So I was in the new H&M at the City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City this last week and my sister and I happened upon the fat girl section of the store. It was dismal. Situated just behind a display of vibrant red skirts, dresses, tops, pants, etc, was a shabby little wooden wardrobe and inside were black frumpy clothes. On top of the wardrobe was an ugly sign in huge letters: SIZES 14-22. (I've gone on several scavenger hunts for the fat girl section in stores, and they are always hidden away in a corner). It was sad. And it made me angry.
But at least H&M had a fat girl section in the store. That's a freaking miracle. Usually the fatties are banished to the fat old lady stores. I listened to a talk on the geography of fat fashion once, and she said that those stores, like Lane Bryant, are often located near the exits of malls (so that the poor fatties can get in and out without anyone having to see them?). City Creek doesn't even have a Lane Bryant. There is no place for such a store in a fancy new mall, even though the majority of the women who shop there could probably use some more choices as far as sizing goes.
So then we went into Forever 21 and of course every thing was in a size extra small or medium. Even though my sister was cool with that and just bought some accessories, I threw the hat I was about to purchase onto the ground (or the rack where it belongs) and said "F**k this sh*t. I am boycotting" as if someone would care that I didn't buy a $5 knitted beanie.
When I got back from Salt Lake last night at 12:30 I saw an email saying that a package I had ordered was delivered earlier that day, but it wasn't there. I've been on the phone several times today talking to the delivery guy (he shouldn't have called me from his cell phone that one time he couldn't find my apartment if he didn't want me to call him back), and it's no where to be found. This package was a dress from a website that was to solve all my fat girl shopping woes, but has actually increased said woes. They have lots of dresses and the sizes go up to 28 or something and they are adorable. But they're also located in India which makes for long delivery times, have terrible customer service, send me the wrong sizes, and now this. So I'm done with them, sadly.
I'm angry. I keep thinking, who can I write an angry letter to get this changed? But I can't. Fat girls just have to be creative and work with what we have in order to look semi-decent, or give up and stop caring and wear sweats, which would be in keeping with the perception that fat people are lazy and stupid. How lovely would it be, though, to walk in to any store and try on the first item I see? To be able to try on lots of items and find the best fit, not only what will go around my big belly, but will look best on me? To have a choice among several options? It's a dream. I'm super cool with my fat body right now, but I wish it wasn't such a pain in the butt to dress it.
This is not just a rant, it's an issue that I really really care about. I hope to someday put some more research into the importance of fashion for fat people, especially as a means of empowerment, presence, and voice in a world that just wants the fatties to shut up or die. I've been having a hard time deciding what to possibly research for a dissertation, but maybe something that infuriates me will give me enough motivation to finish it. I'm already writing about the size acceptance movement and its connection with second and third wave feminism, so who knows where that could go.