I heard about a cool store in Brooklyn on one of my favorite NPR shows recently. The host interviewed the owner of Lee Lee’s Valise, a plus size clothing boutique. Lisa Dolan is a plus size designer, and she is starring in a TLC reality TV show “Big Brooklyn Style”. I loved what Lisa Dolan had to say:
DOLAN: Right. What they do is they have a pattern made, let’s say it goes up to a size 12. They take the same pattern and they just extend it as if we grow and get bigger like that big plastic man you see by the used car lot…That’s not how we get bigger. You need to start a new pattern that accounts for curves. Not just a big boxy item that’s thrown over you, it’s something that actually flatters your figure.
Dolan was awesome and cool. She seemed really comfortable with herself and in her own skin. Although I love the host of the NPR show for her willingness to talk about race and women’s issues and push her guests to answer questions on these issues, she buys into the NPR party line on the “obesity epidemic” and I was disappointed with her on this interview; she really pushed the idea that having a plus sized boutique was somehow wrong or damaging because it might encourage people to feel okay about being plus sized. She asked the question three separate times during the interview, which was only 9 minutes long:
MARTIN: Yeah. I hear what you’re saying. It’s just there’s an argument that the fact that there are more services and businesses out there catering to the plus-sized customer is not necessarily a good thing. And I know that’s a hard thing to…
DOLAN: Listen, I’ve had people walk in off the street say that I was advocating obesity because I had clothes to fit them. That’s wrong. That is just wrong. Clothing is a necessity. Fashion is a necessity for a woman. So put them together and you have Lee Lee’s Valise.
On the one hand, I would never have heard this obviously generous and gracious woman speak about her store and her passion if Michel Martin hadn’t interviewed her (since I don’t watch TLC), but I could have definitely done without the fat shaming. At what point is it okay to suggest that we shouldn’t have decent clothing for people of all body types because we don’t approve of some body types? I would expect that on an MRA forum but not in responsible journalism.