Overcoming Dressing Room Anxiety as a Plus Size Person


I abhor the dressing room. I dread the dressing room the same way people avoid the dentist. Whether it’s a hastily held up curtain against a wall surrounded by sale racks, or a stall with enough room on the floor for a toddler to climb underneath, the mere thought of walking into those overly fluorescent lit funhouse nightmares spikes my blood pressure high enough to make you think I’m auditioning for Crank 3

I know I’m not alone. For many plus size folx, the dressing room is a huge source of emotional duress.

Will we fit comfortably in the dressing room?

Will the outfit we picked from our already small selections fit us?

Are people going to stare when I have to put everything back if it doesn’t?

Am I going to be okay having to look at myself from every possible angle?

Dressing Room Anxiety

Before you make your next shopping trip requiring a visit dressing room, here’s a handy guide to help you get through it.

How to Navigate Dressing Room Anxiety as a Plus Person

Check in with yourself.

We all have good days and not-so-good days when it comes to our self-esteem. Even the body positive influencers you follow on Instagram have days where they wake up and don’t feel great about what they see in the mirror. That’s okay.

It’s normal for our feelings about ourselves to fluctuate, but it’s important that we check in with ourselves to get an idea of where we’re at emotionally.

If today is a day where you are feeling particularly down, ask yourself if going into a dressing room is going to help or exacerbate those feelings.

For many of us, the prospect of finding a new outfit to make us feel good about ourselves is the easiest way to pull us out of a funk, but for others, the process of getting to that perfect outfit is too much to handle on our “bad” days. 

Avoid exclusionary stores.

If you’re unsure if a store has a plus size section, do a little research beforehand and save yourself the headache and frustration of picking through racks only to find nothing in your size.

Our emotions can “stack” over the course of the day and enduring the painful annoyance of coming up empty handed can tarnish our emotional state when we get to a store that does have clothing options. 

Photo by Daria Volkova

Labeled sizes are a guide, not an absolute.

We all already know this but it bears repeating, the labeling of sizes on clothing is inconsistent and cannot always be trusted.

Sure, many of us know that we’re “a size X in one store a 2X in another and a 22 somewhere else.” In case you’re not already in tune with the Legends of the Hidden Temple style puzzle configuration that is trying to decipher clothing measurements in the United States, grab a range of sizes of the garment you like.

This way you can prevent heartbreak and frustration when the last store’s size 22 doesn’t fit the same way a new store’s size 22 fits.

Photo by Mike Petrucci

Avoid wearing “laundry day” undergarments.

The process of picking out and trying on clothing can be really exhausting, especially for plus size folx.

Although the idea of wearing our most comfortable undergarments while take off and put on clothing all day sounds appealing, it’s not going to give us a realistic idea of how something is going to look on our bodies in practice.

If you typically wear plus size shapewear underneath form fitting clothing, you should wear shapewear when trying on new form fitting clothing. If you have a larger chest, your clothing will fit differently depending on how much support your chest is getting that day.

Bring a friend.

We are always our own worst critics and when we’re left alone to our own devices, we have a tendency to judge ourselves far more harshly. If possible, don’t go it alone.

Bring a friend to give honest feedback because sometimes we need to hear from a voice that isn’t the one inside our head. If you feel overwhelmed or just can’t deal, you have someone there to help you through it.

Photo by AllGo – An App For Plus Size People

Remember that clothes don’t determine your worth.

No matter how obnoxious the lighting is in the dressing room, or how claustrophobic the stall makes you feel, clothes cannot measure your worth. A room full of mirrors cannot reflect who you are as a person, and how you feel about yourself is most important. Don’t forget that.

What tips and tricks do you have to deal with our own dressing room anxiety? Let us know in the comments!

As The Curvy Fashionista editors, we write about stuff we love and we think you'll like too. The Curvy Fashionista often has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Written by BJ Colangelo

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