chapter  2
23 Pages

‘Shapewear or nothing to wear’

The ambiguity of shapewear in the plus-size fashion market
WithDaiane Scaraboto, Maria Carolina Zanette

This chapter examines plus-size female consumers’ relations with a category of objects that has historically mediated women’s relations with fashion and their bodies: shapewear. It explores how shapewear allows fatshionistas to cross boundaries between conformity and non-conformity to societal and fashion norms, all the while debating matters of oppression and empowerment for fat women. The fat acceptance movement is a loosely organized assemblage that came into existence out of a desire on the part of founding actors to change attitudes about fat in contemporary Western societies. Shapewear appeals to both femininity and feminism. Shapewear occupies an iconic position in the history of fashion. Shapewear has certain capacities to act in body-centered assemblages, which get actualized depending on the other elements to which it relates in the assemblage. As shapewear companies market their products based on messages of empowerment and entrepreneurship, it is clear that such discourses filter through to consumers.