Fattie Book Review: Life is Not a Dress Size

Life is Not a Dress Size: Rita Farro’s Guide to Attitude, Style and a New You.

Life Is Not a Dress SizeIt had great potential but is a bit out of date (okay, quite a bit out of date: 1996) and while it is encouraging in how often the refrain of dressing well no matter your size is repeated; there is a lot of talk about showing off “assets” which always end up amounting to those bits of your body that are skinniest (or “bustiest). Weight is referred to in alternating “don’t worry about it” and “it’s a problem but let’s work around it” tones which gets a bit confusing at times.  In the intro, for example, Rita states: “Having a weight problem is one thing; letting it determine how you live your life is quite another.” But yet towards the end of that same intro we have this beautiful encouragement: “Please don’t let your weight stop you from having a life –  reveling in and enjoying the moments you should be stringing together.” Brings to mind very much the idea of putting the fantasy of “life will be better/best when I’m thinner” aside and living very much in the “now” instead; even if it happens to be a Fat Now instead of a Thin Now.

The refreshing attitude woven through the text brought a smile to my lips more than once.  Rita offers many ways to consider beginning to think of your own body as worthy of good fashion Right Now, As Is, Without Changing Size/Shape/Etc. Again there are those little drops in the bucket here and there scattered throughout which reference only accepting the size you are now For Now but from the way they appear it may have been an editor’s suggested addition or even the normal peeking-out of the human tendency (female tendency?) to preface things with qualifiers.  Still it is an encouraging bit of work especially when you consider that it has been out for over 12 years!

This guide does not do it for me for the fashion tips themselves unless you’re looking to grin at some of what was considered 10 years ago to be “classic” looks (“Christina Christmas Tree” shaped people? Wearing stirrup pants to accentuate…anything??) but for the commentary text woven through the fashion suggestions I was willing to keep turning pages.

I would even consider this a good intro book for someone just getting word of this whole concept of dressing for fit and comfort and not worrying about the pant size number; the whole idea of fat acceptance/size acceptance/SELF acceptance. Though, again, many of the suggested styles are not as “classic” as the author believed them to have been when it was written in 1996!

Rating: ♦♦♦◊◊


3 thoughts on “Fattie Book Review: Life is Not a Dress Size

  1. There’s virtually no style that’s as classic as someone thinks it is during the brief time it’s actually in fashion. This is something I’ve learned in spending well over half my lifetime as an amateur fashion history junkie. That’s why it’s always important to take this year’s (or season’s) playbook with a grain of salt.

    Still, the idea that twelve years ago a book was out on the market telling fat women that they can dress well, too – even if just until you lose that pesky weight! – is kind of cool.

  2. I love her book! I remember when I first looked it over wanting to make half the items in there, especially her car-wash skirt. I’m one of those people who always wears bright colors, no matter what my size.

    She and her friend, fellow sewing author Mary Mulari, travel around now and then giving lectures as the Mid-West Ya-Ya Sisters. You can find the schedule of their upcoming appearances on Mary’s web site here:

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