Posted on 08 March 2011.
Ah, the pain of U.S. women's clothing sizes
This past Saturday I went clothes shopping for the first time in a long time, and the first time since I started my diet efforts anew. It’s important to shop through your weight loss, celebrating the small victories — dropping a dress size, or even just fitting better into the same one. Despite the fact that I’ve shaved off a few inches and am fitting into my clothes better than before, attempting clothes shopping was a big ole reminder: I am NOT “normal,” I am fat, and JFC, I’m not sure I can remember the last time clothes shopping was actually enjoyable.
This is not just about being “fat” and feeling angst about buying clothes, it’s also about being, by all means, relatively NORMAL and not being able to buy clothes. I know it’s not just “fat girls” who suffer in shopping — the average American woman is size 14, but have you BEEN in any of the trendy, cute clothing stores recently? You’re lucky if they carry a size 12. Funnily enough, three days after I began this post (did I just break the “blogging timeline” fourth wall?), Jezebel posted on a similar topic: how the average woman (person?) likely has a range of 2-3 sizes or more in their closet. The author narrowed it down to a main culprit: no standardized sizes between clothing stores. You may be a medium in one store, a large in another, and an extra-large in yet another.
True, I feel this pain, and it is part of my frustration, but it’s not just that. My personal list of grievances:
- I am sick of trendy clothing shops where the largest size is a 12, and that 12 is cut small, essentially making it a 10 (or smaller).
- I am sick of having to wait years for trends that only flatter flat, thin people (helloooo rompers & drop-waist dresses!) to go out of style so I can replenish my wardrobe with dresses & skirts that are flattering.
- I am sick of going shopping and only being able to buy shirts, because they are the only thing in-store that actually fits me.
- I am sick of having to wear empire waist shirts that half the time make me look pregnant, because they are the only tops that will cover my “muffin top.”
- I am sick of only owning 3-5 pairs of pants, and really only *wearing* 1-2 of them on a regular basis, because finding pants that fit, are flattering AND comfortable is like the Holy Grail of Girls With Hips.
Seriously, guys: I own SO MANY FREAKING TOPS, and practically NO bottoms. Why? Because finding bottoms (pants, short & skirts) that fit, are flattering and comfortable is near impossible, and the mere THOUGHT of a bottom-focused shopping trip gives me hives. Zips not zipping, buttons not buttoning, muffin top (from minimal to OMG MAJOR SPILLAGE), getting skirts stuck on your hips (no, really, this happens), camel toe (ugggghhhhhhh), does this make my butt look big? (yes), etc. etc. etc. The mental anguish and psychological ups-and-downs of finding a new skirt or pair of pants to integrate into my repetoire is immense, and usually results in my going home to binge-eat potato chips & cookies. Instead, I prolong my fat girl denial buy getting the “new clothes high” from buying cute tops, over and over again. This time around, I decided to get out my anguish with blogging. Much “healthier,” no?
JFC, I hate only being able to buy tops in most stores
This week’s shopping trip blues were inspired by my old standard, Old Navy, and a brief pop into Anthropologie. At the former, I was annoyed once again by the 2010-2011 fashion trend of drop-waist dresses — seriously, these are NOT attractive on ANYONE with curves, or extra body fat. What looks good on a hanger makes me look like a dumpy bowling pin. I went in looking to buy a skirt or dress and came out with — you guessed it — two tops. BLASTED TOPS. This was annoying, but not so bad. Then I had the poor judgment of continuing on to Anthropologie. If I were a thin, rich person, I would wear Anthropologie exclusively. Heck, I’d just wear Anthropologie dresses every day for the rest of my life. I hadn’t been in an Anthropologie and actually looked at their clothing labels/examined them closely in years — probably more than ten, in part because, in my mind, I “can’t shop there.” I don’t know what compelled me to go in. I shouldn’t have.
What I found progressively sunk me into a mental funk — the largest size they carried was a size twelve, and upon close examination, the size twelve was *tiny*. Much smaller than I had been last I was a “size twelve” (in Gap sizes, at least). Even looking at their tops, I had no hopes of fitting them over my bust. When a fat girl can’t even default to buying tops, she goes to a dark, dark place. It was just a sad reminder — when you’re bigger, or even the American “normal,” you can’t shop at trendy, mainstream stores, or if you can, you’re lucky to squeeze into the largest size they carry. It was a dark day in my teens when I realized I could no longer shop at Express. While everyone was going apeshit for Charlotte Russe, I hung outside, coveting the cute, frilly (tiny) designs. H&M and I have a love-hate relationship, depending on the collection/brand (note to fat girls: Divided is sized *really* small). I don’t set foot in Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Forever 21 or any other store that is trendy for beautiful thin people — I just assume I don’t belong there, and move on.
I reckon this is another aspect of the “fat kid’s normal,” about which I’ve previously written. Correct me if I’m wrong, my thin friends, but I’m fairly sure “normal sized” individuals don’t own 8 million shirts but only four pairs of pants. The problem is, GREAT, I found *another* cute top but DAMMIT, I have nothing to pair it with! “Normal” people don’t steer clear of 80% of retail stores just so they don’t have to be reminded of how much they don’t fit in, literally.
I’m not saying the fashion industry has to conform to me so I can feel better about myself. In fact, usually people say “fat people have Lane Bryant” (except they would be more “PC” than I am, and wouldn’t say “fat people” XD), so there’s an “alternative.” Well, I am TOO SMALL FOR LANE BRYANT. Now, you’d think this would make me feel super good about myself, being able to go into Lane Bryant and wear the smallest size, but it doesn’t. It just reminds me that I don’t fit in with the real fat girls, either (and makes me annoyed at myself for whining). I’m in this weird, inbetween American “average” space where you only get to shop at Old Navy, Target and Walmart for clothing, because Lane Bryant is too big and Abercrombie, etc. is too small. The really depressing thing is that even once I’ve hit my personal goal — a size 10/12, I still won’t be able to shop at certain stores. My thin is still the fashion world’s “plus-sized.”
The point is: shopping for anyone who isn’t super thin and non-curvy SUCKS. (and even aside from fat vs. thin, there’s the issue of petite and tall individuals being up shit creek if they want to find clothing that fits properly). I’m not proposing a solution or hating on thin people, but rather I want to bring all my fellow clothing-shopping haters together. Are you drowning in tops but can’t find bottoms to save your life? Do you hate having to wait 3-4 years between fashion trends to find clothing that is flattering?
And don’t even get me started on shoe shopping XD