Buying Clothes Not So Much Fun, Says Study — Especially If You're Fat

Extensive Retail Mall
Fatties, beware! Image via Wikipedia

Do women really head to the mall for a bit of retail therapy? Not necessarily, says a new Australian study.

The survey of 162 women shoppers aged between 18 and 55 from the city of Adelaide examined the link between clothing and body image. Results were published in journal Body Image.

The respondents were asked to rate statements such as ‘I usually find clothes shopping a positive experience’ on a scale of one to five, with high scores indicating they agreed with the statements. In general, thinner women saw shopping as a pleasurable experience while larger-sized women didn’t enjoy it as much. But the average score was three – indicating to researchers that women overall were ambivalent about shopping. Researchers said the study questioned the often-noted therapeutic value women are generally believed to receive from clothes shopping.

Speaking to Adelaide Now, Ms. Tiggemann likened shopping to “fantasy realm” for some women.

“They’re looking for that one thing that makes them look absolutely gorgeous, and when they can’t find it, they get quite down,” she said. “Women do like shopping. It has promise and hope but can turn into something that’s a bit depressing. The term retail therapy doesn’t actually apply to a lot of women.”

As someone who’s not a size 8, I agree that shopping for larger-sized pretty clothes is a mug’s game. And clothes-shopping, in general, is so often just a miserable chore: incompetent, bored or lazy associates too busy texting to help you; not enough choice; fluorescent-lit dressing-rooms the size of toilet cubicles, with about as much charm. Money these days is so hard-won and carefully-guarded by many of us, getting us to part with some of it demands skill, smarts and someone who can actually make the experience fun, welcoming, pleasant — and successful.

Even in a recession, where you’d think retailers would be all over us, big butts or not, some stores are clear no-go zones for the curvaceous — French Connection sells nothing over a size 10 and even J. Crew only offers size 16 online. Fatties, keep out!

4 thoughts on “Buying Clothes Not So Much Fun, Says Study — Especially If You're Fat

  1. datajunkie

    I was so excited last week. I found pants that fit on only the second try! It would be bad enough if it were only women who are “too” curvy that get a raw deal clothes shopping. Instead, it’s that I find pants that fit in one measurement, but are all wrong in 3 others. It was true when I was a single-digit-sized x-c runner (nothing fit my thighs) and it’s true now that I’m carrying a little more around with me (nothing fits my butt without expecting my tummy to be twice as big as it is). There’s gotta be some solution short of custom fitting all my clothes. I’m about ready to give it up and wear nothing but skirts for the rest of my life.

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    I hear you! Tailor…Tailor…tailor…My guy has made an enormous difference in many of the clothes I’ve bought, like a great formal skirt whose high waistband would have hit my ribs, so he cut it off and reshaped the piece. It cost me as much as the skirt ($80 for each) but it’s now gorgeous and comfortable. Try to find both!?

    So many women’s clothes are often cut in straight lines that just don’t accommodate fairly predictable things like breasts or hips or broad shoulders or athletic thighs. Or the multi-inch differences between a smaller waist and muscular legs or butt.

    1. Megan Cottrell

      I agree! It’s like they don’t know they’re making clothes for women – like curves are a surprise!

      Lately, when I shop for jeans, they fit in the front, but the waist line in the back sticks out so far! I could tuck a newspaper in there – the Sunday newspaper plus all the ads and coupons. I never understand this.

      A tailor is a good solution, but I am often too cheap. But it would be worth it, instead of searching in vain for pants that fit!

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    Hey, it’s one use for a newspaper…

    The tailoring thing is not crazy expensive for simple things, maybe $20-60. When you start costing out your time, energy, gas/transit fare, tolls, energy and goodwill, it seems worth it to me to pay to make the things you can find right than to waste hours of frustration in stores. I never try anything on in-store anymore; I bring stuff home, try it there and return it later.

    The other thing, also a little costly, is to buy multiples of anything you find that fits you really well. I have one pair of dress pants I may even get the tailor to copy as they fit so perfectly. Not a cheap choice, but a one-stop decision.

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