Over at Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose, the conversation has gotten around to others’ perceptions of our bodies. In particular, I like this comment from Tal:
In other words, she knew I had a rack of doom, but had apparently never noticed that I’m over a size 14. I responded that I wasn’t just talking about in the boob area and she just said “oh, well you should try shopping there anyway!”.
I’ve had similar experiences, particularly with male friends who have accepted me as one of the guys and therefore don’t think seriously about my body at all.
But women definitely do it, too. Well-meaning friends have bought me clothes in a 1x, when I’m at minimum a 3x. Or they drag me into a store and pick out things they think are cute, and don’t realize that the store not only doesn’t have my size, but doesn’t have anything that would fit even one of my thighs. Sometimes I think smaller-size folks who have never lived in the Big World honestly don’t understand how different things are when you’re outside of S/M/L.
Although I also have had similar experiences with midsize friends, too, who think I can shop at Lane Bryant (um, no.) or who don’t understand that there are some places that I can’t go because I can’t physically fit there (the back seat of someone’s hatchback, for instance.)
Not that anyone here has done it, but I do have to say that some folks who are on the smaller side of plus piss me off, because they talk about their experiences of “being fat” as if catcalls and a lack of dates is all that we have to go through. They talk about all the cute clothes that finally come in large sizes and don’t realize that even plus-size shops don’t carry things in my size (hint: if your clothing line stops at size 28, you’re still cutting off millions of potential customers.) When you’ve lived several years of your life not even being able to fit in restaurant booths or airplane seats, you start to realize that the “problems” of being a size 20 or so really aren’t problems at all, and you really start to wish that people that size would stfu about how bad they have it. Yes, you’re fat. Yes, that means you have somewhat limited choices in clothing and romantic partners, and you often get the evil eye from your doctor. But at least you can fit on a hospital gurney or a roller coaster, so quitcher whining.
I’ve encountered this at Christmastime. My father’s family tried to buy a sweater for me a few years ago. It was, of course, too small. The sweater was from JC Penney, so after returning it, I tried to use the store credit on something I liked. I think I was too morose about not fitting into any of their clothing that I don’t even remember what I bought with the money.
My husband is a great mathematician. When I met him, he claimed to be a pro at guessing people’s weight. I think I weighed around 350 pounds then and didn’t want to tell him what I weighed. He guessed that I weighed 275 pounds. I laughed. He finally found out the truth a few months later.
My husband has always said I look smaller than I weigh. I find that funny, because if that were the case, I’d be able to wear smaller clothing. Although, I do have this theory about clothing sizes and weight. Take a clothing size above 12 and add a zero to the end of it. That’s how much the wearer should weigh. Or do it in reverse. Round up the wearer’s weight to the nearest 10s, then remove the zero. Thus, at 360 pounds, I should wear a 36. By some manufacturers’ size charts, I should wear a 36. Somehow though, 36 is too big for me. I normally wear about a 30/32.