Two weeks ago, I walked into Target early on a Sunday morning. Ok it was like 11AM, not actually early except on a Sunday in the suburbs. It was just me and my coffee and a few quiet peers. There were no loud couples shouting to one another between aisles (note: I have both encountered and been this couple), and no crying infants. In fact, the only child I saw was strapped to a new mom in the shoe aisle. As the baby slept I watched the mother continue bouncing at the necessary rhythm, and try on shoes.
When you enter Target, you have two options. Go left towards all the things you likely came for, or stay straight and peruse the new clothes, shoes and handbags. Before going left, towards the makeup and other necessary items (ex: cleaners, razors, $3 dog toys), I detoured through the new Spring bathing suits, secretly beginning to prepare myself for bikini season and an upcoming beach trip. I left the section with a modest but unique purple suit, a Medium top and a Medium bottom.
Here I have to stop and do the uncomfortable thing. I have to explain my body to you without sounding either terrible vain or extremely self-conscious. Depending on the day, I am both. I am 5’5″ and I weigh 130 lbs (aka 135 lbs). At most stores I wear a 4, but I pretty much just shop at J.Crew, and there I get to wear a 2 a lot. It’s silly, because I know it’s a number thing, and the pants are all the same if they fit me. I like being a 2, though. Oh, and I have a large chest (thanks genetics), but I dress like an old lady so no one thinks of me that way. Seriously I love giant sweaters, cardigans and oversized stud earrings, so…
Ok, explanation over.
I didn’t try on this bathing suit at Target because 1) have you ever tried on clothes at Target and felt GOOD about it? I have not. 2) I’m lazy and socially awkward at times, so taking it home was just…easier. The top, which was really a hit or miss, fit! I slid on the Medium bottoms, expecting that by choosing the Medium over the small, they would be loose and comfortable on my curvy hips. No. The elastic cut into my love handles, and my thighs bubble over the leg holes. I stood there, staring at myself. My first thoughts were deprecating and negative.
Um…should your legs look like that.
What have you been doing? Shouldn’t you have paid attention?
You should be looking better than this…
But then I snapped back to reality, stopped SHOULDING all over myself, and I was pissed. I love my body, I hated that bathing suit. I went back to Target on Monday after work, and got the Large bottom instead. I spent another $50 on stuff I didn’t need while I was there, by the way. I got home, and the new bottoms were way better. Initially I felt relief. I was just thinking about how good I was feeling in that suit, and how good I was going to feel on my vacation. And then a split second later I thought something very different.
Fuck you, Target designers. If a size chart said that a 4 was a large, we would be annoyed and we would criticizes them, but we could at least see it in writing. Target’s size chart says a 4 is actually a Small, though! So what about my friend who wears a 6? Or my other who wears a 12? Do they just have to wear a bathing suit that doesn’t fit, or else feel they’re too fat?
Yesterday, a new bathing suit from Lulus arrived in the mail. The top and bottom came together, and while thats usually tough for me because I have a small waist and a large chest, the price was too good to pass up. Well, I would like to know who this bathing suit DOES fit. The top was huge, hanging off of my chest, while the bottoms cut into me from every side. It’s not a surprise women struggle with body issues. Left and right we tell ourselves and each other what we should be doing, or how we need to look.
Imagine this: A high schooler who feels slightly overweight is looking for a new bikini for her class trip to the water park. She wears a 6 usually, and is built with feminine curves that haven’t quite formed. She goes into Target and picks up the new trendy bikini in her size. She doesn’t try it on because…see above 1&2. When she gets home, she goes up to her room and closes the door to try it on in private. The bottoms cut into her love handles and the leg holes squeeze her large ass. She cries because this size Medium doesn’t fit and so she must have gained weight and she now she doesn’t even want to go to the water park. No one wants to see this.
She wears the bathing suit because she figures, oh well it’s my size. She looks bad and gets laughed at by the “skinny girls” instead of being seen as BEAUTIFUL like she fucking should, because women with big asses and large tits and birthing hips are amazing and strong and, they’re all of us.
This girl isn’t a make-believe scenario. It’s me, or else it could have been. Or it could have been you, or it was both of us, bumping elbows in the aisle and feeling alone when we’re really all in this shit storm together. Love. Don’t hate.