Fashion and Dress Twitch Session #1 – Aesthetics of the Fat Body

The first session will engage with debates on ‘fat fashion’ through an investigation of Japanese and European fashion media. We are using the word fat as it has been reclaimed by body activists and is not a derogatory term. All are welcome!
The session will be streamed through Carolin’s Twitch profile:
Introducing the Fashion & Dress Twitch Series
With this new series of online sessions, we aim to build a fashion and dress studies community through Twitch, a platform which allows for streaming a wide variety of content beyond gaming. Anyone can watch the stream without a Twitch account but if you want to participate by using the chat function, you’ll need to create a Twitch account (which is free of charge).
With this project, we’re hoping to bridge the gap between academia and fashion practitioners & enthusiasts, and create a friendly and supportive community for fashion culture lovers of all ages, genders and occupations.
Fashion & Dress Twitch Session #1: Aesthetics of the Fat Body – Fashion Media Perspectives from Japan and Europe
Discourses around the place of fat bodies in fashion and in the media have attracted a lot of attention over the past few years. In high fashion, curve models such as Precious Lee are seen more regularly on catwalks, while in Hollywood, actresses like Nicola Coughlan , whose bodies fall outside of the typical slender figure feature in the cast of hit series and movies. The Japanese influencer Naomi Watanabe has also made an impact with her clothing brand PUNYUS offering sizes going up to 6L.
While it may seem like standards evolve towards more body diversity, many scholars and critics argue that the thin body as the supreme feminine ideal still persists in contemporary Western and East Asian fashion – especially in the wake of a potential 2000s heroin chic revival.
Our investigation on the topic is split into three parts. First, we would like to discuss the norms surrounding fashion and bodies. How does contemporary fashion media continue to maintain a thin ideal in Europe and Japan? How were standards regarding garment sizing and body appearance established?
Second, we will engage with female (role) models. Do Japanese female-led initiatives framed as pocchari (ぽっちゃり, ‘chubby’) provide an alternative approach to fashion and dress? What has been the impact of body activism pushed by influencers such as Ashley Graham or Naomi Watanabe ?
Lastly, we will consider perspectives on the future. How can brands make sure to not just see ‘fat fashion’ as a trend but implement lasting change? What is the potential of kimono as a size-adjustable garment in all of this?
While we will present some of our thoughts and perspectives at the start of each part, we aim to make this investigation very interactive and are looking forward to hearing your comments and insights as well.

Carolin Becke
Carolin obtained a PhD from the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield. Her thesis examined the recent popularity of kimono in Japan, drawing on her interdisciplinary research interests in Japanese society & culture, dress, gender, norms and deviance. As a cis-gendered woman from a middle class background, she aims to always be reflective about her privilege and keep an open mind to other people’s experiences.
Marion Gabrielle
Marion is currently doing a PhD at the School of Art and Design in Nottingham Trent University. Her multidisciplinary research focuses on the Creative Labour surrounding the Body in Fashion Editorials and their dissemination on Instagram. She’s also a photographer working with film and digital across fashion, portrait, landscape and travel.

Marion Gabrielle and Carolin Becke

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