Obvious advice is obvious

I had this revelation about a month ago and even I quickly recognized it was so stunningly obvious that it didn't really merit much mention. And yet, I just saw it used as a reason to go on a Weight Watchers, so maybe it does bare some discussion.

It feels better to wear clothes that fit.

I've put on a little weight over the last year and its put me in an awkward position between sizes. I'm wearing the same size pants, but different cuts yield very different results. Initially I wasn't really doing anything to accommodate this which meant much of the time I was wearing pants that didn't really fit comfortably anymore. I could get them on, but they felt tight and uncomfortable all day. Which wasn't making me feel good about my body. One day, I got tired of this and culled anything from closet that didn't currently fit a way I was comfortable with. I spent a little money to get some new things. Male privilege admittedly made that a pretty easy endeavor.

Since then, I've felt much better about my body. Surprise, surprise. I haven't lost weight. I checked just to be sure. Wearing uncomfortable clothes was causing me to fixate on my body in a negatively reinforced manner. Which sucks. Not having that feels better. All stunningly obvious.

Yet it took me a while to do it. I was partly waylaid by changed sizing from some retailers I frequented. The same sizes from just a year ago still fit fine, it was just the new stuff that was troublesome. That was part of why I kept wearing them because I struggled to acknowledge that this wasn't right. There is a strong impulse, I think, as a fat person in this culture to accept indignities big and small. Even among the fat accepting, some times. I should have just returned the stuff that didn't fit and gotten pissed off that I couldn't reliably buy clothes from that store. But I refused to admit that and I let myself feel bad about my body.

Which was stupid. But maybe not uncommon. I caught the Sara Rue commercial for Weight Watchers recently and one of her reasons for needing to lose weight was not having pants she could feel comfortable. And I totally know how demoralizing that can feel. But there is a solution. Get pants that feel comfortable.

Yeah, I know this can be an investment but it can be done incrementally. And honestly, its just worth it. A comfortable pair of pants is also a much more reliable way to have clothing that fits comfortably than spending time, money, and energy trying to make your body comfortable for the pants.

Again, I know this is much easier to act on as a man. But in most cases, we're not talking about replacing a closet in one fell swoop. Just making a point to get betting fitting clothes when you buy new things. Maybe get a couple cheaper outfits that fit to tide you over. I'm not saying I love all the new stuff I got, but it fits and I feel better as a result and that's absolutely been worth it.


Miriam Heddy said...

I second that and also would add that, on top of the usual argument, women are being hit with a whole new one which is that we should have the same body shape (not just weight) for our whole lives, and that nothing (not age nor childbirth nor anything else) should change that and, if it does, we can't accommodate our new forms for fear of "giving in."

There's an entire industry now telling new mothers that they have a limited time to get back to our "pre-baby" bodies. At one time, people did used to accept that having a baby (or two or more) often changed one's body shape permanently, and that was part of life and okay!

I think that fat activists are in a good position to push back against this notion that life isn't supposed to bring change to our bodies.

It's especially ironic vis a vis fashion, as fashions are designed to change every five minutes, while our bodies are supposed to remain timeless.

ravenfeathers said...

while i agree with you in theory, in practice it's not always so easy. i'm currently between sizes and wearing things that aren't comfortable for me at all, but i literally can not afford to make changes in my wardrobe. when you're living paycheck to paycheck, a $40 pair of trousers just plain isn't in the budget. if i save $5 a month toward a single pair of pants, i can have a new pair in a mere eight months! that's assuming i can plan my weight fluctuations that far in advance. my nearest resale shop is an hour away by car, which is half a tank of gas, there and back, so if i want to find a $10 pair of trousers, it still costs nearly $40.

and there's no good solution to this conundrum that isn't either fat-hating (lose weight!) or classist (buy new clothes!) and either option just really stinks. but i'm not bitter. ;)

Brian said...

The problem with "lose weight" isn't just that its fat hating, but also unattainable in the long-run and more likely to result in increasing weight. New clothes isn't an easy solution, but its at least a solution.

Anonymous said...

I agree that buying clothes that fit is an infinitely more sensible, more self-respecting solution than dieting or hating your body is.

The problem, of course, is affordability. However, there are more places than there used to be to get cheap, fashionable clothes in plus sizes, such as:

Ebay -- you can find *lots* of great stuff here, much of it dirt cheap and some of it very high quality. Just make sure the seller has a good rating, and ask for all the relevant measurements, if they're not provided.

Target -- yeah, I know they only go up to size 24 or so, but if you fit those sizes, they really do have some fantastic stuff at great prices.

Forever 21 -- Their new Faith 21 line goes up to size 18. Their stuff is cheaply made and durability isn't the greatest, but they have tons of cute stuff at rock-bottom prices. (And btw, despite the name, even those of us who are well past the age of 21 can shop there and find age-appropriate pieces).

Old Navy -- Lots of great basics, and sizes go up to 30. The downside their plus size stuff is available online only; on the upside, they now offer free returns, which at least somewhat makes up for it.

Wal-Mart -- I'm reluctant to even mention Wal-Mart, an institution I despise for many reasons. But for many women, it's the only game in town. And while a lot of their clothes are awful, there is at least one bright spot -- Norma Kamali's line. Unfortunately, the sizes only go up to 18 or so, but there's lots of great stuff, both casual and career, and nothing is much over 20 bucks or so. It's worth checking out.

Anyway, those are some choices if you're looking for cheap plus-sized clothing.

Brian said...

I thought Old Navy had phased out free returns for plus-sizes.

Old Navy is actually the retailer I was sized out of as all of their recent stuff is cut about a half-size smaller than it used to be. Obviously, this only reflects men on the cusp of male plus-sizing. I was able to bounce over the Gap and score some great pants on sale that are frankly better and no more expensive than what they are replacing. Dress shirts are my biggest problem, but bargain shopping at Macy's has always netted me deals, but I only barely fit into the top sizes and even they are difficult to find.

O.C. said...

Old Navy brought back free returns within the past couple of weeks.

nycivan said...

I love that I have a choice to buy better fitting clothes instead of suffering in uncomfortable fitting ones. I remember when I would suffer for weeks before breaking down and buying new clothes. This is one of the little gifts FA has given me and it is a nice reminder to appreciate this little gift.

Anonymous said...

I remember wearing ill-fitting clothes most of my fat childhood and young adulthood, and being shocked once I started wearing clothes that fit - I had thought that there was something wrong with my body, that just being fat was uncomfortable, but it was really just the ill-fitting clothes. I couldn't believe how long I lived in unnecessary discomfort.

Anonymous said...

First, I had a similar eureka moment last night about a totally different subject. Funny how the obvious is so illusive sometimes.

And, congrats on the new duds. It is amazing how your spirit lifts when you simply feel good. Also amazing, how easy it is to lift your own spirit.

Thanks for sharing this story with us. I think everyone can relate.

Val said...

I wrote off Old Navy several yrs ago - when they phased their plus sizes out of the stores; you could only order online.
Regretfully, I have gone back to Lane Bryant for decent jeans-that-fit (HATE their catalog which doesn't utilize plus-size models!).
& Miriam, you make some excellent points... I couldn't even properly voice my outrage years ago, when my [now EX-] husband thought the greatest crisis facing us was not my cancer diagnosis, lost pregnancies or his own inability to hold onto a job in the rollercoaster economy - but instead the fact the I HAD GAINED WEIGHT! The HORROR!

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