Shopping with the husband today for birthday outfit, I threw yet another glance at one of the dainty damsels on the shop posters.
Perfectly clad, no bulges marking where her bra straps cut into her flesh, sharp pleats and looking fabulous in the same outfit that a mere mortal like me would be tempted to buy, but find that the result is merely kneaded dough tied with strings and wrapped in colourful paper.
The man saw me watching her. I was quick.
“What should one do to look like that?”
Men are usually prepared for “Do I look fat?” This one was new.
After a smile and a calculated silence – “Baby, let me tell you this. No matter what you do, you can never be as thin as her. Our (He clubs himself so that I don’t feel alone in the fat club) basic structure is wide set (note how the words fat, obese etc are omitted out of political correctness).”
And he is quick to add – “You’re not fat baby. You’re err… slightly over weight…”
I knew he was sincere in his affections but not in the truth of the statement.
It’s okay. I am fat. I know it. And it’s okay. It really is.
Women like me walk into the likes of Saravana Stores or Jeyachandran or large textile stores catering to “family crowds” and look for trendy clothing to fit our sizes.
We can’t. Because this isn’t how family stores target our demographic.
The super cheap, highly colourful and attractive-to-the-point-of-tacky dresses may be tagged XXL but shy a size smaller than the XL I am already wearing. Those are for the teenaged daughters – the stick thin and skinny ones. In fact you can’t find even that XXL easily – most sizes are M or S.
Most western clothing from such stores falls into this category.
It’s as if I can almost sense the reproachful whispers behind the awkward silence and apologetic shrugs as they tell me confidently “This is the last size.” (In kids’ sizes you mean? I am tempted to ask.)
They all secretly conspire against us. They push us into buying the same old outfits. The negative reinforcement of the western section is bolstered by the positive reinforcement of the existence of the same sizes in the salwar kameez and long kurta section.
In their eyes, fat women are the moms with the dangling post partum belly and boobs, the women who suddenly gained weight after marriage and are unable to shrink their boobs and butts now, the shy ones who would anyway not dare to bare – so why waste time curating something society would anyway shame them from.
There are no other fat women. There are no independent fat women, loving their bodies who have come out here without tagging the sasuraal and wailing children along. There are no fat women who will try on different clothes and confidently say that this store doesn’t suit them instead of hanging their head and walking away gloomily like it was their fault and internally vow to reduce their size.
Fat women also have to go for more expensive options, even if the colours and fits are sober, unattractive and unflattering.
Yet it is an irony that these women, a major chunk of the population, never make it to the advertising boards despite paying for those very outfits in huge sums.
Fat women are only featured on plus size stores- those pariah hyper priced special places that make you feel even more socially misfit.
There is also the social perception of how fat women must dress.
The more you have, the more you cover. Skinny skin is somehow better on display than fat skin – even if it is all skin in the end – or maybe all humans have a surface area quota that fat people surpass when they wear sleeveless and thus offend everyone’s fundamental rights to see only trim arms bare.
But I realized that in twenty eight years of my pervasive fatness, I’ve come to grow over these barricades.
I’ve settled for buying online.
I’ve decided that a small pull in the hip or boobs is enough reason to reject that dress.
That I don’t deserve to be pushed into wearing shapewear in order to flaunt that bodycon dress and struggle trying to pull down those super tight long waisted undies trying to squat at Indian toilet in office.
I don’t deserve to settle into buying whatever will fit me because I demand better, more attractive and cheaper options.
I have settled for refusing to buy from family clothing stores – I am a person first and I need to be honoured regardless of my familial status.
I told the husband briefly of my analysis and added “See, this is why I never enter these family all in one stores. These may have more variety but only for the privileged thin girls. Places like Globus, Westside and Shoppers Stop, why the Reliance Trends next door are way better, even if not as stinking cheap.”
Poor thing could only nod. Sadly despite all the tall dialogues, I still had managed to bill him a grand amount. After all fat women can be wives too.