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POSITIVELY CURVY
by miki hickel


This is the first time in my life that I've had a friend to shop for clothes with. It's a great new experience for me, it's something I've always wanted and it's was probably the one thing that kept my teenage years from being pretty typical. When other girls were giggling together in dressing rooms trying on dozens of prom dresses my mother and I were searching plus sized specialty stores for a dress that didn't make me look like and old lady on her way to church. I've never hated shopping, but it's not the same when I have just my mother with me...the lady who used to dress me up in ruffles, gloves and squeaky patent leather mary janes (when she could catch me).

She sees me in a different light than my friends do. In that light I look good in most things and I love my mother for that, but it's not quite the same as exploring my secret desire to be a massive consumer of clothing with someone who has the same guilty pleasure. I don't blame my mom for hating the shopping thing though. I remember her frustration with never being able to find anything nice in her size back in the 80s. I've also heard the stories about how hard it was to find maternity clothes for bigger women and how that made her feel like the world didn't think fat women would ever have sex so why bother making stuff that fit? It's nice to explore the options with her, but sometimes I think when she's not finding things that fit right she goes back to feeling as horrible and unworthy of anything nice as she did back then. She's great at figuring out how to hang big pants back up on those smaller clippy hanger things and since I seem to be deficient at working those clippy hanger things (I'm not ashamed to admit it's like fitting a parka under a bikini to me), she's a huge help.

Before, shopping with my friends was always a little awkward. My whole life, my friends have been skinny. Actually, my best friends in high school were three skinny, beautiful, creamy skinned, bright blue-eyed brunettes. Three of them. All with great breasts and lots of boy attention. I always felt as if I stuck out like a sore thumb with my reddish blonde hair, freckles, and ability to befriend any boy (whether I wanted it that way or not). It didn't help that I was also probably twice their size. We managed to get through. We only shopped for safe things like accessories, movies, CDs. When we ended up around the clothes I would spend the whole time browsing for things they could try on so it would look like I had a reason to be in the Gap (other than to play the Gap game). I'd search through racks just for something to do in hopes of feeling less out of place. That usually worked until I was asked if I needed any help. For some reason, when I was younger, that always made me feel like they were asking why I was even daring to set foot in the store. Now when people ask if I need any help I realize that it's because that's their job. Only a few people mean it with that snide undertone that says, "Umm, sweetie, we won't have anything in YOUR size."

Since I'm not forced to go into stores where pant legs wouldn't even fit my arm anymore the whole shopping thing isn't really an issue. Even my thin friends have to shop in a few sizes up these days, but I'm still shocked that I finally know someone who I could share clothes with if either of us were in a pinch.

 

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I'm sure both of us would rather see smaller numbers on the tags of the clothes we'd share, but at least I finally have someone to show the humor that is me trying to wear a button up shirt when my top is a size or two smaller than my bottom. It's even nice to have someone there to talk me into things that I really don't need just because it was kinda cute in the store and because she didn't wanna feel silly for getting the same thing that she didn't need but in blue. I feel like I've been missing out all these years. It's actually the first time that I haven't been ashamed to have someone other than my mother know my size.

I'm just surprised that it took me so long to realize that I'm the size I am and whether I'm this size forever or not...I need clothes for now. I have a right to wear things I feel comfortable in. I'm not going to make anyone like me any better by pretending that I'm not big and keeping all of the angst and inner drama to myself by insisting on shopping as if I'm trying to hide my shame. It's obvious that I'm a big girl. People will understand when I'm walking around in a mall carrying a bag from a plus sized store that I need clothes too. They may judge me for being fat, but it's not going to be any worse because I shop in a fat store. It's just logic. I don't get embarrassed walking around with a bag from a shoe store. I have feet...I need shoes. I have a big ass...I need some big jeans.

It takes little strides, everyday, to feel more and more comfortable with yourself no matter what all off those bigger than "normal" numbers keep rubbing in your face. Everyone's got some part of themselves they're not happy with and most people have had a pair of pants that, yes, make their butt look fat. Some people have just figured out a way to ignore what others think of them and their clothes. I'm not all the way there yet, but I think I can see it from here. Then, I'll start working on the being comfortable when naked and in front of people (a fear that I'd have at any size, but worsened by years of self and outside scrutiny). That's going to take some time, but like I said, it takes little steps and facing each little fear and hang-up one at a time. Until I'm ready to reveal the full Miki to people maybe I'll spend some time with those hangers...baby steps.

 

 

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about miki hickel

Miki is a freelance writer and artist. She has a BA from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA where she studied interdisciplinary media arts, marketing, public relations, gender studies and multicultural studies.

As far as her writing goes, she has always found it's the easiest way for her to get her point across without forgetting what she is talking about. She use to write an advice column under the name "Charisma Lacking" for the Evergreen Queer Alliance and one day she hopes to prove to all of her former teachers that "excessive talking-is disruptive" isn't always a bad thing. For more information on Miki and to view her artwork, photos and essays, log onto her website.

miki hickel

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