Disclaimer: This piece reflects the writer’s opinion and compiled opinions of others on the subject matter. It does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of WORLD OF BUZZ.
I came across an article by i-D on Instagram a few days ago and was stumped by it. You can read it here but let me give you a brief summary of the whole article:
There was a trend on Tik Tok with the hashtag #thriftflip with over 700 million views where people seemingly bought oversized clothing from thrift stores and altered it to smaller sizes for a better fit.
One TikToker by the name of @marielguzma did a video where she thrifted a size 44 men’s shorts before proceeding to tailor and distress them to fit her body. The video gained over half a million likes and over 3,000 comments with some pretty distasteful responses.
flipping men’s size 44 shorts I got for 99cents✨✨ #thriftstorefind #Diyshorts #thriftflip #thriftshopping #thriftstore #ArtSkills
i-D explained that “thrift flipping” is the act of buying second-hand clothing and altering the garments. This act is said to be subtly promoting fatphobia as most of the videos with this hashtag features young and slim-looking women buying oversized clothing before transforming them into a whole other garment.
They explained that this trend causes problems for thrift stores as now they would lack supply of oversized items due to high demand from people who actually need plus-size clothing.
” ‘Before’ and ‘after’ shots in thrift flip videos echo an ugly truth about the way society thinks about bigger clothes and the bodies that fit them,” said i-D.
They explained that in most of their videos, TikTokers would purposely slouch in “ugly garments” and then pose nicely after “fixing” the garments. In the article, an Associate Professor of Instruction in Sociology at Temple University and author of Fashioning Fat: Inside Plus-Size Modeling, Amanda M. Czerniawski, said that these videos feed societal expectations and beliefs about body types especially plus-sized bodies as being unhealthy, undisciplined, and undesirable.
I love flipping T-shirts 🥺💕 #thriftflip #sewing #diy #fyp #foryou #foryoupage
Netizens have mixed opinions about ‘thrift flipping’ where some agree it is fatphobic and takes away clothes from less fortunate plus-sized people who buy from thrift stores. However, others disagree and said that there is no scarcity of plus-sized clothing in the industry and that thrift stores have plenty of supplies for everyone.
There is some truth to that.
Yes, society’s standards for body and image are shallow. While it’s not hard to find plus-sized clothing, it’s hard to find one that has a flattering fit and trendy design because most trendy clothes are made by the industry to fit better on slimmer people.
The industry somehow sets higher prices for bigger-sized clothing because “it needs more fabric”. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? Some people naturally have bigger or abnormal body sizes due to various factors such as genetics and sickness but the industry makes you pay more to buy bigger-sized clothing that has the SAME DESIGN as smaller sizes.
Hence, this is a contributing factor to why a lot of people turn to thrift shops for bigger sized clothings. Rather than slamming ‘re-fashionistas’ for doing thrift flipping with oversized clothing, maybe we should blame the industry instead, for mass producing and promoting small sizes.
Is thrift flipping fatphobic?
In my opinion, it isn’t.
In those TikTok videos, people demonstrate their creativity by repurposing unwanted clothings to something that fits them. This does not mean that you always need oversized clothing to do as such. You can grab any old items of clothing from your closet that you do not wear anymore and alter it into a whole different outfit. For example, here’s a TikToker who used her old shirt for a thrift flip:
Another tanky top DIY Idk who originally did this I’ve seen a lot of diff variations but i was inspired by @odeliasheelo !! #thriftflip #diy #sewing
Anyone can do it regardless of body size. If you cannot find anything trendy in your size, why not make it? Despite my amateur skills in sewing, YouTube videos and blogposts nowadays do have step-by-step guides on how to repurpose old clothing which makes it easier to follow!
Here’s one by Evelyn Wood on tips for beginner sewing and refashioning:
How about the supply of clothing in thrift stores?
As someone who often visits thrift stores, there are clothes of various sizes in supply but most of them are in bigger sizes. There is no shortage of clothing sizes in these stores as they get restocks every other week. Plus, it is not illegal to enjoy wearing oversized clothing and I personally do not think shopping in thrift stores takes away opportunities for the less fortunate or plus-sized.
Rather, it discourages fast fashion and it’s much more environmentally friendly compared to buying from fashion chains. Typically, clothes that are taken off the rack in fashion chains usually either end up in thrift stores or in landfills (which are harmful to the environment).
IT’S 2021! Do not let society bully you into following a “social standard”. We live in an era where people are much more outspoken about societal conformity and are more open about body image. TL;DR I would say just do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable with your own body.
Also read: Meet The M’sian Designers That Can Transform Your Thrift Findings Into One Of A Kind Pieces