Thursday, December 15, 2011

The pain of shopping as a fat woman

Tuesday was difficult for me. My husband and I went out on a little day trip to see some historical sites, which was fun. But it didn't take long for me to feel tired and sore from standing and walking so much. I kept lagging behind and feeling annoyed at him for blasting past me, and ashamed of myself for my inability to keep up. My ankles hurt so much that it was hard to focus and fully enjoy the things I was seeing. I didn't complain out loud or betray my shame and annoyance--I did the Nice Cheery Fat Girl thing and kept it to myself.

Until I couldn't anymore.

After a day of sightseeing, we headed home. It was dark and cold, and I was beyond tired. About halfway home, my husband spotted an outlet mall and pulled off the highway to check it out. He'd been meaning to get a winter hat and some better shoes for awhile, and promised he only needed to duck into a couple of stores. I didn't need anything, and told him I was tired and that I'd wait in the car.

But he insisted he wanted my help in choosing stuff. So for the next two hours, we walked almost nonstop in the dark and cold and visited one store after another. I. WAS. PISSED. After the first three stores, I told him I was done. And he'd insist we go "to just one more store." Not only was he not respecting my feelings, he wasn't listening to me in other ways: in store after store, he pressed me to look at and try on clothes after I had already explained that the stores didn't carry things in my size. (There were no plus size stores at this mall, unfortunately.) I know my body and women's clothing lines way better than him, but in each store I had to repeat and reiterate and explain and persuade him on this point, again and again. It was humiliating--WHAT was he not getting? Why would I say Aeropostale (only one example) doesn't carry anything that fits me unless it were actually true? Why would I make up something that is embarrassing to say?!

He kept insisting he was in the mood to buy me something since we so rarely go clothes shopping together. Finally, in American Eagle I let him buy me a men's sweatshirt in XXL. It was the only thing that fit me--the largest men's size in the store and the most shapeless garment available. The XL was too snug. The shirt is soft and snuggly, but it has the giant brand logo across the chest, which is something I stopped liking after high school. What's more, taking it home reminded me of all the painful years that I wore men's shirts because I couldn't find women's clothes that fit me...even though I longed so much to dress and feel feminine. I've since learned where to look--Lane Bryant, online sources, some department stores--but I'm not happy with the selection available to me. Never have been. And more and more, I'm slipping back into non-feminine clothes because I'm tired of trying to "make it work"--tired of fitted clothes that show my rolls and/or require support garments (hence sloppy hoodies and jeans as my default outfit), tired of underwire bras that lift but are miserable to wear (hence my wearing a sportsbra 99% of the time), tired of the pain of low heels and even flats (hence tennis shoes daily)...

It sucks to go to an outlet mall with fifty stores carrying women's clothes, and not be able to buy ANYTHING. There was a time he and I could shop together and have fun. Even when I was 70 pounds lighter than I am now, I still had to buy the largest women's sizes available at a select few stores, but at least there were some options at places like The Gap.

All this was swirling in my head as we drove home. I cried quietly in the car, which led to my husband and me snapping at each other. What a way to end the day, right?

I have to change, but I know the more dramatic and self-hating my attempts at change, the more they backfire. I have a long, slow trek ahead of me, and I'll be making it in men's shirts and sportsbras and saggy jeans and tennis shoes for awhile yet.

Enjoyed this post today by Kelliann. She is handling holiday craziness without losing sight of what's important.

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