Ragini Nag Rao is the brains behind A Curious Fancy. She has a quirky sense of style, is brimming with body positivity and, one day, wants to make her own cheese. We literally couldn’t wait to find out more...
How has your personal style evolved over the years?
When I first started blogging, my style was very much influenced by 60s mod fashion. It still is, to a great extent, and I especially love putting together mod themed outfits in autumn/winter because they just go with the season! I was also a bit of a maximalist when I first started, but over the years my style has veered more towards the minimal. I’ve come to prefer classic pieces and oversized silhouettes. Comfort is a huge priority for me so these days I lean towards styles that I can comfortably lounge in all day while looking chic and pulled together.
You say you ‘don’t care much for the idea of ‘flattering’ clothes’. Can you explain more about that?
When I think of flattering clothes, I think of certain elements in garment design and styling that refuse to budge from the plus fashion world, no matter how outdated they are otherwise. Stuff like nipped in waists, pencil skirts, manmade fibres, cowl necks, ruching...I could go on! And most of these elements exist to create the illusion of thinness or aspire towards it at the very least. Flattering clothes exist to try and make fat people look smaller, more acceptable to the mainstream. And I’m rather strongly opposed to the idea that my body somehow needs to be disguised in order to make it palatable to the rest of the world. Moreover, flattering clothing restricts you to just a handful of styles, which completely defeats the point of fashion. Fashion isn’t meant to be flattering or even pretty, it’s a means of expression and an artistic one at that. I’d much rather have a full and varied life with a full and varied wardrobe than a flattering one. I’d rather wear something that makes me look like an adorable doughball while letting me express myself aesthetically, than something that nips in my waist and elongates my legs and generally tries to box me into an uncomfortable mould.
When and why did you decide to start blogging?
I started blogging about fashion a very long time ago, almost a lifetime ago in fashion years. That would be in 2009, although A Curious Fancy dates back to 2010. I once tried to recap the not so brief history of my relationship with clothes, which I guess would serve as a backstory of sorts. Throughout the years I’ve fallen in and out of love with so many ideas and identities but the one constant I’ve always come back to is fashion. There’s something about dressing up, from the nitpicky process of co-ordinating a daily outfit to the sociocultural-historical impact of fashion at large that keeps drawing me back in. I don’t think I could ever fall out of love with pretty clothes, mostly because I can’t ever remember not being in love with them. They’re integral to who I am.
What response do you get from your followers?
I don’t have a huge number of followers compared to many other bloggers! But the followers I do have seem to believe in what I do, which is something I’ll never stop being grateful for. I get something like 3-4 messages and emails every week from people who follow me just to let me know how I’ve helped them with their body image with the work I put online. That’s always the most important and meaningful thing about blogging to me.
What are your thoughts on the term ‘plus-size’ within the fashion industry?
When describing people (including myself) I prefer using fat because I don’t believe that fat should have any negative connotations and using it as a neutral, everyday term helps disperse the stigma surrounding fatness. In the fashion industry, however, use of the term plus size makes shopping for clothes a lot easier. If larger sizes are clearly not marketed or advertised as plus size, that makes it all the more difficult to actually find plus size clothing. And even though plus size retail has come a long way in the past decade, most brands still don’t carry sizes larger than a 14 or 16. So when plus size clothing is clearly marketed as such, that makes it a lot easier for people to know which stores they can shop at and just generally save a lot of time and disappointment.
You have a wonderfully quirky style, have you always had it?
Thank you! I’ve always found myself drawn towards unique, one-of-a kind pieces. I’m still terrible at buying wardrobe basics because it’s all too easy to lure me with a standout print or detail. I think having a wardrobe full of quirky pieces and very few basics is what gives my style its touch of eccentricity!
Do you think the public and media perception of plus-size women is changing?
It’s difficult to tell. If you ask women on the larger end of plus, they’d tell you that no, it isn’t. Fatphobia has always existed on a sliding scale - the larger you are, the worse you’re treated by the world around you. I don’t think that there’s been much change in perception where people who face the worst of fat discrimination are concerned. The goalposts might have been moved by just a little bit in this decade but the beauty ideal largely remains thin, able-bodied and white. Plus size models are still models and usually on the smallest end of fat, if that. It’s still a ridiculously unrealistic ideal to tell fat women to aspire to.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
When I’m not blogging, I’m usually engaged in some kind of domestic Godessing. I love to cook and bake, I have plants to look after, and once in a while I get caught up in some DIY project. Since last year I’ve also been learning German so that’s something I do a little bit of every day!
You’re obviously brimming with body confidence! What would you say to other plus size women who are not?
Haha, thank you! It didn’t come in a day or a year, and it’s still a work in progress. I expect it to always be a work in progress because that’s what accepting your body is. It’s something I have to do every day. For me, body confidence isn’t so much a thing as living confidently in my body. It’s like walking, or breathing - I don’t have to think about it very much, it’s just what I do. But it took me years to become this comfortable living as a fat positive person. I had to put in a lot of active, hard work and get to a certain level of self knowledge before I could be this comfortable with myself and my body. That’s probably what I’d tell other fat women who are struggling with their body image. It’s hard work and you will find yourself giving up and giving into self deprecation so many times at first. But if you are patient with yourself and keep on working at accepting yourself as you are, there will come a point after which you’ll never look back because confidence would become a part of who you are.
Finally, where will we find you in 10 years time?
I’d always wanted to get into homesteading, have a little farm of my own, make my own butter and cheese - that sort of thing. Hopefully that’s what I’d be doing 10 years from now!