It’s hard for me to admit this but, up until now, I have been in the habit of simply waking up and getting dressed– without fully considering how each and every one of my choices may affect my fatness that particular day. See, I erroneously believed that my fatness had to do with how much fat I actually carried on my body; I learned this weekend, however, that along with worrying about being too fat, I should make sure not to dress too fat either. I knew a few of the more obvious fashion faux-pas to avoid (horizontal stripes, tight/clingy fabrics, etc), but I had never before considered how my more subtle wardrobe choices, from my eye-glasses to my foot-wear, may wreak havoc with my weight. Luckily, I learned all about this complicated and crucial topic from Charla Krupp in her book “How to Never Look Fat Again: Over 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner.”
The book is set up in sections: a chapter for each body part (how to dress for a fat face, fat arms, fat ankles, etc), a chapter for each season, and one chapter each for workout-wear and eveningwear. In each chapter, Krupp includes a checklist to see if you have the problem in question, a “high-fat vs. no-fat” list where clothing and accessories are “analyzed for their potential fat-making content,” a “Going to Extremes” passage, where Krupp discusses and recommends some of the pricier solutions, including a number of cosmetic-surgery procedures, a vows sections (“I WILL NOT wear a backless dress,” “I WILL NOT wear shoes with ankle straps,” etc) and a threatening “DON’T YOU DARE…” section where Krupp leaves you with a final, ominous command before moving on to the next chapter (DON’T YOU DARE settle for ugly comfort shoes!)
Since my ultimate and only priority in life is to carefully calibrate every aspect of my appearance to suggest “slimness,” I found this guide an invaluable tool in the slenderization (spell-check says that “slenderization” is not a word, but Krupp says it is) of my wardrobe. As all women know, the most egregious sin you can commit is being—no, even just dressing fat. Insidious fatness can sneak up on you at any time, and we must always be on our guard.
Krupp brought to my attention a host of hitherto utterly ignored potential insecurities: for instance, Krupp asks “are your brows making you look fat?” Good god! I had never even considered whether my eyebrows were somehow making me look fatter. Krupp explains that “skinny brows won’t make you look skinny—in fact, they’ll do just the opposite.” Furthermore, my eye-wear may be contributing to this fat-face look (well then, goodbye glasses! It’s not about whether or not I can see, it’s about what others see when they look at me) and my solid hair color is making it even worse! Krupp says “high-lights or low-lights? Choose one or the other because the last thing you want is a single block of the same color covering your entire head.” Because, you know, natural hair makes you look heavy. And my straight-across bangs? You guessed it– fat, fat, fat: “Side swept bangs are very flattering, while full blunt bangs will shorten and widen your face.”
Surely after highlighting my hair, sweeping my bangs, darkening my eyebrows, and switching to contacts, the worst of my worries would be over, right? Not even close. From choker necklaces to waist belts, there are a number of seemingly innocuous accessories to beware of. And choosing the right clothing is just as tricky! Heavier women should avoid sleeveless shirts, low cut jeans, and turtle necks, and that’s just the tip of the fat iceberg (fatberg?)
Ughhhh, put that pudgy whale-arm away!
Perhaps one of the most restrictive chapters is the chapter on calves. If you want to even consider showing your legs, you must first earn “the right to bare legs” by following these rules:
- Make use of sunless tanning
- Use spray-on stockings
- Stay hair-free
(This is probably my favorite part of the book. As if there wasn’t already enough societal pressure to shave your legs, here is one more reason: your gross, hairy legs are making you look FAT!!! For the love of god, Krupp and everyone else seems to plead, just shave already, you hirsute beast! With my glasses and bangs and hairy legs, I must look like an absolute cow–and I’m still only half way through the book)
The proscriptions get even more bizarre; for instance, Krupp warns that if you are going to wear boots, they must be the same color as your legs. “No pale white legs in brown boots. If you have pale white legs, wear brown tights with brown boots. And make sure they’re the same shade—chocolate boots and nutmeg tights can be jarring.” Sheesh. And that’s not the only footwear-decree for chunky-calved ladies—also, you must give up flats. That’s right, high heels from here on out, missy! Never mind the fact that heels can cause irreversible damage to your leg and back muscles—that’s the price of looking slim.
One would think that perhaps in the winter, at least, it would be permissible to wear “bulky” clothing…but nope. Krupp doesn’t care if you’re caught in a freaking blizzard—you must get rid of those high-fat winter coats!!!
Heeled, leather boots. She may be cold, she may even slip and fall into a snow bank, but damn, she looks slim.
Even at the gym, one must dress for slim-cess (ok, that’s one I made up, not Krupp). No more baggy t-shirts or running shorts allowed. Cover-up that blubber-body with an expensive workout suit that conceals you from head-to-toe in slimming shades of black:
Going to the gym at all is an alright first step, but remember, health and fitness are a just a side goal. Your ultimate goal should be to look good for others! It’s never OK to dress fat.
So, from head to toe, from the beach to the gym, Krupp helped me revise my wardrobe for almost every occasion—almost. I was concerned by the conspicuous lack of advice regarding high-fat vs. low-fat outfits for funerals. Also, there was little mention of how to avoid the high-fat look during prolonged hospital stays.
Ughh, Hospital gowns widen your torso and add bulk to your figure! Avoid this look at all costs
Ok, but in all seriousness, I guess that if you need to change something to increase your body-confidence, it’s better to change your wardrobe than starve yourself trying to change your body. I almost, almost appreciate shape wear for the same reason—it gives women a way to feel comfortable with their bodies, even when they are a few pounds over their “ideal.”
Nevertheless, this book was comically offensive. Warning women that everything from their hairy legs to their eyebrows might cause them to look fat– and that looking even slightly heavier than you are is the most unforgivable fashion DON’T there is, because your weight is something you should always keep highly conscious and ashamed of– is not the most encouraging message to send out.
Style advice like this implies that there is literally not a single moment or aspect of our lives where we can afford to not think about our weight. I think Krupp means well…but how about if we could stop obsessing about our weight long enough to at least choose winter coats for their warmth, and not their “fat-making content”? Even better, how about everyone just wears whatever they like, all the time? Now that seems to me like a more reliable plan for a confidence-inspiring wardrobe.
- Maia Dendinger