551 posts tagged clothes
I’m a preschool teacher in a small private school. The director of the school is obsessed with weight loss and “health,” and she takes every opportunity to mock and police two teachers who happen to be quite large when she’s alone with me (I am on the thin side).
At the beginning of the year she wanted to buy all the teachers school t-shirts. When I walked in early for work, she asked if I wanted small or medium, gave me my shirts and then said “What size do you think Ann wears? 3X? 4X? Do they even make a 4X?” and laughed. I barely knew Ann and there was no reason I should know her shirt size. I just responded very coldly that I had no idea and she should ask Ann about her preferences. The director then loudly asked a couple more people who worked in the building what size they thought this teacher wore and kept laughing about it.
Thin privilege is knowing that your clothing size isn’t discussed behind your back for other people’s amusement. Thin privilege is being invited to participate in making fun of fat women by other thin people who never question whether all people our size believe we are superior.
(note: Ann is not her real name.)
(I don’t know if I should be submitting, but the size difference between myself and my partner really makes me aware of thin privilege, because it’s easy to see how our experiences and how people react to us differ).
I’m in law school, and need good clothes for interviews and internships. I’m a size 4/6, and my partner is 20/22. I also hate shopping. My partner helped me pick all of my outfits, and she kept encouraging me to try on more things and show her.
I was frustrated by the crowds and didn’t want to try on more than a few things. So I almost snapped at her. I wanted to say something to the effect of not being a Barbie she could dress up. Then, I remembered how she had complained that clothes she wanted cost twice as much because she’s plus-sized, and she has to order a lot of things online.
She might not really ever be able to get the experience of trying on well-fit, cheap clothes at a chain store. Thin privilege is being able to do that yourself, instead of having to live it through your partner.
[tw: fat hate, public shaming, body dysphoria, slight physical violation]
In seventh grade, I literally woke up one morning with hips, a butt, and bigger breasts, and a multitude of stretchmarks to go with it. My parents, bitterly divorced, always fought over whose turn it was to buy me clothes; as a result, I often got no new clothes at all.
I was going through what I call my “desperately girly” phase. It would be eight years before I’d realize I was queer, but in the meantime I didn’t understand why I just “wasn’t into” the same stuff the girls around me were. I didn’t understand how to do my hair, wear lip-gloss, dress in a stereotypically “feminine” way. I didn’t understand why my body was not stick thin and hipless, and why I felt miserable and like an alien in my own skin. I “realized” it must be because I was “fat.”
So I spent that year wearing lipgloss, fighting with my hopelessly curly hair, and trying to dress the part, looking girly and “thin.” I tried to do it in clothes that were often times too old and too small, and achieved the exact opposite of what I was trying to go for.
That was never clearer than in 7th grade math class. The teacher was an older, severe woman who had come out of retirement as a favor to the principal and never let us forget it. One day, as we were doing silent study, she came over, crouched down beside me, and grabbed the two inches of skin and fat on my midriff that was bared when I leaned over in my too-small shirt. ”Do you think anyone wants to see that?” She stage-whispered to me, her voice dripping with disapproval. The people around me shifted and snickered. Her fingers were cold on my skin, touching me in public in a place no one but my doctor and my mother had ever touched. It was just my stomach, but I was still violated, humiliated, and crushed.
"Wear bigger clothes. You’ll look better." She patted me on the shoulder "comfortingly," and went back to the front of the class, leaving me to stare down at my mathwork that was now smeared with tears. That day was not the last time I tried to look "pretty," but it was the last time I ever did so without knowing before I’d even started that I’d already failed.
In the years since, I’ve gained an untold amount of weight from emotional and physical factors. Some mornings, when I look in the mirror, I still hear her voice, saying “Do you think anyone wants to see that?” And I know the answer is no.
thin-privilege is not having your self-doubts confirmed by teachers. It’s not being violated physically by someone in charge of you to point out the ways in which you’re inferior. Thin privilege is not having the *adults* start the taunting the kids will gladly continue for the next two years. Thin-privilege is not having the world around you reinforce the ways you already hate yourself.
thin privilege is fitting into a “one size fits all”
Thin privilege is being able to buy awesome geeky shirts in your size that are actually cut for your body.
I hate that I have to buy the men’s shirts in order to get one that fits rather than one actually cut for my body. I just want an awesome Doctor Who shirt that also looks good on my body. Is that too much to ask? A woman’s 3X should not be smaller than a man’s L, and if you are going to call it extra-large it should actually be large.
Okay, so I worked in complaints for six years, and I have a few thoughts on the manager who wrote in to try and discredit the notion of thin privilege.
I want to start with a caveat that most of my customers were, by default because these were the people we designed the company for, almost all straight, white, married, wealthy, middle-class British boomers around 60-almost 70. Although we catered to older clients, the vast majority of our customers were able-bodied or relatively able-bodied. I’m talking about people who would drop anything from £4k to £12k on a holiday and might do that anywhere from annually to 3-4 times a year.
And you know what? Being in the complaints department I got to see the very worst and the very best sides of them. I got to talk to people who had lost loved ones while travelling, who spoke with patience and compassion and apologised for “inconveniencing me” while we tried to help them repatriate their loved one’s remains. I listened to bile-filled tirades from people who wanted to get a maid fired because they thought she took an orange out of their complimentary fruit bowl, or the relatives of older people with advanced alzheimers or severe dementia who were furious that we wouldn’t just let them dump their relative on us without arranging a carer to make sure said relative was given the level of care they needed to be safe when travelling alone in a foreign country.
Sometimes I took complaints from customers who were unhappy that we couldn’t* accommodate them. A disabled customer unhappy that the excursions we included in one holiday package weren’t accessible, or that the exclusive bar we arranged for our customers was only accessible by stair. A plus size customer concerned that the tiny shower cubicles in some of our cabins were too narrow for them to comfortably bathe in. A customer who’d had children later in life and was upset that we didn’t allow relatives under the age of 40 to come along unless those relatives were acting as carers. And sometimes those customers got angry and shouty.
And you know what? When they did, I sat back and I took it. I listened, I recorded the salient points of their complaint, I apologised and I assured them that, while I couldn’t control the outcome, I would make sure their concerns were passed along to the people in charge and would argue their case on their behalf. And I did. Every time.
Because it was my job. Because while directing their anger at me wasn’t necessary, I understood why they felt so strongly. Because if we could justify sending an entire fucking fruit basket to that customer who thought the maid “stole” an orange (turns out she threw it out because it was starting to spoil), then we could justify listening to the customer we’d failed to accommodate.
Often, those customers would get angry because they’d come to us after being turned away from several other holiday companies, and had come to us out of hope, desperation, and last resorts. They were already frustrated, upset, rejected and at the end of their rope. Most of the time, after I took the time to listen, they’d calm down, apologise for their anger and express gratitude that I was patient with them. Often, they could be the most rewarding customers to take the time to listen to.
When your job involves handling complaints, the way you react to the customer’s emotions can play a huge part in whether the interaction goes well or turns into shouting. How many of us have started complaining in a reasonable fashion only to end up irate when the person who is supposed to be listening to us makes the situation more difficult?
*couldn’t in the sense that me and the sales agents couldn’t help. I was continuously at war with the executives that actually designed our holidays because they so often picked locations and excursions that they - able-bodied 30 and 40 year olds - enjoyed, and too rarely considered older or less able customers.
I work at a popular little girls’ clothing store. I’m sure most of us know the one — glitter and sparkles and One Direction all the way. The other day I was working, and a little girl came in wanting to spend her birthday money. She had found a pair of boots and wanted to find a sweater to wear with her new boots. I knew the perfect sweater for this little girl. When I asked her mom what size (because most 9- or 10- year olds don’t know what size they wear half the time), she said “She normally wears a 14, but she’s lost some weight so the 12 should be fine.” The little girl loved the sweater and tried it on and the 12 looked adorable on her, but it made me wonder a bit. Why should this little girl have had to lost weight? We have girls who are much younger than her wearing our largest size (a 20) and their moms *never* say anything about them losing weight. But this little girl, who’s maybe built a little larger than normal but will probably even out once she hits a growth spurt, had to lose weight? Why? (I know it doesn’t matter how big she is, that she shouldn’t have to lose weight just because her mother wants her to, but it baffles me even more knowing that this girl is, in my mind, completely normal-sized.)
For the record, I believe that all little girls deserve to shop at my store, and I’m always more than happy to tell parents that we do accommodate girls who grow “outwards” instead of “upwards.” Why should a little girl have to suffer not being able to dress like her friends just because she grew differently than they did? It’s not a perfect system (not every style of pants comes in the plus-size, but it’s something… right?)
Thin privilege is walking into any store in the world that sells winter coats and being able to buy a winter coat instead of wearing every layer you have and freezing because you haven’t figured out where the plus-size shopping is in your new city.
Mod response: I can so relate to this. I’m up in Montreal for most of the winter, and it just got really cold and snowy up here. Though I have the standard Boston/New York long wool coat, it isn’t enough. I see everyone with these great down-filled coats, but you think I can find anything above a women’s 24 in jackets up here? Maybe at Target or Walmart, but I’m not sure it will be the quality I need for when it started getting really fucking cold. I’ve noticed lots of folks up here get their coats from ski shops. I’ve been in a couple. They don’t have my size, both from the assumption that fat people don’t do winter sports and the usual eff you fat people (especially fat women) get from plus size clothing retailers. -ATL
Thin privilege is not being shamed for eating at a family get-together by an older male relative at 6 years old.
Thin privilege is not having to shop in women’s clothing at 10 years old instead of the fashionably relevant junior’s section.
Thin privilege is never having to pretend like you’re not hungry so you won’t look like even more of a fat-ass for eating all of a meal around your friends.
Thin privilege is never being told that you’ll “never catch a boy looking like that, now will you?”
Thin privilege is not throwing away your virginity at 21 years old to a boy who didn’t deserve it merely because he was the first boy to ever show any interest in you; how could you possibly turn him down when no else could ever want you.
Thin privilege is being able to be angry with said boy when he never called again after taking your virginity because you understand. You wouldn’t want to think about fucking that hideous monster of a girl either. Who can blame him?
Thin privilege is not realizing that all the discrimination that you experienced when you were younger did not go away; people did not get kinder, you merely became so used to it that you’ve been naively ignoring it for years.
Growing up, I was made fun of a lot for being tall and skinny, flat chested, and having a “boy’s body.” Thin privilege is coming home upset from the teasing, opening a magazine, and successfully making yourself feel better because every single girl you saw had a body type like yours.
Thin privilege is asking an employee in a popular clothing store that used to carry plus size clothing where the plus size clothing is and being told ‘We don’t have a specific plus-size section anymore, but we do have sizes all the way up to XL mixed in with the normal clothes.’
Other problems with this scenario besides the fact that XL was considered plus-size include that I was given this information in a condescending tone like I was being done some favor by them carrying all the way up to an XL, that an XL is not normal, and that when this store did have a plus-size section, everything from a US size 12/ UK size 14 on up was in this plus size section.
Thin privilege is being comfortable in your clothing.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to settle for clothing that is “close enough” to my size or “close enough” to feeling comfortable. I can spent hours upon hours shopping for clothes, yet I rarely find anything that fits my body size just right. Too many times I have had to settle for something that cuts into my arms, or is too tight on my stomach, or doesn’t properly cover my breasts, etc.
It sucks seeing people who are much thinner than me walk into a store, try on heaps of things, then leave the store with a bag full of clothing. Meanwhile I am left in the fitting room, crying at the mirror because I can’t find one thing that fits me. Why do clothing companies have so much difficulty making clothes that fit fatter bodies? Is it so hard to find some larger models to style your clothing off? We’re either stuck with horrible unflattering tents, or clothes that fit in one area but are too tight in others (e.g. I bought a shirt the other day that fit my body perfectly, yet had tiny sleeves that cut into my armpits! Why?!”
I don’t know how to word this in a “thin privilege is” format, but I noticed looking at the Old Navy website today that womens’ (as in the section of the store called that) plus size clothes have a 10-15 dollar markup from the straight-sized versions of the exact same clothing, whereas mens’ clothing has no mark-up between the straight sizes and the “big” sizes.
I did notice, though, that there was a shirt with the same design/print/material in both the straight sized womens’ shirts at 10 dollars with no plus sized version (although similar plus t-shirts were 14-26 dollars) and in the mens’ shirts at 15 dollars for straight sizes and “big” sizes both. How does that argument about more fabric in plus sizes go, again?
So I work in a large chain store that has an impressive lingerie department. The lingerie area is spacious and vast in every store the chain owns, and while about 80% of the stock is for 28-36 AA-D bras, there is one corner with a range of well-made bras in DD-J sizes that also cover a larger range of back sizes, and only for about double the price of the smaller bras! The store has a smaller range of AA-D bras in their own brand, but only because they sell about a dozen other brands in those sizes for a variety of budgets (the DD+ range has a choice of their own brand, or one other brand only). This store is the only one in my town that sells larger cup sizes, and one of only a handful of stores in the country that stock bras above a DD, not to mention being one of the rare places not-on-the-internet that a 38H like myself can get a bra that isn’t beige and frumpy.
Today a customer came in, picked eight different bras up in a variety of colours and styles, all of which fit her well (I assisted with the fitting) and looked good, all within her budget and all almost, but not quite, matching her requirements. The one with the lace style she liked was only in five different colours, and although she quite liked two of them she really wanted a deeper blue. The one that was the exact colour she wanted was too plain. The two that were both appropriately lacy and in a deep blue also had either stripes or spots, and she didn’t want a pattern.
In the end she reluctantly chose the two bras that had the lace she liked and almost the right colour. And then at the till, she decided to rant about how we “used to have such a great selection, but now it seems you only sell bras for women with huge, ridiculous chests. There’s nothing left for women like me.”. She left with her purchases, but she definitely left less than happy.
I wear a 38H. The shop I work in is the only one in my town - the only chain operating in my county - that sells my size in anything other than beige. Even then, the selection is 1/5th the size of the smaller-cup smaller-back range. Even then, it’s twice the price. Even then, my choices when it comes to bras still often come down to just finding one that fits and looks okay, and several times I’ve been in after work and found no bras in stock in my size. The first time I bought a bra from there and got treated by the staff like I was just a normal customer with the same right to wear something pretty as everyone else (long before I worked there) I was so happy I cried, and didn’t even care that the bra I ended up with was a colour I didn’t much like - it was relatively pretty and it fit! The idea of being able to choose a single style and then specify the actual colour variation you want is like a fantasy for me. Meanwhile this customer could walk into any women’s clothes shop on the high street and know that every bra sold in every shop will be made to include her size.
Thin privilege is when you’re so accustomed to the world being perfectly designed to exactly match your needs that the slightest increase in choice for someone not-you is perceived as an attack on your right to have everything catering exclusively to you. Thin privilege is when you’re so offended that someone offered the fat person a slice of bread to eat that you choke on the banquet laid before you. Thin privilege is turning down a dozen pretty bras for not being quite perfect, and then complaining that it’s all the fault of the big-titted fatties for expecting to be allowed to wear clothes.
*I know that not all plus size women have large breasts, and not all thin women have small breasts. But this does seem to be a situation correlated with thin privilege and shape privilege, where people with bodies that meet the fashionable ideal (slim, small-chested) are given access to a dizzyingly large range of options compared to those of us who don’t. Consider that the average UK woman wears a size 16**, with straight shops often stopping at a 16, sometimes even a 14. The average UK woman also wears a DD bra, and yet most standard bra ranges stop at a D or DD.
**In as much as our terrible clothing size system can be used to describe any woman as wearing “a size”.
Thin privilege is not having to try not to look at any of the pretty clothes in the mall with your friends because you know that almost none of the stores carry anything even close to your size. Thin privilege is not having to explain that the reason you aren’t trying anything on is because this store doesn’t sell one. single. dress you could wear.