised gaping lids to God.

Laura Ehrisman

P Min projects 001

Euthychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered,

“…whatever you give away at death for the Lord’s sake you give because

you cannot take it with you.

Give now to the true Savior,

while you are healthy,

whatever you intended to give away at your death.”

~ St. Lucy, via Wikipedia

P Min projects 002