Saturday, August 3, 2013
To be honest, until today, I didn't think about them at all. Not at ALL. They are completely not on my radar. This may be because I don't actually shop much in brick and mortar stores--and this is because I got out of the habit before my hip was replaced, and it was so painful--or this may be because I am in fact plus-sized and there aren't all that many brick and mortar stores for me. Or, that I live in a small town, and I don't really have the opportunity to wander past one of their boutiques. Or I'm old and out of touch, that's possible, too. In any event, an article turned up today in the AOL newsfeed about them. How their sizes only go up to 12, and the size 10's and 12's are thrown in a corner so that they can't be seen. Stupid me, I read the comments. The comments made me angry. I agree completely that not every company needs to carry every size. I like it when they do...but it's their choice not to. That was not really what upset me, since besides that, what little I know of the company makes me think that it's marketed to grown-up in-crowders...the ones who liked to make everyone else miserable in high school, the exclusionist ones, the mothers who form tight little cliques you can never penetrate. I'm older now and wiser, though, so I don't care any more. If they don't want my money, I don't want to give it to them. (I would like a non-pastel wicking top and a sports bra that fits me and doesn't look like it's designed as armor for Atilla the Hun, but other than that, I'm pretty happy with Target). What stunned me was the complete hatred of fat women. Not fat men, but fat women. They were categorized as illiterate, uneducated, (I suppose that goes together), unemployed and living in trailer parks, subsisting on diets of fast foot and...fast food. The sorts of people, and this is a direct paraphrase (if that makes any sense) that it's bad enough to run into at the DMV, without having to look at them in yoga class. I was an idiot. I engaged. I shouldn't have. Someone attacked me for having my working on my health as last on my list for self-assessment (I said that I was employed, fluent in a foreign language, had a household income in six figures and my house had a basement and stood on 2.5 acres--all direct responses to his post. The health part was not a direct response). Yet someone else responded that I was illogical because I was using myself as an anecdote and that didn't mean (essentially) that there were any more like me. Well, here's the thing: even if I am the only one (and I know full well I'm not) the very fact that I exist--working, working out, speaking German, spending money, wearing (OH NO) pencil skirts...proves that not every single overweight woman is stupid and unemployed. I find this amazing. I find it totally amazing that not only do people think this, they find it acceptable to write it in an open forum. I find the level of vitriol frightening. I will say...I live in an area with plenty of un- or underemployed, ill-educated people. They come in all sizes and shapes. The women, large or small, seem to have what I uncharitably call the white trash slouch...because somewhere along the line, it became okay not to hold yourself upright...but I can assure you there are just as many stringy old broads as fat ones. And the genetically blessed, slender young ones...with a mouthful of bad teeth and a kid or two in tow. But these things come from--I'm not sure what, really. The willingness of the educational system to write off the lower middle class? The way mediocrity is expected of them? Lack of money for vegetables? And yes, I will be honest and say the sight of young women slouching down the street, with their spare tires rolling from side to side and waddling because their thighs are so big--they bother me, too. But I don't think they shouldn't be out. I think they should be encouraged to stand up straight and pull their stomachs in. Does that make me a fat hater, too? I don't know. I do know a lot about not being able to get the sizes you want, though. I remember in Germany, where I was still in straight sizes, though at the absolute upper reach, getting in an argument with a salesgirl who didn't want to bring me a size 44 in a pair of shorts, even though I owned that exact pair (in another color) in a 44. She was adamant that I needed a 46. I won. Also in Germany, I remember walking past the Escada boutique and seeing the sign that said that they only carried sizes up to 42, don't come in and ask us for anything bigger. In Germany you can discriminate openly, which I used to hate...but now I think I like it, it's at least honest. (Which brings me to a sort of funny story, and a great digression, so feel free to skip it if you like: I was in Germany, in Marburg, to be precise, 4 years ago. They were having a Grimm celebration, because the famous Brothers came from there, or at least near there. There were fairy-tale creatures all over town. Some of the store windows had decals of the tortoise and the hare, including Ulla Popken, Germany's exceedingly dreary plus-sized chain. I thought the hare was there to encourage larger women to exercise. My daughter was horrified when I said this. I said that I had heard worse things said to plus-sized women in Germany). The popular Catch-22 was once again voiced--fat people don't belong in gyms, but they need to get off their fat asses and exercise. But not be seen, and my God, why complain about not having workout clothes, because if you exercise then soon you'll be able to wear normal-sized clothing and there will be no need. Oh, and I read any number of these comments after I came back from the gym, where I put in my 50 minutes on the treadmill. And where I had a knock-me-on-my-fat-ass workout the day before. The theory was also advanced that if there were more fat-shaming, the number of fat people would decline. Well, the number of fat people in public I suppose would decline, but I think all you would accomplish would be making them stay home because they feel they're not fit to be seen. I found the level of hatred simply astonishing. And sad.