Fashion can make you feel good about yourself, if you let it

Let's swap!

I held my first ever clothing swap on Sunday, and even though the numbers were down it was still a success. Everyone took home something new (to them!) and we all had a fabulous time trying on clothes and shoes and making silly outfits. I got the idea from Screw Inner Beauty, in which Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby talk about clothes swaps as a way of weeding out the clothes from your wardrobe that make you feel bad about yourself. You know, the “I fit into these for five minutes back when I was 17” sort of garments that you only hold onto as a sick kind of motivation to lose weight.

If you’ve known me for five minutes, you’ll have probably seen me launch into a tirade within seconds of someone mentioning diets or weight loss, because I feel very passionately about every person accepting and loving their body in this present moment… NOT if they lose weight and NOT if they manage to fit into something. I think Health At Every Size has the potential to not only do wonderful things for body image but for health – mental and physical.

Because I’ve had quite a few years worth of exposure to the Fat/ Size Acceptance movement, I figured that I may as well host a body positive clothing swap despite my party hosting fears (what if no one comes? etc!) I’m pretty glad I did host the party, because it made me feel like I had primed a few more minds for loving their bodies. In my opinion, when people push aside their conditioning and start to fully accept themselves, it’s when the most amazing transformations happen. I’ve seen it in myself, and I’ve seen it in friends and people I’ve met online through various forums and communities. Through honouring our bodies, it’s like we flip a switch and instead of honouring what other people think and societal limitations and conditioning – we start to do things we’ve always wanted to do. For instance, I have longed to run but it’s only this year after meeting Sue, a personal trainer that I introduced to Health At Every Size, that I have discovered I can run. I am strong. I can do all these wonderful things with my body that society has told me I shoudn’t be able to do.

So, it might be just fashion, but it’s something a lot of people care about, and it’s a key part of styling “the self” and sculpting our identities. The fashion industry has the potential to exclude individuals, but if we work together we can pool resources and make each other feel good. Thank you to Sonya, Kat, Mem, Tash and Zoe for attending my little experiment, I hope you found some garments that make you feel great and a sense that you don’t have to abide by the limiting body, fashion and identity rules that we’ve all been subjected to.

I hope to be involved in hosting these swaps every once in a while, and to stage swaps on a much larger scale. Sydney has the Swap ‘Til You Drop event, but I want to organise a proper plus sized swap event in Brisbane! To be honest, I’m not even sure there’s a straight sized swap event in Brisbane, and while it’d be awesome to cover a whole gamut of sizes, I’m not sure how practical it would be to stage. Talk to me if you’ve got a venue or resources, I’m dead serious about making this happen! It’s my goal to make Brisbane the body positive capital of Australia (for now, and then I’ll move on to the other cities!)


  1. I think Brisbane only has the designer swaps. Or it might even just be sales. I’d be so interested in getting one started here.

    It was a pleasure to come! I plan to wear that vintage dress I snagged to the next BTUB, weather pending. I also grabbed a dress for mum and pants for my sister, so I felt like it was a success. :D

    I have someone on my flickr flist who has recently moved to Brisbane who is super interested in coming to another one as well!

  2. Body image has always been something I’ve been interested in and at uni it took the guise of identity and styling, or the ways in which individuals dress themselves in order to assume an identity. In my last 10 years as a fat woman who has never felt

  3. I’m so glad I came, it was definitely an excellent idea and I scored some clothes that fit me perfectly and I’ve been needing :D
    I am wanting to host my own with a couple of my other friends, but I’m not sure I can properly convey to them the meaning of body acceptance – the people I’m thinking of inviting, I’m afraid they’ll shun the idea/not get it. Have to try anyway though right?

  4. Hmmm, that’s a fun challenge to attempt! I guess you can only set up the expectations, and see if everyone is comfortable with them. There are small messages you could probably reinforce, like “no negative self talk” and “no bitching about what other people look like” and have silly punishments, but I’m not really sure how that’d fly outside a group of 6 year olds!!! I’d be pretty interested to see how your party pans out, if you want to guest blog about it here you are more than welcome!

  5. We’ve done this last year – not a lot of people but good fun nonetheless!

    I’ve seen the designer swaps that were $30 entry. But a community swap (or a Naked Lady Party which is the other term for these things) would totally work!

  6. First i want to say my website caters for cuddly plump and not so plump
    Are You a Slave to FASHION?The Changing Face of Fashion

    WHETHER we realize it or not, our daily decisions as to what we will wear are shaped at least to a degree by fashion. Ultimately, the forces of fashion largely determine what is available to buy.

    Even items of clothing that we now take for granted were once the latest style. The man's dress shirt and necktie, for instance, became the fashion rage over a century ago. And the woman's sweater became an established style back in the 1920's.

    Two basic desires fuel the fashion industry—novelty and conformity. Nearly everyone likes to wear something new. That is why we sometimes buy clothes, not because an older garment has worn out, but simply because we want a change. At the same time, we do not want to look out of place, so we buy clothes that conform to some degree to the style worn by our associates. Over the centuries the clothing industry has catered to—and sometimes exploited—these desires for novelty and conformity.A Brief History

    To create a style, designers use five basic elements: color, silhouette, drape, texture, and line balance (or patterns on the surface of the material). The options available to designers and dressmakers in all five areas have multiplied over the years. In ancient Egypt, for example, locally produced see-through linen was the fabric of choice, and it was ideal for a warm climate. But since linen could not be dyed easily, it was usually just one color—bleached white. Still, Egyptian fashion designers pleated the material so that their clothes had a pleasing drape and silhouette. Thus one of the world's most enduring styles was born.
    By the first century C.E., new fabrics and colors were available. Affluent Romans imported silk from China or India, although the expense of transport made woven silk as costly as gold. Another fashionable material was dyed wool from Tyre, a pound of which could cost 1,000 denarii—three years' wages for a typical worker. The new dyes and materials enabled wealthy Roman women to wear a stola—a long, ample outer garment—of blue cotton from India or perhaps yellow silk from China.

    Although new styles arose periodically, in past eras a costly garment would likely be in fashion for a lifetime. Changes came slowly and usually affected just the nobility. With the coming of the industrial revolution, however, fashion became much more relevant to the common people.
    The Dark Side of Glamour
    THERE is no doubt that following fashion can help you to improve your appearance and boost your self-confidence. The right outfit can minimize some physical flaws and even enhance your positive features. It can also have a bearing on how you are viewed by others.

    But there is a dark side to the fashion world, one that cannot be ignored. Shoppers can become trapped in an endless cycle of replenishing their wardrobe. After all, the industry keeps churning out new styles. This is no accident, for fashion houses make more money when clothes become obsolete quickly. As designer Gabrielle Chanel put it, “fashion is made to become unfashionable.” Thus, the unwary consumer might feel obligated to buy new clothes just to keep up to date.

    There is also the danger of succumbing to the subtle pressure of advertising. Fashion companies spend millions of dollars promoting their products, often portraying a certain carefree life-style that those who wear their label supposedly enjoy. These messages can have a powerful impact. “Nothing is more traumatic for teenagers than not having the 'right brand' of shoes,” says a schoolteacher in Spain.
    So therefore we should have a balanced view of fashion
    We should not all need to buy expensive designer wear after all it just a name
    the name does not make you feel better its clothes that make you feel better and feel good.
    and my business is about making you feel good without having to buy expensive

  7. Clothe swapping?? that sounds like a genius idea!!

    I would love to go for one if there is any in Brisbane!! =)

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