Trigger Warning: In this article, the author openly discusses weight and body-shaming.
It took me nearly all my life to embrace my curvy figure.
Weight has almost always been a point of contention in my household growing up. I was supposed to eat a lot of food to please my Italian family, but somehow maintain a slim figure. My cousins had size zero parents (or even double zero), and I was struggling to fit into the larger size five jeans my aunts bought to fit me. I remember sitting with my cousins at Christmas while they compared the number of belly roles on their trim cheerleader bodies, while I questioned if I would be able to get any of the new holiday gifts over my thighs.
To this day, weight is a constant conversation in my mom’s home. My mother, aunt, and even my grandmother constantly talk about food and whether or not they “should” eat a cookie. They weigh themselves on the scale almost daily and sneak cookies when they think no one is watching. Growing up in this environment taught me to pick at what I ate and to feel endless guilt when I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw.
I’ve gone through bouts of crash diets, daily salads, and protein smoothies. I’ve paired daily cardio to help counteract “cheat days” when I give in to the need for carbs. I’ve written painstaking food diaries, weighed myself daily, and shed a plethora of tears whenever my favorite skinny jeans were just a little too tight.
How things changed
Once I got pregnant with my first son, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, because I finally had what I deemed a good excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I packed on the pounds during my pregnancy. Then after I had my son, I struggled to lose them once the doctor gave me clearance to start working out at six weeks postpartum.
My body struggled to go back to my typical curves. After a second pregnancy, my feet had even grown larger, and once again I struggled with loving my body.
I tried to go shopping for bigger clothes after months of losing and then gaining weight. But the stores I frequently shopped at pre-pregnancy no longer suited my needs. Things were too tight in all the wrong places and too loose in others. And finding a pair of jeans that didn’t make me want to cry was an unattainable quest.
After giving up and living in leggings for a few more months, I decided to follow more plus-size bloggers on Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media.
Seeing women who looked like me made me realize that I could feel sexy with my current body. I just needed to choose clothes that were meant to fit me. And that meant delving into a once elusive plus-size store.
Seeing women who looked like me made me realize that I could feel sexy with my current body. I just needed to choose clothes that were meant to fit me.
Once I had tackled some of my own insecurities, I gathered enough courage to go to the local mall after setting my husband with the kids for the day. I knew it was going to be a long, probably drawn-out process as I struggled to justify the price of new, expensive-for-me clothes.
Normally, my mom-attire is made up of selections from the clearance aisle because I genuinely hate spending money on myself. But once I tried on a pair of jeans that didn’t pinch at my new mom tummy and shirts that flattered my chest without tenting around my stomach like a maternity shirt … well, I was in heaven.
Why I Love Shopping at Plus-Size Stores
1. Pictures that featured women with my body type were everywhere.
Having pictures of women that looked like me around the store helped me feel confident the styles would look good on my frame.
They also allowed me to be daring and try on styles that I never would have thought looked good on my body. It made me feel more comfortable choosing shirts with spaghetti straps when I saw women like Tabria Majors rocking them. I now have several shirts in the same color that I pair with my favorite skinny jeans. Having new staples like these have allowed me to reclaim and appreciate my body.
2. Clothes fit me, and I wasn’t the largest size they had.
When numbers have been drilled into you for most of your life, it is good to have sizes that don’t end with my size as the largest they have in stock. I love the inclusive sizing in plus-size stores.
By having a new range of sizes that center plus-sizes, these stores empowered me. It allowed me to feel comfortable trying on more sizes to find the perfect fit, rather than struggling to fit into a smaller number to satisfy my ego.
3. Designs were made with curves in mind.
Extra considerations for certain curves and bumps were built into the clothes with elastics and cuts that protected my tummy and flaunted my best attributes.
The first-ever purchase I made from a plus-size store was my summer bathing suit. Due to a plethora of new curves from back-to-back pregnancies, the regular swimsuits were doing nothing to flatter my figure. I finally splurged on my first ever two-piece in years and felt more confident in that bikini holding my two babies than I ever did in a one-piece.
But even bigger than the two-piece surprise were the jeans. Never in my life would I have thought my favorite item of clothing would be denim.
Now my favorite pair of jeans are made with an elastic in the waistband that allowed me to bend, sit, and kneel whenever I wanted while being comfortable. Before finding these gems, I was always the type of person to switch from my cute outfits into comfy pajamas when I got home. Now I stay in my jeans until it’s time to get ready for bed.
4. Wearing clothes that fit and looked good made me feel sexy.
If you’re plus-sized and shopping for cute outfits in typical department stores, you’ve definitely felt the struggle of going to the plus-size section and finding shirts even your grandmother would be ashamed to wear. Then, you might resign to putting on two pairs of Spanx to try your best to squeeze all of your rolls into the cute dress that you fell in love with that does not come in sizes above 14.
Finally having clothes that fit well and look good gave me back the confidence I lost a long time ago. With certain medications that make my weight yoyo more than normal, having options for cute and comfortable clothing is essential to making me feel confident in myself as a mom and as a woman.