I am sitting on the sofa with fat, salty tears of impotent rage and shame rolling down my cheeks. I have been here before; every time I think things will be different and yet once more I find the rug pulled from under me.
Let me back up. Next week the decorator is moving in and we’re going to live in the tent for a few days to let him get on with our makeover. We’re going over to Purbeck and plan to spend as much time at the beach as possible.
I have been searching for a nice swimming costume for a few months but meet the dreaded control at every turn. Since when did my tummy automatically need to be controlled when out in public? I reserve the right to let it lollop out of control at all times. I’m looking to swim, not squash my internal organs.
The two costumes I ordered from ASOS Curve, one and two sizes bigger than my normal dress size respectively, didn’t even make it over my bum so tight were the ‘control’ panels.
The more I searched for plus size swimsuits online the more I found that there were no non-control options left. When you look closely at the details every suit seems to be control whether it advertises it or not. Why don’t plus size women get the option to choose between regular swimwear and control swimwear?
Which brings me to today. My swimsuit (pictured) has never been great but it did a job. Since my body has changed shape and the fabric lost elasticity it’s no longer an option. With only a few days to go I decided to head over to a store to try some on.
Except I can’t. Put bluntly: I’m fat and stores don’t want to entertain the likes of me on their premises these days.
Evans, the plodding stalwart of plus size clothing, appear to have shut most of their stores. Or at least the stores within easy reach of my home. Perhaps this is as well – their swimsuits seem to cost astronomical amounts for MIRACLES. Forgive me for snorting – I don’t need a miracle, just something to swim in thank you very much.
A quick search online showed that Marks & Spencer carried a reasonable range of plus sizes. As I’m in between three sizeable stores, I called the branches to check they had larger sizes in stock.
Except they don’t.
M&S only stock their plus size range online. So if you want to buy or try any of the range you instantly have a fat tax of delivery slapped on. Sure, you can have goods delivered to store but, as you are not allowed to return plus size items in store, you are still inconvenienced purely because you dare to be fat.
Marks and Spencer do have one swimsuit in their plus range which is non-control (and ugly) but this is how they choose to advertise it:
Yes, for a garment which starts at a size 18 they have a flat-tummied model who, I’d wager, doesn’t wear a size in double figures let alone close to an 18. For realz.
Every time I hear the hand-wringing about falling profits at M&S I’ll remember today. Today I couldn’t walk into their large, purpose-built regional store to spend my money. I couldn’t walk past the tempting packaging in the food hall to pick out a few treats (we all know I love to eat), I couldn’t stroll through the homewares department on my way to lunch in their cafe and be tempted by one thing or another which would fit in with my redecoration. No, I couldn’t even make a single planned purchase because these companies don’t want to sell to fat people in public.
Well fuck you too.
I am sick of living in a society that grabs at every last penny but rejects selling to fat people. As our collective girth swells there is an increase in shame rather than an expansion of services. I refuse to be cowed by anonymous fools in boardrooms who don’t realise their failure to embrace us as people is exactly why we turn our backs on their shops.
I reject this bullshit.
So my tears are short-lived, I’ll save my rage for the next battle and I’ll spend my money elsewhere. I am not ashamed of my body and the shops need to get over it too.
I tweeted Marks and Spencer about my frustrations and asked them twice to comment. At time of publication, over two hours later, they made no response despite replying to other twitter users.