I'm a large lady. Seriously. I'm six feet tall and wear a clothing size (depending on the brand) anywhere from an 18 to a 22. And, honey, I own it. I think I'm fabulous, and I think it is a shame if you don't. Well, not really, but that is the kind of confidence I try to project.
I've been a curvacious person since I was 13. I was a little skinny stick-pin girl until puberty and then it was CURVES! It took a long time to be okay with that. When other girls wore cute, tight little t-shirts they looked charming and sweet. When I wore the same clothing I looked like I needed find a corner, cause honey, it was straight-up inappropriate! While I get that now, my mom had a hard time explaining it to me -without causing a teenage girl hysteria- when I was younger.
My mom is a medium-height thin woman. My dad is tall and athletic. My three siblings all fall into one of their categories. My grandmother looks like Dolly Parton and my Grandpa looked like Ernest Hemingway. Guess whose genes I inherited?
Basically, my parents had NO idea how to help me find clothing that 1, I liked, and 2, was appropriate when I was a teenager. My mom finally broke down one day and went from store to store until she found a woman who looked like me. I was totally mortified, but actually what my mom did was awesome. This super sweet saleslady was not only beautiful, but she had a whole lifetime of shopping for curvy clothing experience. She steered me towards some great brands and gave me great advice on how to shop for my body.
It was hard being a teenager who looks as I do. Young men often don't understand/don't appreciate my appearance because it isn't what society projects they should like. However, males 30+ years old (old enough to have formed their own opinion) seem to like me juuussstt fine. :) And women/girls of all ages seem to get it. But, it was hard to develop positive body identity when I was a kid. I'm active, I work hard, and this is my body. I accept it now, but LAWSY, it took FOREVAH.
There is an unfortunate thing in fashion/clothing that should a person be larger than a size 12, fashion seems to think they must want to wear frumpy stuff that -as my mom says- "we didn't even bury your grandma in." Chunky ladies gotta look for the goods. I'm good at it.
Here is where the education part comes in:
I have several -no doubt you do too- plus size female students. They have the same issues I did when shopping for clothing. And, wow, I feel for them. Because these are beautiful girls, awesome, amazing girls. . .But, they don't get to have fun shopping with their differently-shaped girlfriends because they can't shop in a store like forever21.
Today, one of them came into my classroom during my planning to ask me a question. She said: "My mom said I should ask you where you shop 'cause you always look good and you can find good clothing." I was THRILLED. This student's mom looks like my mom, so she has no idea where to find clothes for her daughter, but she wants her to feel pretty (cause, HELLO, she is!). Y'all. I got SO excited to share with this student where I shop for clothing and how I find good clothes. How great to get to do for someone else what was done for me.
My point in all of this, is should you know a girl struggling to find a place to shop point her towards one of us awesome curvy ladies. We want to share this information, but it is delicate, so we aren't going to just accost some poor teenage girl and offer it up unasked.
And, I know this seems silly, vapid, and unimportant, but honestly, it isn't. I can't tell you how upsetting it is to go shopping (ie how teenage girls socialize) with your friends and feel like the ugly beast person who can't shop at "normal" person stores. It really does effect your self-identity.