Clothes-minded

It’s hard to be fat and dress well. It’s hard not to dress well and be taken seriously. It’s hard not to be taken seriously and make money. It’s hard not to make money and to dress well. Make sense?

A couple of weeks ago, I went shopping for an outfit to wear to a wedding – “cocktail attire” required.  Oy, I thought. What the hell am I going to be wear? Maybe a tent? (This is where I go – it’s where society tells me to go, and I listen.) I joke, but am also dead serious. I went to the mall, to all the usual department stores – Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom. To the plus sized department – “Women’s,” they call it. Usually it’s tucked away in a corner. I’m always amazed by what I find in these departments. I guess designers don’t understand that large-bodied women don’t have the same lines as thin ones. So they take dresses and tops that look good on thin women and blow them up. Like the Disney movie – “Honey, I Blew Up the Dress.” Everything I tried on looked horrible on me. Everything was form-fitting – only not for my form.

After three hours of trying on more clothes than I could count, I had found nothing. Well, that’s not totally true – I found one dress that fit, but was so dowdy that I looked like the maiden aunt who had one dress that she had worn for 20 or 30 years. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I left the mall, got into my car, and burst into tears. I sobbed – huge, wracking sobs. Wanted to cancel my trip to NYC and the wedding I had been looking forward to. Wanted to die.

Luckily, a wonderful friend/family member told me about a local boutique that had clothes for the likes of me. You know, the “big girl.” (You should know that I’m not big – I’m pretty short. I’m just fat.) I picked myself up the next day, dreading the expected outcome at this store. I knew I wouldn’t find anything. I didn’t deserve to. It was my fault for letting myself get so fat. I was such a loser (not of pounds, of course). I walked in, was greeted by a saleswomen, and nearly broke down in tears. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and I told her what I was looking for. She nodded, and brought me a dress that I LOVED! I figured I would look horrible in it, but tried it on anyway. It was transformative! For the first time in days, I smiled. Grinned! I looked good. I was fat AND I looked good. It wasn’t the right dress for the wedding, but I bought it anyway – and wore it to the brunch the day after the wedding. Two other saleswomen got into the act, and kept bringing me things to try on. I put on a dress that made me look and feel…dare I say…sexy! More importantly, I actually FELT like I belonged in my body. I haven’t felt that way in years. Many, many years.

Why is this so hard? Why, in a country with so many obese women, are there so few clothes that make us look and feel good? I honestly believe the garment industry doesn’t care enough about us to design to our bodies’ needs. We’re deemed not to be worth the trouble. Truly, I believe that.

I’m not buying it any more – and I’m not buying clothes that cover me up so much that I am in a virtual tent. Nor am I putting anything on my body that is designed for someone who wears a size 6. It’s an insult to who I am. And what I deserve.

My two cents.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Medford, MA, part time with my 11 year-old daughter and full time with our dog, Toast, and our cats, Samson and Hercules.
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8 Responses to Clothes-minded

  1. You go girl. I don’t know whether you can see what is happening here from my perspective. You speaking your truth out in the open, apologetically, is amazing. It takes a long long time of tears to get to where you are now. Bravo for you. You have just turned a corner, keep going.

  2. Thanks so much, Louise. I hope you’re right. It feels that way to me, too.

  3. I think these days clothes are sucky in all sizes. I don’t see much out there that suits me.
    But I also agree that people, probably even myself, look at an overweight person and think negative things, lazy for one, not loving or caring about themselves, another. It does not enter their thought realm that the person has fought a life battle of safety and that it takes great determination to keep a heavy body so that one feels safe from others, the very opposite trait of laziness. And that keeping a heavy body, hence a larger body, not only offers a feeling of safely and power, but in the person’s own way, is self loving and caring, organically necessary for survival.

  4. missmaddie95 says:

    Thank God for people like you. The way clothing stores make clothes for “plus-sized” women is just another way of society shaming women into hating their bodies. Every PERSON deserves to feel good in their own skin, regardless of their size, and should have clothing available to flatter their shape. Stay strong, and stay vocal about it! I loved this post(: Care to check out my blog? Downwiththenorm.com

    M.

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