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Shopping for Expression

Body positivity has been project of mine for at least a year now. I wanted to talk about it, wanted to write a script, then a story but more than anything I wanted to just sit around and talk with people about their experiences. What these interactions did was to help me get just a little bit more perspective, wake up to so many casual (in)sensitive conversations, and a dire need to be more accepting of our bodies across all genders.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

The conversations that happens while the ‘therapeutic’ shopping are the most heart-wrenching ones.

“Oh, these models can pull anything off. It would look funny on me” “Those make my thighs look bigger” “It makes me look so skinny” “They make my boobs look small (or) too busty”.

It sucks because most often we love ourselves in these outfits, and we look amazing in them. The judgement that stops us from buying is appalling. Odes can be written to the ‘almost ours’ sleeveless top that shows off the arms, the cute dress which had the size tag ‘XXXL’, the fabulous skinny jeans which made us too skinny, the colour just not flattering on us, so on and so forth. We are shoved into moulds to come out as the perfect buns. Often, these stores results gives us anxiety. The attitudes and interaction of the store staffs can make or break the experience. These store staffs often pass judgements. Sometimes they might be well-intended and it might just be that one-person’s opinion, yet it can cause enough damage.

Almost 5 years back a more, at the Bata Store near my house. My foot size doesn’t fall under the ‘ideal foot size’ which reduces my options immensely. When I saw Bata had just come up with the new collection, I got excited. I loved one orange strapped flat but couldn’t find my size. I checked with the store staff, he laughed right at my face, “Who has their foot size over 7?” That was the last time I visited Bata.

Is the sizing chart that is used, still relevant today? Exclusive stores are mushrooming catering to plus sizes attires, or clothes for men who are short clearly shows a need for brands to become more inclusive. This inclusivity must cater to all sizes across all genders. While women can more easily shop for ‘traditional’ men clothing, the options are much less. When it comes to utility wear, there are hardly any, and barely few that are affordable. There are not many dresses that someone with a masculine body structure can fit into, and if we are honest, they cater to only a tiny fraction of people. Cross dressers and transgender folx are by and large excluded from this experience of shopping – cloths often do not accommodate the body structures, or provisions to adapt the cloths to needs.

From top left 1 Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst 2 Photo by Karl Bewick on Unsplash 3 Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

These are compilation of few thoughts on lived experiences around shopping and body positivity. It appals me to see how internalized and normalized they are. We are at a dire need to become more inclusive. We need to start being vocal, to dismiss the narratives that is being passed around. Just like everything in the world, fashion industry is a product to cater to human experience. While to some these experiences are therapeutic, but there is an imminent need to become more inclusive.

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