body posi, part 2: dress shopping is hard

So, I went on the prowl for a dress to wear to a special occasion (I’m graduating!) that I have coming up. I spent the whole day at the mall, trekking from store to store in search of the perfect outfit to pair with my hot pink pumps and I ended up coming home empty-handed. Now, I know–that’s not a hardship. Not all shopping trips end successfully, (a. And, b), I’m just privileged to have the opportunity to go shopping in the first place.

I acknowledge my privilege and I have had unsuccessful shopping trips before. But, this time it was different.

It’s not that I couldn’t find anything, and it’s not that I wasn’t willing to try everything, it’s that nothing fit right. Six different stores, multiple different outfits, one single body that looked wrong in most dresses, and flat-out didn’t fit into some of them.

It was… upsetting.

The first place I hit was Aritzia: it’s where I go for most special outfits and I’ve always had pretty good luck finding stuff there (a quick glance at my closet confirms that I’ve had very good luck there). I browsed, I picked up every single pastel-coloured dress I could find (I have a certain colour scheme in mind), and I moseyed on over to the fitting room.

One dress pinched my armpit flab. The other clung to places it shouldn’t cling. Another fit well, but had a button-up top half that created some tension with my girls. I found a dress I didn’t hate, that fit me pretty good, but I decided that maybe I could do better for my big day.

So, I thought, I’ll try The Bay. It’s a department store; they literally have everything.

Everything except what I was looking for. Their selection of dresses ranged from strappy beach chic to Mother-of-the-Bride matron, and there wasn’t a whole lot in between (barring an Ivanka Trump dress that was cute, but not $110 cute). I didn’t even try anything on because I knew that those spaghetti straps and v-neck necklines wouldn’t be kind to my boobs, and I also knew I wanted to look, I don’t know, age-appropriate.

My next stop was Brandy Melville, for a literal second. I hit up Ricki’s, to no avail. Then I popped into Dynamite on a whim, based on a cute floral number I saw in the window. It was the perfect shade of pastel blue I was looking for, and it had a giant flower print that I thought would complement my vision. So, I grabbed the largest size and gave it a go.

It fit, kind of. And it looked alright. But once again it wasn’t the WOW I wanted. I hung it up and left it with the salesgirl, taking my big girl business elsewhere.

Forever 21 was on my way out of the mall, and even though the store is known for its vanity sizing, I thought “Why not?”. After all, how much more humiliated can a girl get?

So, I gave the bottom level a quick run-through, perusing for anything pastel. Nothing caught my eye, so I wandered upstairs to see what else they had to offer. Immediately, a maxi dress in their plus-size section drew my attention. It was beautiful, and although I’ve never shopped in that section before I decided to try it on.  I grabbed the smallest-big size and continued to browse. I would’ve grabbed some other things from the Big Girl section, if everything else didn’t look like total shapeless garbage. Instead, I found a trapeze style dress in the so-called regular section and headed to the change rooms.

After squeezing my tits and the rest of my bad self into the largest-small sized dress and quickly deciding that was a NO, I pulled the smallest-big sized dress over my head.

And I was swimming in fabric.

It was too big.

The other dress was too small.

And I was some sort of mystery size in between.

I’m not going to give up until I find my just-right, but I’m disappointed in my experiences today. Because it wasn’t just not being able to find a dress–it was realizing that my body shape, and type, and proportions limited my fashion choices. And trust me when I say the size of my waist has nothing to do with my sense of style, and the latent assumption that it does is offensive, and hurtful, and it made me feel like my body is wrong for about the billionth time in my life.

And all I was doing was looking for an outfit to make me feel special.