“Today’s woman.” That is name of the plus size clothes section at Belk, a Southern department store. I will commend them on their effort to acknowledge that sizes are changing, but get real: nothing about this section says today’s women! The average size of women these days is a 14. But you would never know it by the way clothing stores size their clothes. I am 25 years old and I want to wear trendy clothing that flatters my figure or hides the bulge. I do NOT want to wear bright orange cargo capris or a muumuu.
This reminds me of memory from my childhood. I am not quite sure how old I was – about 7 probably. My parents and I were shopping at this store called Added Dimensions (seriously. that is what it was called). I’m not sure what provoked my father to speak, but he said, “If you keep eating the way you do, you ‘ll have to shop here, too.” At the time, I had no idea that it was a plus size store, but from that moment on, I knew what it meant.
My father didn’t mean harm by what he said, but, man, was he right: shopping for clothing over the size of 14 is DIFFICULT. “Plus” size feels like segregation. I understand that even though the average size of women is a size 14, it probably shouldn’t be and that the country is facing a weight crisis. However, I know that I am above average, so does this mean I can’t wear cute clothes?
I am going to say something that may be controversial, but it must be said: “I do not want to be a size 0 EVER.” (Obviously, I don’t count those “clever” clothing stores that starts their sizing off at 0 -4 as in XL XXL XXXL XXXXL.) My overall weight loss goal is to be able to go into a “normal” store go to the rack and find my size. I do not want to go to a “special” section of the store. I do not want to go to the seperate store (and no I am not talking about Abercombie and Fitch versus Abercombie Kids). Most importantly, I do not want to have to exclusively shop online, which is currently what I’ve been doing. I understand the “obesity epidemic” is a huge cause for concern, but as an avid fashionista wannabe, it is difficult to feel good about shopping when I can’t buy the clothes in the stores my friends shop at. Which brings me to my next point.
A lot of my friends don’t understand why I don’t want to go shopping at the mall. Shopping when you are “plus size” is shameful and traumatizing. My friends will say that The Limited, Express, White House Black Market, J Crew, Banana Republic, Forever 21 is having a sale and we should go. Here is what I think when I hear those names: Eloquii (the Limited has a SEPARATE store online for “plus size fashion”); Express (please; they only go up to large and size 12); WHBM (size 12), J Crew (size 12, and who am I kidding; I’m not rich); Banana Republic (size 12); Forever 21 (they have Forever 21+ online). Now explain to me why I would want to go to the mall and shop?
I realize this might be a rant. But my pain is real. Shopping when you lose weight is great; imagine going from a size 22 to size 14. I am so proud to have lost weight and I should be, yet I am still segregated because I have yet to achieve the coveted size 0 or even size 2 so many of us long to be. I do not want to go to the store to buy clothes in the basement because that is where the store’s plus size clothes are located. I do not want to be confined to the back of every rack as if hiding the larger size is going to be the deterrent to being bigger. I do not want to have to play russian rulette clothing size style every time I go to shop online. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is anything like what African American’s dealt with during the Jim Crow Laws. However, segregation within clothing sizes gives me anxiety, makes me feel like less of a person, and contributes to emotional stress which can lead to me over eating. I already look in the mirror and don’t like what I see must I also go to store and be shunned too?
Lastly, I want to shout out a blogger I recently discovered that quite honestly moved me to create our blog and helped me find clothes that fit me. Gabbi is a “plus size” fashion blogger who I discovered when she was on the today show sporting what they call a “fatkini”. I was inspired by Gabi’s willingness to push the envelope and force people to see that you can be stylish at any size. This doesn’t mean she is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle she is promoting “love thy self” Something Elle and I are striving for along with weight loss and health.Gabi lists a plethora of stores that are mostly online, and although it’s not the most convenient way to shop it has certainly helped to inspire me to buy clothes and not continue to wear stretchy pants and t-shirts till I lose weight. I think that even in our transition phase EVERYONE deserves to purchase a piece of clothing that makes them feel sexy in any size and shape. I don’t want to shop online forever but until clothing stores get a clue and start making clothes for everyone, I’ll have to make due with what is on the market.
If any of you share my struggle OR have suggestions for transitioning sizes I’d love to hear from you!