I sat at lunch yesterday flipping through the winter JC Penny catalog since my mom is going to be putting in an order soon, I figure if I want anything for work we can go in together and save on shipping. I came across a really nice knit long sleeved shirt in many pretty colors that would be good, with a big badge on the picture that said “on sale for $7.99” – good price there.
Then my eye scanned down to the sizing chart…
Misses Petite: $7.99
Misses Tall: $7.99
Women’s: $9.99 (size 1XL to 3XL)
Women’s EXT: $12.99 (size 4XL to 5XL)
I can only assume the EXT at the end there stands for “EXTRA fat!”
Okay, stay with me here… I’m aware that the clothing industries justification for the fat surcharge is that it takes SO much extra fabric to make fat people clothing. Then why are the tall sizes the same price as the misses?!?!
I will tell you why. Because the fat surcharge has nothing to do with extra fabric. It has everything to do with allowable and acceptable discrimination. In my opinion there is no difference whatsoever between charging more for a size 18 to 22 than if a shop keeper turned to a customer and said “oh – I see that you’re (insert nationality here), that means it’s five dollars more for you.”
Except, that in our society – it’s acceptable to discriminate against the plus sized. After all, it’s our own fault we’re like this. We’re lazy, sloppy, undisciplined. We eat huge quantities of food for no reason and bloat ourselves up to be a burden on the rest of you! On purpose!
Oh, and we eat babies too.
My first experience with the fat surcharge was at weddings; the bridal industry is really into it and their fat fees are some of the highest I’ve seen, far over JC Penny’s modest two to five dollars.
My sister got married when I was about fifteen; I think at the time I was around a size sixteen or so, and pretty cute (in a big 80’s hair sort of way). Since I was going to be in a wedding for the first time, I was of course on Weight Watchers – so I had lost about fourteen pounds between the time of my initial measuring and when the dress actually came in.
I remember how crestfallen and embarrassed I was when I tried the dress on and it was too small. My mother, ever the protective parent, actually whipped out my Weight Watchers card (she happened to have it in her purse) to show the sales lady that we had signed documentation proving that I was fourteen pounds lighter now than I was at the time of my measuring. So how exactly had I obtained a dress that was at least a size too small?
On the upside, I don’t think they charged my mom for the alterations. But there was nothing to be done save for sending the dress back and getting in another one, a size eighteen this time – because as any bridal dress place will tell you, they absolutely cannot make a dress bigger. Only smaller.
Except, when the new size eighteen arrived for me a few weeks later, I couldn’t help but notice that the factory manufactured tag on it was stamped size eight – and someone had scribbled a one in front of the eight, in pen.
Flash forward to my senior year of high school and my friend Andrea getting married. The bunch of us bridesmaids went happily to Bridaltown to get fitted for our dresses for the wedding. Jem got to try it on, because she was the enviable size eight sample size. Then we set about getting measured and placing our orders.
After giving everyone the cost, the saleslady leans across the table toward me and says in an apologetic whisper “yours is going to be thirty dollars more sweetie, because you’re such a big size.”
Such a big size. I was a size eighteen.
I felt my face flush scarlet and my ears burn – in mute embarrassment, I think I merely nodded, not wanting to ruin the mood by asking the question that was choking in the back of my throat right there and then.
I called back later for some answers. Apparently, when you get to a size eighteen; the entire fabric cutting machine must be reset and it’s oh so much extra work – plus, of course, all the yards upon yards of extra fabric required to cover my bloated form.
Flash forward again to my own wedding; now about a size twenty two. Still fat, and yet – still not really a head turner.
Early on in my engagement I went into a store called Country Bride and began sifting through the gorgeous white and cream poofiness – lost in dreams of my upcoming wedding day. A smiling sales lady approached and was happy to hear of my upcoming nuptials, happy to help me.
Except – I couldn’t try anything on. Not one single dress in the entire store would fit a size twenty two (which in bridal dress sizes, actually translates to a twenty six).
Dismayed, I asked the helpful sales lady how I was supposed to know if I wanted to buy any of their dresses if I could not try any of them on?
The answer: bring a thin friend with you to try them on for you.
How, ladies and gentleman, am I supposed to be able to tell if a gown will look good on my whacky body – by putting it on my skinny friend’s?
I’m glad to report that I didn’t pay a single dime to the corrupt, hurtful, discriminatory bridal gown industry on my wedding day. I bought armloads of gorgeous fabric from Maxine’s Daughter on fabric row – and hired an amazing seamstress named Susan Sampson, who put talent, friendship and artistry into every stitch.
I could not have been happier with the result – and with no fat fees whatsoever.