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!

She's 5'11", Weighs 180 And Has A Belly — "Glamour's" New Poster Girl For Real Bodies

McCall Magazine, Night Before Xmas
Image by George Eastman House via Flickr

When Glamour magazine ran a photo recently of model Lizzie Miller, her belly hanging ever so slightly over the top of her panties, I thought I was hallucinating. Happily. A girl with some meat on her bones! Gorgeous, check. Happy, check. Pooch, check.

Readers’ reaction to this image — truly revolutionary in the insane women’s magazine world of praying-mantis 15-year-old models we’re told we should look like (genes and age be damned) —  was huge, visceral and emotional. “Shame on Glamour for thinking this was sexy!” wrote one reader. “Holy hell, I am normal!” exulted another. “Thank you for the self esteem,” said another.

Any woman who wears a size 14 or higher continues to struggle finding beautiful clothes, because most high-end designers — even mass marketers like French Connection (nothing over a 10) — refuse to let fatties wear their schmattes. J.Crew, basking in the reflected glory of filling out First Lady Michelle Obama’s wardrobe, only has size 16s on-line or in their catalogs. In the current, November issue of Glamour, we’re told of the very few clothing makers — Michael Kors (expensive), Isaac Mizrahi for Liz Claiborne (a much-hyped commercial disaster) and Baby Phat (please) — who’ll even tolerate the excruciating embarrassment of a woman-with-hips wearing their designs.

In a long feature by former Glamour editor Genevieve Field, Glamour promises many more photos to come of heavier, more realistic models. Call it the pooch manifesto.

Here’s a really radical idea. Let’s judge all women — and deem them valuable — by the size of their hearts and brains, not their asses.