I realized I was fat when I was wearing the same size trousers my mom wore for the duration of my childhood. My mom was a size 14, and compared to the other schoolyard moms in the ‘90s, my mom was big, plump, jolly. According to her physicians, she was considered obese. Today, the average American female wears between a size 16-18. This means that the average American female is regularly identified as a plus size woman. So why then are we not catered to?
Despite being overweight, I’m not unhealthy. I don’t drink soda, am mindful of sweets, and outside of the week Aunt Flo arrives, I seldom indulge in fast food. I’m always in the best health whenever I visit my physicians, and while I could stand to lose a few pounds, my doctor’s biggest gripe with me is that I drink too much coffee. So why then am I overweight?
While genetics play a big role in someone’s overall health, the bottom line is that I don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle. I rarely exercise and I allow my stress level to overtake me. I was also born with a tethered spinal cord that went untreated for a decade, which severely limits my stamina and capacity for working out. While some may argue, “no excuses,” the end result is that I need clothes to wear, even while I attempt to get healthier.
Clothes aren’t made to tailor my body shape. What rattles my self-esteem is not my flabby arms, double chin or tiny tummy that I can discreetly hide behind baggy blouses. No, it’s when I walk into the fitting room at H&M and have to arch my back onto the bench with the soles of my shoes planted on an angle on the tiled floor like I’m waiting for the gynecologist to examine my cervix. I stand up and the “size 14” pants fit more like 10s, and I peel them off my legs in disgust. The tag may say 14 but the fit, the comfort, the fashion industry still doesn’t cater to the features that make women a 14: the bigger breasts supported by thick wires, the widened hips, or the beautiful curvature of a woman’s body, the one my husband loves to touch. We’re still catering to women who are “fat,” still operating on the assumption it’s just a chubby belly that separates us from other sizes.
This is not a disgrace letter to the women with tiny frames, the women who work out, take care of themselves, who adorn my Instagram feed with bodies I envy. I envy you because your body type is still the only one that’s catered to. That’s not your fault—it’s the industry’s fault.
With the world we live in, it’s more important than ever to celebrate the diversity of all shapes and sizes. Mentally, the majority of us are there. Every day, we’re continuously subjected to more and more prolific exposure of women celebrating their bodies—Olivia Meunter, Noelle Downing, Demi Lovato, pioneers in the business of promoting the necessary message of self-love, self-acceptance and gratitude of any size. Years ago, back when I wore a size 8, I wrote an article for Elite Daily that promoted this very message of loving and accepting and praising the body you have, regardless of its size, regardless of its features. That feeling has exponentially doubled as the size of pants I wore crept up. You should love your body for what it is.
Women’s bodies are capable of remarkable things, even if that remarkable thing is simply getting out of bed in the morning. My body walked out of the ICU when I was told I’d never walk again. My body dealt with abuse. My body dealt with enormous grief. It’s gotten out of bed, sat in a therapist’s chair in a dimly lit office when I convinced myself that the world would be better off without me in it. This body has made love, received love, given love. This body has given me my life’s purpose. There’s no justification for being cruel to it.
I just wish the fashion industry catered to it. We’ve come a long way in loving ourselves. It’s time retailers met us half way.