Shopping for clothes has always been a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand- new clothes! I'm always down to expand my wardrobe, especially around school time.
On the other hand, there's a sense of dread when it comes to shopping as a plus-sized woman- the insecurities, the judgment, and the smaller selection to choose from.
The first truth is that there is a good, a bad, and an ugly to shopping as a plus-sized woman. The second truth is that it's changing every day!
The number one best thing about clothes shopping as a plus-sized woman is that the world is becoming more and more accepting over time. More and more stores are adding a plus-sized section (with more and more selections!) and it's becoming a lot easier to shop if you fit into that category.
Another sign of acceptance is the new array of plus-sized models! Female models help represent women and show off the some of the beauty of womanhood. Because of this, it's so incredibly important to have models of all shapes, sizes, and colors- after all, every person is beautiful.
Even aside from models, plus-sized women can rest assured that there are other real women who have gone through the same struggles. Some of them are a lot more vocal about it- take Sarah Rae Vargas, for example, who is one of my all-time favorite YouTube channels when it comes to watching clothing hauls and try-ons. She also talks about other topics plus-sized women might struggle with, such as intimacy and sexuality.
Even with all of the amazing advances toward acknowledging and accepting plus-sized women in the clothing industry, there are still struggles that many plus-sized women face. While these issues are slowly becoming easier to manage, they're still kind of annoying and sometimes detrimental to how we see ourselves.
The biggest issue that I've faced while clothes shopping is the judgment that I fear from others- and even worse- myself. There are obvious reasons to avoid being overweight, the biggest one being physical health. However, allowing my weight to control how I see myself in terms of beauty and self-worth is something I've always struggled with, and I'm sure many other women feel the same way.
These feelings are especially prevalent when clothes shopping for me. When the clothes that used to fit don't, or when one brand's 1x shirt fits and the other's doesn't, it can be disheartening. While this isn't any store's fault, it is an issue that many plus-sized women face, and it is a very real issue.
My best advice, as somebody who has gone through this, is to try to remind yourself at all times how beautiful and valuable you really are. One activity that I like to do is to find 1-3 physical aspects that I like about myself: hair, eyes, nose, lips, etc. Then, I follow up by listing all of the internal characteristics that I like: humor, intelligence, kindness, creativity, etc.
My second list is usually a lot longer than my first, but that's okay. It reminds me that I'm more than what I look like. Sometimes it helps to do this before, after, or even during shopping trips. In reality, you can do it anywhere and any time, which makes it my go-to method for reevaluating my value.
Of course, this doesn't always work. Sometimes it just seems impossible to find something about yourself that you like, physical or not. When this happens, I like to ask others- friends, parents, etc. As long as I'm not constantly asking them this, it's a nice way to get reassurance from others when you can't rely on yourself. But if you're finding that you're relying on others too often, it may be a good idea to seek guidance from a trained professional who can help you to find your beauty again!
Now, let's get to one of the lighter horrors of clothes shopping as a plus-sized woman: the year-round ugly sweaters! Because plus-sized sections are a new addition to may stores, they're usually filled with, well, less-flattering options.
From "mom clothes" to clothes even your mom wouldn't wear, a lot of plus-sized options look more like accidents than actual clothing options. Because of this, I often have to decide between searching through another five stores and simply "settling"- and if you don't know me, I'm not a "settling" kind of gal.
If this is something that you're finding yourself facing, then the good news is that there are a few hidden gems that offer a wide variety of plus-sized options! Here are just a few from my experience, tried and true:
1. Rue 21
4. Old Navy
A lot of these have inexpensive and cute plus-size options, some going up to 4X or higher. Plus, a lot of them feature plus-sized models which make it easier to judge whether something will fit you or not if you're online shopping!
So, if you're a plus-sized woman who is facing the struggles of clothes shopping, please remember the following: you are beautiful and valuable, both on the inside and out! More and more stores are beginning to offer beautiful and inexpensive plus-sized options, and more and more models are expressing the beauty of the plus-sized community.
There are thousands of women who are facing the same struggles- you're not alone! And there is absolutely no shame in seeking help if you're having a hard time finding your inner or outer beauty.