Shopping While Fat: It Must Get Better

May 21, 2012  |  

It seems that having very thick thighs, a huge butt and big breasts has become the unholy trinity of clothes shopping. For us fuller figured sisters and brothers, it can also be a demoralizing experience when having to find clothing that is both stylish and in your size. Floral prints, elastic waist shirts and jeans with no real shape are the new moo-moo dresses. Add to that the lack of consistent sizing and more importantly, lack of stores that cater to the plus size individual. Sure, we have Ashley Stewart and Lane Bryant (at least the women do), but the selections at both of these stores usually force uniformity in style that is only reveled by those futuristic movies in which everyone has to dress the same. Not to mention the hefty price tag that often comes with clothes you only get because they are in your size. In today’s world of fashion, there is little to no room for the trendy plus size diva, at least not at the mall.

If half the American population is considered overweight/obese, why the heck are clothing companies and department stores still neglecting to cater to their ever-expanding audience? While there are catalog and online stores, which cater to plus size shoppers, I don’t want to have to wait three to four weeks, or order in advance of a party I got coming up, for a dress, which I will more than likely have to ship back when it neglects to look or fit the way it did on the picture in the catalog or online. I want to get in my car, drive to the mall and try on clothes in the changing room like normal folks do. You know why? Because I’m normal and I’m average, dammit. And the last thing I like to be is fat shamed because the designers and their department store cohorts decided that being heavier is bad for business. Oh, you think I’m exaggerating? Well, peep game:

Researchers from Rice University in Texas did a study in 2005 with skinny women dressed in fat suits (um, why didn’t they just use fat women?), the results of which found that sales personnel were more rude to the seemingly obese women — avoiding eye contact and often rushing the sale. The only exception in treatment is if the overweight women were professionally dressed or if they mentioned that they were trying to lose weight. This is the kind of stuff that bigger shoppers must endure just to get some damn pants. Sure, we try to keep a positive attitude about our bodies while shopping. However, the constant internal battle that wages every time you have to reassure yourself to not take it personally when you can’t get a leg into a pair of pants, even if they are designated as your size – remind us of just how we don’t belong.

At the end of the day, feeling comfortable and looking well put together is all anyone wants out of their clothing. That includes fat people. And having all of those elements in the shopping experience means creating an environment where all customers can walk into a store and see a stellar line of clothing in a variety of styles and sizes for customers of all tastes and sizes. Fat folks don’t have a single fashion sense. Some people want to wear leggings and hot pink capris. Some fat folks are vintage hipsters. Some want sharp business suits while others are feminine and frilly. And some folks like me just want a damn size 14/XL. Is that too much to ask for?

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