Picture this… It’s a nice, sunny summer day. I just got a buy back from my unused sick days at work. My husband and I have no plans in particular. So, we decide to hop in the car and head to the outlet mall. Approximately 45 stores wait for me to enter their doors and spend on a whim! Ahhhh, commerce. Cha ching!
Say what you will about brick and mortar shopping, but I still love it. There is something magical about the instant gratification of buying something that isn’t delivered in a Prime shipping box. And I am a child of the 80’s, when the mall was the place to see and be seen. I am also fully aware that outlet malls are a racket. The bargains aren’t necessarily as good as they seem, but there are still treasures to be found.
When we arrive at the mall, the magic disappears and the buzz kill sets in. It is July in St. Louis and the outdoor mall feels like the temperature of Satan’s armpit. The air is heavy and stale. Clueless shoppers stand in large packs on the sidewalk and meander with no particular aim. And worst, the absolute worst of it all? There are TWO stores at the outlet mall that carry anything in my size. Two.
Being a size 22, I know already that the offerings will be limited when I go shopping. While many major brands have moved to be more size inclusive in the last few years, stores like Loft, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. do not carry Plus Sizes in their outlet stores. Even the shoe stores rarely carry anything that fits my giant, flat, size 11 feet. I’m sorry Lane Bryant and CJ Banks, your clothes are just way too mature and way not my style. While I am more than willing to wander through Kate Spade and find pretty things I don’t need, that was not the mission.
So instead, I spent the afternoon schlepping after my husband from store after store, carrying HIS shopping bags and playing on my phone while he tried things on in the fitting room. I felt in the way everywhere as employees and customers tried to scoot around my stationary position. I felt frustrated that my husband found some amazing deals on shoes (like a freaking pair of awesome Adidas for $11) and shorts. And I felt sad that I left with a laptop case and a lunchbox. (To be fair, the lunchbox was from the Disney store and adorable!)
I mean, it is what it is, right? As a Plus Sized shopper, I am often the odd man out in group shopping trips (like EVERY Black Friday with my family.) But on some days, like today, it just seems unfair and loudly pops my Body Positive balloon. I am a fat lady with a sense of style and money to spend. But apparently no one wants it. So, I guess I will just dry my tears, head back to the internet where I belong, and stab another knife in retail America’s physical presense. Sniffle…