Thrift flipping, the ecological but fat-phobic trend


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It’s a recycling certainly creative, fun, ecological, but still not without problems; let’s talk about the thrift flipping, a trend linked to fashion that has taken off from social media, finding more and more consensus among the very young.

What is thrift flipping?

The term takes its origin from “thrift”, which means thrift, and “flipping”, borrowed from the real estate language, in which the word is used to describe an operation in which a property is bought, restructured and resold to a price that takes into account the interventions performed and the maximum achievable profit.

Let’s talk about the art of alter and personalize second-hand garments, for example by adapting clothes of different sizes to your body.

Birth and history of thrift flipping

As mentioned, we are facing a trend born and developed mainly on social media, in particular on Tik Tok. There, in June of last year, the TikToker Mariel Guzma showed how she revisited a pair of men’s jeans, size 44, cutting and sewing them to fit her physique.

The video was very popular, as it got more than 500,000 likes and 3,000 comments, and the hashtag #thriftflip earned some 750 million views.

The positives of thrift flipping

Given that Generation Z seems to pay particular attention to eco-sustainability, the idea of ​​thrift flipping combines the desire of young people to follow the trends of the moment with the need to do something more for the environment, a theme that has become of primary interest also for the peaceful struggles of Greta Thunberg, thanks also to recycling, for example.

While the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions and about 85% of textiles ends up in US landfills, kids seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Seen in this way, everything would seem perfect, and apparently there would not seem to be a single negative aspect of this new trend. But yet, things are not exactly like that.

Thrift flipping and fatphobia

More than one argues that thrift flipping would only develop, or sharpen, the fatophobia; this is because in the vast majority of the videos posted on social networks there are very skinny girls who buy used clothes, generally of much larger sizes than theirs, and reshape them adapting them to their body.

The storytelling itself of thrift flip videos has some elements attributable to fat phobia, such as the “before” and “after” of the garments worn, which are a rather accurate mirror of how society sees large sizes and, consequently, who wears them. . At the beginning of the clips the creator, generally thin, wears clothes that appear baggy, and make him look awkward and clumsy; once fixed, the creator also suddenly becomes more attractive.

A fatophobic drift with which some scholars seem to agree, such as the associate professor of Instruction in Sociology at Temple University and author of Fashioning Fat: Inside Plus-Size Modeling, Amanda M. Czerniawski:

[Questi video] they conform to stereotypes about fatty bodies, which are generally considered unhealthy, unruly, lazy and undesirable. It is as if I take an extra-large garment and give it a new shape, working on it just like I would work on a fat body, training it and toning it to get it back to the correct shape.

Nor does the theory of thrift pinball machines seem to hold up, according to which, if they didn’t buy these extra large items, they would end up in landfills; denies it for example Vaughn Stafford Gray, lifestyle writer and former Associate Professor of Business at Humber College:

The pieces that remain on the shelves for about a year return to collections for the homeless or to those destined for shelters. Even if something remains there, it will be recycled and only ultimately sent to landfill – in any case, he adds – Most of the clothes are actually sold, because there are families who can only afford to buy in thrift stores.

Another problem related to thrift flipping is also the fact that, if people with a build considered “standard” buy extra large sizes in order to reshape those clothes to adapt them to their body, this means that there is not enough stock for those who instead it actually needs those sizes.

And this becomes an important discriminant if we think in terms of “opportunities” offered to people with sizes that go beyond an M: as the writer and Fat Influencer perfectly explains Chaya Milchtein.

If I go to Goodwill there are no items in my size. In the rare cases that I find them, they are often sloppy and out of date, certainly not something a 25-year-old girl like me would like to dress up. It’s not the TikToker turning a ‘my size’ shirt into a crop top that hurts me. What hurts me is people who don’t allow me to have enough sustainable clothing to wear. They are the ones who are creating the problem.


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