Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Clothes Woes

So I asked for some blog requests yesterday, partly because I'm trying to blog a little more often but have been mostly clueless when it comes to picking a topic, but also because I had such fun when I did them before. Six months ago (wow, six months? It's been that long?) I did a full week of requests, with most of them being a little bit silly, but all of them being great fun to do. My first request this time around came from my good friend (and personal illustrator) Ana, who asked me to ramble about the fashion industry's predisposition to promote the idea that if you aren't skinny, then you aren't worth dressing nicely. Well, they weren't the exact words she used, but that was the gist of what she meant, I believe. I get a bit wound up on this subject, so Ana picked a good subject for me to ramble about....

Now, I'm a big girl, and always have been - it's just not in my genes to be slim. Even when I have been within my healthy weight range, I still had more wobbly bits than Mr Blobby. I've recently lost quite a lot of weight and am hoping to ged rid of some more before the summer arrives. And when I say quite a lot of weight, I'm talking stones here, not pounds. Well, obviously I have lost pounds, because that's how we measure our weight loss, but you know what I mean. Anyway, my almost-but-not-quite-three-stones weight loss (39lbs for you non-Brits out there) is great, no question, but if I walked into a clothes shop right now, I would be still be sniggered at by the snooty sales staff if I ventured toward the Trendy Section.

I've dropped two sizes, but I'm still a size 14 (well, on the bottom at any rate, my boobs push me into the size 16 bracket up on top). By the by, for my American friends, my size 14 is your size 18, and to my European buddies, that's a 44 (according to Wiki, at any rate).  I'm still around 20lbs overweight, and even if (when, Tara, when!) I reach my goal, I figure I'll only drop one more size. And do you know what, that still isn't considered the pleasing form for fashion designers out there. It makes my blood boil!

Fashion designers create clothes that generall only look good if you are skinny enough to squeeze through prison bars, and have boobs the size of ping-pong balls. And as for hips, well.... if you're unlucky enough to have hips that will actually allow you to give birth naturally, then you obviously don't need to wear fashionable clothes, do you?  What was that, madam? You wanted something nice to wear for your daughter's baptism? Here, have some shapeless trousers to disguise those roomy hips, and a lovely tent to drape over your bountiful bosom. No, I really wouldn't advise anything else, you're just not the right shape for it, dear.

*smacks Miss Stick Insect Sales Woman*

Even when you're shopping for every day clothes - you know, your basic t-shirts, jeans, that type of thing - you have to face the Mannequins of Doom in the shop windows before you can buy anything. Those awful mannequins that quite frankly are a wee bit scary. Look at me, Wobbly Shopper, I'm made of plastic, have freaky eyes that follow you around the store, I stand in strange poses that real people would never in a million years really do, and I'm just a little bit of an oddball. But who cares, because I'm SKINNY! Ha!

Or maybe it's just me who thinks that? *shifty*

And then we have the 'specialist' clothes stores and catalogues, catering to the needs of women everywhere who are bigger than your standard waif. These stores still use those Mannequins of Doom, and the catalogues use models that don't appear to have any extra wobbly bits at all. I'm betting they make the models' clothes in 'normal' sizes for the photo shoots, and then manufacture the masses in 'grotesque' size. I say 'grotesque' because, having ordered from a few of these catalogues myself, I have experience in recieving items that looked quite nice in the catalogue, but in reality looked like granny's least favorite flowery housecoat.

It stinks, it really does. I'm fairly happy with my size at the moment, even though I could do with losing a bit more weight. But all those fabulous clothes out there are still out of my grasp. Women are supposed to have curves! Why aren't there clothes out there that celebrate this? The whole conception that you have to be stick-thin to be beautiful is disgusting. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and every one of them has the right to feel beautiful, whether they are a size 6 or 26. 

So as far as I'm concerned, all you snotty sales staff and fashion designers can stuff it. *nods* I'm not skinny and I never will be, but if I want to show a bit of cleavage in a sexy top, or wear a little skirt that highlights my long (and yes, slightly wobbly,) legs, I will. You don't have the right to tell me what I can and cannot wear.

And as for you, Mannequin of Doom, I'm watching you. Plastic Fantastic you may be, but I'm the Real Deal. So there.

Don't forget - first person to post has to give me a topic for my next blog!


  1. Ah I guess I am first to post...
    Did you know I would be? :D
    I loved this Tara. I really did. I myself was big at one point, and i still dont like my weight, but its fairly reasonable. Being short, (5'2) If I get to a certain weight it just does not look good.
    I am a proud supposrter of big people everywhere. My best friend is a bigger girl and I wouldnt have her any other way.
    My husband is big and I wouldnt change him for the world. I love that you are comfortable in your size, and I think its brilliant.
    I say stuff it to the designers as well...I have the big hips that come with being hispanic as well as being a mother. I am proud as hell of the curves i have, and i agree...real women have curves.
    Thank you for this. its very very encouraging for all women.
    (by the way...39 ponds is an amazing feat!) I have been fighting the 60+ pounds that I gained during pregnancy for two and a half years.

    As fo ra topic to blog about...lets go with...HPANA. seeing as today is your 5 year anniversary.


  2. And if you're older it's even worse. No kidding. My demographic apparently has a deep yearning to wear tents with appliqued giraffes on them. As for the Big Girl stores in the US (Lane Bryant et al) their clothes may come in big sizes but they don't do much otherwise. They have the most grossly unflattering clothes with a huge emphasis on polyester, but that's a whole other topic...

    Congrats on the weight loss.

  3. Well done Tara! I loved it .. specially the part of the mannequins mocking hahaha!!

    And everything you said is true.... I wish that someone would creat good clothes for big people but it seems that fashon thinks that it's not worthy; but I think we're more than the skinnies.


  4. *skinny weighs in* *pun intended*

    It simply isn't reasonable, the way clothing lines try to make one dress (for example) in a huge range of sizes - there are some things that you can wear that I look like hell in (y'know, with my utter lack of boobage), and there are some things that simply shouldn't come in 3X (don't know what that is in UK sizes but I think it's in the "morbidly obese" category). For certain prints (again for example) you simply need more room to properly display them; for others, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. And don't get me started on proportions. :-P I'm 5'6" but have to shop in petites half the time 'cause I'm small-boned, but I have a big arse and long arms, so guess what? Hips don't fit and sleeves are too short. Is it any wonder I knit my own sweaters? :-P So, skinny ain't all it's cracked up to be either... and women are ridiculous and always want what we can't have. ;-) Congrats on your progress though, because no matter what the fashion industry says, it really IS healthier not carrying too much extra around. Besides, you want to look fab for your author photo on the cover of your book. ;-)

  5. Yeah, you know I think it is written in the fashion designers manual that all women need to have small hips. Alas, I am altogether hippy due to the fact that I am Latina. Plus I am EXTREMELY short. Don't get me started on the petite section of the stores. Aparently short people are not allowed to be trendy either or have big hips or have big boobs. BUT Niether can I shop in the women's section because everything there looks like a tent. The juniors section is the only section that has any clothing that look remotely interesting, and I just feel too old and fat to be in that section. GRRRR This subject really gets me worked up.

  6. Leesh - most women struggle with post-baby weight. I can't use that for my excuse though because I only ever gained 7lbs on my pregnancies.... I'm just predisposed to being large :(

    Janet - I hear you, especially on the whole polyester front. Apparently, if you are over 35 AND wigh more than a plum, you are automatically sent to Polyester Hell, where you are forced to wear the horrible stuff until the end of your days, particularly in beige polyester, or if you are truly past it, a garish paisly. *shudders*

    Ana - thanks hun! You picked a great subject, so thank YOU. *hugs* I liked my Mocking Mannequins too. :)

    Leanne - I absolutely agree with you. If I was truly honest, I would have blogged about the fashion industry's idea that all women are one size only when it comes to designing clothes for them, but Ana specifically wanted the big vs skinny angle, so that is what I did. I agree that carrying too much weight is no good thing, and I'm happy to have lost some surplas pounds, but I absoultely hate the fact that I will never be considered an acceptable size, no matter how much weight I lose. That's what annoys me the most, that even women with perfectly normal weight are still deemed 'curvy' (a euphemism for 'fat' in polite speak) because they aren't the size of a knitting needle (*winks* had to include a yarn reference somewhere). I mean seriously, unless you're 5'9, a (UK) size 8, and have boobs that don't sag without a bra, you're considered too fat/thin/short/tall... whatever your 'failing' happens to be. It's no wonder most women have issues with their bodies, not to mention the anorexia epidemic that seems to have occurred in the last fifty years (just about as long as fashion models started becoming really popular and accessible to mere mortal women, but it's not a coincidence.... of course it's not. *rolls eyes*)

    Hahahaha...whoops, I ranted again. Told you this was a good subject to get me going. *snort*

  7. Whoops, I ranted for so long that somebody else posted a comment. *shifty*

    Marjorie - totally hearing you too, my friend. *nods* From another perspective, I have to buy small women's sizes for my daughter. The same daughter who is only EIGHT. *rolls eyes again* She is NOT fat, but she is big. Tall for her age, size 3 in shoes (don't know what that translates to in US or Euro sizing, but the average size for British women is a 5), and broad shoulders. It's ridiculous, and I'm going to struggle like mad to make sure that she doesn't grow up with a huge complex over her size. It makes me evil. Grrrr!!

  8. *shakes head* It seems unavoidable sometimes - case in point, my best friend (well, one of 'em) got married a couple of weeks ago, and she and I and one of the other bridesmaids were standing around bitching about our bodies - Kate has long thin legs but wants my toned arms, I'd gladly swap 'cause MY legs are squishy, and Jenny is a 00 (which is RIDICULOUS, by the way, who comes up with these numbers???) who'd love some T & A (on herself, that is). *rolls eyes* Wish we could have sizes like guys, with just actual, un-fudgeable MEASUREMENTS and have done with it. Waist, inseam - okay, we'd need a hip one too, but there. Poof. Done. And then we wouldn't have to figure out things like "Okay, so at the Gap I'm a 2 but only on my skinny days but at Ann Taylor I'm a 4P except in skirts, those are 0, and shirts are XS but at VS I'm a regular small..." *bangs head on wall* Someday I'll learn to sew and it can all go to hell.

    Oops. I ranted too. ;-)

  9. God, yeah.... sizes based on actual measurements would be brilliant. I mean, technically the sizes as they are now are SUPPOSED to be based on standard bust, waist and hip measurements, but like you, I am different sizes in different stores. It's so annoying, not least because I shop a lot online (because I hate clothes stores so much), and it's pure guesswork when it comes to picking the size. Also, there aren't many women at all who fit into a standard size, whether it's a 6, a 14, or whatever. Like I said above, I'm currently a 14 on the bottom and a 16 on the top - buying a dress is virtually impossible. And thinking about it, a 14 on my bottom half actually leaves a bit of room and is moveable, but a 12 is too tight, so I don't even fit into a standard size anyway. *rolls eyes for third time*

  10. Tara, I loved this post. As a fellow big girl, I feel very much the same way you do. Great Post!!!!!!