We’ve had some good times, you and me. But now it’s time to have “the talk.”
You knew it was coming.
While slowly dropping sizes and needing to purchase a new wardrobe every 3-6 months, you’ve been there for me with your trendy clothes and your reasonable prices.
But, my dearest, H&M, we are through.
I’ll cherish the good times. Remember those gray tie front flare leg pants? Swoon. And that pink cardigan with gray buttons? I cuddled with it when no one was looking.
I learned how to have boundaries in my relationship with you, H&M. After all, no thirty-something needs to don a neon pink paper-thin tee saying “Press Here.”
But there was that one set of racks….you know the ones I mean. Downstairs, between the “I want to look like Bieber” section and the “I wear 27 messy layers to make it look like I’m not trying” racks.
Yes, our love bloomed in the “I am a professional but don’t want to look old” corner.
Through my hours spent with you, I learned that even normal-sized people have to try on lots and lots (and LOTS) of outfits before finding one that looks right, feels right, and fits right. See when you are obese, you don’t get to have a style. You just have to wear what ever fits you at the one store (Hi Lane Bryant! Hope you are well!) that carries what you need. You taught me how to have standards, H&M.
But despite the flare leg jeans that hugged me just right and the impossibly cheap camis, there’s been a growing rift between us.
It started during my last visit. I was in our special place, perusing the work wear, when I found a beautiful blouse. It was love at first sight; I wanted one in each of the four colors. As I looked at the tags, though, I was dismayed. There was no XL in the white. No XL in the chardonnay. Or the bird’s egg or the chartreuse.
I asked the salesperson if there were any additional sizes in the back. She answered flatly, “No, what we have out is what we’ve got.”
“If I need another size, can I order it at the cashier?” I asked sweetly.
<pregnant pause as frustration mounts>
“How would you recommend I get the size I need, then?”
<dramatic sigh and eye roll to match> “What size are you looking for, ma’am?”
Here comes my favorite part. Wait for it…. waaaaaaiiiiitttt for it….
“Oh, you’d be lucky to find an XL in anything in our store. We don’t carry plus sizes.”
Let’s pause here so I can just tell you that I’ve lost over 80 pounds in the last year and a half. And while I definitely started in plus sizes, I now proudly wear a size 12. On a good day, I can comfortably wear my size 10 jeans. In many stores, I wear a Large-sized top. But with YOU, dear H&M, it’s different. You tend to cut your clothes smaller.
To say that I am plus sized for not fitting into YOUR large is a deal breaker. And to tell me I’d be lucky to find something that fits, considering I wear the same size as the average American woman, well that’s just insulting.
Try harder, H&M.
I could forgive you for one lapse in judgment. One bad day. But I’m no punching bag; I wrote a strongly worded letter to your corporate office, detailing my disappointment. I left my full name. My phone number. My email. I was hopeful you’d make things right; I thought we could work things out, you and me.
But you didn’t call or write, H&M.
It’s ironic, really. Those very boundaries you taught me about not settling for a cardigan a shade too pink, or a pair of jeans 1/2 inch too long; those very lessons I learned about taste and style among your racks, are the very reasons that we are through.
Because I am the one with standards now, H&M.
Today, I am a normal-sized person. It’s taken me a long, long time to be able to write that sentence and believe it. And as a normal sized person, I don’t have to feel lucky when a mainstream store carries my size.
In fact it is you, H&M, who are lucky. As a normal-sized woman, I now have a vast spectrum of options when it comes to clothes shopping. Literally hundreds of stores compete for my time and attention and dollars on a daily basis.
I am wanted.
And for the last year, I have invested a lot of that time and many of those dollars with you. But in addition to a few cute outfits I also got a healthy dose of public shame. And you know what? That’s not good enough for the new me.
I may have to try on lots and lots (and LOTS) of new stores to find one that fits me. I may have to sift through many nearly right and almost perfect outfits to find one that reflects my style.
But I will.
We are through, H&M. I will miss you, particularly your accessory wall. But from now on I will only spend my time and money in stores that feel lucky to have me there.
Because I’m worth it. And nothing looks as stylish as dignity.
UPDATE: I received a formal apology and a request for details about the offending employee from H&M Customer Service. I responded to their letter here.
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