I found out today that the last Torrid in my area is closing. This makes me a sad panda.
I know everyone isn’t a huge fan of Torrid. We’ve certainly had our differences. Their desire to put tinkerbell on far too many clothing items, their carefully manufactured hipness, and their oddly sized tights got on my nerves. But they were also the one place I could count on to be staffed by fat women who got that I wasn’t always looking to ‘slenderize’ my body.
Most of their staff were my fashion heroes – not always for their clothing choices – for the way they didn’t follow the rules that all fat girls have been told to follow. If it wasn’t for Torrid, I might still be forcing myself into carefully fitted jackets that made me feel confined and squirmy because I’d always been told I needed to pretend to have a waist. And I’d still have a wardrobe stocked with baggy pants because everyone else always said it was better for my legs to be lost in fabric than to have pants that created a belly roll. Being a fat girl who loves leg-hugging jeans and stretchy tops was made possible by finally having a place where I didn’t feel like most of the clothes contained 5 extra yards of fabric.
Now all I have left in my area (my area including the city an hour’s drive from here) are a few Lane Bryants. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found some great stuff at LB. Their right fit jeans (Yellow 5!) have been the most consistent in terms of fit and I can usually manage to find a cute top when I go. But I don’t always like the fit of their clothes and I find a lot of their stuff geared towards non-me demographics.
Really, it’s all about having choices. Having two stores devoted entirely to plus size clothes may not sound like much and certainly there are other places nearby where I might be able to find clothes, but it’s more than just the clothes. These are places where we can briefly experience a sense of community and normalcy (which is so funny considering all we hear about fat people taking over.) For a lot of women these stores may be the first time they tell their size to another person or it may be the one place where they won’t be relegated to a small section in the back of the store.
It may sound silly and believe me, as someone who is not actually that into fashion I am slightly amazed that I would feel this way, but these stores are very often havens of self-celebration in a sea of judgement. The first time I came out of a dressing room and employees ooh’d and ahh’d and told me I looked ‘hawt’ (and not that the clothes were really slimming or did a good job of hiding my belly) and I honestly believed them because I thought they were hot and I saw myself reflected in their bare arms and their round bellies….wow it was just a fantastic experience. And now I’ll have less opportunity to experience it.
I’m really wary of ordering online. Both because I have a body shape that is hard to shop for (shortish, long-waisted, apple) and because I’m bad about sending things back that don’t work, but I think I’ll have to start. Especially since I’m not a fan of the v-neck with the fake cami underneath it. :p