- Sara Mann
Shopping use to be a different experience for me. There was the time before anorexia, when I was at my normal weight and also the time I was anorexic and extremely underweight. During both of these times (because I was either fit and thin or WAY too thin), finding my size at a clothing store wasn’t a problem. Sure I needed to find clothes that looked good on me and fit my body shape, but finding a size to fit me was never a problem. When I was anorexic it was even less of a problem because I basically was a walking hanger. Of course when I was anorexic, shopping brought about it’s difficulties. I was insecure about my body, never thought I was thin enough and oddly enough would never wear tight clothes. Either way, I prided myself with my style. I LOVED to shop! I have a dinner party to go to? I’ll get an awesome new outfit! Oh, I’m going to Italy? I’ll bring an EMPTY suitcase with me for all the cute new clothes I’ll buy! I had a closet that was what I considered amazing and very “me!”
When I walked into stores I never thought about who could shop there other then is this for men or woman, teens or my age, my style or not. I never gave a second though about size range, inclusivity or discrimination, I just shopped and well, most things fit just fine!
Fast forward to now, in a recovering body, that has overshot, that is considered an obese body, a body that is healing and that I don’t currently have any control over what size it is….I’m smacked in the face with the reality that when I walk into a store my number one concerns are no longer whats cute, but are now size range, inclusivity and discrimination. In fact, I’m in AW of the discrimination and lack of inclusivity in stores that I never noticed before…..
This past Christmas I came face to face with this problem. Look, I NEVER go to the mall anymore. In fact, I rarely go shopping period. Something I would have in the past checked off on a list of interests, I now almost never do. It’s all sorts of triggering and I’m not about it for obvious reasons. BUT, this holiday, being a good wife trumped my insecurities so I decided to woman up and go shopping. My hubs really wanted a certain type of sweater and I was determined to get the man what he desired. I figured JCREW, Zara and Banana Republic were a good place to start for said sweater. Now you should know that these are places I use to shop pre-recovery weight. I use to bring suitcases home full of clothes I bought at Zara when I lived in Spain and JCREW has a gigantic outlet store in Virginia that my sister-in-law and I would dream and talk about. I haven’t stepped foot in either in three years. But off I went to be a great wife.
I would say getting triggered when I walked into the mall would be a gross understatement. Walking into stores, seeing people shop, seeing cute outfits not in my size, walking in my leggings while swollen, wishing I had on my cute skinny jeans and funky sweaters. I felt frumpy and ugly and out of place. Even worse I felt rejected by every. single. store I stepped foot in. It was BEYOND triggering, it was like straight up mental assault..
Now here is where this story takes a turn, and man am I proud of myself. In the past, if this happened, I would leave in tears, hating my body and mentally/physically/emotionally destroy it and myself for the next couple of weeks. I would stress about when it would go back to normal and whether I will ever recover or not and worry if I will EVER be able to shop in these stores again. THIS TIME, however, was a different ball game. I’ll admit… yes… I did cry… (I mean, I’m only human people…), and yes.. I did leave…quickly! BUT, the big difference is I didn’t wallow in self pity and self destruction, nope, I GOT ANGRY. WTF JCREW?! WTH ZARA?! WHY BANANA REPUBLIC?! Where are the inclusive sizes? You don’t think a person who is a little larger then a size 10 wants to look sexy, cute and fashionable?! You don’t think a person with curves wants to rock that awesome sweater and jean outfit on the mannequin?! For real though? What’s the reason? Why aren’t there more sizes and why in heavens name are you putting the few larger sizes you have (if you even have them) in the back corner of the store or online like I am unworthy to be seen shopping?!
Here is one of my biggest problems with all off this. I am bigger right now, but it isn’t because I don’t exercise or care about my health. In fact, I’m bigger right now because I DO care about my health. It disgusts me that while I’m recovering from anorexia and trying to navigate my way through major health issues in a bigger/healing body, that the stores and style that I love don’t accept me and won’t make clothes so that I too feel beautiful during this time. I also know that growing up I was white, not ugly, had a dad who was a doctor and lived in a nice home and had all the opportunity I wanted, and this is one of the first times I sat back and said dang…this is what it feels like to feel not good enough, unwelcome, rejected and ignored for something I don’t have control over like the size of my body.
I don’t know what the deal is. Please, if someone in fashion is reading this, message me. I honest to God want to know!? Does it cost that much more money to have a few more size options? Is it too much work to have an extra pattern for a curve?
I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, that this is a first world problem and Inwardly Renewed’s blog titled JCREW WTH?! is not going to get these stores to all of a sudden carry a larger range of sizes. I do however want to use this small platform I have to raise awareness, so whoever reads this might see shopping through a different lens. When you walk into a store have you ever considered if your plus size (or maybe even petite size) friend or family member can shop there? Does that bother you? Do you take for granted all the amazing outfits you get to choose from when there are people out there that can only choose from two racks of clothes? Does your favorite store only cater to thin woman? Is your thought that plus size woman should just diet and exercise if they want to fit into these clothes? Do you think that the cute sweater you are wearing, I should be able to wear too as I recover? Something to think about! Something to notice!
On the same note, I want to give a virtual high five and round of applause to the stores that are super inclusive and killing it with the size range game! Old Navy, Target, H&M, ASOS, MACY’s, Forever 21, Marshalls swimsuits for all, Nordstrom, and all the amazing boutiques out there. YOU, have helped me through my recovery by carrying cute clothes in ALL sizes. Clothes that make me feel beautiful even when my eating disorder is screaming for me to not. THANK YOU! You are way ahead of the game and will have my business whether I’m fat, thin, fit or flabby.
(and don't worry...I found the sweater for the hubs...and bought in four different colors...at a store that has clothes for ALL shapes and sizes!)
- Sara -
p.s. Thank you for all of the questions you have submitted for my hubs! They are in his possession and he will be working on answering all of them over the next week or so! I will be posting it soon! If you still have a question for him, it's not too late! Feel free to message me or comment below!