Wednesday 17 January 2018

I'm a size 14 and was told 'we don't carry that size' - was I being so unreasonable on this shopping trip?

Caitlin McBride pictured enjoying a #MoetMoment at the Moët & Chandon spring party hosted at Drury Buildings, in association with Brooke & Shoals. Photo: Anthony Woods
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

As far as shopping experiences go, it’s up there as one of my worst.

The number one spot is occupied by the time I got stuck in a top and had to wait 30 minutes for my friend to leave college in order to wrestle me out of it in the dressing room.

But hearing those seven words are a close second.

“We tend not to carry that size,” the salesperson replied when I asked for a size 14.

I was at a new store opening, so if they didn’t have the stock then, they were never going to have it. I asked for the next size up with three different styles because the 12 wasn’t cutting it (and I was only fooling myself).

Finally, after my third polite request, she told me as politely as she could that I would be lucky to find a size 14 anywhere in the shop.

This, coming from a little pixie of a woman wearing a smaller version of the dress I wanted to purchase, was like taking a knife to the heart. And she was blissfully ignorant over how offensive she was being.

Any woman who is, or ever has been, a size 14 knows you’ve got your work cut out for you during any shopping excursion.

High street stores are usually designed with one woman in mind. She’s not a supermodel, but she is long and lean. She’s about 5’8” and a size 10. She can wear crop tops, short shorts, peplum detail and high waisted jeans.

She can even tuck her shirt into her trousers.

This shopping experience has haunted me for months and at first, I was so embarrassed I hardly told anyone.

I’m in denial about having gained weight. It has slowly crept up over the years and when I shop, I still pick up the same styles I would have worn as a size 10, thinking those few extra sizes won’t make much of a difference.

It does.

So, now I shop in the tall section, not because I’m 5’8”, but because I know the new booty I’m packing means skirts come up a lot shorter.

I prefer to shop a size bigger because it gives me wiggle room. I can never even dream of shopping exclusively online because I’ve had to return too many items after realising it looks entirely different on me than it did the model.

I’ve even tried plus size ranges to see what they have to offer, but they mostly tend to be just bigger sizes of existing styles rather than ranges custom built for the middle sized woman.

That's what I am - a middle sized woman living in a middle sized world, shopping on an extra-small sized high street.

I don’t feel bad about my body. Like most women, I wish I was skinnier here and there, but I don’t put in enough physical effort to reap the rewards. I can't treat tortilla chips as an essential food group and then be surprised when I can't wear bodycon.

I’m not kick-starting a body confidence campaign, I’m just a girl standing in front of a dress asking it to fit me. 

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