For most of my life and definitely the majority of my young adulthood, I’ve struggled with being an in-betweener; You know – not super thin, but not “plus size” either. Not exactly “skinny,” but definitely not outright “chubby.” Sure, there’ve been moments in time when I was heartbroken, not eating, and took my unnatural weight loss for granted. Or the time I literally paid not an ounce of attention to what I was putting into my mouth until 13 pounds later when my jeans didn’t zip. But neither of these instances put me anywhere closer to being able to relate to the thinnest of the thin or the thickest of the thick. I was and still am grounded in-between, and here’s why it sucks:
1. Constantly fluctuating between sizes. My collection of clothes is split in half: one part for my thinnest, one part for my heaviest. I do “closet clean-outs” as often as I can, but have never and will never get rid of my smallest pair of pants nor my largest, because there is never any telling what’s going to work from one day to the next. When you’re an in-betweener, losing or gaining 1-5 pounds is a constant situation.
2. Tighter clothes versus oversized clothes. Personally, I feel best in a shirt that’s one or two sizes too big and some nice-fitting bottoms. It’s not that I couldn’t pull off more form-fitting shirts, it’s just that I don’t feel as comfortable in them. My friends have been urging me since the 9th grade to wear tighter tops that show off my “surprise boobs,” but they can’t seem to grasp my insecurity with my mid-section. So, I opt for looser tops that I could sometimes do laps in.
3. Models that don’t represent us whatsoever. Brands never feature clothing with in-betweeners in mind. They have two extremes: model-thin or plus-size. They blatantly skip over the entire middle section that most women could actually relate to, maybe. Sure, that blouse looks perfect on that model, but how the hell am I supposed to know whether or not it’s going to flatter me too? There is nothing about the models I am looking at that even somewhat resembles my body structure. Which leads to me my next point…
4. Designers totally missing the mark with cuts. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate fashion lines’ efforts to adhere to each and every body type with “short,” “petite,” “tall,” and even “curvy” options. But order one of these “speciality” cuts and prepare to be amazed at how awkwardly this brand defines “short” or “curvy.” I’m not that short, but I’m also obviously not curvy enough because this cut looks totally wrong on me. I’m halfway tempted to write a letter of complaint: “Yes, I was wondering – do you have an ‘Emma’ cut available?”
5. Group photos can be a pain. Either I’m in the middle or I’m not in the picture is the way I see it. Skinny bitches on the ends, because your thighs and arms look chic from any angle. Fuller-bodied ladies in the middle. You cannot stick a girl with curves on the end of a group photo and expect her to be happy with the outcome; You naturally thin girls are just that – naturally thin! Even if the camera somehow makes you look thicker than you’d like in this picture, everyone knows it’s lying. You’re used to being viewed as tiny. But, for me, maybe people will see me in the middle and be like “DAMN! She looks awesome!” So let me have this. Just this once.
6. Cheaper, more affordable clothing isn’t an option. Long gone are the days of being able to buy $15 jeans from XXI and $10 throwaway tops from H&M. As an in-betweener, we can’t afford to be spending our hard-earned dollars on cheaply made attire anymore. Our more matured bodies require clothes made with care, attention to detail, and hard work that renders it more pricey than we’d like. It’s a nasty but very real reality. We’ll still try – the denial process lasts longer with this, and you can easily find us trying to convince ourselves into completely ill-fitting, no-curves-allowed clothes at the mall. But, shortly after, you will also find us crying.
7. Not being big enough to “own it.” With the recent onset of the media trying harder to embrace plus-size, it’s become more acceptable and revered to stand out as a bigger lady. Legitimately plus sized women are thought of as total badasses who don’t GAF and just “own it.” That’s all well and good, and I support the movement, but in-betweeners aren’t allowed this luxury. If I were to walk out of my house in a crop top or impossibly skin tight dress that left almost nothing to the imagination, my friends would immediately tell me turn around and go back inside. But so would society. If, by definition, you are a plus size woman, your confidence in wearing what model-thin models wear is applauded. But if you’re neither extreme, you “shouldn’t be wearing that” and are labeled as “trying too hard.”
8. There is no identifying with the standard body types. “Pear,” “Apple,” “Curvy,” “Athletic.” What the hell are these categories and who okay’ed their existence? It’s like, instead of taking the time to really get to know the countless figures and shapes women are capable of holding throughout their lifetime, society decided a long time ago to make standard descriptor buckets into which they think we all fit. “No, no. It’s cool,” society said. “We totally get the aggravation of being in-between, so we made some groups for you guys we think you’re really gonna love.”Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I love the color pink and swoon overly freshly-shaved men in form-fitting suits. In fact, I prefer heather grey and a nice, thick beard. So, just because I have a semi-shapely bottom and a substantially sized chest doesn’t mean I should be automatically grouped into the “curvy” bucket. Because along with my boobs and butt, I also have naturally athletic legs (probably from all the school plays and summer drama camps, I’m guessing). And thinner arms. And, quite literally in the middle of all that, I have a stomach. No, not abs and not even a nondescript flat area. It’s a stomach, with defined rolls, and it’s there. So how the hell do you group me, huh?!?
9. Wait. I’m not done with #8. What about the countless varieties of what “Athletic” can mean? Swimmers traditionally have broad ass shoulders. Tennis players have thighs that could rip you apart. Volleyball champs have 8-foot long legs but impressively bubbly booties. Soccer players have no chest but abs that would gladly wash all your clothes for you, old school style. Every category of body type is subjective, which is why trying to lump all women into one is the thinking of a high man.
10. The magical 5 pounds. 5 pounds more or 5 pounds less and you’d be definitely “heavy” or definitely “thin.” Maybe it’s 10, maybe it’s 15. Regardless of the actual number, you have one that haunts you almost every day of your life. If you decided to just say “fuck it” and let go, eating any and everything in your path and counting laughter as your main source of calorie-burning, gaining that number would most definitely re-label you as a heavier-set individual. But, if you were to get super motivated, watch everything you eat, and make the gym a routine, you could lose those last few pounds and impress the hell out of yourself and everyone else. A little this way or a little that way would finally land you in a well-defined part of the spectrum. But, as soon as you work out, you want that pizza. And as soon as you eat that pizza, you want to work out.
In short, being an in-betweener is a frustrating, vicious cycle. A sort of curvy, somewhat athletic, definitely shorter but not petite, vicious cycle.