Shopping for clothes has always been something I've enjoyed...well, to a certain extent. I love seeing the new styles and fashions for each season, and I love having and wearing clothes that make me feel good about myself. When you're wearing sizes at the top end of the plus sized lines at the specialty stores, however, shopping seems to lose some of its appeal. When you're in very large sizes, shopping can become more of a frustration than a pleasure when you try on piece after piece, only to have it be too small, or just not look right due to your body shape.
Can I have a brief soapbox moment? I must say that I really don't appreciate the trend that goes on in the catalogs for most of the exclusively plus-sized clothing companies where they use models who are probably wearing a size 6 or 8 to show their garments. In my personal opinion, I think there are a couple of reasons why this happens. One possible explanation is that showing the clothes on women without weight issues convinces overweight women to buy the clothes, because it makes them think they're going to look like the women in the photos when they wear it. I can assure you that a woman who wears a size 18, 24, or 32 will not look the same in an outfit as a woman who wears it in a size 8. Case in point...I tried on a sweater dress in a store recently that looked very cute on the model in an advertisement I had seen. My conclusion? Whoever made that particular style of sweater dress for a plus-sized woman apparently never saw a plus-sized woman actually wear it! Not flattering in any way! Another possible explanation may be that, for the most part, our society doesn't tend to recognize plus-sized women as being as beautiful, or as marketable, as their smaller sized counterparts. Sad, but unfortunately true.
Okay, stepping off the soapbox now...
With my weight loss, shopping has become a bit more interesting. For my birthday back in June, I was given a gift card to an upscale department store. While I was appreciative of the gift, I didn't think I could use it to buy any clothes there. My first reaction was that perhaps I could find some accessories, or shoes (because I can ALWAYS buy shoes!!!), because surely nothing would fit me in their clothing department. All I've known for most of my life has been shopping at one or two exclusively plus sized stores and from a couple of catalogs.
On a whim, I decided to go into the women's section and take a look around. It's interesting though, how being overweight can cause a person to feel like they just don't belong in certain places. I felt like I had somehow snuck in and someone would discover me and throw me out. While I was looking through the racks, I kept feeling like a store clerk would come up to me at any minute and say something like, "Are you looking for a gift for someone else?" Because, surely, I couldn't be shopping there for myself...or could I??? Imagine my delight when I realized that I could actually wear their garments! Honestly, I was a little bit overwhelmed by it. I stood in the fitting room, looking at myself wearing an adorable dress I had seen on a mannequin, and broke into tears right there in front of the mirror.
Since that day, I 've been back a couple of times and had fun trying on different outfits and experimenting with different styles I've never been able to wear before. The sweetest victory in it? The pieces I bought in that first shopping trip there are now way too big for me and I just took them to the consignment store last week to re-sell them and I'm ready to move down another size!