I’ve been a clotheshorse since I was old enough to have opinions on clothes. My taste in clothes has always tended toward the loud, outlandish, and improbable – my mother would complain about the various getups in which I would traipse off to school, saying that they looked more like costumes than outfits. My mother is a big fan of shopping, and we did a lot of great bonding at the mall (when she wasn’t looking at me incredulously asking “do you really want to wear that?”) Clothes made me happy, and shopping made me happy.
I was thin when I was younger, which made clothes shopping easy – I could always find cute things in my size, and a lot of clothes looked good on me. When I started to put on weight in my twenties, finding cute clothes that fit became more and more difficult. It was a gradual progression: mediums became larges, which became extra larges. Then the extra larges got a little snug. My clothes had always tended towards the two extremes – very tight and revealing, or super baggy. The tight clothes phased out of my wardrobe the heavier I got, and the baggy clothes were becoming not-so-baggy.
I stopped shopping for clothes.
It wasn’t a conscious decision. It wasn’t really a decision at all. I just…stopped. I wore my jeans until they became too ratty for public consumption. I had a lot of t-shirts that, if not as big as they once were, still fit. I wore clothes until they fell apart, and replaced them only when necessary, and grudgingly at that. I didn’t set foot in a mall or a clothes store for probably two years.
I managed to clothe my nakedness on a daily basis, but clothes were no longer the fun, joyful expression that they had always been.
I discovered fat acceptance in July of 2009, and with it came the shocking realization that fat bodies deserve nice clothes, too. It sounds so simple, so stupid when I put it that way, but it was revolutionary in its effect on me. I didn’t have to wait until I was thin to buy nice clothes. I didn’t have to punish myself for weighing more than society deems appropriate. I could go out and buy all sorts of awesome, stylish, loud, improbable clothes that fit the body I have. I could go shopping.
I’m not going to say that the world of plus-sized fashion is expansive and perfect – heaven knows it’s not. Decent-looking plus-sized clothes are rare and precious creatures, often wildly overpriced and poorly made. I can only think of three local stores/chains that carry clothes in my size. Three. When I go to the local mall, other than the small and sad “Women’s” section in the department stores, there is one store in the entire mall that has clothes I can wear. I don’t have a lot of options.
But to be able to buy clothes again – to feel the joy of finding just the right thing, to experience the exhiliration of coming out of the fitting room in something that looks incredible on my body – it’s such a relief.
This past weekend, for Valentine’s day, Bradon took me to our local plus-sized boutique, Buxom, for a bit of a shopping spree. I’d been meaning to go check them out for months, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. And, oh, the wonder and joy and fun of it all. The owner, Bree, helped me pick out half a dozen pretty dresses to try on, and I looked fantastic in all but one of them. We all (even Bradon) had a great time, and I was overwhelmed by all the great options.
It was just like the old days.
Sometimes clothes shopping is still hard for me. Sometimes I’m looking for something in particular that simply doesn’t exist in a larger size. Sometimes I need something right away, and can’t seem to find it anywhere. Sometimes I spend hours trying clothes, all of which don’t fit, and/or look terrible on me.
But now I can remind myself that if the clothes I can find don’t fit, there is nothing wrong with my body. My body is what it is. It is the size it is supposed to be. If the clothes don’t fit, it’s the clothes’ fault. It’s the designer’s fault, for not making clothes in my size. It’s the store’s fault for not carrying clothes in my size. My body is fine.
And that makes all the difference.