The Misconception of Plus-Size
The Dane and I were at the mall a few weeks ago and came across a store that was new to me – Altar’d States. It reminded me of school shopping trips to stores like – Aeropostale, American Eagle, Wet Seal and Hollister, so the store drew me in. The clothes are cute and probably more along the lines of something that Chika would wear.
My girls are pretty diverse in their tastes. Our oldest, leans toward grunge, wearing mostly t-shirts and ragged out jeans with flip-flops. My next girl, like me, wears a lot of uniforms and only gets to wear real clothes on the weekends. My first “daughter” is actually the third in line and she is plus-sized like me. She owns her body and wears things that make her happy and she looks great doing it. My youngest daughter tends to go for sporty looks, but her typical outfit consists of jeans of some sort. Sometimes, I can get her to dress up. She and Chika are about the only ones that I can buy frilly things for in a store like Altar’d States, though even that is tricky as girls tend to want to pick out things for themselves no matter what size they are!
While we were there, I couldn’t help wondering if there was a plus-size section. Surly there are teen girls who would love these clothes. After some research, I discovered that because some of the garments are oversized, some plus-sized girls can wear some of the clothing. Their size chart shows that a L is a US12/14.
While I was in the store, I started thinking if the average woman is a size 14, then why is so much available in smaller sizes?
Pondering that question later, I did some research. I discovered that there is a “misconception” that plus-size women WANT to be invisible. That we are so ashamed of how we look that we actually don’t want to wear clothing that will draw attention to us. WOW! Somehow I missed this memo. (See the article I read here)
I don’t know about this “misconception.” I think this is ever so much bullshit, because I have always believed that it had more to do with being in the skinny club. That no one wanted to make clothes for fat people because then the brand would be associated with fat clothes and you know, fat rubs off or something, so no one wanted that noose hanging around their neck. That was until someone realized you could actually make some money.
Just imagine. All these non-fat people were walking around thinking that big ole’ fat people wanted to wear muumuus. That we were just dying to hide behind ugly ass fabric that was supposed to somehow make us not stand out. Does that even make sense to anybody? Did people really believe this? Nah. It’s the money thing.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve always thought that having those big white granny-panties as about the only option for fatties was a big, giant slap in the face that always said “lose the weight big girl, because you ain’t seeing a thong till you do.” Like most women, I am never happy with my weight. Sure I’d like to lose weight and the reasons for wanting that has changed a lot over time. In my younger years it was mostly based on relationships and feeling like I couldn’t choose a “regular” guy because “regular” guys don’t go for plus-size. Then I discovered that wasn’t true.
What I did learn in those years is that there definitely are misconceptions among our skinnier peers about how they see us. That their overall perception of what goes together for fat people was very persistent with my friends. It’s like there was a book (Rules for Fatties??) that they all read that told them how it was supposed to go.
Here’s how it went for me.
After more than a year of being divorced my well-meaning best-friend called to tell me that she’d like for me to come out and meet her for drinks after work. I had only recently sorta kinda started dating. Most of it had all been a bust. I wasn’t going to go, but she showed up at my house and basically dragged me out with her. It’s important here to note that my friend was a doll. She was built like a brick house and blonde to boot.
Not long after we were sipping the drinks she ordered, a couple of guys came in and asked to join us. One was nothing less than a GQ model, the other…wasn’t. Guess which one was for me? I know that my friend meant well. She was desperately trying to get me back into the dating arena, but I sat there that night realizing that if left to their own devices, the men my friends thought that I would go for were – without teeth, monster trucks included. I made a solemn vow that I would never have anything resembling a blind-date ever again, not even a blind-sided one. That night (it was a bad night, guys), I realized that if I didn’t change something about me then my choices were going to be up to my friends. I’m sorry, but I’m just too fat for monster trucks.
By the way, on the blind-sided note, I was dead wrong. (My girlfriends are a determined bunch.)
Another much skinnier girlfriend was slightly interested in a guy that she thought that I might be interested in. For the record, I wasn’t. He was a good friend of my first husband and he’d recently gotten engaged. My girlfriend misread the affection between us and began pushing (and I mean pushing) me toward another guy that she told me was “more your style.” He was a sweet guy, but absolutely no chemistry. Every time I turned around, this girlfriend was bringing this guy to my house. Sometimes even very late at night. I can’t count the number of times I had to have “the talk” with him because this friend was so persistent in putting us together that he actually thought I was just playing hard to get. Geez!
Because of the choices of my well-meaning friends, I took my dating life out of the topic of conversation around them and I began to flatly refuse going out with them and let it be known that I wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH BLIND DATES. I was perfectly capable of finding men on my own to date. For the most part, I think my girlfriends had no idea that I was seeing anybody. I’m pretty sure they thought I didn’t know how.
Once, my best-friend and I ran into a guy I was seeing that she didn’t know about. He was a body-builder and she did her best to get his attention. He was polite to her, but it got to the point of being painfully obvious that he wasn’t there to talk to her. Later, she said to me, “I can’t believe you’ve been dating that guy. I mean. He’s someone who would go for me, not you.” I know how it sounds. But honestly, I don’t think she had any idea how hurtful and mean her words sounded. I think she was being matter-of-fact. This was a guy that would normally go for her and not for me.
Except, something had changed. It wasn’t my weight. It was my attitude. My counselor told me to take my anger and figure out a way to tap into it to make it a positive. I was definitely angry about how things were going at that point of my life and I took that anger and decided to break down my crappy belief system. I just made up my mind that I was damn-well worth it. Once my attitude about me changed, the attitude of men around me changed too.
- being needy.
- having to have a man’s approval.
- caring if they called the next day.
- if they did call, I didn’t always answer.
- if someone else asked me out and I wanted to go, I did.
- if I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t.
- wasting time and started working toward my own goals.
In other words, I stopped being whatever the old me was – doormat? I started taking control of who I was and what I wanted. I made me my priority. It really was that simple.
I didn’t think of it in terms of being body-positive. It felt like just coming to terms with liking myself for who I was and realizing that that person was worthy of being treated well. My weight was certainly a part of the whole, but it wasn’t the single most important factor. In fact, I think we’d be much better off if we learned that people, no matter who they are or what they look like, are just way too complicated for stereotypes.
So no. I haven’t ever wanted to be invisible and hide my weight. Like any other person on the planet, I wanted something that I felt good wearing. I don’t think I’ve ever officially worn a muumuu and there’s a damn good reason for that. I don’t like them! I’m pretty sure no fat person does.