You know that feeling of waking up on a lazy Sunday morning and reveling in the fact that you can just throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and be ready to leave the house?
That must be so nice for you.
I don’t get to have that luxury, because there isn’t a single pair of jeans on this godforsaken planet that fit me correctly. And if there is, in my 14 years of being a jeans-coveting individual, I’ve never found it. While my friends slip into cute pairs of skinny jeans for a night out, I’m stuck planning outfits around leggings, tights, or dresses.
Every pair I try — whether they’re skinny, bootcut, boyfriend, wide leg, flare, you name it — is either too tight around my midsection but perfect on my legs, or perfect around my midsection but terribly baggy around my thighs. Which means either I can look nice-ish while not being able to breathe or sit down, or I can look like someone who fixes trucks for fun.
And while it sounds funny out of context or like a minor issue, it’s resulted in my dissolving into tears in many a dressing room. During my tender teenage years, all I wanted to do was dress like everyone else. And as much as I’d like to say I’ve purged that blubbering 15-year-old girl out of my system, she still comes back from time to time.
When I pass by the stacks of folded jeans at my favorite clothing stores, I get a sinking feeling inside. Sure, I could try a few more pairs on, but why risk yet another disappointment in the fitting room? Why risk turning what society has already made a painful chore for people my size—buying clothes that are attractive and well made—into a larger emotional affair? I’m a big girl who generally wears a size 20 or 22 depending on the day. So, already, the fashion world doesn’t want to admit I exist.
There’s something immensely hurtful and damaging about not being able to do the things that others don’t think twice about. Even at 23, sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve this fate? Which is to say it’s tempting to lay in a bath with no bubbles playing “Someone Like You” by Adele on repeat, eating queso dip with my hands, and wallowing in my sorrow over my predicament—at least until I remember that they make jeans for people my size, so my size can’t be the whole problem.
I’ve had several years to mull over this issue, and in my weaker moments, I’ve concluded there must be something wrong with the way I’m shaped. Maybe I’m too big around the middle and too small around the legs? Maybe my ass is, like, lopsided? Maybe I’m just the “wrong kind” of fat?
Maybe, if I were the ideal kind of fat, the flat-stomach-with-big-boobs-and-butt fat, I wouldn’t have this problem. And if I just put down the cheeseburgers that everyone knows us fat people eat day in and day out, and lost a ton of weight, I wouldn’t have to complain about clothing companies’ refusal to create clothes that fit me, because they only respect and cater to one type of body.
In my stronger moments though, when I’ve got my head on straight, I know there’s only one answer to that kind of thinking. Which is: “Fuck that.” I’m not the ideal kind of fat, and even if I did eat cheeseburgers all day (but seriously, where do I sign up for this club?), I still deserve to be able to find pants that fit. And how screwed up is it that I’m sooner to rip on myself than the clothing companies that insist on preserving a narrow spectrum of acceptable body types?
It’s actually really screwed up, but sadly my situation isn’t all that abnormal. I’m willing to bet there are other women with this problem. In fact, I know it. And if they don’t have my particular problem, they’ve got something similar. Their boobs don’t fit in their tops or are too small to fill them out properly. Their legs are too long for maxi dresses or too short for even the most petite cut of jeans. Their bodies, in one way or another, fail to conform to the stringent standards set by clothing manufacturers about how bodies are supposed to be built.
But instead of calling out these companies on their bullsh*t, we work around it. I work around it. I shop meticulously online for the most realistic and convincing pair of jeggings money can buy. And the rest of the time, I clad myself in spandex or overdress to make up for my inability to put together the standard American casual ensemble.
Except I’m really tired of doing that. And you should be too. I think it’s time that we call out clothing companies for refusing to acknowledge differing body types. Especially “plus-size” clothing companies, whose singular mission is to provide fashionable clothing for unconventionally-sized people.
If I had the opportunity to round up the leaders of every major clothing manufacturer and give them the what for, it would go something like this:
Do better. Do a lot better. Listen to your customers. No one should ever have to cry in a dressing room because they can’t find a pair of pants that fit. No one should cry over pants, period. The sooner you start recognizing the beautiful variability of the human body, the less likely you are to lose customers like me and the millions of other women who break the mold in their own, special way. We’re not going anywhere, so get with the times, or get lost.