Sunday, March 31, 2013

Women's Sizes? (Men, too!)

Weight is a funny issue. Not funny in the sense that people clutch their rib cages in an attempt to calm the stitch formed from guffawing until tears streamed down their cheeks in a blushing river of chuckles, but funny in a dry, ironic kind of way. The way that internet memes aren't and are funny.

Weight is a sensitive issue. Delicate. Easily offensive and offending. But, we all come in different shapes and sizes, and ain't that grand.

Up until last year, I had never managed a clothing store. Since last year, I've managed two. One of the funniest phrases I hear women say to me is:

Where are your WOMEN'S sizes?! You know...for real women?!

What they're asking me is 'where is your plus size section?', but that's not what they say. They ask me where the clothes are for "real women", and, yes, I've had quite a number of women refer to themselves as "real women", whereas clothes for, say, a size 14 or a size 8 or a size 2 are for "skinny little girls". I think my problem with this is the same problem I have with gay men's obsession with wanting a "str8" acting partner, with muscle guys talking about shrimpy guys or slim guys making fun of meatheads. It's the problem I have when I hear the comic nerds making fun of the popular jock, and when the idiot muscle head makes fun of someone who'd rather spend their time reading than doing reps.

It's the fear and loathing of the dreaded OTHER....

But, back to sizes. Over the past few days, our store has been crazy busy thanks to the most ridiculous promotion ever. Seriously. Ridiculous. (But I got some great clothes out of it!) Funny enough - there's that word again - I had a man looking at the shorts, asking me where the sizes above a 38 inch waist were. I told him we didn't carry that size. The next words out of his mouth were "You don't carry men's sizes?" And in those words, there is a host of subtext. There is a derision of someone smaller than him. There is the embarrassment he's most assuredly experiencing at being told he's too large for the clothes at my store. There are things that I'm sure I don't understand and possibly never will because I am not the same size as him.

I guess other than stating that this problem of disparity exists, I'd like to explore why. Why does this exist? We've talked about the concept of in-group/out-group dynamics, and I think we can all agree that it is in plain effect in this instance. But, in-group/out-group dynamics are typically spoken of next to the word 'fear'. 'Fear of the other'. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what looks or smells or thinks or acts differently than we do.

Homophobia is based on this concept. All the way to its biblical roots, it was a fear of a culture that embraced sexual fluidity, a culture that was powerful and able to enslave and oppress the weaker culture. So everything they embraced must have been wrong. Evolution is a funny thing as well. Things evolve just as much as organisms. Thoughts, the kinds of thoughts people can have, evolve just as much as gills or number of limbs or a spinal cord.

Evolutionary biology tells us we evolved concepts alongside hair color and being bipedal. The concept at work here seems to be an evolving of in-group/out-group dynamics. It seems to be taking it a step further. It's no longer a fear of the unknown or of the unlike/unliked, but it is a derision of that which is different. If I am tall and lean and blonde and blue eyed and work out regularly, this concept would tell me that I don't fear the opposite, but I must see something that is different as 'lesser' than me. The short, fat, brunette/ginger, brown eyed, non-exerciser is not like me so they must be worse than me.

And...I don't think I'm wrong. I think this is where our society is heading. I think it's a strange combination of the Special Snowflake concept (we're all told from an early age that whatever we are is perfect and amazing and if someone else says otherwise, they're, like, super wrong) and our increasingly socially networked western culture in which everyone thinks everyone else wants to hear every single thought we have.

Especially the exceptionally assholey ones.

I challenge you, Rioters. Let's take some time to examine ourselves. What is your thing? What makes you your most derisive? Do you have a prejudice against the pretty/ugly person in your class? The popular, the whore, the flashy, the brainy. If it is not exactly like us in size and shape and conviction, it must not only be wrong, but it must be worse. It's easy to make fun, because we're told that, as long as you have a group of like-minded peers agreeing with you, you must be in the right.

Where do YOU size up on the issue? Leave it in the comments below!

Love and Lyte,

 

Fire Lyte

 

21 comments:

  1. As a larger female, I use to buy into the "Real Women have CURVES!" mantra. 'cause I spent years feeling invalidated because I'm big.

    But recent, I've realized that is just as demeaning. Women are women. Some thin, some not, some big, other not.

    I will say that, at least for larger women (14+), there is certainly a problem with finding cloths that fit nicely or correctly. But no one should take that out on an employee of a store--or even a manager.

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    1. See though... I agree with what you say here, and I know for certain I'm ridiculously lucky when it comes to finding clothes that fit. But my older sister (who is a size 6-10 depending) has ALWAYS had a hard time finding clothes that fit right. Yeah, it's difficult to find plus sizes without having to resort to specialty stores sometimes, but I have gone shopping with her only to come out three hours later empty handed and frustrated.

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  2. I want to say that women come in all shapes and sizes and fashion is meant to emphasize our form. but lets be honest. most of the clothes out there are cut and designed for skinny bitches. from pencil skirts to A-line tops. to baby tees to empire waists to, . . . well you get the point. if you go into ANY department store you will find that the most stylish, and trendy outfits are for people that have flat chests. straight hips. long bodies. and small, tight shoulders. any one who does not fit into those shapes are left with the plain, bland, ugly and ridiculous. all we have to chose from are too bright polo shirts. ugly prints on cheap rayon, or styles only your grandma would wear? and why? I will admit that some stores like Torrid, Cathy's or Tuesday Morning have some cute styles for fuller women, but again to wear those clothes you have to be in the 1x and over sizes. So, for people like me who are too fat for department stores and too skinny for specialty stores, what is there to do?!

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    1. Try SAWK Designs (online) I love their clothes.
      Even have Pinup Styles for big women

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    2. Yes. You can visit www.swakdesigns.com or go to here to find more informations.

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  3. I don't like the "uber-trendy" people, lol. "Oh, that's not cool anymore, so even though I LOVED it yesterday, I must HATE IT NOW!" It has just always struck me as these people being DESPERATE to not be any different if they can at all help it. But we have differences and we have to accept them.
    As for clothing, I am small, but with a 4' 11" height, a 39" bust and a 28" waist what the hell is supposed to fit me? I sympathize, but it's not the stores' fault (or the employees') Everyone is a "real sized" person, but if brands started making clothes that fit me perfectly and awesomely, who else would they fit?

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  4. Why can't we all play nice? I am Awesomely fantastically Large. But I know some people who are Awesomely, Fantastically Delicate. Alll of us are Beautiful and Awesome. I think some of the "what is wonderful, what is not" is the fault of Marketing. I took up sewing, because I could not find cool clothes in my size. Now I can, but I still preferto make some things, for the fun and thrill. If I hadn't been able to find clothes i like in my size, I wouldn't have learned how to sew. I recently took up sewing for others. One of my co-workers, is one of the beautiful, tiny people. She can't clothes that fit and suit her either, so now I am sewing for her.

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    1. GJ - I always tell clients that if you find a store that sells a something that fits you perfectly, buy all of them! My problem is that I'm 6' 6" with very broad shoulders (both from stature and hours at the gym), but my torso still fits somewhere in the small/medium category. If I'm looking for stuff, I have to solely fit my shoulders. If it fits my body, it's too small in the shoulders, and my gorilla arms are too long for any shirt unless it's specially made.

      At least as far as just clothes go, my point is that everyone fits something weird. Very few people fit whatever averaged out human that clothing companies seem to think exists. We shouldn't hold anyone accountable to that. They're trying to make money by selling to the masses. I'm not part of the masses. I get and accept that.

      I just hope we get to an age where the masses stop thinking badly about the other masses because they aren't exactly the same.

      FL

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  5. As that man you spoke to mentioned, it's not just women's sizes. My fiance is built like a football player, very broad shoulders with a barrel chest. He's having a hard time finding dress shirts anymore (this is a problem because this is all he wears)and the stores that used to carry his size stopped doing so. There are no "big men's" specialy stores around here...and I think the only "plus size" women's store went out of business. This means that in order for him to get shirts that fit and me to get bras that fit (and give proper support), we have to travel at least an hour. I don't know that stores have to cater to every single size (I don't expect to be able to find something to fit me at DEB), however, when your store used to carry larger sizes and then decides not to, that does come off as descrimination (as does store policy of only hiring people who fit into their fashion ideals).

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    1. If you knew the store I worked for, you'd be puzzled why this guy thought we'd carry a waist size over 40. It is meant for a pretty young crowd.

      As for your sizing, what I'd recommend is to go to the nearest tailor, have them measure you, and then use those measurements to purchase online. That's what I have to do. Very broad shoulders and a narrow waist, likewise, a narrow waist and unbelievably long legs, make for a difficult shopping experience. I'll go months/years between buying jeans because of the hassle of having to try on 30 pairs to find 1 that fits.

      So, get measured, and then just put those measurements in to your favorite store's online shop. They'll pop back with all the options that fit you. And, online, they tend to carry way more weird sizes than in store anyway.

      FL

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    2. I imagine that's true (the only thing I've bothered measuring for is bras, however, I kind of yo-yo in my size for the rest of my body so something that's perfect now may be too small or too big this time next year). I've always steered clear of buying clothes online at all (aside from geeky t-shirts) because I can't try the clothes on (which is a must for me as my own sewing skills are less than stellar...though I somehow have a reputation for being good at it...guess that's my lot for being creative with Halloween costumes). I was thinking of trying to find some things online because the stores around here have not had much in the way of long skirts. I totally understand the top of your torso not lining up with your waist in the way clothes are typically made (I think most women would, actually).

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  6. For me it has nothing to do with size and more to do with mental ability. After being the picked on nerdy girl as a child,for the longest time I had nothing but sneering contempt with folks who couldn't keep up with me in the brains department. There's a fine line between geek pride and being an intellectual snob. Gradually I grew to have a bit more compassion. Not everyone grew up in a home where knowledge was cherished. Not everyone got the same opportunities I did. And of course, I got to know people who were supremely intelligent but complete messes in every other department in their life. It didn't want that to be me. I'm still not perfect about it. Oh hells yes I have moments when I catch myself acting like Diane or Frazier from Cheers. But I'm working on it.

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  7. I'm a little teapot short and stout. I have trouble finding clothes due to having a bust, a bottom, and a waist. If it fits the bust it's way baggy in the waist. If it fits the bottom I need a belt. I've learned to adjust what I buy to make it fit. I do agree that most of the trendy and fun clothes are sized for smaller women though and that's annoying.

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  8. J.A. Victor WilsonApril 1, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    This was really awesome to read. I just woke up, and then this started my thinking. I believe my "other" group is really preppy people. In all honesty, it kind of freaks me out. The really conservative, W.A.S.P. types because it all boils down to that is what my family is. But, now, I am thinking about why and all that. So, thank you for an interesting day!
    On the size subject, I totally agree that people come in different shapes and sizes. As an avid role-player, I neither go to a bible bookstore to buy the newest Dungeons and Dragons miniatures, nor do I expect to find a leather-bound copy of the collected works of Oscar Wilde at my game store. So, would big conglomerate stores be the answer? Or should we have all specialty stores? One kills local business; one might further the otherness.

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  9. Thanks Wt! I actually thought of you when I was writing parts of this. I knew you'd have some thinky thoughts as well!
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  14. I have to say that women are not easy to find out all shapes and sizes that are suitable for them, I always deny to buy clothes online, since I usually get the wrong size, thanks for your information about this.

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