Existing as a plus-sized woman presents its fair share of daily challenges, and growing up plus-sized taught me to have some pretty tough skin. My personal journey of body acceptance and body positivity will never truly be over, but learning everyday to become less ashamed and unsatisfied with myself has opened my eyes in a multitude of ways.
Loving yourself is hard work, but it is worth the struggle in order to attain peace, love, acceptance and everything in between. There is beauty in building an identity outside of your physical appearance to improve not only your relationship with yourself, but with the people you love as well. Furthermore, fat-phobia is implemented into so many aspects of our lives. The day I stopped believing that there was something wrong with me for looking the way I do was the day I realized I was being fed that exact lie every single day.
Growing up, the popular stores that all of my friends shopped often didn’t carry my size. I had trouble finding styles that I felt truly represented my personality – honestly, I just wore what fit. This made me think that plus-size individuals were not meant to express themselves through style, and should focus on covering up rather than drawing attention to their bodies.
Trust me when I say, my style suffered. It’s taken me my entire life to establish my own personal style, and I’m still not there yet because I’ve spent so many years paying more attention to the way something fit and covered my body rather than what I actually liked.
With the start of the Body Positivity Movement and an increased number of stores that have begun to carry plus-size clothing, I’ve been finding myself through fashion more and more. However, this includes recognizing and understanding the prevalence of fat-phobia in the fashion industry and what this means for our clothing options as plus-size individuals.
“IT’S MUCH EASIER FOR BRANDS TO HOP ON THE TREND OF BODY POSITIVITY INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY CATERING TO THE BODIES THAT NEED IT.”
Let’s Talk About In-Person Shopping
While many companies advertise carrying a wide range of sizes, if we’re being honest, it’s almost become “trendy” to cater to plus-sizes. This means putting on the facade of size inclusivity, but upon arriving at the store, they’re either sold out or don’t carry my size at all. As soon as I hear the words, “you could try checking online,” I instantly know I’m in the wrong place. I can see myself going online to check the ‘plus-size’ section, only to see a model wearing a size 8. I can’t try it on, I can’t feel the material and I miss out on the overall shopping experience that I enjoy so much.
I never understood the inability for stores to stock plus-size clothing in person when they can still carry them online. Sometimes, the few larger sizes that they do have are sold out, which proves that people will buy these sizes in store if they’re available. The answer is really, really, really simple. They can carry them in-person. They’re more than capable of doing so, but it’s much easier for brands to hop on the trend of body positivity instead of actually catering to the bodies that need it. It’s often better for a company’s image to keep those sizes off the shelves, because fat-phobia tells us that fat and stylish are mutually exclusive terms.
Let’s Talk About Plus-Size Stores
Exclusively plus-size stores like Torrid and Lane Bryant are an amazing concept, but, in my opinion, are widely flawed. They have the potential for a much easier, stress-free shopping trip where every item has my size. However, the style component is seriously lacking. These stores cater to one specific style, and it’s fairly conservative clothing focused on slimming the body or covering it up. Where are the plus-size stores that carry the latest fashion trends and won’t send me out dressed like my mom? (I love my mom, but if we’re dressing the same, there’s probably an issue).
Don’t get me wrong, the concept of these stores put us on the right track for inclusivity. If my favorite stores only carry my size half the time, I’d love to have a place where I know I can find something that fits every time. However, the fashion game of these stores really needs a boost. More low cut tops, more neutral colors, more tight dresses, more trendy pants – PLEASE!
Let’s Talk About Fast Fashion
I couldn’t talk about plus-size fashion without mentioning plus-size fast fashion. What do websites like Shein, Fashion Nova and Nasty Gal all have in common? If you said they produce cheap, quick and unethical clothing, you’d be correct. If you also said that they have cute, trendy and size-inclusive styles, you’d also be correct. My problem with the fashion industry isn’t that fast fashion carries plus-sizes, it’s that they’re among the only places that carries cute plus-size clothing.
One of the main arguments against brands carrying plus-sizes is the cost. However, when brands whose main goal is to produce the quickest and cheapest clothing possible are doing it, you know it was never about the money. While I refrain from buying from fast fashion due to the extreme moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding it, I don’t particularly judge plus-sized women who do. When the cheapest plus-size clothes are also the cutest plus-size clothes, it’s difficult to resist the temptation. It’s as if my entire life I have been begging to pay full price for something cute in my size, and now this cheap carrot that I can’t have is dangled in front of me.
Until sustainable brands begin fully creating and stocking plus-size clothes, it’s difficult to blame the consumers for this issue. We all have a responsibility to reduce our immoral consumption, yet until sustainability meets inclusivity, that may be a distant goal.
While this conversation may seem disheartening to those who have just begun their body positivity journeys, it’s also a necessary caveat. There are many beautiful parts about learning to accept yourself as a plus-sized individual, but there are also a plethora of goals that we still must fight to attain. By talking about the discrepancies within the fashion industry, we are working toward more inclusive experiences.
Do not ever believe the lie that your body must look a certain way to contribute to a trend, or to express yourself through style. We deserve to feel just as confident and just as empowered by our clothing choices as the rest of the world. If you’re sick of covering up, let’s work together to live in a world that allows us all to recognize and express our own beauty in whatever unique, crazy or trendy styles we choose.