Making a Plus-size Investment

Jaws Theme Song

Dress – Dressbarn (2015), see the Dressbar selection of Fit and Flare dresses here. Sweater – Kohl’s.  Earrings – Old Navy.  Shoes – Easy Street from Macy’s, similar here.

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I don’t really like the show Shark Tank, though I’ve seen it (or parts of it) quite a bit, as it’s one of The Dane’s favorite shows.  Usually when he watches, I find quiet things around the house to do so that he can watch his show in peace.  The show makes me feel bad when these “sharks” eat their young.  It turns my stomach into a nervous knot and I’m not even the one standing up before these guys asking for them to invest.

The other night, The Dane was watching an old episode.  I only know this because it was  a little familiar.  When I googled it, it turned out to be an episode from Season 1.  In it, there was a plus-size lady with a plus-sized fashion line.  The clothes that she presented were beautiful.

Next came a comment from “Mr. Wonderful.”  Of course, he gives a brief disclaimer, something like “don’t shoot me for asking” which to me means that you’re gonna feel like shootin’ his ass for asking.  Then, he launches into something about “larger” women not wanting fashionable clothing because the market usually serves the need.  The Dane turned to look at me out of the corner of his eye.  I didn’t say anything because I think the last time we saw this episode might have been that one time when I ranted about the show for an hour.  I’m guessing that The Dane was preparing for another launch.  I didn’t rant.  I just left the room.

It reminded me of a couple of incidents that happened when I was in college.  Back then, I was a size 12 to 14.   And for a brief period of time, a size 10.

The first incident happened early on.  My roommate, a size 0, and her very tall model friend, invited me to go with them to a party in Atlanta.  When we were getting dressed to go that night, I quickly realized that I was going to be woefully under dressed.  I grew up in a small town and everything that had to do with Atlanta nightlife was outside my knowledge zone.  But as I was my roommate’s guest for the weekend, I wasn’t about to knock her out of going to something because I realized I wasn’t dressed well enough.  I pretty much realized I was going to have to play the “country bumpkin” role and rolled with it.  I put on my best pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of sandals while I watched them dress in cocktail dresses.  Model friend’s looked like Christmas tinsel made into a dress.  I’m not knocking it by any means as it was a very cute dress, but I’d never seen anything like it at the time.  My roommate was more along the lines of a Little Black Dress with swanky heels.

During the first part of the night, we went out to eat at Rio Bravo.  A Mexican restaurant based on the John Wayne movie.  It was fun and I didn’t feel all that uncomfortable.  Then, we went to the party.  I don’t have a lot of memories of it.  What comes to mind now is mostly discomfort.  The type you feel when you don’t really know anyone at a party and no one is really all that interested in making you feel any different.  Overall, what I remember feeling was lonely. During those lonely moments, I’m sure I must have wondered why there weren’t clothes like that in my size and if there were, where on earth did you find them?

A few years later, I was invited to go to a fraternity ball (a pretty coveted one) at the last-minute.  I was beyond thrilled.  Problem – it was very close to the date of the ball AND I had nothing to wear and ZERO understanding of where to get anything.

During that time, I was taking a walking class and I’d lost a pretty good bit of weight.  It wasn’t really all that evident as I still wore my regular clothes.  It was just a matter of wearing a belt and cinching in the waist a lot.  At my apartment one afternoon before the ball, a girlfriend came along and offered to lend me one of her sorority formal gowns.  She left and came back a few hours later with the dress.  When I tried it on, it fit like it was meant for me to wear it.  I still recall the look on her face.  She was horrified that it fit me.  This calls into question why she would offer if she truly didn’t think it would fit.  Good question.

Back then, clothing options for me were limited, but I saved money and bought things that were higher end and of good quality.  (I will say this, had I been the size I am now back then, I don’t know where I would have gotten any clothing as a size 14 seemed to be the end of the line.)  My grandmother was a seamstress and she could alter things to make them fit a little better.  This friend liked to raid my closet.  I’m guessing she offered on a whim without any real expectation that it would actually be a two-way street.  And as far as I can remember, this is the one and only time that I’ve ever borrowed anyone’s clothes (with the exception of The Dane).

My friend fussed with the dress for about half an hour.  I tried to turn down the invitation to borrow it as I could see the distress that it was causing her.  Some part of her must have known that if she didn’t let me borrow the dress, I might not get to go.  Another part of me was pretty sure that she was going to take the dress back just to make sure there was a bigger possibility of that happening.  Unfortunately for her, several more girlfriends came by that afternoon (my apartment was somewhat of a hangout) and they happened by when I was still in the dress.  I fully believe if it hadn’t been a consensus from the others that the dress fit great that my friend wouldn’t have ended up letting me use it.

The day of the ball, she came by with a list of rules about the dress.  There was even a time limit as to when I had to take the dress off.  I’m not kidding.  I know that my post may have a flavor of lacking appreciation, but come on guys, this was one dress.  Rules?  Really.  It was turning out that the dress was causing problems with our friendship.  Just before I left (and I was mightily glad to be leaving), I remember her last words to another girlfriend standing beside her, “Yes, it’s my dress, but I have to say, it’s always been a bit baggy on me.”

Despite her, I had a lot of fun in that dress and you’ll be interested to know that I didn’t break any of her rules.  Even the time limit one.  As it turns out, the ball gave out t-shirts and by the time I was to “take off the dress” we were all in the t-shirts and shorts headed down to the lake for the after party.

To say that “Mr. Wonderful’s” comments are insulting is putting it very mildly.  To say that “larger” woman are not interested in fashionable clothing is like saying we are not really all that human.  Fat women?  Fashion?  No way, man, just put them in a bunch of sacks.  For years it seems, that’s exactly what went on.  Clothing for plus-size women were like square sacks with no shape and those clothes made us all look frumpy.  Even now, there are still higher end lines that still make the square shirts.

I doubt “Mr. Wonderful” really cares all that much that his words were very insulting.  That seems to be his whole reason for being on the show and it probably garners them a lot of ratings, as it gives the woman a whipping boy to beat up on.  As for me, I just think he’s an ass.

One thing though, I am glad that things are finally changing.  Because now when I want to go somewhere, there are pretty clothes to choose from, even designer ones, which YES, I am quite interested in.  Thank you very much!

According to IBIS World, the plus-size clothing industry was worth $9 billion (that’s with a b) in 2014, so go swim with that in your shark tank, Mr. O’Leary!  (Yeah, he pissed me off)

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