Body discrimination occurs on both ends of the size chart
When you are a reader of my blog for a while, you may have read my post about my being send to the youth department. Being on the petite side and having the great body of John Wayne – wide shoulders, small hips, and ears like saddle bags – I rarely find clothes in Fairbanks that I like and which fit me well. I am lucky when I find a great score in one of Fairbanks’ consignment stores once in a while. In Fairbanks, the smallest size you can find for woman is a US size 6, when you are lucky to be a size 6, you like the item and the one size 6 that the store ordered is not jet sold to another woman. 🙁
The lack of possibilities for shopping locally has made me an experienced thrifter and online shopper. I shared my experiences in some posts on saving time when thrifting, and selecting the right size when shopping online.
Loving fashion is independent of age
We all need to dress. Thus, what’s wrong about dressing stylishly over 40, when it is totally accepted when you are half that age? Recently, some of my fellow bloggers blogged about body/age discrimination they had encountered when shopping in department stores or fast fashion stores. These negative experiences were not just about shopping per se, but also about being a fashion/style interested 40 plus woman. The latter isn’t amazing at all, when your goal is to turn current fashion into personal style over 40.
How experienced style and fashion bloggers cope with body and age discrimination
For this month’s blogger roundup I asked fashion and style bloggers over 40 for their best advice to cope with body discrimination (i.e. to not feel hurt) when shopping for the fashion and style they want.
Sabine Gimm, the blogger at Blingbling50, wrote:
Fitting rooms are creepy. They often show you in a bad light. You should simply ignore negativity and accept your body as it is. In a fitting room, you have the possibility to see how the clothes fit in the back. This is a big advantage.
When a sales person tells you “We don’t have this piece in your size”, just answer “Then I won’t bother you any further. Too bad that I can’t recommend your store” and then just leave. Shop only where you are welcome and where you are treated like a Queen.
An alternative is online shopping. The advantage is that you can combine the clothes with the clothes you have already at home and try them on at home.
Monika Faulkner, blogger at Style Is My Pudding, is a petite woman living in the outskirts of Vancouver, Canada. She has the following advice:
What’s my ‘secret’ to dealing with a fashion industry that focuses on customers who are a good 3 to 4 inches taller than I am? Honestly, it boils down to some creative styling and lots and lots of shopping around!
Tops are generally not at issue, since I prefer to wear my sleeves pushed or rolled up anyways…so if they’re too long? Who cares!
Skirts and dresses? I make sure that I’m happy with the way a ‘midi’ silhouette, for example, might fit more like a ‘maxi’ on me.
And skinny jeans are super easy right now; with the raw hem trend still going strong, I just cut them off to the length I want! Flared jeans and trousers are definitely a challenge, though; I’ve hung many pairs back on the rack once I realized that hemming them would effectively remove most of the flare. So that’s where some patience and marathon shopping might come in.
Of course a visit to my local alterations shop is always an option, too. But then I make sure to factor the cost of the alteration into the garment; will it still be a worthwhile purchase.
Tina, the blogger at Tina’s Pinkfriday, is a tall woman. She is also great at sewing her own clothes. See what she has to say about shopping for clothes:
First, I had to think hard. I buy online! Most of the time, most stores in our city don’t have clothes in my size, about 48-52 (US size 2X-3X). Thus, I buy my clothes almost exclusively online. The choice of fashionable clothes is just larger online.
One time, I was very disappointed at the mall when I came to a H&M store that used to have a section with clothes in my size and I couldn’t find that section anymore. When I asked, the saleswoman explained that they had decided to offer large sizes only in a few selected stores. At that very the moment, I decided to buy my clothes just online except for TK Maxx, and certainly NOT at H&M. I also buy them online in other countries, for instance, in England. Online that’s not a problem.
Except for this incident I’ve really never had bad experiences and all sales persons are very friendly when I browse the stores on Fridays. Well, I am friendly too. As a matter of fact, I have never experienced obvious body or age discrimination. I openly approach people and so they approach me.
I don’t run my blog as a plus size blog. I see myself simply as a woman, not reduced to my dimensions.
Shelbee, fashion blogger at Shelbee on the Edge, answered:
I don’t know if I can accurately answer this question, but I will do my best. At this stage of my life, age 43, I have become so confident in my body and my style that I can’t really think of what type of body discrimination would hurt me. I know what size my body is and I know that there are certain styles and certain brands that simply don’t work for me. I may still venture into a store that targets juniors knowing full well that none of their clothing would work on my body, but I can always find a fabulous accessory at a juniors price point! I don’t set my mind on a specific size that I wear, I simply wear what fits my body. I have clothing in my closet that ranges from size 10 to size 24 and from Large to 6XL. Those numbers are completely irrelevant to me. If it looks good and feels good, then I am going to wear. And I will wear it with confidence! So I suppose the way cope with body discrimination is to meet it head on with plain unadulterated body confidence and self-love! Love what you have and adorn it with confidence and you will always look fabulous!
In other words and summary:
- Love your body. That’s the only place you can live in.
- Be self-confidence. You deserve great service at any age and any dimension.
- Shop where your chances are best to find your size and what you want. Or in other words, you can’t buy a bike at a car dealer.
- Have a great tailor on speed dial for alterations and factor the costs in when you buy.
- Take advantage of trends that work in your favor. For instance, cropped pants are full length on a petite, normal pants length works as cropped pants on a tall woman.
- Be aware that in other countries, the mean population is taller, smaller, bigger, tinnier, etc. and shop there online. For petites, Italy, Spain, and East Asian countries are good options. The former two are also great for plus size petites. Tall women may be lucky in Germany, Great Britain, or Scandinavia. Plus sizes have great chances in US online stores. You get the idea.
- Learn to shop by measures not size. Size is just a number.
- Know that you are unique and that’s beautiful.
What is your fashion/style shopping challenge? Have you experienced body and/or age discrimination? How did you feel when it happened and how did you cope with it? I am curious about your experiences with shopping for fashion over 40.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
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