December 28, 2006

16 is an awesome number because it's 4^2

Buying bras always makes me hate the world, so I try to make the experience as painless as possible by getting things that are on sale and that involve bright colors (I like bright colors). Today I went to the Victoria's Secret Semi-Annual Sale in search of wacky cartoon-patterned remainders for cheap... but no luck in my size.

At one point one of the three very petite women who helped me (all self-identifying 32A's - Vickie's is a weird place) told me half-apologeticaly and half-condescendingly "oh, well, sometimes when people are... really big, it's hard to find bras that fit."

Yeah, and it's hard to find pants, and shirts, and everything else. Thanks, I got that already.

I'm always pissed off when I can't find my size because the store doesn't carry it or doesn't even make it. At a 14 or 16, I doubt I'm even a standard deviation from the national mean of 12 [my estimate, based on CDC statistics for 1999-2002]. I hate walking into a store and seeing that the sizes in the women's department are XS, S, and M. I hate it when the pants only go to 10. I feel like walking up to the register and screaming HELLO I AM TRYING REALLY HARD TO GIVE YOU MY MONEY BUT YOU'RE MAKING IT DIFFICULT WTF YOU ARE DUMB AT LIFE KTHXBI.

Oh while I'm at it, I'd like to bitch about the Seventeen Magazine article I read when I was 12 that was all about how you can be a happy, useful person even if you're a gargantuan size 6. Thanks for the empowerment, but I was an 8 at the time so it was kinda lost on me.

And don't get me started on what it's like to shop with friends who are smaller than me. "Oh, this would look so cute on you!" "Too small." "This?" "Too small." and on and on... it's awkward and it's not their fault - it's the store's fault. It's the media's fault. It's Paris-fucking-Hilton's fault (or is it?)

I think that not being able to fit into all the girly things I was supposed to be wearing affected my gender expression a *lot*. I mean, why try to squeeze into girl's clothes when the boy's clothes have so much less drama attached? Of course, boy's clothes don't have room for butts or boobs... ARGH. Like I said in the beginning of this post, shopping for bras makes me hate the world. But can you blame me?


former panty peddler said...

Victoria's Secret has waged a war on multiple fronts against the upper end of the sizing scale. There are fewer and fewer 38s per shipment, despite great demands for them. VS even completely phased out DDs at one point, but eventually the customers' horror scared the company into reinstating the size. It would be easy to produce and stock size 40s (which isn't even that "big" by anyone's standards) in each style, but this has never happened. Employees are encouraged to fudge measurement sizes so the store can "at least sell them something."

A similar trend is found at Express (owned by the same umbrella organization): a store that rarely produces double digits in jeans or Ls with any Xs in front of them. It's obvious that both groups have decided to take the leave-it-to-Lane-Bryant approach, which is not only unfair to the people who like their products, but it's also just bad business (especially since Limited Brands no longer owns Lane Bryant).

This really makes no sense, and after having to profusely apologize to dozens of customers, it gets plain frustrating. Even if VS wants to use stick girls to make shoppers think the bras are sexy, they should at least be prepared to sell to all sizes of women.

One shouldn't expect a Dove-style ad campaign from VS anytime soon. But maybe the dollar signs will get obvious enough for the company to make their products available to those who find the bras comfortable, cute, and supportive, regardless of whether Giselle could fit into them.

I know VS strikes bad chords with a lot of people, but it has also provided a valuable catalyst for Red State Women to be a lot more open and up-front about their sexuality than they ever would've been at JC Penny (even hearing the word "nipple" is a big step for many)... too bad VS hasn't wised up size-wise as well.

aurora said...

A couple days ago I was watching TV when I saw an ad that at first made me really happy. It looked like a typical year-end-department-store-sale ad, but all the models were *normal* sized. Granted, leaning toward the small size of normal (they were probably 10s), but they looked awesome and didn't look malnourished. At the end of the ad, it turned out that they were advertising a plus-size store for "large women". What sort of message are these stores trying to send when they call the only healthy-looking models on TV "large"?

tea cozy said...

HOOOOO BOY. Are you ever right.

But I don't actually want to comment on it because I think it will make me CRY. probably becuase I went shopping for a pretty dress today and I bought one but I'm going to have to lose a few pounds if I'm going to breathe when I wear it.

How stupid is that? What makes me buy things that don't fit me? Is it becuase it would be even sadder to not buy anything at all? Or is it because at this point I've learned -- not just from tv and stores like VS, but from sidelong glances and outright commentary -- to feel like I really don't deserve to have anything cute fit me at the size I'm at?

(and, by the way, it's really not an unreasonable size)

spork said...

FPP - thanks for that inside info! It's awesome that you commented.

Despite VS's hostility towards me and my ilk, I like them... I find the bras are great (not to mention fun) and I like the sexiness of everything. I just hate how out of place I always feel in their stores. Sucks to realize that it's deliberate on their part. BAH.

Does anyone know of any lingerie peddler that isn't a big institutional jackass to average/above-average women? :p

Aurora - yeah. That drives me crazy. The women they use to advertise plus size stores normally look more or less like me, and I'm pretty close to average... so why are they trying to shunt me to a separate store? And how must the size 28 women feel when they see that ad?

Tea Cozy - I know what you mean. Sometimes (especially when I'm shopping with friends who are smaller) I'll buy whatever I can find that remotely fits me, even if I don't really like it, because I want to feel that I didn't just spend the better part of an hour solely being made to feel bad about myself. At least I bought *something*. Ugh.

I'll add a rave to all this ranting:

The GAP companies (Old Navy, Banana Republic, GAP) tend to carry up to size 20 in stores, which is awesome compared to everyone else. At GAP, sometimes being bigger than other people is an advantage, because when items move to the sale rack there are often things left in my size. It's all 0, 2, 4, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20... which I always feel pretty gleeful about.

emily0 said...

I remember when I first went into VS for a bra and the woman looked at me in horror and said, "Does 38AAA sound right to you?"

... I did NOT buy a bra there.

Man, who can shop at these places anyway?

aurora said...

Spork - I'm definitely with you with the Gap love. They're the only store I've found that consistently has pants that are the right length for me. (<3 Gap ankle.) My only complaint is the size creep, although I guess that's actually a complaint with most clothing stores. It's funny, actually, since it seems to contradict the sentiment of this post, what with the definitions of clothing "sizes" increasing. In any case, it would be nice to be able to walk into a store and know that an 8 is still an 8, etc. That was *my* reason for wearing boys' clothes in high school. I couldn't stand trying on so many clothes of "my size" that didn't actually fit me.

Anonymous said...

the blog bitch, ph.d. ( has quite a few really great posts on where to buy bras, how to fit them, etc.

thanks so much for this post. i really appreciate it. but i'd also like to point out that VS (and most bra manufacturers in general) assume that a bigger band equals a bigger cup. wrong. somtimes it's even hard to find (my size!) a tight 36A, let alone a 38A. usually, it takes mailorder or some act of the goddess to make those appear, and i've gotten countless blank stares from VS workers when i try to explain my problems.

still, the best experience i ever had was also at VS. i walked in and one of the workers--a woman in her forties--greeted me, knew my size by sight and pointed out the styles that had my size currently in stock. i've never been so stunned (or spent so much money on bras) in my life! anyone else with me in assuming that she wasn't trained by VS corporate?!?!?