I’m sick of being a second-class citizen when I go shopping.
Plus size* clothing selection has gotten better since I was a teenager–when I wore a size 16, which was then painfully hard to find and is now frequently included in straight sizes. But it’s still shitty. And I’m reminded of it every time I go shopping.
I dropped into H&M recently, and was pleasantly surprised to see that my local store had a plus size section. Last I’d heard, H&M+ was only carried in Europe. I’d pretty much given up on H+M after a bit of weight gain made fitting into the occasional size L even less likely. So it was exciting to see that they had something, anything, in my size.
On that trip, I found an adorable lavender lace dress (which you can see in this post) and a pair of floral skinny jeans,** and was able to buy both with some birthday money.
I went back again the other day, hoping to find a work-appropriate top or two to go with my large (no pun intended) collection of skirts. But this time, no luck. And as much as I’m glad that H&M carries plus sizes at all, it was still depressing to see racks upon racks of clothing that I couldn’t even try on.
There were lacy peach dresses, black sparkly jacquard separates, hot pink jeans, gold sequined miniskirts…
…and then there’s the plus size section, with a few cute pieces mixed in with a lot of relatively basic, blah stuff.
I did try on a few L’s just in case. One sparkly “oversized tee” fit me, but it didn’t hang right, and was itchy (which is probably why it was on sale for $5). And then there were the floral dresses.
I couldn’t even get into one, and the other was uncomfortable tight. If only it came in an XL–not even technically a plus size–it would have fit me.
In comparison, the plus size floral options looked like this:
Not bad–much better than what Kath of Fat Heffalump found at Target–but much plainer than the straight-sized florals. I want dresses with interesting shapes and cute details too, not just t-shirts.
I left more convinced than ever that I should stick to online shopping, where I have so many more options. But it shouldn’t have to be that way.
Caveat: I am aware of the many problems with the disposable fashion model, of which H&M is a major purveyor, including some pretty terrible worker exploitation. (Not that higher quality brands don’t also exploit their workers–and then there’s the issue of leaving those workers unemployed and even worse off if we suddenly stop buying their products.)
But not everyone can afford a wardrobe full of expensive, well-made clothing. Especially when you wear plus sizes, which are more expensive to begin with. And especially if your weight fluctuates for any number of reasons (stress, health conditions, medication side effects, aging, having children…) and you find yourself in need of an entire new wardrobe. Thrifting can be great, but not everyone has the time and energy necessary for it, or the luck to live near thrift stores with a decent plus size selection.
Basically…this shit’s complicated.
*I kind of hate the term “plus size. Why don’t we call everything else minus size? But I don’t know of a better term for clothing that potentially fits me, so I’ll use it for now.
**Yeah, I finally gave in to the skinny jean trend. But only because I love florals more than I hate skinny jeans.