Plus Sized Fashion

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Shopping is something everyone should enjoy, but plus sized women are often discriminated against as fashion brands sell baggy clothes that hide their curves or clothes that are too tight on their form and figure.

“I love shopping, especially with friends. But since I have a pretty unique body shape it can be pretty difficult to find good stuff,” said Megan Fields ‘21. “I’ve always had trouble finding stuff in my size, it’s either way too small or way too big or it fits in one place and not another.”

Rachel Meehan ‘21 shares Fields’ love of fashion and shopping, but she faces some of the same struggles.

“One of my favorite things to do is go to the mall with my friends, but public body shaming is almost always an issue for me,” said Meehan. “I always have to sit outside stores like Charlotte Russe, Victoria’s Secret, and Francesca’s while my friends have fun shopping in them. I know that if I go in those stores I will not only not be able to find my size, but I will start feeling bad about my body in the process.”

Body shaming is not only a form of verbal abuse and bullying, it’s also something retailers often partake in. Their marketing of only petite models and lack of specific marketing for petite only clothes has made it difficult for people with larger body types to find clothes they like and fit them well.

“Places like Forever 21 usually never have my size and if they do it’s something that definitely won’t compliment my curves, it just hides them with fluffy sweaters and big shirts and maxi skirts. Don’t get me wrong — those can be cute, but they don’t make me feel great,” said Fields.

Comfort and style are the first things Meehan looks for when buying clothes, but it’s often difficult to find clothes that make her feel and look good.

“Everyone should be able to feel beautiful, no matter what they look like. Stores should make it a priority to cater to all body types and styles,” she said. “One time when some friends and I were shopping for homecoming dresses at Dillard’s, a male store clerk came up to me and said, ‘You won’t be able to find any dresses for you here,’ as he looked me up and down. Sure enough, the only homecoming dresses they sold ran from sizes 00-10. I basically gave up at that point looking for something to wear to homecoming and felt left out.”’

However, other stores do not have such a restricted size variety. Many brands and companies, such as Torrid and Old Navy, have been successful in providing stylish and comfortable clothes for all bodies.

“Some stores do well, offering clothes for every body type at affordable prices, but others bump up prices as sizes go up,” said Fields. “I really like Kohl’s and Maurice’s for getting my clothes because they have cute clothes [for pretty low prices].”

Online shopping also provides a wider range of sizes in a more accessible platform. Though online shopping may work for some people, this can cause some serious issues for others. Having sizes sold out, not being able to try on clothes in person can be some big obstacles in trying to shop online.

“Bigger girls should be able to feel confident in what they want to wear without having to like shop online or go through a huge struggle,” said Fields. “If a store makes me feel bad about my body the chances of me shopping there are pretty low. I want to accentuate my curves not hide them.”

Stores that refuse to sell clothes for all body types contribute to a culture that normalizes body shaming based.

“One day when I was walking to class at City High, a group of older boys was walking behind me. I could hear them laughing. As they approached me, one of them whispered to me, ‘fat ass,’” said Meehan. “The group then jogged ahead of me and continued to laugh. I’m someone that doesn’t usually get affected by things like this, but this particular interaction really hurt. I was shocked that someone would say that to me at a place where I would usually feel safe.”

Body shaming is a form of verbal bullying that not only hurts self-esteem but can lead to depression and self-hate. It is also a type of bullying that is less acknowledged in society.

“I have now learned to accept myself for who I am and what I look like,” said Meehan. “Self-love can be hard sometimes, but you will be a much happier person once you learn to love yourself.”