Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why do stores hate my body?

This isn't directly related to virginity or singledom. However, it is about the plight of the modern American woman and has been on my mind the past 24 hours. :-P So I wanted to blog about it.

I was doing some after-Christmas shopping with my fellow virgin friend, Amy. After a couple hours of finding nothing, I whipped out my phone and put on my facebook status, "I don't understand why stores don't like my body. I'm not the only one with curves in this city!"

Oh the slew of comments that followed! I don't think I've ever had such an active discussion on my status. Basically, everyone agreed that shopping sucks and it's hard to find anything that flatters your body. The crazy thing is, it's hard for everyone. EVERYONE. Well, at least everyone who responded to or "liked" my status. Not all of them were curvy. One girl was short and lamented that she can't find anything either. She has to get clothes altered. Even one guy said he can't find any clothes.

I don't HATE my body. I like having curves, though I do wish the butt was a little smaller! It's not fun shopping for pants or skirts when your hips are two sizes bigger than your waist (according to the clothing makers). I just get frustrated when clothes that suit my frame are not "in style."

I know what looks good on me. I'm not a poor grad student anymore or a broke teenager who doesn't know any better about what clothes to get. I hate having to "settle" for second-best (or third-best) clothes even though I now can afford to pay more for nicer stuff. It used to be I had to settle for not-as-flattering stuff because it was the cheapest thing that could get over my hips. I can pay $50 for a flattering skirt now (which I did, by the way, on this shopping trip because I couldn't find one like it anywhere else).

I think about "What Not to Wear," that TLC show where the hosts make people throw away their old wardrobes, give them lessons on what to buy for their body, and send them off to stores with a credit card to buy new clothes. Some people would break down and cry when they put on clothes that actually flattered them. "Wow, I have gorgeous legs!" "Hey, I do have a nice rack!" "I never thought I could look like this." It's so true! When you finally put on a pair of jeans that are actually cut for you, when you put on a dress that shows off your best assets, oh my goodness. It can drive you to tears, especially after years of walking into stores that have nothing, of seeing "beautiful" people on TV who look nothing like you. No matter how highly you think of yourself, it can be discouraging. And you settle. You settle for the "best you can find," instead of the best.

And how often do women settle in their lives? The clothing shopping experience becomes a metaphor for women's (perhaps everyone's) lives. You know what you want out of life, you know exactly what will make you happy, but you can't find it and don't know where to look for it or how to attain it, so you "settle." You settle for good enough. The good enough jeans, the good enough dress, the good enough dinner, the good enough car, the good enough job, the good enough boyfriend. Sometimes good enough is all you need (like a "good enough" tomato), but when everything in your life is "good enough," especially if you're a dreamer, you want to pull out your hair in frustration. Life is too exciting, there's too much for you to experience, yet you're stuck in the ordinary, the "good enough."

So my friend with the generous thighs and I buy low-rise jeans that we constantly pull up every time we sit down, because even though the waist is too big, we need to get jeans that fit over our big butts. We need mid-rise or high-rise, but guess what? Mid-rise jeans that are relaxed in the thighs are not "in style." Instead, all the mid-rise jeans are tight through the thighs right now. We have a hard time finding jeans that are tight in the waist and loose in the hips.

The glimmer of light in my facebook comment string was by the end, I put together everyone's recommendations for curvy-friendly stores. It shows how necessary it is for women to get together, share our stories, share our wisdom, even if the wisdom is about something as "unimportant" as where to buy cute jeans. Individually, we have little clue how to go about our lives, but together, we can do this!

By the way, here's our list in case you need some ideas:

"Seven" at Lane Bryant
"St. John's Bay" at J.C. Penney
Fashion Bug
Old Navy (sometimes)
the maternity department at any store

I also typically have good luck at New York and Company and H&M.


  1. So good to hear that other people struggle with this, too. I have a small waist but big hips and chest and NOTHING fits me properly. Shirts that fit across my chest nicely look like muumuus and shirts that fit my waist won't even go around my chest. Don't even get me started on pants, it's insane how much shorter my legs must be than say, everyone else in the world. Ugh. I'm going to print off your list next time I go shopping!

  2. i think everyone faces some problem or another when it comes to finding clothes. i swear i'm a half size for everything which means it's either too big or too small.

  3. Glad the list could be of help! I think all of my female friends have trouble finding clothes that flatter them. It makes me wonder again who exactly the designers are designing for when everybody (even my skinny friends) have trouble finding clothes.