Before I freed myself from a prison without bars, just an invisible door that I couldn’t exit as I wanted, I had to smile gently ‘is it OK, can I go on lunch now?’ sometimes he said ‘No, not yet’ and sometimes he gave me a little approving nod. He was a grey haired man in his late 40’s and had big bushy eyebrows that could form the meanest face expression I’ve ever seen. He had a rough charm that appealed to women, it seemed like all of them flocked around wanting approval from him before buying that “Friday dress” or simply just ask me, ‘can you get me Harry’ when I came carrying the clothes to the fitting-room. He was my boss, the store owner but also the guard forcing me to never ever leave without his consent.
For anyone who wants’ to become something in the fashion industry it’s necessary to have worked some “dog years” in a fashion store selling clothes. I was one of them, a dreamer that had high goals set, saw myself bowing in front of a huge audience, camera flashes going off in the dark and spotlights in my face, there I was in the middle of it all, center stage with tall skinny models coming up behind me, I wanted to be a Fashion Designer. I remember my mom’s bitter comment ‘so, Fashion Designer ha, well everyone wants’ to be that’. ‘Well, me too I guess’, I remember saying not knowing then how right she was, It was true, everyone really wanted to be a Fashion Designer and the competition was fierce.
Realizing that years later here I was still struggling, getting short term jobs at Agencies and Ad Firms. Brewing coffee and cleaning plants with pieces of wet cloth, to then work in a Fashion Store folding clothes instead of white sheets of paper.
This was a bit over a year ago and I found myself not just working in a store with Plus-Size customers and no Plus-Size clothes but also with a boss that had made a reputation of himself, Iron Heart or worse, some of the sellers that booked appointment asked if Harries horns was out and if he had burn marked anyone this week, like stating that he was the devil.
The store was not just lacking bigger sizes but also constantly running low on pretty “normal once” like Medium and Large. Trying the garments myself I also found the sizes to be wrongly labeled, a Medium was suddenly extremely tight and a Small not even wearable all depending from what country they were from, I was wondering if it was just me?
“I gently glanced through the half opened door at the woman in her 50’s trying to regain her youth, she was young during the 70’s probably heaps skinnier than I’ll ever be and then she must have followed the ” Twiggy” wave, wearing nothing except black mascara and a well starved body. The woman was now going for a really tight pair of jeans”, why not? Just because you hit the middle-age boundary it doesn’t make you dead? I felt a sudden struck of panic, when I get older, surely I want to look nice, wear something trendy with a nice fit, doesn’t have to look like I’m going to a “disco” with my fourteen year old daughter but still, I want some style?
The woman in the changing-room was unsuccessful and she looked red and a bit strained in her face, ‘do you need any help?’ I asked knowing that this was the biggest pair of jeans we had and that the fit on the other jeans was so low that some of my friends and then their friends had a hard time accepting it. ‘No thanks, but thanks anyways miss’ she mumbled as she moved around in there.
The Plus-Sizes is not just non existent, but there is a hidden problem, what happened to everything in between as well? Where was the jeans with the semi-high waist for a comfortable fit but not “ugly looking-adjusted to an old women” where was the comfortable clothing in a trendy up to date design?
I felt as it was piling up, folding the XS tops and looking at the stocks decrease in size Medium and Large. I kept asking myself the question ‘what is Plus-Size these days?’ It was as if everything over Medium was considered “big” and it was always ordered in a small quantity, leaving us with a problem since it kept selling out. Surely there must be a reason why the bosses don’t want to buy more “normal-sizes”, they must know that sizes have increased and that small is merely for the younger generation. Of course there is always exceptions, whether your working in a bakery in Germany or cleaning windows at Rue de something in Paris people look different, eat different and luckily shop different which means that we as a stated fact are unique everyone of us in style and taste but we need those options in front of us, the right to choose.
So, as I stood there, watching the woman sigh over the lack of ‘roomy sizes’ and a bit embarrassed folded the skinny jeans she had escaped from, entangled and caught to now take a deep breath and feel free again. I silently thought about what my boss blatantly said the other day while I asked about the small stock of sizes ‘overweight women don’t want to wear trendy clothes, they won’t buy it and it simply doesn’t sell’. I remember looking at him with big eyes, not as if this was a true eye-opener but simply by clear statement he made with such arrogance. I remember nodding and then thinking that it was simply his problem and not mine.