My experience with clothing stores in NYC may have been unfortunate, but I had a much better time at a mall in Connecticut, where we were visiting Steve’s parents on the way down. Steve and I are both from CT, but from different areas, so this was a mall I’d never been to before.
This mall contained not only Lane Bryant (which we don’t even have anymore in Boston), but Torrid and Deb!
When I walked into Deb, it was so exciting I almost wanted to cry. Here was a store full of trendy, colorful, fun–if cheaply-made–clothing, and I could actually try on half of it!
I had fun trying on all sorts of stuff, including a bunch of prom dresses. I’m not sure if Deb existed when I was in high school, but if it did, there weren’t any stores near me. Prom-shopping was a depressing process that involved picking through department store racks for the occasional plus sized dresses, most of which weren’t my style.
I wanted a poofy, full-tulle-skirted, bubblegum-pink dress so badly.
I did end up with a pink dress. It wasn’t quite what I wanted, but it was awesome in its own way, and a lucky find: a raspberry satin dress with ridiculous ’80s sleeves, which my mom found at a thrift store for $8 on the day of prom!
It all worked out in the end, but I still remember how much it hurt to search through store after store that didn’t make clothing for people like me–and I was only a size 16 back then. I can still remember how badly I wanted my body to be different, to fit into the sparkly pastel confections that the other girls could wear. I can still remember how I hated the sight of my stomach, my thighs, in the dressing room mirror.
I know that access to clothing will not, by itself, solve fat-phobia. But damn if it doesn’t make a difference.
I want all teenage girls to be able to find prom dresses in their size, if that’s what they want–or tuxes, if that’s more their style. Or casual clothes, or whatever else they want to wear.
I want walking into a clothing store that carries their size to be the norm, not the incredibly exciting exception.