Plus Size, No Biggy

Plus size shopping can be extremely demoralising. I was reminded of this today as I perused the plus size section of New Look and a plus size lady was deflatedly searching through the racks of clothes, checking the size labels. For me, New Look were one of the first accessible plus size lines on the high street that offered the plus size somewhere to shop on their usual sweep of the high street. Despite offering plus size clothes, I’d sometimes feel somewhat demoralised making my way past a plethora of non plus clothes to my own little “fat section” at the back where I’d exchange knowing smiles with the other ladies and inwardly feel shamed by the women who accidentally wandered into the section and hurriedly excited once they noticed their error.

I remember a time when I’d be faced with the same dilemma and a uniform of bootcut jeans. I also remember a time I time shopping for trousers for my school uniform and my mum looking asthough she was losing the will to live because we couldn’t find any trousers to fit me. We left the shops with my mum obviously annoyed at a wash out of a shopping trip and I felt mortified at the whole ordeal.

Am I fat?

Simply, yes. I wear a size 16-18 (dependent on the fit). I have rolls, I can pinch a good few inches and after slapping my thigh it’ll continue to wobble until next Tuesday. I suffer from the dreaded “chub rub” in the summer (the effect of sweaty thighs rubbing against one another for a prolonged amount of time – yes, my thighs touch). I also have bingo wings that don’t see the light of day unless I’m on a summer holiday because the silvery threads of stretch marks leave me feeling self concious.

Do I want to be fat?

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Honestly? I don’t really mind. What I want most importantly in life is to be healthy and happy. Cliche? Sorry about that. Of course I like to look nice and be happy with what I see in the mirror, I think that’s a human thing if not a female thing. The important part of that sentence is the I. As long as I like what I see in the mirror, why should it matter whether I’m to someone elses specifications of what is “nice”? Of course sometimes I curse the bingo wings when I see a sleeveless dress and dread the moment the winter turns to summer and the opportunity to wear opaque tights because its a sweaty no no but I’m sure we all have those “wobble” moments, pardon the pun.  The moment I look in the mirror and hate what I see, I’ll be calorie controlling and jumping on an elliptical trainer.

Should companies offer plus size clothing?

This is nonsensical. Despite Jamelias very unpopular opinion, people simply cannot be expected to wander around naked or in a dress made of bedsheets and therefore companies should provide clothing for plus size men and women. Just as there are petite, maternity and tall ranges, plus is simply a natural inclusion. Plus size clothing has always been available, the issue was that it was always tucked away in a back room somewhere or a dodgy website on the internet. Due to the demand of women who are sick of wearing butterfly print tops and hanky hem cold shoulder tops, the demand has been supplied and suddenly its much more accessible… AND they’re fashionable. The likes of Yours, Lovedrobe, Simply Be have breathed fresh air into the wardrobes of plus size ladies and why shouldn’t they be able to wear beautiful clothes like other people?

Should all shops offer a plus size range or size up to “plus”?

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In an ideal world they would. Plus size, tall, petite and “normal” clothing would all be housed under one roof and offered by individual brands. You wouldn’t need to go into a different shop than your friends to find your outfit nor should you be made to feel uncomfortable when that jaw dropping dress only goes up to a size 16. In reality and as a plus size gal myself, it isn’t as straightforward to simply “size up” a size 10 top or a size 14 pair of jeans to fit a larger body size. Example? I recently went against my style staples and tried a pair of skinny jeans from Yours Clothing after struggling with finding jeans to fit my pear shape figure. they fit like a glove. I have no gaping at the bottom of the back or any excess fabric on the stomach which can fold and form to look like I have a penis hiding away in my undercrackers. After hitting the skinny jeans jackpot, I decided to pick up a similiar pair in a different colour from George at Asda… and the fit was completely different. These jeans clung around my legs, bagged around my stomach and were all round a horrible pair of jeans to wear. I ended up peeling them off and slinging them on the floor in frustration. I did the same with jeans from Primark after their size 20 wouldn’t even fit over my knees and I decided to stick with the “why go out for burger when you have steak at home” of life and bought another pair from Yours.

Do I think “plus size bloggers” glamourising being fat and encouraging an obese lifestyle?

Do you find plus size bloggers inspiring and glamorous? Because I do. Would you like to be able to accessorise the way some do or style an outfit from some amazing pieces? I do. Do you want to be the same size as them? Because I don’t. I want to be Charl size. Tess Munster wears a bigger dress size than me, but does that mean I’m going to go and gorge on cheese and creamcakes? Nope. Just like I aren’t currently choosing to be on a diet in order to look like Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, yknow? They’re simply saying “Hi, we are fat, we like to dress our fat bodies with nice clothes instead of tents”, they’re not stuffing your mouth with bars of lard.

Do I think high street brands glamourising being fat and encouraging an obese lifestyle?

Has Yours Clothing, Simply Be or Evans ever force fed you or told you to gain weight? Because I’ve never experienced that. Nor have the likes of American Apparel ever force fed me slimming pills. They’re simply providing clothes because being naked public is illegal. Despite the desire to create amazing fashion and wearable pieces, the top and bottom for all brands whether it be Evans, Simply Be or Tesco is revenue. It’s a business first and foremost and if there is a gap in the market or somethingone that something needs to be catered for then some business savvy person with contacts is going to fill it. The high street plus size brands are paving the way for the newer companies who are popping up to offer plus size fashion and that’s the same anything. Supply and demand people, supply and demand.

Should plus size girls be made to feel guilty for wanting to lose weight?

 If you’re fat and you’re happy with your size, then be fat. If you’re thin and happy with your size, be thin. If you’re fat and unhappy with your size, then lose weight or put on weight so you’re happy. If you’re thin and unhappy with your size, put on weight or lose weight so you’re happy. See a pattern here? “You’re Happy”. Does it matter if someone else is unhappy with your weight or how you look, do you think the fact that you dislike someones body it’s going to make them dislike it too? I like olives and my boyfriend hates them… I still eat olives. Get the analogy there?

When I watched #PlusSizeWars last night I inwardly shed a tear for the hundreds and thousands of boys, girls, men and women of all ages who right now are struggling to come to terms with their size or feeling ostracised from those of “normal” body mass.
Hannah’s story about growing up as a fat girl reminded me so much of a younger me, when I would be picked on for being overweight or hearing the others girls I was performing with in Primary School version of the Spice Girls that their Geri was abit fat. I would drown my body in baggy jumpers and bootcut jeans and seek to be the person in the corner of the room.

I would personally rather see a happier, confident person who loves themselves and feels loved and part of a community than a person starving themselves or locking themselves away because of the extreme sense of self loathing they feel towards them, just because they’re above a certain clothing size.

I wanted to go up to that unsure looking woman in New Look, who looked deflated and tell her she was beautiful and that she would look amazing in that floor sweeping maxi dress that her husband wrinkled his nose at.

Plus size shouldn’t be a dirty word or something that people feel embarrassed about, it’s a size just like petite or tall or wide fitting shoes.  We don’t go round shaming people’s big feet now, do we?

  • Laura

    But your feet ARE really big…. Just joking, its horrible. I don’t agree with people having to buy clothes in a different shop to “shame them” its outreageous.

  • I agree with everything you said, apart from one thing. The term chub-rub is just quite wrong – as a size 8 whose thighs rub it feels insensitive, but I know how much damage reading something like that would do to my younger, less-than size six teen sister who also suffers the same.

    I genuinely love this post though, no-one (thin or ‘fat’) should be discriminated against when clothes shopping.

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

  • Oh my god, chub rub! I’m a size 10 and I get that too, it’s so painful! I’m just really curvy! Personally, I don’t find the term offensive because it’s what you’ve coined to describe a feeling you have. It’s just I can sympathize because I get it too xx

  • kirstywats

    Totally agree with everything you’ve said here. The idea that plus size girls being happy in their own skin or shops making larger clothes is somehow ‘promoting obesity’ is absolutely laughable. I doubt anybody has ever thought “Oh I want to be obese” because they saw New Look’s plus size range or read a plus size blog!!

  • Thank you for writing something so eloquent, that does not shame anyone regardless of their size or shape. I personally find the term “plus size” ridiculous. Yes, it’s a higher number on the label, but it is just a size. An arbitrary cut off point for what becomes “plus” is subtle but societal body shaming. I hope that the high street, and designers continue to improve their offering to people of different shapes, and sizes. Yes, different shapes too. I’d love for no person to be made to feel ashamed to go into a store or concession, carrying clothes not within an “acceptable size range” (as per Jamelia’s disgusting comments). Happiness doesn’t come from judging others.

  • Thigh rubbing (because chub rub is a terrible term) is a beyotch, it hurts me. Though I would be careful about saying “if you’re thin and unhappy you can lose weight if you want to”, not always the best idea (I totally get the meaning, but y’know).

  • Brilliant post, thank you! I’ve seen so many posts on this subject that are so judgy – but this was a joy to read.