Disarticulating ‘fatness’: Design Activism and the Counter-hegemonic Practices of Co-designing Clothing with Plus-size Women

Chad Story, Ben Barry, Sandra Tullio-pow, Sam Abel, Kirsten Schaefer


This paper provides analysis from a participatory design project wherein an intersectional group of women co-designed clothing intended to meet the aesthetic, functional, emotional, and symbolic needs of plus-size bodies (20+). The work of the collective is as much an exercise in fashion co-design as it is a defiant act of activism intended to dissolve, displace, and contest normative categories used to articulate some bodies as beautiful, desirable, and accepted, and others as failed, ugly, and/or sick. We build upon the concept of articu-lation to consider how co-design, in the spirit of activism, might be taken up as a counter-hegemonic practice used to disarticulate the boundaries that demarcate categories of Other-ness, giving way to space(s) where individuals can try on alternative subjectivities.

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