I like to consider myself a relatively well-adjusted twenty two year-old woman. I’m self-employed, making ends meet, go to therapy once a week and get nearly all of my five-a-day. I could be drinking wine in my kitchen every night and avoiding the iMessages I need to respond to like twenty year-old Lucy but no, here I am pushing through those urges to sit on my floor and eat pasta, all in the name of adulthood.
Whilst most of the concerns and insecurities that haunted my adolescent self have now vanished (or, in the case of finances, been replaced by even more pressing ones,) I am still, just like when I was fourteen, hyper-aware of my body and self-image. Those thoughts have been omnipresent since I realised I had a body and was told what it should look like. I’m now twelve years on from that point and I still think about the number of calories in a banana on the regular.
One of my least favourite existential questions that stems from this hyper-awareness is, “Why do I look like a slug in every changing room mirror?” Whilst most of my other philosophical concerns tend to ebb and flow with my changing priorities, unfortunately this one has stayed stubbornly put. This may be in part due to losing and then nearly regaining a stone all in twelve months, which has set my distorted perception of my body into overdrive. I can’t look in the mirror and tell what size I am. I didn’t even notice I’d lost weight. When I go into changing rooms, I’m another completely different version of myself to the one I see in my mirror at home. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.
Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a post in which talk about my body image. The reason I’ve been experiencing more changing room dysmorphia than usual is because I’ve been spending more time in them – I’m trying to create a capsule wardrobe. This involves, unsurprisingly, purchasing new clothes. But not just any clothes – ones that fit, are good quality and will last for at least a couple of years. I’ve done every inch of assessment on my current wardrobe and have decided on what I need, and what I need are trousers. However this process has brought to my attention something unwaveringly frustrating: high street trousers do not fit me. No matter where I shop, when I try on a pair I either can’t get them above my thighs or they’re squeezing my buttocks like they need to be set free and gaping at my waist. It’s like the designers forgot that people have bums. I’m not kidding. Every. Single. Store. It’s the same story with elasticated waists, jeans, everything. Every time I’m standing there in the changing room with a pair of trousers by my ankles after having done a little dance to try and get them on, I conclude that Nicki Minaj must get her clothes tailored because this shit is impossible.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences this, and while my struggle is unique to trousers, I’m sure there are women who find that the culprit is coats that can’t fasten over their boobs, shoes that are always too narrow or tops that are tight on their upper arms. Whilst my struggle is specific to being pear-shaped, I’ve tweeted about the struggles with poorly fitting clothes before and so many people responded with similar sizing issues. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating, and it’s a part of the advertising construct designed to make women insecure.
To find clothes that fit my bum and my waist, I needed a game plan. So I went online to try and find fashion bloggers with similar figures to mine. My logic was that by the nature of their job, they buy clothes that fit them and they have to tell me where they’re from. And still, after a search I’ve yet to find any who have the same figure as mine. I’m not skinny by any means but nor am I “curvy” in the sense that brands use the term. Where are the middle ground bloggers who have a variety of figures? I only seem to follow – truly wonderful – but very petite women who document their wardrobes. There’s a whole demographic of women who are likely in my position. I’m no Marilyn Monroe, but I have hips and it feels like as soon as you venture above a size 8 the proportions stop resembling an actual human being. There’s no reason that there can’t be greater variation in at least jeans stores and it amazes me that we haven’t created a better sizing system where women of all shapes can be accommodated.
Ironically, mid-way through writing this post a jumpsuit I wanted to wear at Buffer Festival has arrived, and despite having ordered multiple sizes, none of them fit. The size L could only just stretch over my hips, whilst it left loose fabric all around my stomach. Case in point.
So this week I’ve been asking myself: should I be documenting my style if clothes aren’t designed to fit me? If I’m going to have to get things tailored or pin them when I wear them, is it a real portrayal of the item? Should I just cut this out of my fuck budget and resign myself to skinny jeans and leggings? I adore fashion but it’s been so bad for my perception of myself to try on so many ill-fitting clothes that perhaps it’s best for me to quit while I’m ahead.
What are your thoughts on this? And most importantly: if you have this problem too then please tell me where you find trousers/coats/shoes that fit because I am struuuuggling.