For the past few days I’ve been in a hotel in Boston for the MEDA Conference. Right outside the elevator on my floor the entire time I was there was a “trunk show.” It was a couple of women selling clothes and accessories. As I waited for the elevator I would hear them talking to potential customers. They were working hard, on their feet all day every day. Finally yesterday I had some time and I decided I wanted to check out their clothes.
I walked in and, unlike the numerous women I had personally witnessed go inside the room and be greeted immediately and warmly and asked what they were looking for, they completely ignored me. They talked to each other, never even acknowledging my presence. So I took a lap around the room and it didn’t look like there were any plus sizes, but I wanted to ask to make sure. I walked up to the two women who kept talking as if I wasn’t there. I waited patiently for them to wrap up their conversation, they completely ignored me. I finally said “Excuse me…”
They continued talking for a few more seconds, then one of them turned and asked curtly “Yes?” I asked “Do you have any plus size items?” She squinched up her face like she just bit a lemon, shook her head, and said “No. No. We wouldn’t have anything like that.” in a tone that might have made someone think that I asked her if I could get a dress made entirely of cat poo. I decided that it wasn’t worth my energy to continue so I just said “What a shame.” At that point I was just going to walk out and get on with my day.
But no. All of a sudden the other salesperson re-animated and said “Wait, we have beautiful scarves.” Beautiful Sca…I know she didn’t say… Beautiful scarv…fuck that. I turned around sharply (all that dance training still paying off!) met her gaze and asked, slowly “Why in the world would I buy an accessory from a clothing company that didn’t bother to make clothes that fit me?”
She just stared at me and said “oh.” So I repeated “No, seriously, I’m asking. Why would I support a clothing company that doesn’t want to clothe me?” She paused, looking a bit panicked, and then said “Well, they are really lovely scarves.” Not even a fauxpologetic “I’m so sorry we don’t have your size.” Just “Of course we don’t make clothes for you, or treat you like – you know – a person, but please buy a scarf.” Remaining calm, though I was well and truly over this shit, I just said “No Ma’am, I don’t want your scarf.” and walked away.
I’m fully aware that the dollars I spend on clothes are my votes for the kind of clothes I want to have available, and the designers and companies that I want to succeed. So if I’m buying a scarf that’s part of a clothing line, that clothing line is going to, at the very least, include my size. (And if they don’t include sizes larger than mine then that’s something we’re going to talk about.) But if your company doesn’t sell my size and you treat me like a pariah, then rest assured that you can keep your damn scarf.
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