Dear Swimsuits, I Don’t Need Your Control

Dear Swimsuits, I Don't Need Your Fucking Support

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:

Marks and Spencer use Skinny Models for Plus Size Range

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. 


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  • Reply Nicki Rochead August 2, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Well said! This post needs to go viral. Why should women not be comfortable and wear what they want to wear simply because they don’t fit with society’s standard of “normal”, which is frankly often more unhealthy than a bit of extra weight. When will they realise there is no such thing as normal and it is our very differences that make us beautiful.

    It is so hard for women (an increasingly men) to remember this as they reach into their wardrobe each day and shop for clothes. I know I struggle. We all want to look our best but this doesn’t have to be judged by the standards of the media or idiot celebrity commentators.

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Thank you Nicki, totally agree with what you say.

  • Reply Cathy Layton August 2, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Well said, it’s like we’re a dirty secret. But we’re not, absolutely not and we all deserve to be able to shop equally xx And control panels suck!! Took me ages to find any costumes without them in.
    Cathy Layton recently posted…StyleXL 2015 – and new adventuresMy Profile

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Hear hear!

  • Reply Tracy August 2, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Be angry not ashamed. Bravissimo might be worth a look? Or make one, some great patterns and you can then choose exactly the look and fabric you want.

    Good luck and enjoy the holiday

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks, not been able to get into Bravissimo for year. Bizarrely they don’t go up past a back size 40.

  • Reply Lianne August 3, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Kat! That sucks! If I had some nice swimsuit material and the correct machine I would make you one right now. xxx

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Ha! Thanks x

  • Reply Vicky August 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I’ve had similar problems, but I’m right up the other end of the scale – I’m 32, and a size 10 with no boobs. Like, none. There was very little there to begin with, but two failed breastfeeding attempts have left me pigeon chested, but sporting a rather good Mum tum. Most women have a cleavage that can hold a pencil – I look like the pencil itself. Can you imagine trying to find something that fits over my gut and bum, but also fits in the chest area? In the same way they stuff yours with control panels, my size are all filled with padding and gape across the chest – think putting scaffolding up on a bowing building.
    The sad fact is that retailers only cater for a very small margin of body shapes – all of us outside what is currently deemed as ‘average’ just have to muddle through and make the best of it. It’s August now, and I still don’t have anything, so I’ll probably be shoehorning myself into last years saggy tankini or just putting up with a vest and shorts to go in the water with. I just refuse to be bothered by the fact that my body isn’t seen as ‘average’ – who wants to be average anyway? I rationalise it by thinking that when I’m 90, I’m going to be looking back and remembering the fun I had with my littlies rather than lamenting over the fact that some two-bob retailer didn’t stock a cossie that fitted me. Fuck ’em, that’s what I say.
    Vicky recently posted…pre-makeover lounge tourMy Profile

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      It totally totally sucks to be non-standard, I agree. If you ever need something nice made to measure I can recommend Kitschy Coo, she has made a gorgeous dress for me before.

  • Reply Sam M August 3, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I buy my swimsuits at Lane Bryant. I don’t know if they ship overseas, but they have many options without all the compression. And I’ve found that they’re sizing runs parallel to regular clothing sizes, so that takes out some of the guesswork.

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks Sam x

  • Reply Angela @Little Apple Tree August 4, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I feel your pain, Kat. We’re off on holiday soon to a farm with its own swimming pool (I’m still a bit bewildered by this) and naturally Lucas wants to go swimming with us. Can I find a suitable swimming costume? Nope.

    I’m going to go to Bon Marche (which is the only place that seems to do plus size swim suits on the high street) and try on something. And then have a glass of wine to recover. Tesco and ASDA also don’t stock plus size stuff in store, you have to order in but they will graciously allow you to try on in store and return while you’re there.
    Angela @Little Apple Tree recently posted…Book review: The Earth Hums in B FlatMy Profile

    • Reply Kat August 10, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      I got the best gold sequin dress ever from Asda!

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