Book Review: “The Clothes Make the Girl”

Clothes Make the Girl

“The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?” by Brittany Gibbons
c.2017, Dey Street $16.99 / $21.00 Canada 231 pages

Take a deep breath. Go ahead, suck it in. The jeans might fit that way, although you’ll still have a muffin top, guaranteed. You can say you’re bloated. You can say you’re full. Or, says Brittany Gibbons in her new book “The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?” you can own the word “fat” and it’s okay.

She’s said it before. She’s written about it, she’s blogged on it, and there’s no changing it: Gibbons is plus-size. And she’s gorgeous, which is something she doesn’t always feel, even as a fashion blogger and sometime-model. Part of the reason is that one-size-fits-all, doesn’t. Another part of the reason is because there are times when nothing feels right on her body.

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Not so long ago, plus-size clothes, with floral prints and polyester pants, were geared toward great-grandmas. On that, Gibbons’ mother was a seamstress, so Gibbons had the advantage of customization. Knowing the problem well, Gibbons quietly showed plus-size peers to the men’s department at her first “cool” job at a clothing store. There, big girls found generous cuts that fit. The lesson, she says, is to buy clothes for comfort, and ignore size tags. Truthfully, you’re the only one who’ll see them anyhow.

It’s a problem that men don’t have. Gibbons says her husband wears the same pants size, no matter where he gets his jeans. She owns 58 pairs of denim because women’s sizes are all over the place. That’s when the words she heard repeatedly while growing up in Toledo, Ohio, still resonate: “If it doesn’t fit, just take it off” and find something that does.

So wear the swimsuit. Get that Brazilian wax. Remember that we’re all human and we all have bodies. Let your children see the tummy that grew them and arms that held them. Notice that nobody’s noticing because nobody cares. And if you want to make sure your daughter loves her strong, healthy body, show her that you love yours.

Your arms jiggle. Your bra could double as a hammock. The jeans you wore B.C. (Before Children) wouldn’t fit in a million years. And once you’ve read “The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?” none of that will matter much.

Indeed, the author speaks the truth on the subject of fat, and she’s made it her mission to repeat this: “there is nothing wrong with your body.” Here, she explains the long journey she took to get to that point of acceptance and it’s LOL funny, righteous, thought-provoking and, oops, surprisingly TMI. It’s that last one that may give some readers pause. It’s fun to have that girl’s-night-out-with-wine feeling, but there are details in here that are cringe-worthy for many people.

Now warned, you won’t find those parts out of place, however, and they boost the overall confident message in this book. If you love who you are, or if you need to learn how, find “The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?” For those who are fluffy, it’s a breath of fresh air.