As I chose my outfit for Wednesday's Today Show appearance, I found myself debating between two pairs of black pants. One of them, from New York & Co., are a Size 6 Tall. The others, from old school Le Château, are a Size 12. Both fit like a dream. And at the risk of sounding shallow, guess which ones make me feel better about myself?
Vanity sizing is desperate to massage our bruised body image with smaller numbers, while industry-wide sizing discrepancies leave us baffled as to what size we even wear. Am I plus-sized because I need an extra large bikini bottom from Target? (True story.) Am I petite because I comfortably fit into a small at Ann Taylor Loft? (Also true.)
The reason I was even in my closet? Yesterday morning, I was on the Today Showhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcuIuP2azeg&feature=youtube_gdata_player alongside Tina Knowles, Beyonce's mom and personal fashion designer. "Miss Tina" has just announced an eponymous new clothing line at Walmart, available in size 0 to 20. As a fuller-figured woman herself, Miss Tina says she was attracted to Walmart's openness to offering extended sizes. "That was really important to me because the average woman in America is not a 4 or 6," she told Glamour. "I had a lot of frustration finding clothes that fit me up top. Sometimes I'd get a 12 and it wouldn't fit up top, so the line was really borne from a frustration about me not being able to find things that fit."
You don't have to be like the comic strip character Cathy to know that shopping for clothing can be a trying experience, no matter what your body type. Whether you're tall and have had lifelong issues finding pants that don't resemble capris, or your chest has rendered button-down shirts off-limits, a trip to the mall can not only be incredibly frustrating, but quite defeating when nothing seems to fit. For many curvier or plus-sized women, it's like this 24/7. These women are often forced to hunt around for stores mainstream stores that carry their sizes, or must stick to plus-size stores that might not carry trendier or sexier styles.
The result: Instead of getting some retail therapy, they need therapy after a trip to the mall. A 2009 study in the journal Body Imagehttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/6497533/Only-thin-women-enjoy-shopping-claims-study.html bore this out: Psychologists found that when it came to shopping, thin women enjoyed high levels of clothing satisfaction, while bigger women with less body satisfaction enjoyed shopping less. The reasons: Clothes don't fit their bodies or their style, not to mention the horrid dressing room lights and funhouse mirrors. (We hardly needed a study to tell us this, but it's validating nonetheless.)
That's where Knowles comes in. She's especially excited for the opportunity to offer bigger girls a chance to be sexy and in style. "I've heard complaints from women all over the country that plus size clothes aren't sexy enough. You know, I'm a grandma but I don't want to look like a grandma! I want to feel confident and sexy in the clothes. I like my stuff tapered and well-fitted, not all boxy."
Of course, the highlight of the segment was when Beyonce surprised everyone on set, magically appearing as one of the "models" in the fashion show. Clad in a black, long-sleeved, body-conscious Miss Tina dress, the megastar wowed everyone with her unbelievable curves. "She believes that everyone deserves to look fabulous," Beyonce said of her mom's fashions.
Check out some of the pieces in Miss Tina's collection.
Some other fabulous lines for plus-size women:
Cj by Cookie Johnson, the premium denim line from Magic's wife, which debuted last year and was on Oprah as the first jean line to really embrace women's curves.
Svoboda Jeans specialize in hard to fit women with curves including: Jeans for muscular women, jeans for curvy women and jeans for plus-size women.