"Being plus-size kind of forces you into being a window shopper."
I’ve never really been a window shopper, but being plus-size kind of forces you into being a window shopper. And an online shopper. And a ‘I guess I’ll have to make it work’ shopper. It’s going into a store that sells clothes you wish you could fit into and accepting the fact that there’s a really minimal chance that you will, let alone fit well enough to feel good about yourself. If I’m being honest, it’s pretty shitty and unfair.
Being someone who is considered plus-size comes with a lot of ups and downs, I struggled with bullying and low confidence. I had to overcome the fact that my body type was not the ideal body type displayed in the media, but in fact, the very opposite. Every magazine had ’10 great ways to lose 10 pounds’ across their covers, so it was really hard to learn to love my body or what the media introduced as its "short comings". Even when I tried to, I felt like I couldn’t present myself the way I wanted to. The plus-size clothing industry is an industry that focuses on "if it fits" (not if it fits well, mind you) rather than the ~fashion~ behind it. Those who are considered plus-size don’t have many options outside of tutu skirts, graphic t-shirts (although, I have seen a lot of you rocking them and I am in love), and some really questionable designs that make us go ‘well, yeah, it fits…but would I want to be seen in public like this?’.
"The plus-size clothing industry focuses on "if it fits" rather than the ~fashion~ behind it."
In one instance, I couldn’t find a shirt I liked on a mannequin in my size, and a similar item elsewhere would cost me double, sometimes triple the price (Hi ASOS Curve), and it left me feeling somewhat helpless. Throughout my years of discovering who I am and learning to love myself and my body, the lack of choice in the plus-size fashion industry was something that held me back.
I lived the struggle of trying to fit into what’s in fashion, and the battle of finding retailers that catered to my size. And that’s honestly a concept that still baffles me - how does going from a 12 to a 16 manage to make such a big difference in cost? How can (approximately) 7 inches of fabric cost an additional $20? - Most retailers that offer plus-size clothing tend to venture off into the mom-sphere and those who do keep up with the trends (despite mom jeans being pretty trendy) take advantage of being some of few that do by raising their prices.
The media was constantly shaming bodies for not being ‘thin enough’, and idolized a dress size I would never be able to achieve, so I started covering myself up, because at that time, that’s what I felt was my only option. I lived my life in black tights and oversized sweaters, and frequented thrift stores to try and find cute sweaters from the men’s section in extra-large. I would find myself scrolling through Instagram and wishing I could dress like the bloggers I saw, but I couldn’t because there was no way I would be able to find what they were wearing in my size. Despite trying to get to a point of self love, I was constantly wishing that I could be like someone else, and it made me feel like being myself wasn’t good enough. And maybe that’s why I have such a big problem with plus-size clothing.
The introduction of models like Nadia Aboulhosn , Barbie Ferreira and Ashley Graham really knocked me out of self hate, because that’s what it started to become - I hated the way I looked, and convinced myself that everyone else did too. But the introduction of these amazing curvy bodies in the media was something to admire. I felt like I was a little kid again, because when I actually was younger, I never saw someone that looked like me on a magazine cover. I really can’t explain how much of an impact they have had on me. Seeing these models displaying their curvy bodies for what they were - powerful, worthy and like mine made me realize that there was no reason to hide behind the big sweaters, and no reason to worry that people were laughing at me because of my weight. This is what my body looks like, this is who I am, and there was, and is, no reason to be ashamed of that. I started to realize that my body was actually pretty cool in its own unique way and I came out of my shell. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with oversized sweaters and you can definitely still catch me in them, but in a way, I feel like I stopped hiding.
I started wearing things people told me wouldn’t suit my body because I was ‘too curvy’ and stopped focusing on the photoshopped ‘reality’ that I used to cry over because I’d never look like the model on my seventeen magazines. I started buying things that were more out there because I thought they were cool, and I liked how I looked in them. So, despite being rightfully frustrated with the plus-sized fashion industry, I am making it work, and that was because I started dressing for me, and no one else.
Alexis Cochrane is a social media guru @virtualexis