Fashion is not something I have ever written about in this blog but today I write about someone who’s constantly making a fashion statement rising above the negative comments and criticism that often come her way.
Soumyasree Chakraborty, a content writer by profession, has proved that to look good you don’t need to bow down to archaic social perceptions – the slim and fair kinds – all you need is oodles of confidence and a will to dress up.
What makes Soumyasree’s sartorial journey special is that she didn’t let other people’s perception of her body image come in the way of her fashion aspirations. When most of us are spending time on what suits us and what doesn’t and we are discussing crash diets to slim down in a jiffy for special occasions, Soumyasree is collecting accessories, clutches and shoes to ensure that she is impeccably turned out and in the rest of the time she is tossing up her favourite dishes (she is an amazing cook).
It’s because of this attitude of her’s and her lovely dress sense (each blouse of her’s is a fashion statement in itself) that she is in this post today.
PS : When I asked her if I can write “fat” in the headline or does she want me to write “plump”, her quick reply was, “fat” is just fine with me. I guess this attitude is what defines her.
She’s penned down her own thoughts for this blog. Over to Soumyasree:
When I was three years old the helper of my school bus named me “motu”.
When I was in my early teens a self proclaimed neighborhood macho man named me “moti bahenji”.
When I was 24, I got to try on western wear on myself for the first time.
Now that I am in my 30s I got featured in a Facebook page that has about 6500 followers, as cover girl to celebrate “women in all shapes, all forms everywhere in the world.”
As you can see, my sartorial journey has been an interesting one indeed! As I was growing up, it was a very natural thing for me to accept that whatever I would like in a shop, while shopping, would not come in my size; and this applied (and still does) to shoes as well. Sigh!
I was made to believe flab had to be covered under ill-fitting clothes
Whatever came in my size were for people decades older to me. So from a very young age I had to take to clothing that were not “in trend” for people my age. Added to that was the fact that my parents (and later on my in-laws) are pretty conservative in their approach. I was given an impression that flab was meant to be all covered up under loose (read: ill-fitted) clothing, and I started to believe in it. So much so, that when I set foot in the US, post marriage, I was sent off with a suitcase full of sarees and salwar suits to nearly sub-zero temperature, and I did not utter a word of protest.
So you see my experiments with clothing started out of necessity. I urgently needed to replenish my wardrobe with attires that would help me survive in that weather. By that time the husband too had warmed up a little with his new bride and suggested, “Why don’t you look for attires that would give you a shape instead of making you look dressed up in a sack?”
“What?” I exclaimed. “Don’t you know those stylish trendy stuff look good only on certain types of bodies? Flab should always be kept under cover.” But he eventually won. I started to explore options and eventually had a blast experimenting.
The US trip was the game changer
Being in the US, that houses a huge number of plus size people, made sure that there was an inventory of bigger sized clothing available for me to experiment with. Right from Walmart to J.C.Penny, from Macy’s to Saks Fifth Avenue – all had special sections for bigger women. Apart from that were brands like Lane Bryant and IGIGI that catered especially to larger women. I felt like a kid in a candy store. What I liked was finally available in my size. It made me aspire to transform how the world views beauty and fashion.
I have to work doubly hard to prove that plus-sized people can have a presence
Soon it became a favorite pet project of mine. Especially because being a plus size woman I have to work doubly hard to prove that we plus size women can have a nice presence too. You could be sexy, stylish, sophisticated in whatever shape and size you are in. The trick is not to hide the flab, but to accentuate the curves. The key is to find the right fit and apparels that would bring out the best in you and then accessorize properly to create a well coordinated ensemble. Once you start doing it, you shall start enjoying it too. It is like an art project; creating your own style board, each day, each time.
I completely ignore criticism which is not constructive
The more you experiment the more you’d discover what can bring out the best in you. Oh and you also have to learn to ignore criticisms that are not constructive in nature! I get it all the time! Especially since I love cooking and my Social Media feeds have photographs of my culinary experiments, people gleefully attribute my cooking to be the culprit that makes me obese. (As if, I cooked and ate at will when I was three years old, or thirteen, as a matter of fact.)
Then there are people who label me a narcissist for uploading my dressed-up pictures on my own timeline. (Get a life! It is my timeline – you always have the option to unfollow, unfriend or even block!)
But when you are happy the way you are, you become an expert in dodging anything that can mar your happiness. After all you get only so many years in one life, and you better fill them up with happiness and positivity!
I dress up for each occasion
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not someone who believes that only the West can churn out fashionable clothing. I am still equally comfortable in my sarees and salwar suits. It is just that I would no more wear them for say a pool party or for a picnic; just as I would not wear jeans to a family wedding or a traditional religious ceremony. In fact those who know me can swear by my obsession for sarees. But then that is another story altogether!
I am now settled in my skin
By the time we relocated back to India the plus size fashion scenario saw a little shift in gear, albeit a very slow one. Departmental stores like Pantaloons and Westside today host a separate section for plus sized women. There are brands like Mustard Fashions and Amydus that specialize in plus size clothing. Apart from that designers too have become less snooty about designing for bigger people – this gives you the option to get tailor made trendy clothing according to your taste and budget! No, the struggle isn’t over yet. People still stare if they see a plus sized woman wearing a Sundress or let’s say a pair of Capri or a pair of Bermuda. But as you feel settled in your skin, you shall start feeling happy about your experiments, and all the positivity would make you ignore the naysayers with grace and élan.