Thursday, May 04, 2006

Clicks

I finished my Major Academic Project; I celebrated its finished-ness; I am now sitting in the sun on my balcony with a glass of champagne from one of several bottles my mother sent in celebration of the finished-ness (my second glass, as a matter of fact) and also pineapple chunks; I am so happy it hurts.

I bought a graduation dress at Anthropologie, and, somewhat ridiculously, it is a size large. The sweet, perky salesgirl sized me up and asked me if I was sure I wouldn't like to try a 12 instead of a 14 in that halter dress. I was sure. I was only taking the 14 from her hands because otherwise she would know that I wear a size far above that size, which is a little scary to admit in Anthropologie. And actually, as it turned out, the 14 was only a little too tight, which says something odd about Anthropologie's sizing, as I wear a 20. But I tried on a stretchy red jersey dress in a large, and it fit just fine. I wanted an extra-large, to see if it would be less cleavagey (busts in plus clothes are always too big for me; in straight sizes, always too small), but the dress didn't come in extra-large. And so I will wear it with a cardigan, and peep-toe heels, and try not to let my bizarre bust fall out in front of my professors and my father. But the point is: shopping at Anthropologie. How the clothes fit, some of them, when really they shouldn't. How fat is something different when you have money. How the salesgirl will check the size of your ass, surreptitiously, and decide it's not really that big, and certainly, you are not a fat person. You are dressed too well to be a fat person.

And from other dressing rooms, you can hear it, women are buying three dresses at once, a little jacket, they are calling for an extra-small because the small is too big (this makes sense if a large will fit me, actually). For me, the one dress and cardigan was more than I could afford—my mother was paying, in authorization to use her emergencies-only credit card.

And maybe something clicks. Something about social power, and semiotics, and lifestyle fantasy.

The feminist movement used to talk about "click" moments. Moments in which you sense something falling into place. (Shopping at Anthropologie, and how proud I was to say my dress was from there, and how my sister reacted as if my size had changed rather than that I had discovered that Anthropologie makes very stretchy clothing: click.)

Or: something about the shifting boundary between fat and unfat. Who is which? Fat is a social identity. It is interesting that I call myself The Fat Girl, because I am only The Fat Girl to myself. In high school, we had a different Fat Girl. She was much thinner than I was. She wore maybe a sixteen. I wore a twenty-six. But she wore drab clothes and looked like she was waiting to be kicked (I also did the former, but not the latter: I looked like I would cut you if you kicked me). She was somehow doughy. She had a receeding chin and low cheekbones, a gummy smile. She was fervently religious. She was The Fat Girl, not me, and people made fun of her. I made fun of her too, though not for being fat.

Or: sometimes now (often?) I don't even feel like a Fat Person, in the way that means "abnormal, subhuman." But more than ever, I socially identify as a Fat Person.

10 comments:

Beth said...

I just wanted to say Hi! I'm a fellow fat girl from Portland living in NY... small world, eh?

PastaQueen said...

I think clothing sizes are starting to suffer from inflation, just like soft drink sizes. Sometimes I forget it's not the 80's anymore and ask for a large drink at a restaurant and they had me a two gallon cup. Of course I really wanted the "small" which is what the "large" used to be. I think size 14 is the new size 20. Perhaps its some sort of psychological game and they'll think you'll be more likely to buy clothes at their store if you can get something in a 14 whereas you have to get it as 20 somewhere else.

John Blodgett said...

What you call a "click" I have often recognized in my own life as a "thought shift." It's one thing to stop a moment and realize how far you have progressed over time; it's a whole other experience to feel yourself going through it as it happens. Exciting isn't it?

Gina said...

Here's the thing, and I love your blog, and am a little ashamed to be *So* interested in something that is so obviously not the point, but here it is:

What dress was it?

I'm a size 18 meself and anthro always seemed to symbolize everything that the size 14s-and-under had that I didn't, fashionwise.

Of course, I see your point completely -- but what about the *DRESS*?!

The Fat Girl said...

Good Lord, how could I have failed to discuss the dress itself? It's a red jersey knee-length with a scoopneck and a sash and I love it to pieces. I also learned that an Anthropologie bag is the world's best conversation-starter.

It's this one. Other knits also fit. I doubt you'd have a problem.

Ezpy said...

Yesterday my mom bought me a dress for a party next month. Where did we find it? Anthropologie.

The dress is definitely was a huge symbol for me. I'd never been able to imagine being able to buy clothes there. That I fit into size 12 fitted skirts and a dress (not fitted, but still) there and at Banana Republic is mind blowing.

The bag is still sitting (empty as I did hang the clothes) on our living room coffee table. It may need its own shrine.

Kim said...

Hi! I found you through a series of clicking from FattyMcBlog. I totally know what you're talking about re: sizing! I'm a size 16/18 and currently living in Europe, where such things are practically unheard of. Smoke? Certainly! Be larger than a size
-2? Gasp! Unheard of! Lo and behold,I fit into a size L shirt at H&M the other day. Granted, it's a stretchy t-shirt and was meant for someone with a much longer torso, but still! I fit! So I share in your joy. You rock!

Haystacks said...

It is called Vanity Sizeing. This contry is expanding, but women who feel "fat" are less likley to spend their cash. So they have altered the sizing so that it currenly makes so sense and changes from store to store.

This is an article on it:
http://www.fitme.com/Fitme/html/PublicRelations/coverage/Vanity_Sizing_AZ_Rep_0104.htm

Mean while I am sick with Jealousy. I always wanted to wear anthropology clothes but am too big. Even with Vanity sizing. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I ran into your blog actually when I asked a question about Anthropologie sizing. Hehe. I actually got more wrapped up into what you were saying more so then the size! I am a 16/18 and I find that what you were saying is very true. Also lovely dress that's the one I wanted! =)

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

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