An Open Letter to Clothing Manufacturers

or, “I’m Tired of Your Body Shaming Antics” by Mary Nelson

To whom it may concern:

Look, I get it. Designers create clothing for humans who are abnormally tall and small; we see it on the runways every day, these willowy ethereal women who are small chested, with no hips, legs for days. But I think we can all agree that these women are few and far between (Gigi Hadid walks nearly every runway, it seems, as does Kendall Jenner), so I think it’s probably high time we started creating clothing for the Every Woman. You know, the one who’s had a couple kids, who doesn’t have a personal trainer or dietitian on hand, the one who is doing the best she can every day, working that hustle. Or, say, for the ones who are like me — 5’1″, with a comfortable fanny pack of stomach fat, a booty and thighs, and not much waist or legs. Because we exist, and we’re pretty awesome.

And here’s the problem: you’re body shaming us, the whole lot of you, and it needs to stop. We can all band together as women on a mission, fists raised in the air, talking big talk about how size is just a number, but when all is said and done, those numbers can really bum us out big time. (I’m not going to address the larger issue of wedding dresses and formals being sized entirely differently than street clothes, which is really the pits because a bride shouldn’t hate herself leading up to her wedding day because her wedding dress is a ginormous size she doesn’t normally wear nor want to. Another letter, another day.)

I decided recently that I wouldn’t let you bully me into feeling bad about myself, about being malcontent about my current state, about focusing on things less important than nearly everything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel a little twinge of disappointment when I have to go up a size. Did you know that I suffer from four mental illnesses and was somewhat recently diagnosed with binge eating disorder? Did you know that much of what I eat isn’t even necessarily what I WANT to eat but rather feel compelled, obligated, almost forced to? Did you know that I’ve been spending several months working on my mental health, putting it ahead of my physical health for the time being because it just seemed more important? Did you know that some days, despite knowing how much seratonin could be pumped into my broken brain, getting out of bed and going to the gym feels akin to trudging up a mountain with no end in sight, no food, drink, or oxygen, and a backpack of rocks in tow?  So why do you feel the need to make me feel bad when I put on a pair of pants?

I’m not as thin as I used to be. My metabolism kind of gave up the ghost when I was 23, but a recent medication has killed whatever was remaining, making it very difficult for me to lose weight despite some of my mediocrest efforts. I like the way butter makes my food taste, and carbohydrates are some of my dearest friends. So I understand that I wasn’t going to be able to squeeze a tiny frame into size 1 pants for forever. That’s fine. 1 is a ridiculous number anyhow. But do I feel like a Large? Not really. I feel like a … normal human person who’s 32 years old and carries her weight in her abdomen (which isn’t a LOT of weight, mind you.) My husband, who is 6 inches and 40 pounds heavier than me is a size Medium/Large, so it seems to me that I should, at the very least, be a Medium, don’t you think? Why do men get to feel good about themselves while we are forced to feel awful?

Just this morning I saw a picture of myself that is four years old, a time in my life where I was certain I was fat. I was adorable. I looked great. I was 20 pounds lighter than I am today. But I was always concerned about how my clothes fit me, whether I had a smooth silhouette, and I waited anxiously for the day I couldn’t fit into them any longer (which did, inevitably, come). I wish I’d been able to just enjoy the size I was at the time, I wish I could chill out about the size I am now, and I wish I could compel a cease and desist against you, dear manufacturers, for making women around the nation (and perhaps the world? I’m not sure about clothing sizes around the world, plus there are a lot of countries full of people who aren’t morbidly obese like America) feel shame for who they are. We all know that the former size 14 that Marilyn Monroe was so known for wearing is akin to a size 8 today, and there was literally nothing back then that equated today’s 00.

It needs to stop. You need to get your crap together. And for heaven’s sakes, start sizing women’s clothing the way it should be.

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