Dear Fashion Designers,
For the last 20 years, I have been pursuing a career in acting. In Hollywood, you are either a size 0 or you are size 20. There’s no in-between. But I was always one of the biggest in the room. After one audition early in my career, I was told I was too fat to even play the fat girl. That stuck in my head like a tattoo and I decided to get gastric bypass surgery.
At 5-9, I went from 390 pounds and a size 26 to 250 pounds and a size 16.
It’s amazing the way people treat me now. It is completely different. For so long, I was nothing more than my weight. All of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I am visible. People see me for who I am and not how much I weigh.
No longer do I have to try and make myself as small as possible on an airplane just so I can fit in the sit without making the person next to me too uncomfortable.
Finally, I can shop at the Gap! Now, even more so, I realize how good it feels to put on clothes that make you feel beautiful and sexy because I have gotten to experience it first hand.
That’s why I am writing to you. I want you to understand how important it is to create shirts, dresses, skirts and pants that fit more body types.
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See, even though I have more options it still isn’t easy to buy clothes because of the way I am shaped, with large shoulders and bigger arms. The ongoing limitations in clothing options bring me back to my childhood.
My challenges with shopping began around the same time I started to get taunted and terrorized by classmates.
“Hula hoop Hollister.”
“Are you going to sit on me?”
“Oh, God, don’t fall on me.”
“Don’t crush me.”
That was the welcome I got when I moved to a new school in second grade. That is the first time I remember being called fat. That is the first time I remember being told I was disgusting.
Bullied ruthlessly every day of my life from second grade until graduation, I felt as though I wasn’t worthy of the space I was occupying.
I came from a big-boned German family. As a so-called fat person in our society, every step of my life growing up felt like a struggle. And the struggle to find fashionable clothes that fit sure didn’t make it any easier.
In elementary school, there were these shirts that would change color with heat and touch. I wanted one so badly because everybody had them. But my mother couldn’t find one in my size.
For my high school band, we needed to wear a uniform for the parades. We had these short shorts and matching t-shirts. I had to order from the men’s uniforms, which didn’t fit me correctly. My thighs rubbed together and the shorts would ride up my crotch. It was awful.
As an adult, neither life nor shopping got much better.
My clothes pilled between my legs and then even underneath my arms because they rubbed together. After just a few wears, some of my clothes were destroyed.
Not only do plus-size women have limited options, but the ones we do have are considerably more expensive than the smaller sizes. When you are overweight, clothes costs more. At my heaviest, I couldn’t go to mainstream stores like Forever 21.
I don’t understand why you all don’t want to design clothes for bigger women. 68 percent of women in this country wear a size 14 or larger. I wasn’t a business major, but seems like bad business to only create for the minority.
No matter how much I weigh, I always want to buy designer clothes. I want to feel sexy, beautiful and feminine. But for much of my life, the clothes available to me made me feel dowdy, old and ugly.
Why can’t bigger women have access to fashionable clothing? Why don’t you make your clothes to fit more of us? Why are you in fashion? I have heard many of you claim you want your clothes to empower people. If so, why are you ignoring the diversity of people’s bodies?
You have the power to set trends and change people’s perceptions. You have the power to change people’s lives. Let me tell you why…
When I look in the mirror and an outfit hugs every curve in all the right places, I feel like I could rule the world.
When a stranger looks me up and down with that nod of approval or when a co-worker or a friend says “I LOVE your outfit! Where did you get it?”
I feel good about myself. No, I feel fantastic about myself.
It is that feeling that helps me to live my best life. Confidence, not shame, inspires women to be healthier in body and mind. And when you’re healthier, you’re more empowered.
Before my surgery, you never inspired me and you never empowered me. If anything, you added to the shame and misery that the world inflicting upon me, which weighed down my mind not my body. After my weight loss, I still walk into my favorite shops and wonder, will that fit me in all the ways I need?
Throughout my life I have felt pressured to change myself so I could fit into society. But the truth is it’s all of you that need to change so that society starts to fit all sizes.
Beauty has no boundaries so neither should your clothes,