Tag Archives: plus-sized

Get me to the Dressing Room Please

As a “plus-sized” person, I know that my options for buying clothing are much more limited than my “straight-sized” friends.  It is not all that uncommon, especially in certain parts of Los Angeles to go to a mall that doesn’t carry any plus-sized clothing whatsoever.  But I am also deeply aware, that as a “midsized” fatty, my options are far more plentiful than many of my larger friends.  While it’s fairly common to find at least some things up to a 2x or 3x, beyond that you’re often stuck ordering from a catalog, which not to put too fine a point on it, sucks.  Here’s why:

I am notoriously fussy when it comes to buying clothes.  Not only do I need to love them and need to be able to afford them, I want them to fit.  And there’s the rub (literally at times).  Not all women are built the same way.  And I wear anything from a 1x to a 3x depending on the cut of the garment and the arbitrary way the garments are sized.  That means when I go into a fitting room, I might have 20 or more garments to try on.  And often I don’t buy any of them.  Not a big deal, when all you have to do is hang up your rejects and put them on the dress rack outside the door.  Sometimes a deal breaker when you have to order all those clothes and pay multiple shipping charges to return them all.  I have to admit, I very rarely mail order clothing these days.  Because when I have to have them shipped in 3 sizes and I am very likely to return most, or all of them, it gets quite expensive.

I understand my privilege.  Buying clothing in a store is possible for me much of the time.  I have the means to buy a few nice quality pieces of clothing a year.  And I have the means of transportation to go look and a job that allows me to sometimes shop for clothing when the stores are open.  But I am very aware that for people over a 3X there is often only one store in the mall that carries ANYTHING in your size, and woe be to you if their hourglass-shaped fit model is differently proportioned than you.

There is really no excuse for not carrying plus-sizes in your stores–especially if your company MAKES plus-sized clothing (I’m talking to YOU Old Navy and J. Jill).  For the most part, if a store makes plus-sized clothing but refuses to carry them in the store, I refuse to buy clothing from them.  After all, if you can’t give me a few square feet of rack space so I can haul some stuff to the dressing room so I can try stuff on, you don’t care enough to get my money.  And I am lucky enough to have some money to spend.

So what do you say clothing companies.  Our clothes may come in different sizes and shapes, but our money and credit cards are the same size and shape as everybody else’s.  Why not let us spend some of it with you.  I’ll meet you at the dressing room.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Fatshioning a Better Relationship with Clothing Companies

Plus-size model? Most of the world doesn’t seem to think so.

I was reviewing my email when this article from Digiday entitled “For brands,  marketing ‘plus-size’ is a tricky line to walk” showed up.  The article talked about the recent uproar about Calvin Klein model Myla Dalbesio’s interview in Elle Magazine where she referred to herself as a ‘Plus Sized Model’.  Social media outlets erupted in anger as many people rightly pointed out that as a very tall woman who is size 10 at most, she is considerably thinner than the average American woman.  And while she might qualify as “plus-sized” in modeling terminology (which can apply to any woman over size 6 according to the article in Elle) she certainly doesn’t qualify as plus-sized in the way that most of us understand it.  To be fair, I think it’s important to note that Calvin Klein did not label her as plus-sized.  It simply put her in a group of models of varying sizes to promote their new Perfectly Fit line of underwear.  Myla described herself as plus-sized.

But this pesky question of labeling has come up since the early days of the “husky” department and most retailers still don’t seem to get it right.  We had the kerfluffle earlier this year when some online catalog pages identified Wal-mart Halloween Costumes “Fat Girl Costumes”.  Many people took exception to this labeling as extremely rude, while at the same time, many people in the Fat Acceptance community who identify themselves with the word “Fat” thought it was just fine.  As a woman who calls herself “The Fat Chick” I wasn’t offended.  But many people were.

Walmart’s Halloween section before the site got changed and the company apologized.

Add to this, Dillard’s debacle which Ragen Chastain blogged about today and you have to wonder, who the hell is doing this marketing stuff anyways?  Who at Dillard’s thought it would be okay to put a sign that says “Dear Santa, This year give me a fat bank account and a slim body.  Please don’t mix them up like you did last year.”  Do they do any market research?  Do they understand how this will be perceived in the marketplace?  Or do they see it as clickbait with the idea that all attention is good attention as long as they get the URL right?

And then we have Old Navy, catching online flak for making their plus-sized clothing more expensive than the exact same garment in a smaller size.  There is now a national petition circulating on Change.org asking Old Navy to unify pricing for women’s clothing of all sizes.

What in the name of all that is retail is going on here?  How can these companies with so much money and such big advertising budgets and so much access to sophisticated market research continue to get this so wrong?  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but it seems to me that a few simple tips are in order:

1.  Lose the labels.

Why do you have to call these clothes anything at all?  Why do you need a plus-size department?  Or a women’s department?  That label always made no sense to me anyway.  Does that mean that all the other smaller dresses in the store are not for women?  Are they for dancing poodles or space aliens?  Why can’t we just say that we have clothing sizes 00-30 and call it a day?  If you are talking about tags for a search engine, then fine.  Tag away.  But you don’t need to call these clothes out in a special heading.  Because you are also following step two which is:

2.  Have more than a few token items in a variety of sizes.

The sad truth is that larger sizes are often relegated to their own department because such a small percentage of the store’s stock comes in any thing over a size 12. Larger people get really tired of flipping through cute and gorgeous things that don’t come in their size.  If most things on the rack had a size 14 through a size 30 or 32 or 40 on them, we wouldn’t need to go to the “plus-sized” department or the “women’s department” we would go to the clothes department.  The special sizes departments are just to keep us from hanging ourselves with a pair of stripy tights because we’ve looked at 85 fabulous things that only come in a size 4.

3.  Don’t charge a premium for larger sizes

You don’t charge more for a size 10 than a size 0.  So there is no reason to charge more for a size 16 than a size 10.  Just average the prices down the line and charge accordingly.  See?  That was easy!

4.  Treat all of your customers with respect

Treat your customers of all sizes, just the way you would like to be treated.  Do you want to see a sign suggesting that Santa bring you better judgement, more kindness and some freaking common sense?  No?  Then don’t put out a sign suggesting that Santa bring your women customers or your young girl customers a new body.  There!  Done!

I think everybody should be able to approach the holidays in some fabulous clothing that makes them feel comfortable and happy.  So retailers, listen up!  There are lots of people who aren’t size 4 or even 14 and have lots of money.  So if you really want to start the day after Thanksgiving “in the black”, get it together.  I think that is something for which we could all feel truly grateful.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Want me to come talk to your organization about “plus-sized” clothing and fashion for folks of all sizes?  Click HERE to see some video, learn about my speeches and book me!

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See Fatty Run, Can Fat People Run Safely?

halfinish2I am frequently asked both on Facebook and in the Fit Fatties Forum, “I am fat.  Is it still safe for me to run?”  So I thought I’d take up this question in today’s blog post.

The short answer is that most people, given proper form, equipment, time and training can learn to jog or run safely, but not all.  There is little evidence that it is inherently unsafe for people of size to jog or run.  Plenty of fluffy folks finish 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races every day.  There is little to no evidence that running causes pain or loss of cartilage in the knees–no matter what your size.  However, if you already have problems in knees, hips, ankles, back or feet, you should proceed with extreme caution as running can make these problems a lot worse.

BadKnees

If you have “bad knees” you should get cleared by a doctor before you start running.

Frankly, fat folk should approach running in the same way that thin people do.  You should probably start by being checked out by your doctor.  If you are coping with joint pain or back pain of any sort, you should probably also see a joint or sports medicine specialist and get cleared for exercise before you begin.  Once you get the all clear from your doctor(s), then it’s time to gear up.  Start by getting yourself a great pair of shoes.  The best way to find those great shoes is to go to a running store, and get fitted by a professional.  This is not the time to choose shoes because they are your favorite color or because they are on sale.  Good shoes that fit properly and meet the special needs of your particular tootsies are critical for safe walking and running.

Choose function over fashion for your fitness footwear.

Choose function over fashion for your fitness footwear.

Once you’ve got the all-clear and are geared up, you need to start SLOWLY.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If you are not already walking regularly, you should start with a walking program.  There are lots of different schools of thought about how to move from walking to running.  I am personally very partial to Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run approach.  I started by walking 10 minutes and running for 30 seconds.  I ran from telephone pole to telephone pole.  I eventually trained to the point I could do a marathon.  I know lots of people who have safely used this approach.  Going all out each workout as hard and as fast as you can is not noble.  It is not bad-assed.  It is a recipe for disaster.  There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about having to quit your running program after 4 days because you hurt yourself.

Once you’ve been running for a while, it is also important to PROCEED SLOWLY.  Most sports programs recommend that you ramp no more than 10 percent per week.  That means if you are running one mile per session this week, you can run 1.1 miles per session next week.  Note that this progression is much, MUCH slower than many of the published and printed running programs out there.  While many of the programs that train you for your first 5K or marathon are great, I find that many bodies are simply not designed to ramp up that quickly.  That’s why I took my first marathon program, cut it in half, and trained for a half marathon instead.  That’s why, when I do 5K or 10 K training programs now, I tend to spend two or even three weeks at each level before I move on.  If you’re doing a total of 3 miles of training this week, it’s probably not cool to do 6 miles of training next week.  It might work for you.  It might leave you a total wreak.  Learn to learn from and listen to YOUR body.

There are lots of other things you can do to help keep yourself safe.  Make sure you stretch.  Do a proper warm up.  Add cross training to give some of your running muscles a break.  Add strength training to build up the muscles and ligaments around your joints and help to stabilize them.  Make sure to work on your form.  Proper running form–including how and where you place your feet, stride, and even arm placement, are very important.  Running is a repetitive motion.  Very small problems in your form can lead to very big pain down the road.

Be sure to address back and other joint pains early and often.

When it comes to running, pain is a very important teacher.  Some people can run without experiencing any significant pain.  For some people, pain happens a whole lot.  In any case, pain is not to be ignored.  It can tell you when you need to adjust your form.  It can tell you when you need to add more cross training or strength training.  It can tell you that the purple tennis shoes you bought because they were on sale were a bad idea.  It can tell you that you need to stop running for a while so you can address a problem in your back or your joints.  It can tell you that running just isn’t for you right now.  DO NOT IGNORE PAIN.  Listen to it.  Learn from it.

Happy trails to you!

Happy trails to you!

So can fatties run?  Can running be safe and enjoyable for people of size?  Of course!  People of all sizes simply need to approach running with caution, gear up, start slowly, ramp slowly, and listen carefully to their bodies.  Here’s wishing you happy trails!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Big Fat Yoga Pants

Yesterday a brouhaha was begun when former Lululemon employee Elizabeth Licorish told reporters that her former employers routinely discriminated against larger customers.  In other news, water is wet.

I mean come on.  The store only stocks clothes up to size 10 or 12.  And they label their size 12 as XL.  Clearly this is a company who has never catered to a plus-sized clientele.

Licorish claims that while she worked at Lululemon, the company only stocked a few items in sizes 10 and 12.  She also asserts that these lonely larger sizes were not displayed prominently in the front, folded neatly on shelves or hanging from display racks, but rather, were crumpled up in the back.

Which leads me to ask a question.  How exactly is this different from nearly every other retailer on the planet?  Aside from the few stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid and Christines that cater specifically to plus-sized customers, most stores have pitiful, tiny poorly managed sections for their larger clothing.  Even if you look at the major, high-end department stores, the plus-sized section is much smaller, has much less inventory and is less well-staffed than virtually any other clothing department in the store.  Given the fact that about half of American women are plus-sized, I have a hard time understanding the reason why plus-sized clothing gets less than 10 percent of the floor space devoted to clothing in the local neighborhood mall.

Lululemon is not so different than most clothing companies, in that they fail to see the amazing market afforded by plus-sized customers and they are letting their brand arrogance lead them into leaving millions of dollars on the table.

But they know this already.

So instead of yelling at Lululemon for improperly displaying the “ginormous” size-12 yoga pants retailing for over $100,  I’m going to take this moment to remind the world that there are now some truly fabulous resources for budding plus-sized yogis out there.

On our Fit Fatties Forum we have the super amazing Abby Lentz moderating our Yoga group.  Aside from being an awesome yoga teacher, Abby also has her Heavyweight Yoga DVD and an especially cool feature on her website called “Change the Image of Yoga” where she features lots of beautiful, smiling yogis who don’t look anything like the ads or the saleswomen you’ll find at Lululemon.

Another wonderful Yoga Teacher that I know and love is Anna Guest-Jelley.  Anna is founder of Curvy Yoga and also offers certification for other teachers who are interested in learning the Curvy Yoga method of instruction.  She also offers her world-famous 30 Days of Curvy Yoga program.

And if Lululemon pants fit neither your butt nor your budget, you might want to check out the yoga wear at Junonia.com.  They have some lovely, high-quality pieces of yoga wear available up to a size 6x.

So may  I make a suggestion?  Rather than be upset that one hoity-toity “yoga wear” company doesn’t want to take your money, how about supporting one of these amazing businesses?  Help them to help you and many, many others to spread the word that yoga is for every BODY.

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Big Fat Ripoff: Too Heavy to Tan

tan

This week a story is surfacing about a woman in Akron who was told after she signed up for a month of tanning that she could not use the lay down tanning beds if she was over 230 lbs.  Kelly McGrevey was allowed to use Aloha tanning salon’s one stand up tanning booth, but when it was broken, she was told she simply couldn’t tan.  When Kelly asked for her money back, Aloha refused.  Kelly had never been told that she could only use the stand up booth, and the salon was unable to give her any information about when the stand up booth would be fixed.

Now look.  While there are some awesome facilities for bronzing, tanning salons are notorious for creating crazy policies and never, ever offering refunds.  The tanning salon had an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and had Kelly done her homework, she might have been less surprised by the shady business practices.  But I think the real surprise was probably with the employees of Aloha.  I doubt they expected that Kelly would have the guts to make much of a fuss about the new policy.  I’ve no doubt they were shocked when Kelly went public and they found themselves being interviewed by a local investigative reporter.  Because I suspect that they felt they would be protected from any negative repercussions for their bad behavior by the shame the fat girl felt about her body.

Except that’s not what happened at all.  And I think this should serve as a wake up call for businesses everywhere who are count on fat people’s willing compliance with their bogus policies.  Fat people are fed up.  And we’re rising up.  Whether it’s shaming at a fitness center or the requirement to submit to tests and pay more for company sponsored health insurance, people of size seem less likely to stand idly by these days.  So companies who shame fat folks should take note, that big girl you shame might just walk away crying, or she might be your ticket to a not so comfortable spot on the evening news.  And I for one, am cheering.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Now Trending on facebook: Mannequins that Look Like People

mannequins

Late last week, these lovely ladies started going viral on facebook.  Apparently a shopper named Rebecka, took pictures of these mannequins at a store in Sweden and posted them on her blog.  This image was picked up by Women’s Rights News and posted to their facebook page with along with the statement, “Store mannequins in Sweden. They look like real women. The US should invest in some of these.”  Since then, the photos have been seen by over 600,000 people and have become something of a worldwide sensation.  There was some initial confusion.  At one point, someone suggested that the mannequins were being displayed at H&M.  When H&M denied that the mannequins were theirs, some media entities (including the Washington Post) declared that the whole thing was a hoax.  But Rebecka assures us that the mannequins are real and are currently on display at a major Swedish department store called Åhléns.

So why such a fuss over a couple of clothing dummies?  It seems some of the excitement stems from the fact that these models seem to have bodies that are at least a little bit closer to average women around the world.  So often store mannequins are proportioned much closer to the tall and thin range of the human weight spectrum.  While some women are six feet tall and a size 4 or 6, this is certainly not average.  The Åhléns mannequins are a little softer and rounder.  Maybe they look a little bit less like the personification of a media ideal of creatures who wear fashionable clothing and a little more like, you know, people.  (Frankly, I adore the fact that they are wearing socks along with their pretty undies.  I mean it gets freakin’ COLD in the winter, ya know?!)

It’s interesting that these mannequins have attracted so much attention.  I mean they aren’t sporting alien antennas or tentacles.  They were not launched with a smug press release or a huge fanfare.  They were simply displayed, wearing socks and undies in a Swedish department store.  And just because they look a little bit less like an “ideal” and a little more “real” to many people, they have been viewed over half a million times since last Friday.  One would hope that other clothing stores and fashion designers and advertisers are taking note.  What is the dollar value of the marketing that this department store in Sweden is receiving just for taking a chance on giving its customers something for which they have obviously been waiting?  Is somebody taking note of the fact that there is a lot of pent up desire for seeing clothing displayed on a variety of body shapes and sizes to which more than just a very select few women might possibly relate?  Good heavens, I certainly hope so!

The last five years have not generally been kind to retailers.  And while it seems that sales are starting to pick up, I don’t think many would suggest that business is booming.  So it’s especially important now for retailers to focus on what customers want.  And it seems to me, what customers want, is to see clothing displayed in a way that reminds them a little bit less of some industry-driven ideal of how they should look and a little bit more of themselves.  Here’s hoping the message is finally getting through.

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Buyer Beware: When the Trainers at the Gym are Big Stupid Bullies

dumbellsWhat happens when you sign one of those one-sided, draconian gym contracts and then find yourself verbally and emotionally abused by the trainers in that gym?  Think you’ll get out of the contract?  Maybe, maybe not.  In the ever growing pile of “stuff on my facebook feed that makes me totally aggro” was this story on a site called Consumerist.  This site shares stories of people who feel they have been ripped off.  I am disappointed that the Consumerist felt the need to redact the name of the gym, although they are happy to name other companies (Kohl’s, Michaels) in other stories.  Maybe they felt that the gym was so small it might be a little too easy to figure out who the bad guys are and where they park their cars.

Anywho, the story’s victims, Shayla and Mr. Shayla joined a gym.  They took the first of their two “free personal training” sessions with a trainer who “pressured them” to sign up for personal training services.  (*Note this happens very often in some gyms.) When the couple (both plus-sized) mentioned that they were going to try on their own for a while, the trainer looks at their bellies and says, “Obviously what you’re doing so far, isn’t working.”  So Shayla and Mr. Shayla tell the manager they want a different trainer for their second (and final) free training session.  But now the first trainer is harassing Shayla and Mr. Shayla at every opportunity.  The wronged couple jumps through many hoops to try to talk to a manager.  When they finally get through, they ask to be let out of their contract.  They are denied at every level.  As Shayla says, “I am forced to watch them deduct money from my credit card each month (a portion of which, naturally, goes to my abuser), with no recourse until my contract expires.”

At the end of the article there’s an opinion poll asking:

Should the gym let Shayla out of her contract?

___No. If she doesn’t want people to point and laugh, she should lose more weight.

___No. She should wait and see whether her complaint does any good first.

___It’s her fault for not buying personal training sessions.

___Yes. Everyone should be able to find exercise that suits them in a respectful, jerk-free environment.

First of all, let me tell you that I was able to maintain the tiny thread of hope I hold out for humanity when I saw the responses–over 92 percent voted for the final “yes” response.  But I have to tell you, I thought of a few other options:

__Yes.  And if the company won’t do it, she should contact her local television station and share the story for a potential “expose” story.  Lots of stations love these stories and companies should expect public humiliation when they allow their employees to humiliate customers.

___Yes.  And Mr. and Mrs. Shayla should get x-large t-shirts printed that say, “I don’t train with [Name of personal trainer] cuz’ he’s a bully.” and hand them out in the gym parking lot.

___Yes.  And somebody should remind that gym about what happened when 24 Hour Fitness thought it was cool to put up billboards that were insulting to fat folks.

___Yes.  And redacted, my @ss.  I need the address, phone number and license plate number of that bozo that was doing the bullying!

But seriously folks, there are a few important lessons to be learned here.  One lesson is to be very, very careful when you join a gym–especially for a period of time of one year or longer.  There are many super-awesome completely reputable gyms that will give you a wonderful, safe, comfortable place to work out.  There are, unfortunately, also a number of gyms out there who just want to get you to sign a contract and  will never, ever, like for any reason, let you out of it.  They don’t care if you have a good experience.  In fact their idea of the perfect customer is the one who is a perpetual member who never, ever shows up at the gym.  Don’t believe me?  Go take a look at some of the complaints with your local Better Business Bureau.  I’ll bet at least one group is about a lousy gym with bad business practices.  Buyer beware, people.  Check out Yelp.  Google the name of the gym you are considering and the word “complaint”.  Ask around.  If you do get a contract, there should be a reasonable clause in it for both parties to opt out.  Don’t listen to any glib verbal assurances given by the salespeople.  Go with what’s written on the paper.  Consider trying the gym for a month or even three before signing up with a contract.  If there are no month to month or even 3-month options, consider this a red flag and check even closer into the gym’s practices.  Again many gyms are awesome, but some clearly are not.  Be careful.

And finally, yay for Shayla and Mr. Shayla for standing up for themselves.  There is no excuse for any fitness professional to treat you with anything other than courtesy and respect. EVER. None.  Zero.  Nada.  If this happens to you, call it out, complain about it, but don’t put up with it.  Because people of all sizes deserve courtesy and respect.

Love,
The Fat Chick

P.S.  Looking for a safe place to work out?  How about your living room?  You could always try my live streaming classes.  They are totally cost and contract FREE!