I’ve always loved fashion but I’ve always struggled to find fashionable clothes to fit. I’m a UK size 18 (size 16 on a pre-PMT day) but I find myself getting increasingly frustrated that my clothes choices are so limited. This was highlighted yesterday when I went shopping with my best friend.
We took advantage of the kids being otherwise occupied and escaped to Bluewater for the day. It started off well with the obligatory latte and Danish pastry – this is, of course, crucial in the military planning of a day’s shopping. Caffeine, sugar and flat shoes are essential.
Stomachs lined, hair tied back and we were ready. My friend is an enviably slim size 10/12 but, like with a lot of women, she can still be a right fussy sod, but the choice of shops that stock clothes in her size are inexorably more than mine. This annoys me. A lot. To the point where I berated a sales assistant in one shop because they removed their ‘Inspire’ range of clothes for size 16 and upwards (yes New Look, I’m talking to you!) because they deemed the concession ‘unprofitable.’ Of course, it wasn’t the sales assistant’s fault, but she happened to be there and I had a bad case of shopping rage.
“So what are we meant to do now?” I unreasonably asked her.
“Yes, we! Us big girls. Where do you expect us to shop now? You were all we had!” I was, by now, on a crusade for larger women everywhere and, embarrassingly, near to tears.
She looked around wildly for her Supervisor and I quickly came to my senses. But this has been a lifelong frustration and so someone was bound to feel my wrath at some point. Funnily enough, I’ve not seen her in that shop since. You may wonder why I still go back. They have nice shoes, and shoes are the one thing I can still buy and feel like every other woman.
There were now only two shops left in the whole shopping centre that catered specifically for larger women. As I made my way to one of them, I caught a glimpse of wedding dresses. Wedding dresses? They don’t sell wedding dresses. Oh no …. oh yes! ‘My’ shop was now a wedding dress shop.
“Stay calm, stay calm,” I repeated the mantra I’ve begun to use since I turned 39.
We were now down to one shop. My annoyance was only being exacerbated by having to go into every other shop for my slim friend for her to try clothes on. Which all looked wonderful. Cow.
We arrived at the last shop. The caffeine has definitely worn off and my lower back was beginning to ache. We were now in that small window of shopping time wherein I really wanted to go home. Or hit someone.
I walked in, looked around and my heart sank. The same checked shirts as before, the same sale racks and the same resigned look on the sales assistant’s faces. Things hadn’t changed. The clothes were dull. The staff were bored. I was at a complete loss as to why larger women are so under-represented in such a large shopping centre. This final store had effectively cornered the market and what do they do? Churn out the same predictably boring clothes that would only appeal to women over 60.
“I’m only 39!” I wanted to shout at anyone who would listen, “please don’t make me feel any older than I already do!”
I felt the same yesterday as I used to feel shopping as a teenager. Like a freak.
I got home, put my trainers on and went on the treadmill. It was that or pour myself a double vodka.
As I walked I began to feel a little better. More in control. Larger ladies just aren’t catered for. Approaching 40, perhaps it was time to think about losing this weight I’ve carried around with me for so long.
After half an hour on the treadmill, however, gasping for breath, I wondered if it was such a good idea.