On Thursday I went and got my hair buzzed off. On the best haircut scale of 1-10, this is a 9. It’s severe, it ages me considerably, and I love it. Fat women are universally encouraged to stay away from short hair for fear that it’s not flattering. I held on to my mid length crop for years, mostly because I didn’t have a stylist who could reliably cut it any shorter. But once I got my pixie back in January, I knew I’d eventually go this short. It’s been incredibly freeing, and not just because of the time I can save in the shower.
Detaching myself from conventional beauty standards has been a long process and I’ve never been as free of those constraints as I am now. Even though I’ve been comfortable in my body for a long time, the pressure to mould myself to an accepted notion of ‘curvy’ beauty continued to impinge on my self image. Long, flowing hair, a nipped-in waist, armed to the teeth with makeup and the illusion of unimpeachable femininity. My dating years in particular were conducted under this regime, and to claim that I never forced myself to be a particular sort of attractive to men would be an awful lie, because I did. I’d always wanted to be partnered in the big old heteronormative sort of way, and for the past two years and more, I have been. I don’t think I’ll ever stop leaning towards a femme presentation, but now I can choose to express it any way I want without spending nights on end crying about how I’m going to die alone.
Fat acceptance speaks a lot about how you don’t need validation from others, especially men, to feel good about yourself. I tried that for the longest time and it didn’t work for me. Maybe that speaks of my weakness, and quite possibly about how I’m a Bad Feminist, but we all need to make peace with ourselves in our personal, unique ways, and this is how I found mine. As I’ve grown secure in my relationship with my fiance, my relationship with myself has changed too. And it reflects in my style. I’ve come to favour comfort above all else, and with my 24/7 pain from scoliosis, it’s pretty much a priority now. Turning 30 has had a part to play as well. When I first started noticing my age lines, I was internally aghast. I’m learning to appreciate them now, and the maturity they lend my features. This sort of t-shirt, midi skirt and comfy flats combo has been my summer uniform since last year and I love how easy it is to just throw on and walk out of the door in.
Straight size fashion embraces a lot of these ‘man repelling’ elements - cropped hair, shapeless silhouettes, a pointed bowing away from femininity - all of which are yet to make any significant headway in plus size fashion. It’s to be expected though, considering how fat people, especially fat women live surrounded by the message that our fat makes us unsexy and undateable. Ideology aside, it’s a message that most of us can’t just ignore. The silver lining however is the ongoing proliferation of fat fashion, especially on the internet, which paves the way for alternative narratives of plus size style to exist. It’s the inspiration I’ve found in blogs like Dressing Outside The Box and Flight Of The Fat Girl and from plus models like Philomena Kwao that encouraged me to go this short with my hair for instance.
Representation matters, in both its discovery and creation. One thing I’ve always tried to accomplish with this blog is creating as many images as I can of a fat Indian woman in the twee, wistful style ordinarily reserved for pale, skinny girls. I’ve faced criticism for it, and more than my share of ridicule, but I’ve also had countless messages in my inbox encouraging me to keep going on. Today’s outfit is plain, even by my increasingly minimal standards, but this is what I look like most of the time. Walking around Lal Bagh in the midday heat managed to wipe off most of my foundation, leaving me bare-er faced than usual, but I didn’t feel any less like myself in its absence. My buzz cut has been christened the ‘Furiosa cut’ by my flatmates who have also taken to calling me ‘Curiosa Furiosa’ because of it. Considering how we’re all Fury Road obsessed in this flat even now, I bear the moniker with pride. Maybe I’ll go all out glam for my next shoot, or for something more tomboyish but what I’m really savouring is the freedom from having to conform to external standards of attractiveness. It matters to me that I feel attractive in my own skin without extraneous opinions contributing to that feeling. In the 6 years that I’ve been blogging, my style has undergone a few shifts. With my 30s stretching out ahead, and the prospect of parenthood in the next couple of years, it’ll no doubt shift some more. I can only say that I’m excited about where it’ll take me.