Photo description: A beige wall behind the pale white woman smirking in the foreground (me) from the chest up. My reddish hair is wet and parted to the side, touching my shoulders. I’m wearing green plastic rimmed glasses, a delicate necklace with a green stone, My dress is floral with pink blooms & green leaves and has a deep v-neck that shows my kanji tattoo (that hopefully says “believe”). A black cardigan is over my shoulders.
Because of a difficult combination of pain, a book review deadline, and the neighbor kids being rowdy until past 2am, I’m exhausted. Although I really felt like I couldn’t spare the spoons, I managed to get a quick shower before work but there was no way I was going to get it dry in time (I don’t own a blow dryer as I hate blow drying my hair. It makes my hair feel damaged, it poufs it up strangely when I attempt it, and it’s just a waste of time/energy that could be used elsewhere). Although I wasn’t feeling stellar, I had another one of my days where I really wanted to both be comfy and look cute at work. This dress (purchased at a random vendor on my family’s vacation) is really comfy, although the neckline dips so low that I’m uncomfortable (I rarely show cleavage, no matter where I’m going or what I’m doing), but this dress is stretchy and colorful and is just long enough to hide the capri leggings I always wear to avoid chub rub. The cardigan is from Lane Bryant from a few years ago (with all my tattoos, I try to keep the big ones mostly covered).
I’m posting this because I read a post from Fat Heffalump about ugliness in relation to fatness, and it reminded me of how I tend to dress more femininely when I’m having a bad body day (whether that’s pain, dealing with body image issues from fatphobic doctors, etc). I also tend to post Outfits Of The Day (OOTDs) on these days. While I think my initial motivation was to appear less ugly by taking the gaze from my pain-grimace or my limp, I now find myself reclaiming both my appearance AND my gimpiness (or as Caitlin Wood said in the new anthology Criptiques, flaunting my difference through “crip bravado”).
That being said, there is tension between “I’m hiding my physical pain by trying to look cute” and “I know that I’m objectified as a fat disabled woman, but I’m taking your gaze and spinning it for my own uses.” There’s also tension because of my fight to keep belly dancing, even though I have a limited amount of time in a day where I can be on my feet. It’s that in-between place where my disabledness is (sometimes) not readily apparent.
I think my next OOTD will be one of my “standard uniform” days….jeans or a comfy skirt + leggings combo with a t-shirt + cardigan combo or a long sleeved top. My usual style leans a lot more to casual semi-androgynous, and it never crosses my mind to take a picture of usual-me.