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I have always struggled with my weight. It never stays the same, and has gone up and down throughout all my life. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, I have gained a lot of weight. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but now, during August, it hit me like a truck.

I wanted to find a cute outfit for my birthday. My nuclear family and I weren’t doing anything special for the occasion. We were just going out to eat, but I still wanted to look cute for it. After all, nothing better than finding a pretty outfit to start another year of your life, right? WRONG! Sure, I found something to wear, but by the time I did, I had been at the mall for six hours.  My feet were hurting,  and my confidence was on the floor. 

You see, in every store I entered, I encountered a different struggle.

First, I went to Forever 21. I figured I would find something quick. After all, I like the style of the clothes, and they aren’t expensive. It was going to be in and out, the way that I like and wanted it to be,since COVID-19 is still a risk. Imagine how disappointed, but not surprised, I was when all the clothes were either ‘Small’ or ‘Medium.’ Not a single ‘Large’ on sight. I was internally screaming, because, sure, I liked the clothes, but did I actually fit in them? 

No

So, after a while, I gave up on looking between the clothes in hopes of finding a L or XL shirt (because God knows I didn’t even try to look at pants), and decided to go to the ‘Plus Size’ area.  There, at least, I could find a skirt or some pants that fit… only to realise that it was gone. I visited this particular Forever 21 like a thousand times before, and,always in the corner, there was a ‘Plus Size’ area, full of cute clothes to choose from. But not this timeーbecause the store that already has trouble having more sizes than ‘Small’ and ‘Medium’ decided to take it all away. I only went to one store and I already wanted to cry. 

After that, I decided to visit other shops, which resulted in another problem: the style. There were clothes my size, but they didn’t fit my style. For some reason, the world thinks that fat people are ashamed of their weight and want to hide it. Sure, I love good oversized shirts. They are comfy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to use crop tops or tight clothes. But no, most of the clothes in big sizes are loose and without a set shape. And don’t get me started on the prints! We are not old people, and we don’t want to look like old people. So, why do all these clothes look like they belong to old folks? It literally makes me so angry that the fashion industry wants for us to hide our bodies as if they are shameful. I got a belly, so what? LET ME SHOW IT IN PEACE! I left all the stores without even trying on clothes. 

I was about to give up and just call it a day, when I remembered that one of my friends found a cute shirt in one shop. So, I decided to give it one last try. I went to the store, and looked through it. Found a few large shirts and dresses, thinking maybe they would fit…

They didn’t. 

The shirts were tight, and the dresses wouldn’t go past my hips (this didn’t surprise me considering that, if the dress isn’t loose, it won’t fit over them). At this point, I was ready to cry. I finally found something that I like that is bigger than a ‘Medium,’ and it doesn’t fit? What now? The store doesn’t have a ‘Plus Size’ area, and I didn’t see an XL between the clothes I searched. Once again, I was about to leave empty handed. But when I was about to go, I saw a shirt that had been calling my name since I entered the store. I knew it was a ‘Medium’, which I’m clearly not, but hey! I was already about to cry anyway, so I decided to try it…and it fitted perfectly. 

The large wouldn’t fit, but two Medium shirts did. How? The world might never know. Sizing in women’s clothes is a nightmare. It’s REALLY inconsistent. I have pants from size 14 to size 18 and they all fit comfortably. Never knowing what size you will be is highly discouraging, especially when you are a big person. You think that smaller sizes won’t fit, so you go to the struggle of searching for bigger sizes, only for them not to fit when you do. And don’t get me started on buying clothes online! How do you know if they will fit or not, when you can’t even pinpoint what size you are in a store? The whole experience was a nightmare. Then, I saw that Old Navy was making their store size inclusive, and I cried, because, for once, I won’t have to struggle to find clothes that fit and look good. I can only hope that more stores will take this approach, because I’m tired of feeling left out of dressing in the style I dream of.

Alana is currently in her fourth year, studying Comparative Literature and Public Relations and Advertising in the UPR Río Piedras Campus. She loves books, superheroes and mythology. Will sing any song that she knows (even if she can't sing to save her life) and is always tired. She dreams with someday writing a book.
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