The website Fat Girl Flow is about plus size fashion, but also so much more. As founder Corissa Enneking states on the site, it's the intersection of that, challenging toxic views, sharing pretty things she loves, and triumphs through adversity, among many other aspects.
For something that started with Enneking “messing around on Tumblr ten years ago,” as she says, her once-blog, now blog-and-clothing-company, Fat Girl Flow, has grown far beyond reblogging posts. Granted, her not-insubstantial 24,000 followers were nothing to sneeze at, so Enneking's decision to move from the social media platform to her own site wasn't without good reason. Plus, as she says, the timing was right.
“Definitely before everyone was blogging, but definitely on the cusp – it was starting to become a thing,” says Enneking in her office, located above Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. “I was thinking, 'Y'know, maybe I'll take this Tumblr thing legit and see if anyone will go for it.'”
One of the people whom she'd met on Tumlr was her friend, Joe, who had a hosting company called Accelerated Worpress, as well as a ton of information on how to get started. So, when Enneking made the decision to start blogging, the site's been growing and changing almost continuously since it launched in 2015. It hit the ground running, as Enneking says enthusiastically.
“I feel really grateful,” Enneking states. “Since the beginning, I've had a mentor. Since I started with it, I didn't stop – I went full-force.”
About eight months after the Fat Girl Flow blog started, Enneking started a companion YouTube channel. As she researched and followed other channels, she realized that people were doing merchandise for their shows. She started a line of shirts with the Fat Girl Flow logo on them, but quickly ran into a problem.
“No-one could find a size over 3X to save their lives,” she recalls with a bit of resignation. They did a small run with another company, and it did all right, but the lack of options was still an issue – that is, until a little over a year ago, when her friend, Mallory Wright, brought to Enneking's attention the possibilities that existed with Blue Collar Press.
Wright, who became Enneking's account manager at Merchtable, took the opportunity to tell the company owner all of the things a local company could do. Enneking was excited:
“So, there's actually somebody in Lawrence who can do this, and I can actually physically meet with the people I'm talking to?”
Still, they ran into the same problem, in that sourcing shirts above a 3X or 4X was a difficulty, and even the shirts that they could find were boxy, unisex styles that were definitely more functional than fashionable.
“I'm not saying that a unisex shirt doesn't have its place – they're great, and I think a lot of people get a lot of use from them,” Enneking points out, but she goes on to explain that her audience was not loving it as their only option. So, from there, it became fairly apparent that there was a need for Fat Girl Flow to create their own line of t-shirts, from the ground up.
“There's this thing in the plus-size community where we're always getting second-best,” continues Enneking. “It's not hard – we just want pretty-looking clothes. That feels pretty simple.”
Enneking says that it's less a matter of things being difficult, and more a cyclical aspect of the fashion industry not being willing to take the step of making clothing for the plus-sized market, because they don't think the market will buy them, then when they make substandard things, the market doesn't buy them, and then the argument starts all over again.
“You really have to let people know that you're doing this for them, and that you have their best interests in mind,” she explains, offering up a counterargument to the usual suggestion that people should just buy what's available and be happy with it.
“For us, the 5X and 6X's are the first thing that sell out,” Enneking says. “They fly, so people will buy – you just have to put the small amount of effort into letting them trust you.”
To that end, she met with Sean Ingram, and he got in contact with designers behind the iconic American Apparel tees, and explained the unique opportunity that Enneking and her idea represented.
“We were both on the same page,” Enneking says of her work with Ingram. “The thing is – nothing fancy has to happen, right? Plus-sized people just want access to the same shit everybody else has. It's not that magical: we just want a soft, cotton-blend shirt. How difficult can that possibly be?”
There was a mock-up made, Enneking tried it on, they made adjustments as to whether or not it needed to be longer, or if the sleeves needed to be shorter, and so on, and she describes the entire process as being “pretty cool.”
Also cool? The absolutely inclusive aspect of the Fat Girl Flow brand. In addition to the Fat Girl Flow logo tees, crewnecks, and croptops, as well as FGF Basics line, which offers up perfect tees, raglans, and croptops, there's the amazing Pronoun Packs. These offer up an enamel pronoun pin, several stickers, including a "Hello My Pronouns Are" sticker, a “Break the Binary” sticker proudly representing the trans flag colors, 20 “Hey friend, you misgendered me” cards, and an “ask me about my pronouns” button to get the conversation started.
“My focus has always been body positivity,” Enneking explains, and while the phrase may have been bastardized over the years, to Fat Girl Flow's founder, it's still strong. “To me, the focus is giving equal respect, dignity, and love to every body: every trans body, every black body, every fat body. It's a very inclusive thing, and for me, in my mind, when I think about designing products, I want everybody to feel included. I don't want people to feel, 'This is something I don't get.'”
Story: Nick Spacek
Photo: Hallie Sigwing