There are many of us old enough to remember a time when ordering an entire wardrobe from the comfort of our living room couch felt like a fantasy, and our wardrobe options were not only limited, but wildly inconvenient to procure. As any plus size person can attest, shopping for clothes at the mall can be excruciatingly frustrating for us.
This frustration runs the risk of being compounded depending on who comes shopping with us.
If we shop with other plus size friends, there’s a sense of communal commiserating every time 10 stores on a mall strip are passed just to reach the one that offers clothing in our sizes. However, if we choose shopping with thin friends, the experience can range from annoying to downright traumatic.
As last minute holiday shopping and seeking out a New Year’s Eve party dress hit critical mass, here’s what it’s like shopping with thin friends, and what they should know.
First things first, while body shaming exists for every shape and size, please remember that fat-shaming is systemic.
For thin folx, before going out and shopping with a plus size pal, it’s mandatory that one keeps in mind how the fashion industry (and society at large) treats us, compared to everyone else. Plus size fashionistas are given significantly less options, and the options we are given tend to be at a much higher price tag.
Not to mention, the general seating available outside dressing rooms while we wait for you to try something on is likely not going to be designed for people like us.
We may experience hostility from salespeople who work on commission, frustrated that they aren’t going to make a sale off of us. We also have to endure general anxiety from merely “existing in public while fat.”
This isn’t an attempt to discount the pain you may feel if someone body shames you with a ‘eat a burger’ comment, but please recognize the systemic issues in place that perpetually keep us down and how it’s not the same as a petty comment from a stranger.
Unless the store specifically advertises a plus size section, understand you are asking us to shop for shoes and accessories
A common phrase plus size folx are all too familiar with is “nothing looks good on me.” Well, in our case, we sometimes don’t even have the option for something to look “bad” on us, because we literally cannot fit into the available garments.
On a personal note, I went shopping for a new winter coat with my 6’3” slender transgender girlfriend. She also endures difficulties while shopping due to her height and broad shoulders. But, there was a moment as she was trying on a new coat where I had to explain the difference between finding things that are not flattering vs. not finding anything at all.
At the end of our trip, she had a new coat, and I found absolutely zero plus size options in this two-story mall. If we’re good friends, we will absolutely help you find something that does look good on you and makes you feel confident.
But! Understand that there’s only so many necklaces and pairs of ankle high booties for us to feign trying on while we wait. This isn’t an attempt to rush you through the store… Just be mindful of what limitations we have in certain stores and understand what you’re asking of us when inviting us into a non-size friendly store.
Please don’t grab something off a rack you “think” will fit us
There are few things more impressive than a curvy fashionista’s ability to scour a store and find something they know will fit them, and it’s because we’re professionals. Years of having to suffer to find anything to fit us has allowed us to find every isolated rack or hidden section in a store.
We will likely have to be on the opposite end of the store (or sometimes, a totally different floor) as you to find things to fit. This is something we’re aware of before we ever step foot in the door.
While you may mean well, grabbing a large or XL from a straight size rack in an attempt to keep us closer to you is humiliating. We both know it’s not going to fit, please don’t put us in the uncomfortable situation of having to explain to you why it’s a “no” without stepping foot inside a dressing room stall.
Please come with us to stores that you can’t fit into either
Believe it or not, some shopping centers do have plus size specialty stores. Please come with us knowing full well that these shops won’t have anything to fit you. We want the same experience that we offer to you when we wait in stores we cannot buy from.
Tell us how an outfit looks, help us find that magical sale rack gem hidden away, and show us that you support us as not just a friend, but an ally, by allowing yourself to walk a mile in our shoes for just a little while. It may feel like a small gesture, but it’s appreciated more than you will know.
What is your advice for shopping with thin friends? Let us know in the comments below!