By Lesley | May 20, 2009
Pretty frequently I get compliments from much-slimmer people, usually women, on my clothes, or my style in general. It’s a pretty swell thing to hear, and incredibly satisfying, considering the time and effort I put into my wardrobe. But there’s also an aspect of it that’s… well, frustrating. Because when a much-slimmer person compliments my clothing, inside my head I do something like this:
Compare and contrast:
Your Shopping Experience: Woke up that morning. Showered, dressed, prepared to go out. Went to a nearby mall. Leisurely walked in and out of several stores. Tried some stuff on in a few of them. Scowled at lousy fit or dubious construction. Eventually found something nice on a sale rack for less than $20. Bought it. Went home.
My Shopping Experience: Woke up that morning. Showered, dressed, prepared to go out. Went to a nearby mall. Found two stores that had plus-size sections, but both only up to a 24, and thus too small for me even to try on. Got in car, went to another mall. No plus stores in that one at all. Went to a third mall. Found one plus-size-exclusive store with items big enough to try on. Unfortunately the apparel in question is both overpriced and not my style. Went home. Went online. Checked six websites that offer clothing in my size. Consulted six size charts for said websites. Agonized over garment style and size-chart measurement to ascertain fit, since trying-on is not possible. Debated rolling the dice on another online purchase. Placed two orders from two different websites; paid shipping for each.
[Title card: “One week later…”]
Received packages. Tried things on. Item #1 does not fit. That has to be returned. I’ll get no refund for return shipping or the original shipping cost, so ultimately it will have cost me $15 to try something on for five minutes. Item #2 fit better than item #1, but only just. Kept item #2 for a few days to debate the merits of keeping it (can it be salvaged so I don’t lose more money in nonrefundable shipping?). Ultimately, returned item #2; in this case I was able to return it to a local brick-and-mortar store, so while I lose the original shipping cost, at least I don’t have to pay any more. Went to local brick-and-mortar store, which will accept plus size returns even though it does not carry plus sizes itself. Dealt with clerk who did not recognize product, debated whether it belonged to their store, and finally had to receive instruction from another employee on how to process the return of non-store merchandise.
Went home, $20 poorer for lost shipping, and without any new clothing to show for it. On my way, did not murder anyone in a fit of fashion-deprived madness.
Please note that the above would have taken place in a major metropolitan area of the United States, which offers what are arguably the best plus-size shopping options in the world.
Whenever a not-fat person compliments my clothing, I get that they’re saying, “You have great taste!” I appreciate it. I dig it. I do. But I also occasionally feel like explaining, “You’re complimenting me based on the idea that I just walked into a store one day and bought this because it appealed to me, like you do, and that it is my taste which is the impressive and compliment-worthy thing. No. In fact, it is my persistence in the dogged pursuit of decent fucking clothing that fits me that you should be complimenting. It is my ferocious tenacity in hunting for discounts, deals, and dragging heretofore unknown plus-size options from the caves of fatshion obscurity into the sunlight as a normal part of my endless hunt for fat style. I SLAYED A FUCKING DRAGON BEFORE I COULD BUY THIS DRESS. THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE COMPLIMENTING.”
Instead, I just say, “Thank you.” And I smile.
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