Monday, August 7, 2017
L. L. Bean Disappoints: Random Woman in Line Does Not.
Good morning everyone!
It's an old rant, but there's a new verse: Once again I was fat shamed at a national store, but this time with a twist.
Hubby LOVES outdoor stores: REI, Gander Mountain, Columbia, Dunham's Sporting Goods, Duluth Trading Company, you name it, he loves them. And I love Hubby, so when he wants to check out stores like that I go with him, knowing full darn well that there is NOTHING, NOTHING in those stores' clothing departments that's going to fit someone like me. (Because apparently only women size 12 and under want to go camping and be outside. And while that's a very fair point in my case, I'm sure there are fluffy girls who would like to be outdoorsy and still look like, you know, girls. And who knows? Maybe I would like to be an outdoorsy hiking type person if I could find fun clothes that fit me.)
So yesterday, after a somewhat frustrating and disappointing brunch at Cafe Hollander, (That's another story for another rant), Hubby wanted to stop in the NEW L.L. Bean store. I knew this would be would like all the others, oh sure, they have an XL or an XXL for women, but it's never, ever going to fit. But I love Hubby, so in I went. And he loves and wants me to be happy, so he pointed me to the oh-so-stinkin'-cute womens' side of the store and suggested I find something fun.
I knew I wouldn't. But I went because I wanted to make him happy.
And look there, joy oh joy...a pair of size 18 jeans! AND THEY WERE ON SALE!
Now, sure they weren't size 18W, but I'm sort of between sizes right now as I'm still working on losing weight (I've stalled a but, but still hanging in there keeping 14 of the 20 pounds I lost last spring off.) so an 18 was going to be great! Hubby walks over and said, "Oh those look really comfy!"
I agreed, but a tiny voice in my brain suggested I try them on. Just to be safe. This isn't Kohls. I'm not going to be here four more times this week. So I went in and tried the size 18 jeans on.
Could. Not. Get. Them. Past. My. Knees.
Now friends, at my heaviest, which I am not at right now, I was a size 18W. All of my size 18W pants are loose on me. Very loose. MUST wear a belt loose. My size 18 regulars fit beautifully, and I even have some 16W's I wear on a regular basis.
So yeah, not getting a size 18 pant past my knees was horrifying, disheartening, and made me wonder why I even bother to continue the fight to lose weight.
Thanks, L.L. Bean. Thank you for snapping the tiniest thin thread of self esteem I'd managed to build for myself in battling to lose weight.
But that's not where the story ends.
Angry mostly with myself and my shortcomings and my failure to fit the mold of what a woman who wants to buy things at L.L. Bean needs to look like, I tried to be happy for Hubby, who found what he called, "The most perfect pants."
This is the great unfairness when it comes to shopping, and it's not hubby's fault, I blame retail stores and their focus on making life easier for male shoppers. Hubby has his own weight battles. He's not super thin. And yet, he's never had to shop in a store for specifically plus sized men. He's never had to search high and low for the "plus" department mostly because there's no such thing as a plus sized department for men. Sure, they have big and tall shops...my father who is 6'4" shops at them. But when it comes to big box stores, most guys don't NEED a big and tall shop. Hubby shops in a normal human man department and he doesn't even have to try and squeeze into the largest size offered, oh no. Men's clothes are made for all sizes and shapes of men and if a guy wants a pair of dark blue pants and a white shirt in a size "super mega" he doesn't have to hope the designers deigned to make them in his size. Why? BECAUSE THEY DID.
So yeah, Hubby can walk into any store he wants to and find a pair of pants and twelve shirts that fit and look great.
And he doesn't have to shop in a store that advertises "Selling plus sizes 14-30." Again, because he can walk into big box stores, outdoor stores, pretty much any store, and find his size without anguish. And again, not his fault. This is the fault of US retailers and their notion of what women should look like and what they should wear.
So we're in line, waiting to purchase his magical pants and he's trying to be supportive and kind about my feelings. He asks if there was anything on the rack that would have fit me. I say, "Sure, if I wanted to go to a 20 or a 22 those might have fit."
And then he says this...and bear in mind, none of this is his fault and I'm not angry at him and really he was trying to be nice, and really only plus sized women who are fighting to lose weight are fully going to get what this statement meant to me, but he says this: "Well if it fits and it's comfortable, who cares what the number is?"
And that's when the woman in front of us, an older lady who was returning something, turned around, looked at him, then looked at me, roller her eyes, and shook her head.
I bust out laughing, and so did she. Poor Hubby was quiet for a moment and then he said, "I just got slapped with a look."
We chatted a bit, the lady and I, about her great "drop dead" look and I left the store feeling a bit better, if not about myself, at least about the battle I'm fighting. Because it is a battle, and I fight and fail and sometimes I fight and win, but most of the time I lose, and not in a good way. It's a battle that destroys a person in the worst and most complete ways. It shatters our self image, it destroys people's respect for us (I've been told by an employer that I'm fat and therefore I'm stupid) and it shatters our desire to go, and do, and see, and be around anything and anyone. Oh and if you're fighting this fight, you know that it can be a matter or life or death, so you've got that added pressure hanging over you.
Being fat is not about being lazy or stupid or gluttonous. It's about a physical craving at 2 in the morning that won't be silenced. It's about looking at a $6 salad and a $2 burger and thinking about the $8 you have left in checking until payday. It's about wanting to exercise but everything, everything in your body hurting so much that putting on shoes makes you cry. And you'd like to cut out food all together, because the whole "Cold Turkey" can work for some addictions, but hey, guess what? If you don't eat you are going to literally die. So yes, you MUST partake of that thing that is your demon. Also, cookies are delicious while brussel sprouts are not.
If questioned, plus sized people will tell you that it's not about genetics or some blood disorder, or whatever else the weight loss community is trying to sell to us as the cause of being overweight. Most people who are my size will admit it's all about the deliciousness of food that's not at all good for us, and the fact that exercise is never as fun as lying on the couch with a bag of chips and a bowl of dip. But food issues, like everything else, never starts out as an eating marathon on a Saturday night. It starts simply, quietly, and without any sort of warning signs.
For me it was about not wanting to waste food. I baby sat when the kids were little and those kids usually didn't finish their lunches. Rather than just tossing the leftovers out, I grazed away, finishing this chicken nugget and that mouthful of mac and cheese, all before eating the lunch I'd made for myself because I was raised to believe wasting food is sinful.
While the kids ran around and burned off lunch and any snack I might produce, I didn't because I was babysitting and also working a telemarketing job from home. So I'd send the kids to the back yard to burn calories and I'd sit down for a couple hours while my double lunch turned into a bigger pants size.
Every heavy person has a story about the starting point. Maybe you had a baby and couldn't get that baby fat off. Maybe there was a death in the family and you turned to food for comfort. Maybe you had an injury that kept you sedentary for an extended period of time. It doesn't matter. It doesn't take much to turn a normal sized person into a plus sized person. The siren song of food and leisure is strong.
I joke about being fluffy because it's my defense against what I just know people are thinking, even if they never say it out loud. I need to beat people to the punch, so I laugh at myself, but the reality is that I hate looking at myself. I hate buying clothes, which is why I return half of what I buy. I hate what plus sized clothes look like most of the time. We're heavy, we're not blind. Plus sized women want to look good too, and we want selection. We're even willing to pay extra for it, but hey, it would be nice if a 2X actually meant a size larger than a 12.
Stores are going the wrong way in this fight. Case in point, the 2 Kohls in my town have all but removed plus sized fixtures from the store, and has filled the space with clearance racks for normal sized women. I'm not making this up...I went to two separate Kohls this weekend and the selection for plus sized was half of what it used to be (which is saying something since normally the selection is about a fourth of what's available for misses sizes) and the space was full of misses clearance. I actually asked the cashier if they were getting rid of plus sized and she said she didn't think so because (and this was her reasoning) "They're so excited about the men's big and tall shop."
Like what they do for men has anything to do with what they do for women. So yeah, not reassuring.
But to bring this around back to something fun, if I ever see that lady again, I'm going to hug her, because she did give me a bit of boost when I was really down. And when you're trying to lose weight, like I am, every tiny thing helps.
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