I hate shopping for clothes. I can’t abide it. My hatred for it began in my teens when all my peers couldn’t wait to hit the shops at the weekend. I went along because it was what you did, but it always left me feeling miserable, and still does. There’s few things more crushing than going into a clothes shop and being looked up and down at as if to say “Don’t be ridiculous, nothing here’s going to fit you” You’re instantly made to feel unwelcome and worthless. Then comes the awkwardness of not being able to fit between the rails, and the humiliation of knocking some clothes off said railings with your boobs and then as you bend down to pick those up, knock over a stand with your ample backside. Then you get the whole shop of people glaring at you in horror and disdain at the fat clown ruining their shopping experience. Then add to that you’re with your friends who are looking young, thin, and oozing confidence; and they’re gleefully scooping up item after item and raving about how wonderful it’s going to look on them. Then they try them on and look amazing, meanwhile you glimpse your fat, saggy, good for nothing reflection and wish the ground would just swallow you up there and then. For good.
The experience is somewhat less traumatic in shops that specifically cater for fuller figures, but even then I feel I have to sneak in without being spotted for fear of being shamed and/or ridiculed. Once in I start to relax, but then starts the dreaded number crunching. I’m wearing a size 22, so I pick up some items in a size 22 and go to try them on. None of them fit. Well, maybe one of them if I really tug. Have I really put on that much weight? So it’s back out to get the next size up. But I don’t want to get the next size up. If I go up another size, that means I’ve failed, right? I’m useless, I’m rubbish. If only was a size 12, then I wouldn’t have to go through all this. I feel heartbroken, despondent, frustrated. So I get a size 24. It fits. I sit and mull things over for a few minutes. Do I be stubborn and get the size 22s even though they don’t fit properly, but just so I can feel ok in myself, or do I get the clothes that fit, knowing I’ve gone up yet another size? I pick up the size 24s with reluctant acceptance, and stomp off to the till, head hung low, feeling miserable and wishing I’d never decided to go stupid shopping for stupid clothes.
Sound familiar? I may be plus size, but I have the feeling this happens to women around the world, no matter what their size. Well @HighStFitFinder are doing something about it. This is what they have to say:
The current culture in the UK is causing women to feel increasingly under pressure to be a certain size. This pressure can cause anxiety over appearance and low self-esteem, and lead to mental health conditions such as eating disorders.
Coupled with a retail industry that promotes vanity sizing, where an individual can be six different sizes in six different shops, leaves women feeling confused, frustrated and often, distressed over their “size”.
As well as helping women to buy clothes that fit, quickly and easily, we want to help women to stop defining their self-worth by being, or wanting to be, a certain size, and to be happy in their own skin.
We aim to do this by making “size” irrelevant; it should be just a number that is used to purchase something, and by only allowing additional advertising that is body positive, body diverse and not airbrushed, women can shop without comparison to unrealistic body ideals.
All you have to do is enter your measurements on their website – http://highstreetfitfinder.com/ – and the results will show jeans from a wide range of shops, all available to match your body shape and fit. What a breath of fresh air! Not only does it take the stress out of shopping, but it’s like having a personal shopper choosing items that are tailor-made for you.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that someone is trying to steer away from sizes and numbers. I really hope that shopping for clothes by shape rather than size will become the norm. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and there should be clothes and shopping options available to reflect that.
Unrealistic sizing and body standards are dangerous, damaging, and extremely detrimental to mental health and well being. It has to stop, we have to make a change, and concepts such as High St Fit Finder are the way forward.