Body Shamed by NYC

Hello everyone!  It’s been a long time since I’ve last written.  That’s because all kinds of stuff happened.  But that stuff is super boring so I’ll just give a brief synopsis:

  1. I messed up my big toe (sesamoiditis) and had to wear a boot for the entire winter, it was awesome.
  2. The day I got my boot off, I started not feeling so great… fast-forward a few hours and I was in the hospital writhing around because I had appendicitis.  I got an appendectomy and a LOT of drugs, and I healed up pretty well except now my belly button looks weird.  Thanks for the weird scar, laparoscopic procedure (in all seriousness, I’m really lucky they were able to do the surgery this way; it means three tiny incisions instead of one huge incision and a giant scar across my belly).
  3. I still had migraines throughout that stuff.
  4. I did not crack.  MIRACLE.  However, I did gain erhm… a little bit of weight.
  5. Now I’m back at work and the migraines are well under control.

The end!  Now we’re all caught up.  So I’m trying to get back into shape because I’m not crazy about my body such as it is right now.  I want to be the person who always loves her body.  The female body is really beautiful.  I love its curves, its lines… guys, you are really sexy, but you’re modernism sexy.  You’ve got some great, sharp lines.  It’s all very angular.  But us ladies, we’ve got softness and curves all over.  At some point, women are taught to judge those curves in all sorts of ways.  These are too big, these are too small.  These aren’t in the right place at ALL.  Why is this curve bigger than that one… aren’t they supposed to match?  HEY that curve is getting bumpier… I don’t like that.  Why is this curve getting SO MUCH BIGGER?!  Um… hey why is that curve way down there now?  WHAT SIZE is that curve?!  Miss, you must be wrong; that number is really far along in the alphabet…

Normally I am around a size 12.  The full “typical” range for me is between a size 10 and 14.  Now I am a size 16 or XL and I weigh approximately 201 pounds.  My bra size is 34H.  Yeah you read me right.  BAYUM.  Mammolanche.  My figure is hourglass.  I just bought some new bras that fit properly so I can hoist my breasts up high enough to expose my natural waist.  My body has mostly retained its general shape since the weight gain, except that my belly right about the bellybutton juts out very slightly as a result of the scar.  Wretched scar.

Normally I feel semi-okay about my body but after the weight gain, it’s been difficult to look at myself in the same light.  My boyfriend tells me I’m sexy and beautiful and, god bless him, he really seems to mean it.  And sometimes I even look in the mirror naked and don’t want to run away screaming.  But since I’ve gained the weight, I’ve had to get some new clothes.  I may lose weight; it’s fairly likely since I’m more active now and I cook a lot of healthy food, but I still need clothing in the meantime.  I finally came into the means to afford some new clothes (thanks, parents; not thanks, economy) and it has been a REAL education out there.  I live in the East Village as I’ve stated in my blog many times, so I decided to go shopping for clothing in my neighborhood and just get a few high-quality items.  I had great luck at a small store called Meg (https://www.megshops.com/), which is costly, but if you buy clothing there they will have their tailor make any necessary amendments for you for free, the clothing is made right in Brooklyn, and the salespersons are extremely kind and helpful.  They generally go by the XS-XL sizing system.  I also had some luck at Eileen Fisher (http://www.eileenfisher.com/EileenFisher.jsp); the line is, again, expensive, however they carry a lot of XL in their stores and their clothes run quite large.  They, too, are very kindly.  I got a few items from The Gap because they actually carry size 16 pants in their stores and I can’t very well spend over $100 on every single thing I buy.  My parents aren’t made of money and it was nice enough of them to help me–I don’t want to take advantage of them.

These were the good experiences I had.  But far more often, I had surprisingly bad experiences.  I should preface this by saying that I have tried a size 1X and it is too large on me, otherwise I would go to plus size stores and not have to deal with some of the shit I’m about to share.  The body shaming began in a store called Think Closet.  I went in there because they have some really funky, interesting, and seemingly well-made clothing arranged playfully by color.  It occurred to me pretty quickly that I wasn’t seeing anything other than XS or 00 to size medium.  I thought, well this is weird.  So I asked the bored-looking salesperson if the clothes were somehow arranged by size.  She said, no.  I said, do you carry size large in this store?  Obviously I thought the answer would be yes.  Keep in mind I’m a size XL.  She looked at me–up and down my body–and said, um, no, sorry, we don’t carry sizes that high up.  I said, why not?  She said, we get our clothes mostly from Korea and people don’t get “so big” there.  In a Yelp review of the store, one person had the balls to say this: “only thing saving this shop from 5 stars [she gave the store a 4-star review] is the fact that their items were a bit on the big fit size, which is surprising for a shop that gets their items from South Korea.”  1) I very much doubt all South Korean women are a size medium or below.  2) Let’s just say almost all South Korean woman are at or below a size medium for funsies; is that really a reason to look someone up and down who is sooooo big?  What an asshole that woman was.

Next store, Ann Taylor Loft?  What what?  They carry size 16!  Yes, friends, they do.  But no longer in their stores.  At least not in the East Village store.  After browsing for a time I asked a salesperson if I could speak with a manager.  She was very polite and indicated that she was one of the managers.  I said, “It doesn’t seem that you are carrying size 16 in your store at all anymore, but I know you make the size.”  She said yes, that was true.  I asked why they stopped carrying it in the store, and she told me that that size rarely sold.  I pointed out that I hardly ever recalled seeing more than one size 16 in anything in their store before so it must have been difficult to find.  I continued to say that perhaps people wearing a size 16 didn’t feel like sifting through all of their clothing, hoping to find the rare size 16s the happened to be in the store that day, and that maybe that’s why they had a hard time selling size 16.  The manager smiled at me.  It was obvious what the company was doing.  They were essentially discouraging people of certain sizes into the store, marginalizing them to the online stores so as to keep their clientele in-store nice and trim.  And, “cleverly”, they managed to do so while claiming that size-16 people didn’t buy their clothing in the stores, and that’s why they only carry the clothes online.  But I think it’s even more than that.  I think that women are scared to go into stores to look for size 14 or 16.  Why?  Because we’re supposed to be ashamed of those sizes.  So-called “plus-size woman”, a mere 1-2 sizes higher, are judged for their body sizes and shapes regularly, but they do have a kind of community.  There are stores devoted to sizes 16W and/or 1X and up.  Women between the “average” (bullshit) sizes and “plus” (bullshit) sizes are kind of screwed.  I guess we’re supposed to be too embarrassed to shop in public.

Free People.  They carry size XL online, but not in their stores.  I found out after trying on a gorgeous top that fit beautifully everywhere except the bust.  When I asked about size XL the saleswoman snottily told me she didn’t need to look in the back because she knew they never carried size XL.  She then rudely walked away, as I watched her treat young women with tiny bodies like royalty.  She did not direct me to their website, which as I said, does carry size XL.  I won’t be buying it, though.  Because screw them, that’s why!

An Ren.  By far the most depressing trip.  They make some of the most interesting jackets, blazers, and coats in all of Manhattan.  Everything is really well made, really interesting.  Unique.  And anyone with an hourglass figure will tell you that a fitted blazer makes your figure look incredibly good.  I was in their store once and couldn’t afford to get anything there, and I remembered I was exactly a size XL so I was very excited to go back and get a really nice jacket to wear to work.  Except they didn’t have a single size XL in the shop.  When I asked why, the saleswoman told me that because space was limited they couldn’t handle having a size XL in there at the time.  I admit, their shop is very tiny.  But it can accommodate a single size XL garment.  I mean, I know it’s big enough to blanket half of Manhattan and all but they can probably fold it up reeeeally tightly to fit it in there, merely so someone could try it on, right?  If the size XL monster could physically fit into the store, that is.

I ended up buying a few jackets online from White House/Black Market, because their size 16 and XL are both perfectly accommodating of my figure.  They tend to add stretch to things, which obviously makes for a better fit around the lady lumps.  I have to say, I feel really beautiful in these garments.  All it took was something that fit my body.  It turns out, it’s not the size that bothered me, but walking around wearing clothes that look ridiculous because they don’t fit.

Okay so maybe I’m taking all of this a little bit too personally.  But some of you know just how I feel, don’t you?

 

 

 

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