I’ve never been a standard size or “thin” woman. Even at my lowest weight, I was curvy. So you could say I am well versed in what is available as a “plus-size” human. Which, by the way, is a term I only embrace because I have too. If it was up to me, we would just have sizes without labels and everyone could wear what fits them and makes them feel comfortable. For pretty much my entire adult life, I have disliked shopping. Not because I dislike clothes, but because it is really frustrating to walk into a store and not be able to fit into anything. And even now, that more stores are extending their sizing, there is often still a huge difference in styles offered between standard and plus size. Another frustration is that jumping into the “plus-size” range often increases the price significantly. Now I realize larger sizes take more material, but this is not just a few dollar price jump, sometimes its even double the price. Again, I have my few favorite places that I know offer affordable pieces and I have gotten really good at watching for sales and shopping clearance, but that’s really a post for another day. But none of this prepared me for what would happen when I went looking for a comfortable and supportive Sports Bra.
But I’ve got a Budget…
I don’t know about you guys, but this mama is on a budget. I recognize my privilege when I say there is some wiggle room in that budget, but I still have to watch what I spend. And after seeing that more affordable retailers like Walmart and Target offering inclusive sizing, I was really hoping I would be able to find something that would work with my budget. Thus started my hunt for an affordable option.
When I first got to the store, I was excited to see that there were traditional sports bras offered up to XXL and even an underwire and molded cup option. I grabbed a few different prints and patterns of the traditional styles and moved over to the molded cups. This was the first disappointment, the largest size offered was a 42 DD. Now, I will admit that it is exciting to see a larger size range. There was a time when finding anything above a 38 was a struggle.
At a size 22/24, I need at least a 46 band size, and I usually fit best into a DDD or F. So that option was out for me, oh well, I had 3 or 4 of the XXL to try on. When I purchase clothing at these retailers, I buy an XXL in t-shirts, so I assumed the sizing was similar. And boy was I wrong! I couldn’t even get the bra over my shoulders, much less on.
For someone who feels pretty comfortable in their skin, it is still a low blow to take something you think will fit (and the biggest size offered no less) into the dressing room and have it not even come close to fitting. And when I put it back on the rack, I compared it to some of the sized bras. The XXL was smaller than the size 40 brand on many of the other bras. I hope you’re scratching your head just like I was.
What A Bummer
Feeling pretty defeated, I went home and put a little rant on my facebook page about my frustrations. I expected some of my friends to relate, but I could not believe what lengths some of them are going to, to workout comfortably. These are the things I heard from them…
“Just wear two or three bras at a time”
“I use an ace bandage under my sports bra” (what?!)
“I had to wait until I lost 40 lbs to start really exercising because I couldn’t find an affordable sports bra”
“In order to purchase a bra that fits comfortably, I’d have to sacrifice some of my food or diaper budgets”
I’m sorry, but what?! And I would like to add that all of these women aren’t even “plus size”, but do have larger busts. Why? Why are there not more affordable options for us? I am constantly reminded by the media or what have you, that I need to get healthy or loose weight. Society reminds me every day that my body isn’t considered healthy, by looks alone. If you follow me, you know that this is about overall health for me. For my mental health more than anything. I am really not worried about size. Apparently, I don’t deserve to do so comfortably though. Or, I only deserve comfort if I can afford $50-100 to spend on said comfort.
I really don’t think this should be a luxury item.
In the End
To end my story, I tried working out in my regular bra and doubling them up for a couple weeks, but it just wasn’t working. I was hurting and it was limiting my ability to do some exercises (like jumping). So, I had to bite the bullet and spend $55 on a bra, from a specialty store. But would you believe my disappointment didn’t end there? Even there I had to purchase an extender to make the bra fit appropriately. Which, admittedly I was okay with it because I will get more wear out of the bra if my size does change. That didn’t change my frustration with the situation as a whole, though.
I shared this frustration with the clerk of the store, and while she said she agreed with me, she used my frustration as a sales tactic….she offered my the stores credit card “to save “X” and close the price gap a bit.” I don’t blame her for trying to get me to sign up for the card, I’ve worked retail, I realize how hard you are pushed to get people to sign up for those cards. But I just had to silently laugh to myself, after all this, that was how this experience ended.
I like the bra I purchased and I am grateful that I could afford it. That is not the reality for many though, and it shouldn’t have to be. No matter your body size, you deserve comfortable and affordable activewear. I wish I had a fix for this problem, I really do. I don’t know enough about the fashion industry to really make a change. If I was a better seamstress, I would get to work. I figure talking about it is the first step. Maybe the more that we share our frustration, maybe someone will be inspired to take action. If you know about something I don’t, please share!
Have you ever had an experience like mine?