Sunday, June 10, 2012

Availability of Sizes

I've been thinking a lot about something that has bothered me.

Victoria's Secret stopped selling size XL panties in their stores awhile ago. Briefs are the only kind that are available in an XL in stores. When I saw this, I thought: "well, that sucks..." but I figured I'd just order online if it was really a problem. Instead, I think I've decided to just not shop there. I am not sure if I am being silly about it.

I thought maybe the size just wasn't selling. I don't think that's the case though. I mean they're still selling one style of panties in their stores for those who wear XL. It is the style that covers the most and comes in the least amount of colors/fabrics.

I know it's often the case that a store won't cater to certain sizes. Usually larger sizes but not limited to them. I would imagine finding very small sizes may be difficult as well. I can't speak to that myself because I have never dealt with that. But I've seen some of my friends struggle with finding something that fit them and ultimately having to resort to the children's section.

What messages do we get from this? For me, I'm seeing:
If you're a larger woman then you need to cover your body as much as possible or just shop online and don't come in our stores.

If you are a very small woman then your body isn't that of a woman. You're like a child so go to that section.

I realize I am using the noun "woman". I am not doing this to say that men or those who choose neither noun do not face issues when it comes to sizes. However, I've only ever had experience as a woman and in stores that cater to what a women is perceived to be.

Both of these messages suck, to be quite honest. Maybe some women prefer shopping online so it won't be a problem. But what if they don't? What if they can't find and/or afford stores that cater to their size? And not everyone is capable of making their own clothing. So they're left with trying to fit in what is available. Ultimately they are given the above messages. Their bodies aren't normal so their bodies won't be represented or catered too.

It's obvious how detrimental this message can be. Not everyone is able to say "society is fucked up, not me and my body".

I usually like to end my posts with something positive. I don't like complaining and not offering a solution. But quite honestly I don't know the solution. The most helpful thing I've found is to have and promote a body positive attitude for all body types. That includes not catering to campaigns that say something like "real woman have curves". I'm also always on the search for stores that sell a larger variety of sizes and when I find some I tell others about them.

Those things probably seem small but if the majority of the messages we receive are not body positive then I think any small thing to counter that is important and worth while.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Identity and Abuse

Over a year later and I still find myself thinking about the ways in which I was abused. With time I've realized it wasn't just my ex who was abusive but also people in my family. The way my father and one of my brothers treated me, I thought that was just the way my family operated. My mother accepted it and I learned to as well.

Through work with wonderful people I've come to identify as a survivor and not a victim. I don't cry as much as I used to. And I don't blame myself anymore.

I used to think about all the things I lost. These things were never tangible. I can't measure the amount of trust I lost in people. I was never able to show people the ways in which I felt like I was crazy. Feeling incapable of being in a relationship and a worthy partner was something I had to deal with alone because no one else saw it.

As much as I've lost, I've been able to notice the things I've gained as well. This wasn't something immediate nor was it easy. Everything I feel I've gained took a lot of tears and time. Again, these are not  physical things but I notice them daily.

I'm a lot stronger than I've given myself credit for in the past. I'm a person capable of so much. I can love and be loved. And deserve it.

Even though I am at a place where I notice these things I still let myself feel whatever I want. I mean that sometimes I will feel depressed, angry, or hopeless. It's OK. There are no rules or timeline.

Getting rid of the idea that I'm "supposed to be over it" has been the best thing I've done for myself. I'm able to tell people:

  • No, I didn't ask for it.
  • No, I don't seek out dramatic relationships.
  • SM isn't abuse.
  • I stayed for a lot of reasons, not because I wanted to be abused.
  • It's not always easy to leave. 
  • I can still cry or yell about it if I want to.

I know that I can be abused again. As bleak as this sounds I think it's very important to realize. Sometimes it seems as though someone who is abused in multiple relationships is shamed. Being abused once doesn't give anyone special knowledge to avoid it in the future.

Above I said I identify as a survivor. That is my personal choice. I don't think anyone who is/was abused has to use that term. For some, "victim" may feel more appropriate. Some people choose neither which is fine as well.

Telling someone who is/was abused how they should identify seems harmful when so much might have already been taken away from them.