Around here the Texas Renaissance Festival is a pretty big deal. Every year it opens up on a set of campgrounds exclusively dedicated for the Renaissance Festival in Magnolia, Texas– about an hour north of my native Houston. Every year I trek up a couple of times each year to partake in their themed weekends — pirate weekend being one of my favorites — to watch various shows, musical performances, and hang out with friends.
The attractions aren’t limited to the hired staff either. Every year you see general attendees in fantastic costumes ranging from period renaissance gear to fantasy creatures, and more recently it’s been gaining a Steampunk following as well. A quick Google image search will give you the general idea. Honestly looking at all the creative takes on costumes is one of the main reasons I go. Sure, you’ll get your standard handful of people in Halloween sexy pirate costumes or Anna Brown woodland fairy wings from the after-Halloween sale at Party City, but the majority of the time the outfits you see obviously involved a lot of time, effort, and money. But one of the neat things about the crowds at the Renaissance Festival? As a fat chick, I have tons of role options when I’m eyeing garb for costume selections.
In a lot of subcultures — cyberpunk or fetishewar immediately comes to mind — the emphasis is on skimpy clothing. And before anyone jumps all over me, allow me a couple of caveats:
- You can absolutely find fetishwear and cyberpunk clothing for plus size individuals. I’m not into either subgroup but I know plenty of awesomely plus sized ladies who are.
- An outfit being “skimpy” doesn’t make it exclusive to skinny folks. Plenty of fat chicks rock the skimpy, and just ’cause the skirt’s short doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing it. If you like it, rock it!
The issue with skimpy clothing is that a lot of people don’t agree with that bottom statement. They go “Would I want to see a fat chick in one of these.* I might have to see fat rolls. So let’s only run it up to a large, and then let’s make sure the large is actually a medium.”
This happens all the time, and it’s so frustrating. I know what looks good on my body. I know what I’m comfortable wearing, and goddamnit sometimes I want to spend money on something that makes me look hot. The point of fact is most of these clothing manufactuerers have no idea what looks good on fat bodies. They look at us, their eyes glaze over, and they throw us a baggy t-shirt and some jnko jeans (yeah, I went there. And yes, I owned them back in junior high/high school too.) and tell us to cover ourselves or go back inside where our offending fat isn’t visible.
And as a sidenote, that did always kind of amuse me. Us fatties are supposed to exercise and diet and drop all that weight– without ever leaving our homes so we avoid offending the eyeballs of random passers-by. I actually had a friend tell me once how excited they were to get their hands on a Wii Fit. Now they could lose weight without anyone having to see! A magical transformation!
But back on topic, there are very few subcultures — or hell, even regular cultures — that understand how to size to the rotund sir or madam, but boy howdy does the Renaissance Festival fit the bill. They cater to all shapes and sizes, and in fact some outfits look better on us than they do skinny chicks. Take that, Anthropologie! But I’d spent so many years convinced there was just no way for me to look awesome in anything that it just plain hadn’t occurred to me that I could be one of those people. They were professionals, super expensive hand-crafted outfits with hundreds of dollars in leather accessories and heavy brocade. I barely know what brocade is. I spent most years in baggy pants and tshirts, hiding behind all my awesome looking friends who were running around and having a blast, wishing I didn’t have to spend so much time hiding all my offensive fat.
Well screw that.
Flash-forward about ten years. I’m twenty-seven years old and completely happy with the way I look. Once I came to the revelation that there is absolutely no reason why any person of any size should ever feel like they have to hide themselves– that there is no size restriction on hotness, adorableness, or just plain awesomeness– I started learning a little more about what I liked on me. Each year I go to the Renaissance Festival I pick up a little bit of a new outfit, because frankly I don’t have $400 to blow on a costume (and that’d be on the very cheap end). Finally I have enough pieces together for it to start coming together, and I’m super excited.
As you can see, I still have some work to do in the shoe department, but I actually really like how this is all coming together. I’ll probably switch out the tights and the boots sometime next year, maybe add a hat (though I have a huge head, so we’ll see).
Now, the thing about clothes shopping at TRF (and any Renaissance Festival I would assume) is that they tend to run on a S, M, L, XL system. I’m typically an 18/20 (except for my size 22 ass), so I keep an eye out for anything labeled a 2XL. Always make sure to try everything on. I know, I know– I hate trying on clothes too, but the sizing here is incredibly varied and is basically made up by whatever vendor you’re purchasing from. If you’re looking at corsets, let the shop ladies there fit you. I’d read up online and did some math calculations that led me to believe I would be eyeing a 42″ corset– then I went into an actual shop and found out I should be wearing a 37″. When you’re looking at spending the amount of money you do on corsets and custom leather pieces, every inch counts and most merchants don’t accept returns on anything once it’s been worn. So again, let this be your mantra: try it on.And this should be your second mantra, since it’s even more important: screw everyone. You look fantastic, so wear it without shame.
Don’t worry about how much skin is showing or where you’re bulging. I know some of the fears I would have would be if I wore something and some of my skin was showing that I wasn’t necessarily proud of the shape of I’d be run out. I always envisioned some guys cruelly cornering me and jeering at me about offending their vision by continuing to exist in their presence, and then possibly chasing me off with pitchforks and a torch. I joke, but for some people this is an actual memory. It’s a reality. They’ve been told they’re too ugly to exist, bullied to a point where they genuinely feel like they don’t deserve to be treated like a regular human being. They’re fat — because after all, being fat is always a lifestyle choice we make, and you can always tell someone’s health just by looking at them, and your health is totally everyone else’s business — and therefore have it coming. They dared to be fat in public.
Screw those guys. I guarantee if you’re comfortable and confident, for one most of these guys won’t even want to mess with you. They’re usually just as insecure as you are and are just out to feel better about themselves in some capacity. For another, they’ll get bored with you real fast when they figure out that you’ve decided the unsolicited opinion of a random stranger should rightly have zero impact on your current state of being.
Love yourself. Rock what you have. And always, always make silly faces.
* – Please note that this is actually a really awesome site that carries clothing in a pretty awesome range of sizes, right up to a 4XL. Yay!