On Fat and Clothing

In my post about bras, I addressed some rather unfortunate issues in the lingerie industry.  Well, now it’s time to talk about the clothing industry itself, specifically about “plus-size clothing” and how there are two very, very weird camps people fall in.

Either you’re “plus-sized but not fat” or you’re “deathfat,” relegated to wearing what looks like a circus tent [not that I am not criticizing the style, it’s very classy, but the colors] or taupe, black, or “nude” so as to blend in with the background.  It’s bad enough at places like Target and Wal*Mart, but if you walk into a “plus-sized store” it’s even worse.

The attitudes, I think, are what’s the worst part about going shopping if you’re any bigger than a size 12.  A size 16 is now considered to be plus-sized in every fashion industry in the states [I do not know enough about foreign fashion to know whether this is the case elsewhere as well].  And yet, even if you’re shopping in, say, Lane Bryant, the larger you are the worse the clothing gets.

First is the issue of finding anything in your size.  Yes, even at places like Lane Bryant and Catherine’s, us “fatties” have problems finding larger sizes.  Not only are the pickings scarce, but the few things in stock are poorly-made and ill-fitting.  Only the most basic of apparel is made at the same quality of the smaller sizes – camisoles, t-shirts, stockings, slippers, socks.  Everything else is essentially hit-or-miss.

And then you have the styles.  Rarely do you see anything fashion-forward enough to be “trendy,” but instead there seems to be a reliance upon the age-old tunic and wide-leg pants.  Floor-length dresses, broomstick skirts.  We don’t have a chance to even try on something like this shirt, from aofei.en.alibaba.com, but instead are shuffled into zebra-print jumpsuits, Tribal Rhythms, and the like.  It’s as if we’re being told that we’re not worth the design time/effort to make stuff that fits well.

Most of the time, at least.  Torrid is pretty good, though their sizes tend to peter out the higher up you get.  I’m just tired, and I know others are too, of being shoved to the side.  And that, as they say, is that.

On bras

Yesterday I had occasion to start hunting for new bras again.  All online, all in stores that I’d never heard of, and all because I “don’t fit” into any popular store’s brand.  The reason I’m sitting here writing about my experience buying a bra?

Because there’s something wrong with society and how it treats the mystical process of buying them.

We are told, practically from birth, that having larger breasts is the best thing in the world.  It will make us famous, men will like us, we’ll be loved [and laid!] all by virtue of our breast size.  There is an entire industry around giving women bigger breasts than they can normally have.  And yet, the bigger we go, the more problems there are.

If you are larger than, say, a DD, then you start to experience this phenomenon: pretty bras don’t exist.  They become sailcloths of function only, as if we are to be ashamed of our bodies.  They are ugly.  And if you’re lucky enough to find something that’s in your size that looks good, you run the risk of having “cones” – that special feeling where your bra turns your breasts into missile tops.  If you want to have lingerie that looks nice, fits well, and flatters your figure, you are relegated to buying custom-made items, which starts at around $150, depending on what you need.

Take a look at this list.  Notice anything?  I sure do.  I notice that there’s only six selections, in a shocking variety of colors – white, nude, and black.  Just shocking, I tell you!  Except, what would you think if I told you that is what we have to deal with every time we try to find a bra?  Would you be surprised?  Shocked?  Ashamed?  Sickened?

Personally, I’m sick of it.  I’m tired of being told implicitly and explicitly that I’ll be happier with my F cups, simply because they’re bigger.  I’m tired of the fact that despite people [generally men] assuming I’m thrilled beyond belief to have Fs, I can’t find anything that will fit, much less look good AND make me feel good about myself.  I’m also tired of people [again, generally men] insisting that I can’t possibly want a reduction, because then I won’t be able to breastfeed, SHOCK AND HORROR [that’s a different rant for a different day].

I’m tired of the double standards.  In a community for breast reduction surgery, a young lady told the story of how a relative’s friend, someone she had never met before in her life, when told that she had had breast surgery, assumed that it was an enhancement and congratulated her on it.  When corrected, he got angry with her and said that he was upset that she got them reduced.  She, understandably, got upset with him.

There are multiple problems with this interaction.  First, the assumption that all breast surgery is enhancement, that nobody could want a reduction.  Obviously this is wrong, seeing as there are multiple communities and an industry surrounding the women who go smaller.  Second, the assumption that he had a say in her breasts, in her health.  I think this part is what gets me the most upset.  Once again women are being told that they can’t possibly know what they want, that they need to let The MEN decide what is best for them.  When does it stop?  When do women gain autonomy?

In addition, hiding in the wings are the insurance companies.  I’ve seen any number of requirements for reductions, because they’re a “cosmetic” surgery.  Losing weight.  Going to and paying for physical therapy [how is PT going to help your breasts get smaller?  I mean really, it’s not like you can bench-press with them!], taking any and all medicines that your PCP prescribes for aches and pains.  Having a documented trail of issues over a year’s time, having “trenches” in your shoulders from your bra straps.  Having to have a minimum amount of tissue removed before the insurance will pay out.

And again, we have people presuming to tell women that they don’t know what they want, because they’re “just women,” or “just people, not the insurer.”

In some other parts of society, I’ve been told, flat-out, that I will not get myself a reduction, because the person simply liked my chest too much to part with them.  Never mind the fact that, at the ripe old age of almost-twenty-five, I have a dowager’s hump.  Never mind the fact that I can’t properly exercise.  Never mind the fact that from the base of my skull to my middle back, I’ve had pain since I started to sprout.  Because no, I didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that that person [yes, a man] got their jollies off of me.

To go back to bras, I believe that the dearth of pretty things for larger-breasted women is just a symptom, not the disease.  It ties back into women not being “good enough” to take care of themselves, to know what they themselves want.  It ties back into men controlling our lives [an interesting research project would be to see exactly how many “popular” bra brands are designed by women] by giving us the contradiction: large breasts are the best, but once you have them you can’t look pretty in them, you’re just for my “entertainment.”

Bras are just another straw onto the camel’s back.  One of these days that back will break and I can’t say as I’m not looking forward to it.  Because let me tell you – it’d be lovely to look lovely once again.