Why Is It Always So Hard to Find Clothes For ‘Plus-Size’ Women?
It is almost as if the manufacturing industry is punishing me for not shedding those kilos.
Okay, so I went shopping today. What is the big deal, you ask? Well, the big deal is that I fall on what you call the healthy side – nay, very healthy. I’m chubby and I sport a double chin. Shopping as a plus-size woman is a tad different to shopping as a normal sized one. I've had both the experiences. So, as a veteran, I have a tale to tell.
People usually walk into a shop, sit down and they are shown lovely, alluring clothes. Choosing among the many pieces is the real problem for most. This is what I call a first-world problem in the plus-sized world.
My predicament begins with finding a shop that has anything above XL-sized clothes. Posh labels in malls to poorly-lit shops in narrow lanes, none seem to know I exist.
Choice is a luxury that I can’t afford. And, what’s with the cost, people? How am I supposed to dress myself with all those rent-a-house-in-a-metro prices? It is almost as if the manufacturing industry is punishing me for not shedding those kilos. So, I begin by peeping into the shop and inquiring if they house clothes that fit me. I feel apologetic asking for a dress my size.
I’ve gone from asking for ready-made dresses to asking for semi-stitched materials.
My tailor gets annoyed when I ask him why my lehenga does not have frills like in the picture accompanying the material. He says, I should expect no such thing since the 2.5-metre material is only just about enough to wrap around my girth once.
The most agonising moments in my life are the few seconds that follow when I inquire if a shop stocks dresses of my size. Some give me a sad smile, the others give me a judgmental look; some look me up and down brazenly to decide how many Xs does my body type demand before the ‘L’. The others are very frank or plain rude depending on how you put it with a “No, madam, we don’t sell plus-size”; some are hopeful with a “Let’s see if we can find anything” while the others are embarrassed on my behalf.
“XXXL doesn’t fit you, madam. You need free-size,” one says loud enough for the other customers to look at me with interest. I know I am a voluptuous woman. Yes, I have taken to using adjectives to describe myself these days.
I usually don’t mind that I am fat.
Well, sometimes I do, like when I am in the trial room looking like a giant bean bag. Or when I ask two ladies in an RTC bus if they can make some space for me and they oblige but give me the space of a slice of pizza and wonder why I am not swooping down in gratitude... you know, in times like those. But, hearing the shopkeepers describe me as a plus-size woman throws me into self-pity mode. It is akin to telling a blind person that he is blind or telling a man that he is a douche.
One shopkeeper says with pride that they don’t sell clothes beyond XL size. That’s a shame because I tend to be a loyal customer and he just lost me. Well, I am loyal because there are so few shops selling in my size. And, why is he so proud of himself?
Not stocking my size is a foolish idea considering we are soon overtaking America in obesity prevalence, yours truly included.
Some shopkeepers are helpful and provide suggestions as to which shop I should visit since they themselves don’t offer my size. The others show knack in sales and suggest that I can always untuck the hem at the back and on the sides to make the dress fit me. The others are plain liars. They try to convince me that I look not an inch over 44, cognisant of the fact that I am bulging on all sides and if I were to take a short breath to keep myself alive, I risk popping all the buttons.
Some are just lame – well, lame not to construct a trial room. They encourage me to try the dress over the one I am wearing in full view of the other customers, never mind the idle shopkeeper opposite to the one I am in who is looking at me in all sorts of creepy ways. Well, they will say anything if I let myself to be influenced by them. They are only bothered about making the sale. They’ll probably even tell me that I look like Aishwarya Rai, yes, they still compare women to Aishwarya Rai. When I do allow myself to be swayed their fake-compliments, I end up sitting in the middle of the shop floor stuck with neither being able to pull the damned dress down nor take it back up, at which point they’ll do an Arvind Kejriwal and criticise rather pointedly, saying they did warn me that the dress probably wouldn’t fit me.
Giving up, I try to seek solace in watching TV. Suits is playing on it and Gina Torres is slaying it on the show with those I-mean-business costumes and I realise in dismay that I have to drudge through my pile of clothes to find one I can wear for office tomorrow. I sigh and say aloud that my only wish in life is to find a dress that’ll fit me, to which my sister remarks rather coldly that I must be leading a secure life if my only wish is to find a piece of garment I can wrap myself in. She on the other hand, is worrying about earning well, saving enough and investing smartly for buying a nice piece of real estate, a new vehicle and to go on a vacation.
Well, to each her own. She has to save one rupee at a time while I have to lose one inch at a time.
(Spurty Komarraju is a true-blue Hyderabadi. She’s passionate about travel, pearls and poetry, biryani and The Big Bang Theory.)
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