I love shopping. It’s one of the many ways I cling to quintessential girldom while maintaining my snarky, feminist attitude. If I’ve had a bad day or a good day or a day in general, capping it off with a trip to a shopping outlet is the perfect medicine/reward. I used to revel in clothing shopping. I could walk into a store like Forever 21 and dive headfirst into rack after rack, only coming up for air to start a dressing room. Spending hours in H&M or Forever 21 was not only possible, it was necessary. I needed to look at every single item on the racks in case I prematurely ventured to the cashier and passed up on a polka-dot mini that I was destined to have, or a tie-waist shirt dress that would accentuate my vivacious curves. That would never do. I’ve said before that I was never skinny. I was always curvy but as big girls know, curves (and milkshakes) are what bring all the boys to the yard, so I didn’t mind. In fact, I celebrated it with body-contour dresses and belted waists. (I went through a phase where I thought I pretty much was Bettie Page.) The big, trendy stores were my holy place because I was (and will always be) all about quantity over quality. I like to have a ton of choices and when you make as little money as I do, H&M prices are your happy place.
Shopping was my first relationship but it’s always been one of love/hate. Since I have always been curvy, and since clothing lines made for more “ethnic” bodies weren’t available to me in my younger years, I was always hovering between a Juniors size 13 and a Women’s size 14. While I agree that this size may seem pretty big to be proud of, you can trust me when I say I was a hot plus size. I’m not short and I was well proportioned, situating all the bulk in the sexy places. It worked. Fitting into the sizes offered wasn’t a terrible issue in my earlier years, but I did have odd problems to deal with on account of all the sexiness in my thigh and butt area. The gap. Not the uber-preppy store, but the situation that happens when you have too much jelly for JC Penny to handle and end up with jeans that fit around your thunder thighs but gap widely in the back, giving the world a view of those size XL undies. It was nothing a cinched belt couldn’t handle, but it did make wearing shorter shirts impossible unless I dared wear my jeans ultra-low like all those hipbone-baring harlots I made fun of. No thank you. I’m not even convinced I have hipbones. For all I know, it could be jelly all the way through.
Let’s talk about arms. My arms have always been grotesquely big. Even when I was a svelte size 13 and dancing my way to physical fitness, my arms have always been a point of contention on my otherwise va-va-voom body. Aren’t arms supposed to be a different size than legs? I thought so. Mine aren’t. My arms are literally the thickness of most people’s legs. It’s pretty disgusting. Aside from being terrible to look at, they keep me from wearing an entire genre of clothing: sleeveless. All through the hot, hot summers I have to sport the ever-present “three-quarter-length” sleeve. I believe that putting fabric over my tree-trunk arms will disguise the largeness of them. Logically, I realize this is not true, but it does disguise the interesting things that happen when my arms are at rest against my sides. So that’s enough reason for me. Along with holding me at arm’s length (ahem) from super-cute sleeveless dresses, my arms keep me out of most blazers and long-sleeved shirts. These shirts are manufactured for normal people. People who do not have to consult Popeye for fashion tips. It has gotten to the point now, where I can simply tug on the fabric of a blazer’s sleeves and know I shouldn’t even try to stick my arm in there. I’ve had many a terrifying dressing room experience of believing, if only for a moment, that I was going to have to be cut out of a pullover shirt. Nothing like confined spaces and too many mirrors to calm a panic attack. I’ve talked before about how I literally hulk-rip the arms out of shirts when I go rogue and try to shop like the little people. If you hang out with me at all in real life, you’ve seen the proof. It’s not pretty but it’s the chunky, chunky hand I’ve been dealt.
So, let’s go shopping! I could use someone to field my snide comments and attempts at covering my embarrassment with sarcasm.