I’m 6′ 3″ and I’ve always been pretty tall, with a really big bone structure, and overweight. I don’t remember how old I was when my mom would take me shopping for clothes and we had to start shopping in the Men’s department instead of the Boy’s department, but I was fairly young and I was sorta humiliated by it. I was embarrassed that my waist size was so big that I had to wear men’s pants. When we went shopping I’d hope that none of my friends would see me shopping in the men’s department.
I think I was about 10 or 11. I can remember when I was in sixth grade, they sent us down to the nurse’s office to get weighed in groups of five. I assume they were weighing us so if we got kidnapped, they’d have an accurate description for police. Of course, I was bigger than all the kidnappers back in those days, no one was ever going to kidnap me! Anyway, I remember that day in the nurse’s office I was so paranoid and anxious that the four kids in my group would find out how much I weigh. I remember lucking out and feeling very relieved when it turned out I was the 5th person to get weighed and the other four had already left to go back to the classroom. Relieved, because I’d weighed in at 180 pounds…and no one but the nurse and I would ever have to know.
A few years later, at some point when I was a teenager, I’d outgrown the clothes in the Men’s department. Back in those days (1980’s), finding a pair of pants larger than 36″ was a project, you had to hope that a department store had a big-n-tall section, and not many of them near me did. Sometimes all you could find in the big-n-tall section was “old man” clothes. I’m talking the kind of clothes your grandpa would wear to play golf with his oxygen tank on. Eventually my mother discovered the “Casual Male: Big And Tall” chain (now called “Casual Male XL”) and, well, as a teenager shopping this was even MORE humiliating, but thankfully I was never going to run into ANY of my friends there. I remember when the manager of the store in Tyngsboro, MA asked me to model their clothes at regional fashion shows around New England. My mother really wanted me to do it. I was so mortified at the thought that someone would find out, I begged my mother to drop it.
I remember when I was in high school, a new mall (the second largest mall in New England) opened in my hometown, and everyone was pretty excited about it. I remember some of my friends would get together to go get back-to-school clothes and I remember that I wouldn’t go with them because I knew nothing in any of the stores would fit me. It made me feel like a freak. It still makes me feel like a freak when I’m out with friends and they say “mind if I step into this store for a second and look around?” I end up walking into a store where NOTHING will fit me, so I just walk around and pretend like I’m interested in the clothing.
I’ve pretty much been shopping ONLY at the “Casual Male” chain for over twenty years now. Do I love the clothes? Not really, but companies who make clothing for the big-n-tall marketing segment usually “get it” and they make stuff that doesn’t call attention to your body (dark colors, no thin horizontal stripes) and it’s been getting me by for years. Their clothes there aren’t too conservative and old-man-like, and they don’t look super cheap, either. And I can still get some brand names like Ralph Lauren and Levi’s. No one ever compliments me on my clothing and no one ever makes fun of it, so…I guess that’s good.
As I lose weight, I realize I am rather quickly inching toward the “normal” size men’s market. I’m only a few months away from being able to shop in a “normal” men’s store. We can only partially thank my weight loss for this. Additionally, we can “thank” the fact that the world is getting bigger; it seems to me that 44″ and 46″ are the new 36″. I was only aware of this recently. Surprise, the world has been catching up to me! And now I’m going to pass the world on my way down. 🙂
I think ahead to when I reach my final size and I no longer need to shop conservatively for “transitional” clothing like I am doing now. I won’t even know what to do with myself when I’m actually able to walk into any clothing store and buy pretty much anything. I won’t even know where to shop. I may have to get a fashion consultant or a personal shopper. Seriously, I’m overwhelmed by the thought. The choices will be overwhelming for the guy who usually just goes to the same website and uses the “Shop By Size” function to see what little clothing will fit, and then pick the least obnoxious stuff that won’t call attention to my curves.
Time to buy lottery tickets. I suspect my new clothing hobby is going to be expensive.