Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Clothes Shopping

Shopping for clothes can make any person feel badly about their body. It gets worse when you're shopping for summer clothing. It's easier to wear shapeless clothing in winter that just makes everyone look like a sweater-wearing blob. When you're looking for shorts and swim suits, it's much harder to hide or cover the parts of your body that may not be your favorite. As if this situation isn't perilous enough, clothing manufacturers seem to do as much as they can to make it more difficult.

The swimsuit above is sold in the regular section of the store and it was the closest thing to a one-piece black tank suit available. Why is there a skirt on it? This comes in sizes Small-XL. Should women who are a size small be ashamed of their butts and thighs? Should the woman in size XL? I would argue that the skirt just draws attention to that part of the wearer's body. It's also available in bright pink, which doesn't make it better or worse. In general, it's just a bad idea.

Many swim suits are sold as separates, which is something I wondered about when I was a teenager. Most women are a different size on top than on the bottom and people would mix and match, leaving a size 16 top with a size 2 bottom at the end of the season. At least they have realized this and let women mix and match without guilt. However, I don't think I saw a single bikini top that would fit anything larger than a B cup, maybe a C. This lead to the brilliant comment, "Are there options other than slut or Esther Williams?"

Worse than the expected pitfalls of shopping for summer clothes were the undersized clothing at a woman's clothing store. The above shirt is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX, but the sizing does nothing to celebrate women. The company that made this shirt runs their sizing small. A large corresponds to a size 8-12, not a  12-14 like other companies. In addition to that, the measurements they put into the 8-12 bracket fit into a 6-10 elsewhere. Basically, they're calling someone who is a Medium everywhere in the US an XL. This means that someone who is truly an XL can't buy their clothing at all.

When I confronted them with this sizism, they first replied with shock, even though online comments have confirmed this issue. When I pointed out that I wasn't off-base and their sizing was problematic, they sent a, "Thanks for your input! We always appreciate hearing it." Really? I don't believe them. I think they, like a few other sizist companies, don't see anything wrong with excluding the average American woman from their clientele. Maybe they don't realize the shame and anger their skewed view creates in women.

When I was attempting to reach out to the company via Twitter, my spell check kept changing sizist to disgust. I think that spell check knew something that I didn't realize yet. It's possible that these companies are disgusted by anyone who isn't a "perfect" weight. It's also possible that it's disgusting what they're doing with their sizing. I know I was disgusted by the sizing and their response to my inquiry. It's not just an insult to the women who can't wear these clothes, it's an insult to all women to be told, however subtly, that our bodies aren't small enough to be good.

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