Pull up a chair, I have a story to tell on shopping in between sizes…
I went shopping a few days ago in Savannah, because it’s way more summery here than I expected, having flown in from the very cold tundra of my hometown, Ottawa, Canada. I came down from Canada to stay with a good friend and get some nature time in a cabin in wilds just across the Georgia border, in South Carolina.
I figured, why wait for 10 days to get an order from Torrid? It’s hot NOW and I’ve worn the same romper for four days in a row (I’ve been traveling for six months and whoa nelly it has been an interesting challenge when it comes to having a wardrobe that works through weather!).
After a few months of healing from a flare up of my chronic pain and fatigue, and hibernating over the holiday, I wasn’t walking 3-4 hours a day, like I did when I was in Europe in the fall, so I found myself searching for size 16s instead of the 14s I was wearing before I left.
My body tends to fluctuate between a 12 and 16 and has since I was a teen. It’s cool. I’m good with that. I’ve learned how to love my body at every size. Mostly. Between sizes? It can be rough.
It gets harder when I go shopping. Especially when I’m not in a big city.
Store after store, the racks stopped at 12 or 14.
Three stores in and I was getting increasingly reminded of the reason I started dieting when I was a teen.
I had hit what I used to call “that dreaded cusp” again. I’m an imbetweenie- between sizes, between stores, between clothing.
Back in the 90s, hitting this weight and size meant switching stores. And in a smaller town like Ottawa, that meant frumpy, baggy old woman clothes, which left me dejected and ready to calorie restrict my way back to belonging (luckily it doesn’t anymore).
When there are no stores around that honor bigger, curvier bodies, the underlying message that I take from this experience is hard to deny:
“You aren’t okay as you are.”
That’s why we also learn that rather than finding a way to be happy with ourselves as we are, we are taught to calorie restrict and beat our bodies into submission until we shrink enough to a more “socially acceptable” size.
I know now that I am in fact totally bomb as I am, so my confident 36-year-old, ex-marketing consultant, and body positive coach self was talking fairly loudly for all the store clerks to hear about how it’s their loss for losing customers and missing out on 67% of the market.
But my inner teen was starting to spin out.
“When I was 15, I would have been in tears by now,” I told my friend Tonya.
My dear friend and host here in South Carolina, who has also been a client, was with me, and though she is smaller and “straight” sized as they call it in the fashion world, and has also been overcoming her own body image challenges, she had never witnessed this experience and this disparity…
We found an H&M and I explained, as I tried on a too-tight size 14 blouse, “they do have a plus store, but it’s separated or online.”
She was flabbergasted.
At Urban Outfitters, I asked the salesgirl if they had any XL or size 16.
In a Southern vocal fry she said, “um, I think we go up to size 10?”
“Surely that can’t be right,” Tonya said, jaw dropped.
“It’s right”, I snorted, remembering how I used to walk into Urban Outfitters MAYBE walking away with a t-shirt and buying something quirky from their home decor section to make myself forget that I didn’t fit in.
The Real Message
At the end of the day after four attempts, she started to see so much more clearly the subtlety of the messaging everywhere telling us that, who we are is not ok, and remembering on a deeper level, that she’s not broken, our culture is.
And it’s not that our bodies are not inadequate… the clothing is.
Luckily the day ended on an upswing, just as the shops were closing, I found a boutique next to Free People (where I was sure the jeans were for kids… they weren’t). I bought a light, flowy, olive green t-shirt dress with pockets and a long t-shirt to wear with my leggings.
Day salvaged. Cool clothing purchased.
But why I’m really telling this story?
I wanted to share this experience and day with you because all day long, as we were talking about the revolutionary rebellion of plus fashion, I kept thinking about my friend Crystal Cave, who has 32 hours left in a Kickstarter, who is launching her size inclusive clothing line, called Poppy Row. This collection is a modular + sustainable clothing brand “designed for all women to make shopping + getting dressed each day a breeze.”
All women? All women from sizes 2-28, no cusp to trip over, and the silhouettes are designed to shape to every body. What I find to be curious and smart is that this collection is a modular capsule line; meaning if you buy all the pieces, they mix and match to create all sorts of cute!
Poppy Row was started to help women find something they were missing: a go to brand that offered beautiful pieces in the same silhouettes season after season.
The modern woman needs a new wardrobe that makes her feel comfortable, sexy, confident + timeless, all while being able to express her own personality. ~Crystal Cave
And the piece de resistance? Poppy Row is sustainably AND ethically produced (not the norm in the days of fast fashion).
Learn more about the brand at PoppyRow.com
What she has done is inspiring! If you are looking for a few essentials that you can build your wardrobe with, then you have to take a look at what Crystal Cave is up to and how she is switching things up!
Support the Launch of Poppy Row at Kickstarter.com!
Cause f*&k the exclusion. It’s time to put an end to twisted, toxic bullshit messaging that tells us we have to starve our bodies to fit in. That we cannot have fashion. That we are not enough.
I hope you’ll check it out, pre-order something rad (I’m first in line for the hangover pant), and remind the fashion industry that:
We all deserve to exist and look fucking bomb while we’re doing it.
We will not be left out anymore.