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Shopping While Plus-Sized is A Literal Nightmare

You know what is the most fun, always, and all women would surely agree? Jean shopping. And by the most fun, of course, I mean the literal worst and probably ends in tears a good 47% of the time. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe not everybody has cried in more H&M dressing rooms than they can count.

But what is even better, and really ups the ante for how excruciatingly awful capitalistic pursuits can be, is jean shopping as a plus sized woman. Nothing like finding a cute pair of pants at Forever21, thinking something along the lines of “Gee, I would look hot AF in these, not a single man or woman or anybody in between could resist my booty, and oh, are those strategically placed holes in the thighs? To remind people how much they’d love to touch my upper leg?” and then discovering they literally cannot be bothered to carry these cute jeans in your size. Nothing like being body shamed by a chain shopping retailer that caters to the 14-25 demographic.

67% of American women are plus sized. Somehow, the fashion industry has concluded that they are a minority demographic, and to cater instead to the 43% of women who are under size 14, often not carrying plus sized clothing. If a store does deign to carry shirts the average woman can fit, they often seclude them to a fraction of the store’s space.

Just by the numbers, shopping while plus sized is a nightmare. Bloomberg.com crunched the numbers, and found out that sure enough, shopping while plus sized is just a lot like using tinder while sad: unsatisfying, disappointing, and ultimately leaves you wanting to take a nap. J.C. Penny, that bastion of modern fashion, had a total of plus sized dresses on its site totalling out to a whopping 16%. Nordstrom did even worse, at 8.5%. And good luck shopping at Nike, you would find five items total. But that sounds archaic, old fashioned, and like this analysis must have been done years ago, before the body-positivity movement, back when retailers were still in the dark. Yeah, no, this was less than a year ago, in May of 2016.

Do they not want our money? Do the dollars belonging to a woman with stretch marks mean less than those belonging to a size two lady? Plus-sized women are, by all means, still buying clothes. Compared to skinnier counterparts, plus sized women have increased their overall spending in recent years, even if the fashion industry is struggling by and large in sales, and moreover struggling to even supply plus sized women with clothing they can buy.

And yet, we still have homeboys like the former Abercrombie and Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, spewing such gems as “I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.” or “A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes” or “Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard.” Which, like, all right, good thing I didn’t feel the need to wear a tacky cotton blend tee-shirt with the word “abercrombie” splattered across my boobs anyway, since bodies like mine don’t belong in them.

But thank goodness for progressive and empowering brands like H&M, which recently cast plus-size model Ashley Graham as a brand spokeswoman, and had her model at fashion week. H&M was so committed to being 100% inclusive of their bigger, “thiccer” demographic, that it is only selling the clothing Ashley Graham can wear in its online stores. If she were to walk into an H&M, as a size 14 woman, Ashley Graham would probably only be able to buy a necklace and a plastic keychain.

Honestly, this is all exhausting. Plus sized women would like to give retailers their money. We would like to shop just as much as skinny women. We just want to not have to run around naked or worse, tacky. That’s all we want. Please, just let us buy your clothes.

Meghan McGinnis is a junior at the University of Utah studying Film and Media Arts (production emphasis) and Theatre, as well as the Director of External Affairs at the University of Utah's HerCampus branch. She's a professional poet, published in Rising Phoenix Press, A Feminist Thread, and more, as well as having competed at the National Poetry Slam (2016, 2017, 2018), Individual World Poetry Slam (2017) and the Women of the World Poetry Slam (2018.) She loves comedy, feminism, history, beauty, and style, if you couldn't tell from her articles. She's passionate about Her Campus, as well as mac n cheese, aioli, and mexican food. Follow her on twitter and insta at @itsdorothybonch and any inquiries can be sent to missmeghanmcginnis@gmail.com
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