Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Why clothes swaps rock, and my finds - by Sophie

Introducing Sophie, a regular Plus Swap attendee, with her view on our Plus Swaps...

Two weekends ago, I attended the Plus Size Clothes Swap. It was the third time I have attended this and every single time, I have picked up a veritable hoard or awesome clothes and come away feeling a million dollars! At the most recent one, I gathered a collection of fun clothes including t shirts, jeans and a beautiful dress (see photo's below). But the one before I basically got a full work wardrobe without spending a penny.

Before I go on about why I think the Plus Size Clothes Swap is amazing, I want to tell you about why I hate clothes shopping. Because for me at least, the two are intricately linked.

I despise clothes shopping. I know I just said that, but I really want to impress upon you how much I dislike the process. Given the fact that I have had a bit of a body image revolution over the past couple of years and feel extremely happy with my body these days, nothing is more likely to send me into a spiral of self-loathing as quickly a having to go and buy clothes from a shop.
Sophie at the October Swap

The whole process from start to end is depressing. Firstly, I wander from shop to shop where I have something in mind which I need/ want. Then comes the filtering process where I look for my size. Often to find that they don't go up to my size, often stopping several sizes lower. I then dejectedly stop looking for clothes I like, things I think look good in or would suit me. I go doggedly back through the stores I just visited desperately looking anything that is made in my dress size. Finding woefully limited options, I already feel tired and heart broken that it seems to me that pretty things are reserved for thin people - or at least, for people who are not fat.

With a heavy heart I select a range of what look like giant mis-shapen carrier bags on hangers (I am stunned at how few mainstream plus size clothes have absolutely no shape or style) and try them on, trying to convince myself that they might 'look good once they're on'. It is this part of the process that upsets me the most and has on many occasions pushed me to tears in various changing rooms across the high street. These clothes are all too often horribly tailored, with no account for different body shapes with no space for boobs, hips or belly. Or with the assumption that all Size 20 women are 6ft 4inch tall Amazons. If I can even do the things up they often look gastly, looking like the aforementioned giant carrier bags. But before I even get to put the clothes on, there is taking my own clothes off.

Standing in a cramped changing room, surrounded by mirrors in harsh light, on my own I catch sight of myself and after a day of misery my low self esteem takes the opportunity to make pot-shots at myself. It's just awful and I often finish a day like this not buying anything at all and wanting nothing more than to hide in a cupboard for several years. Of course there are nice things out there, but I struggle to find the will to find them.

I am convinced that this of course is kinda the point of shopping. The process is designed to make anyone, of any shape and size, feel horrible. And in turn buy more things to try and make themselves feel better. The angles of mirrors in fitting rooms combined with the horrible lighting and cramped conditions would make anyone hate their body, obviously with a mind to make you feel better when you put on what ever item you are thinking of buying.

So imagine my elation when I attend an event, where this filtering process has already taken place? Where you are presented with a range of fabulous finds which suit all kinds of body shapes and types. Where you can try on a couple of pairs of trousers and they actually fit and look great! Where there is natural light and a proper full length mirror, with a bunch or lovely ladies who give honest, fair and very often extremely flattering feedback on how you look. Not only that, but everyone there is in the same boat, where you can see how gorgeous each and every one of the wonderful women (and even a couple of men) standing around you look and realise you are the same. Where being fat is not a crime or something to be ashamed of. Where we order cake and coffee and chat about nothing while rummaging through clothes. Safe in the knowledge you are not only being eco friendly by recycling but that this is all FREE.

As I said at the start, I leave the Plus Size Clothes swap with a huge haul, where I am excited to wear all the clothes I got and I feel amazing! I also love seeing the stuff I never wore of my own getting tried on by others and feeling pleased that those things look good on someone else. It's an awesome circle of fabulous fatties and I am proud to count myself as one of them!

Here's the clothes I picked up at February's swap :

Hope to see you at the next one! 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent! And that polka dots dress looks amazing on you :)