Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Talbots and the Plus Sized Girl

So, I don't often talk or write about the anxieties or frustrations I have with my body. First, on any given day I might be feeling any number of ways about the way I look (most of the them good). How I feel about my body and my body in clothes very much depends on what I'm wearing, what I'm doing that day, who I'm doing it with, and whether or not my mother will insist I wear pantyhose. That whirlwind of feelings can be hard to pin down into something coherent.

The second reason I don't often talk about my frustrations is because I'm trying to raise two girl children into grown women who will be comfortable in their skin, in a world that seems deliberately designed to do the exact opposite. I try to focus on all the things I'm comfortable with rather than those things that I'm not.

But man is it hard.

I have a thing* tomorrow for which I decided I needed new top. Nothing fancy, just something blue and simple. A relatively easy task, you'd think. I work in downtown Charleston. There is no shortage of clothing stores within easy walking distance of my office. It seems easy enough to walk a couple of blocks, hit a couple of stores, pick out something blue, and call it a day.

Except clothes aren't really made for me. I'm tall, broad-shouldered, long-limbed, plus sized. I think I look really good in clothes, I really like clothes. I even like shopping. But a simple task like buying a blue shirt, on a whim (because, really, I decided this at about noon today and had about 90 minutes to accomplish the task), is nearly impossible. I can't pop into Urban Outfitters or H&M or J. Crew the Gap and be assured of finding clothes that fit. I have to go the one or two stores that will always have my size, even if they don't always have things I like. Buying clothes is always a reminder, every single time, that I live in a body my society has decided doesn't *fit.*  That sucks.

And, yet, clothes still need to be bought. Sometimes within walking distance of your office.

And so I found myself in Talbots, of all places, this afternoon.

Full disclosure: I do not work for Talbots. I have never worked for Talbots. I don't think I'd ever been in a Talbots before today. I get nothing from I'm about to say about them.

In short, they were awesome. And here's why:

The store had a petite, misses, and women's section (a whole other post is needed for the inanity of women's sizing in the US--what's important here is that there were clothes for many sized women). All of the saleswomen were helping people in all the sections. In the dressing room area (which was the most elaborate and spacious dressing room I've been in a long time) there were women of different sizes and ages and ethnicities trying on clothes, being helped, helping each other. They wrote my name on a tag on the dressing room door. The saleswoman working with me laid out outfits for me. Never once did I feel out of place, not because my race, not because I clearly have less disposable income than many of the women shopping there, not because of my age (I was the youngest person there, as far as I could tell), and, not, importantly, because of my size. Do you know how rare that is? The answer for those of you who don't know: very very very rare.

I totally get that Talbot's wants me to spend $90 on a powder blue oxford shirt and another $30 on the beautiful scarf to accessorize it. It pays, literally, for them to be nice to me. But that's just the thing, it would also pay Banana Republic and Ann Taylor and countless other places where my body doesn't fit and where I am very much made aware of that fact.

Today it really mattered that Talbots was the only place that thought me and my body are worth the effort.

And some days, that's exactly what a plus-sized girl needs.

*a thing soon to be revealed when I stop freaking out about it


Kathleen Beres Rogers said...

I have never, ever wanted to shop at Talbot's until I read this! You are beautiful, and I'm so glad that they noticed that and pampered you the way you deserve!!

Claire said...

Another reason why you and my mom were twins in a past life!

John Wesley said...

I enjoyed reading about your experience at Talbot's. The person who helped you is good people in my book.

I think my size is average for a male in the U.S., but here in Asia (Korea, and now Japan) I am plus-sized myself. :)

Even shoes are hard to find here. At least, in Korea, I could find a decent tailor, or even an Ajussi (Uncle) to make shoes. Not so much luck here in Japan.

I remember putting on an XL t-shirt, and being very afraid of ripping it apart, as I took it off. Ha ha.

I go to the internet, but sizes vary widely these days. It's best to try things on before you buy. So, I then go to the AAFES(Army and Air Force Exchange Something) or NEX (Navy Exchange) to buy what everyone else around here is wearing. LOL