Why Are Plus Sizes Labeled “Wide”?
My brother is getting married! And I couldn’t have picked a cooler future sister-in-law myself. I’m so friggin’ excited for the wedding, I don’t even mind the usual BS of being a bridesmaid. She’s special, people! In fact, my new sister is so rad, she’s letting me pick any style dress I want, so long as it is a matching shade of blue. Does it get any better than that? Finally, after all those times I tried to squeeze into a standard bridesmaid dress, I’m free to be me and get an ensemble that I actually fit in!
Well, that attitude lasted all the way up until the second I walked into the bridal store and the saleswoman pegged me as “very hippie.” At first I wondered if I smelled like patchouli or something, but then I saw the sample sizes and knew she was talking about my shape. I’m realistic; I didn’t expect to be able to get into one of those prefab try-on dresses; they’re all half my size. I just picked the one with the most generous skirt to order and figured the tailor would just go all Tim Gunn on it, because this was clearly a “make it work” time. So, hanging half naked out of the unzipped dress with the skirt all hiked up since I couldn’t get it past my waist, I went to go get measured in the front of the big bridal warehouse. I felt like I was being threatened as the store owner got the tape around me.
“Five pounds heavier and you’d be a ‘special order,’ but that won’t come in time anyway,” she assessed. Um, thanks for the inner monologue, you’re quite the sales gal!
“OK,” she said, “I’ll just get you the 20 Wide.” Wait, did you say—wide?! Ugh. That sounded worse than the easy-listening muzak being played through the store. Normally, I just ignore the “W” on clothes, but hearing it directed at me was ugly.
While I don’t mind being plus-size, I do mind the label. Not the fat label, the superlative one: WIDE. The numbers go up higher the bigger the garment — there’s no 20 narrow size. There’s no confusing it at all actually: 20 is always a plus number. So, the “W” is redundant and kinda shaming. It’s hard enough being a bridesmaid with a big ol’ badonkadonk trying to squeeze into some satin dress without looking like a disco sausage. But then I have to be tagged “wide load”? Is this dress going to beep when I try to back it up on the dance floor?
Isn’t there another term those fashion marketing geniuses could use for plus sizes? How about Bootylicious, or Bonus, or Lovely size? What if that woman had said my size was 20 Lovely? Dang, I would have felt like the belle of the store! Instead, I’m stuck standing there, bravely staring at myself in a three-way mirror as I roll out of some teeny tiny dress that basically looks like an old timey bathing suit on me. Insult to injury: getting called wide. And then I paid her for it!
Sheesh, I’m glad I’ve got one fitting down. Now I have a couple months to buy sewing scissors to cut the label out of the dress, so I can lose the real extra couple of unnecessary inches for good! Because, come my brother’s wedding, the only thing that’ll be called wide is my smile.