There is this accepted notion out there that all women love to shop. So I guess if this is true, then I must not have been a woman for most of my life. All jokes aside, shopping was never something that brought me joy. Instead, shopping was torture. It is only now — as a plus-size adult woman — that I’ve come to see the thrill that comes with shopping. And that’s because plus-size shopping online and body acceptance changed the game for me.
Most of my life, I wore straight sizes — usually somewhere between a 10 or a 14. I was a chronic dieter, and as I mentioned before, shopping was my personal hell. The dressing room was always a reminder that I was too big. So I often tried to act like I didn't care what I looked like. I wore pajama bottoms to school and big hooded sweatshirts. But it wasn’t that I hated clothes, or that I thought fashion was pointless. It was that I felt excluded.
I remember being in dressing room after dressing room with my mom, crying. She kept bringing in outfits, trying to help me find something that made me feel beautiful — something that made me feel like I looked cool or sleek or sexy or pretty or glamorous or whatever I was going for on that day. I was so critical, so hyper-observant of every roll, every curve; so afraid that people would think of me as the fat girl.
And to make matters worse, I was a teenager in the nineties. Do you remember nineties fashion for teen girls? It was all midriff tops and spaghetti strap dresses. When you are body conscious, there is no way that you are going to feel comfortable with that much skin exposed.
Today, I have left that sad girl in the dressing room behind. Through my academic studies and my association with the body and fat acceptance movements, I have come to understand that my body doesn't deserve to be tortured or hated. My body — like all other bodies — is amazing no matter what size I wear.
Body acceptance is a crazy journey, and a huge part of coming to terms with my body was realizing that I could participate in fashion. My body wasn't too big. My mentality about style, fashion and beauty was too small. There is no shame in wearing plus-sizes. And in fact, I actually enjoy online plus-size shopping way more than I ever enjoyed straight-size shopping!
These days I wear a 16/18W, and I do most of my shopping in cyberspace. I don't really have a choice. Plus shopping in actual stores (made of brick and mortar) is limited, particularly if you are looking for fun and smart styles. There was a time in my life when I couldn't imagine how someone shopped online. How could you buy things that you couldn't touch or try on? But man, am I a convert. Literally, I now almost never set foot in stores. Whilst I get the appeal of the brick and mortar shop — there is something amazing about instant gratification — there are so many reasons to love shopping online (and when you are someone like me who suffered a youth filled with shopping tragedy, the world of e-retail is pretty special).
Searching for the right item just requires a few clicks and with thousands of options at your finger tips, you can easily create a unique sense of style. Online shopping is without limitations. There is an endless sense of availability. Sure, there are times when I wish that there were more brick and mortar plus shops — but even if I was not plus-size, I would continue to shop online.
As an online plus-size shopper, I actually know my measurements. So buying clothes is no longer a game of trial and error. There is no guessing, so there is never anything that doesn't fit. I look at an item, read the sizing details and sizing chart and then order my size. Sure, there are times where I buy items I don't like but I never get an item that I can't put on. Gone are the days of torturous dressing rooms filled with zippers that won't zip or buttons that won't button. I also love that I am trying on the clothes in the convenience of my home with all my undergarments and shoes, so I know right away if an item is going to work with my wardrobe.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that when I shop online, I'm fearless. As a kid, shopping involved my mom; but it also involved a stranger — a sales person. I cannot tell you how many times in my life a sales person has implied to me that the style I am choosing is not for a woman my size, or wouldn't fit a woman my size. From the comfort of my own couch, I don't have to listen. If I want to buy a bikini or try on a crop top, then that is my prerogative; and no one will say anything. From the comfort of my private spaces, it is easy to remember that fashion rules were made to be broken — and once I get those items in my hands... Well, they're mine now and you can't have them back!
At the end of the day, this newfound love is down to the fact that I no longer hate my body. So for me, my plus-size body provides a far more fun canvas to shop for. That said, if you are out there struggling with your own bodily comfort — at any size — I might suggest that you start shopping online, too. Begin trying new styles from the comfort of your home. (There is just something about dressing rooms... something brutal, something cruel. And they are always too warm!)
And remember: Your body rocks. If your interested, fashion is for you. No matter what size you are.
Images: Getty; Giphy