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Hey big brands, plus-size people like cute clothes too

Ever since I was a kid, I have been in love with clothes. I would draw horrible dress sketches and make my mom buy me countless notebooks to fill with my "designs." I told her that I was going to grow up to be a fashion designer, but as I grew older, my size made me fall out of love with fashion.

I have always been a bigger guy, so at a certain point my relationship with clothes came down to, "If it fits, I'll wear it." For most of elementary and middle school, that meant baggy pants and either a graphic tee or a hoodie.

Because I would see older people wearing these amazing outfits, I just assumed that better clothes would come with age. But as I got older and started to look for outfits that I liked on other people, I found that there were no options in my size range.

I began to think "cute" clothes would never look right on me because of my body, and it wasn't until high school that I worked up the courage to see what was out there for me besides sweatshirts and baggy pants.

As I tried to expand my wardrobe, I always hit roadblocks in the shape of product tags. The clothes I was drawn to never came in my size, and if they did, they rarely looked the same on me as they did on the model.

I had finally fallen back in love with clothes, but shopping for them made me feel like the clothes were definitely not falling in love with me.

Shopping is supposed to be fun. Trying on those jeans you've been eyeing forever and having them fit like a glove is such an exhilarating experience, but for many plus-size people, shopping is more of a hassle than a fun pastime.

I do most of my shopping online, just to avoid the awkward experience of finding out a piece of clothing doesn't come in my size. Clicking the "size options" drop-down bar on a store's website is far less embarrassing than searching through piles upon piles in person, just to leave empty-handed.

The culture of buying clothes in the plus-size community is extremely unhealthy, and clothing brands are partially to blame. By not making clothes for plus-size people, brands are telling me I don't get to appreciate fashion, that I should just be grateful for the few options that are out there and take what I can get.

Years of underrepresentation of plus-size people in the fashion industry has made being bigger and appreciating clothes a taboo. Although plus-size models are gaining traction in the industry and slowly changing the unhealthy culture surrounding weight, more needs to be done in order to enact real change. In 2017, Asos rolled out its expanded plus-size section online, and Nordstrom followed suit in mid-2018.

In my 18 years of shopping at a variety of brick-and-mortar stores, only Asos has expanded its plus size section. The fact that I only can find a vast selection of options in my size at this one specific store is a testament to how slow the culture change is hitting the fashion industry.

A lot of companies are moving toward more diverse branding, which is an amazing development, but that diversity leaves out people who wear sizes with Xs before the L.

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I have been in love with fashion for as long as I can remember, and it's time for fashion to start loving me back.

carlintm@miamioh.edu

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