Back to school clothes shopping as a plus-size teen back in the day…. yikes
Forever21 Plus asked me to create a back to school look and holy shit was I triggered thinking about how hard back to school shopping used to be for me as a kid and teenager.
I can’t sugar coat this shit because sugar coated shit is still just shit: back to school shopping was the W O R S T as a fat kid. so desperately wanting to wear the latest trend and you’re either too big for it you’re just on the cusp of not fitting into the clothes. The former brings on sadness and disappointment while the latter brings on fear and anxiety. My summers as a teen were filled with crash diets, long runs, and binge eating to try and “fit in” for back to school. Things like not being able to fit into low-rise flare jeans bruised my ego and left actual dents in my fat FOR YEARS from wearing low-rise jeans that didn’t fit. I just wanted to fit in.
But alas there were no thongs big enough for me at Charlotte Russe to stick out of my low rise jeans so I wasn’t doing a very good job at fitting in. Except for my Phat Farms, duh.
As a size 14 some years and a size 20 other years since I was the age of 14, I have been on the cusp of fitting in clothes and not being able to fit in. Damn, though, even finding cute size 14 things were not easy. My options were Lane Bryant, Torrid, Ashley Stewart, or wearing clothes that didn’t fit. I usually went with the last option and did so at Delias. If you’re looking for some fresh Delias looks, I’m your girl.
By the time I was a Junior in high school, I was a size 16 and hella in denial. Cute affordable jeans that fit my long-ass legs and chunky tummy were nowhere to be found. So I wore shirts that covered the fact that my jeans wouldn’t zip all the way. Luckily, though, something amazing started happening… LEGGINGS!!!!! Leggings were catching on at the college and hipster scenes during this time. Luckily, I had an older sister in college and as an American Apparel enthusiast (at the time) I was hipster in training. I was one of the first binches to rock leggings at Vernon Hills High School. Like damn, leggings and a big ass shirt. Praise the lord I don’t have to try and find jeans anymore.
The aforementioned hipster training lead me to leather leggings pretty quickly and you better believe some weird looking denim print “denim” jeggings. I rocked that shit. Finally I wasn’t in pain trying to squeeze into jeans. All I had to do was find a big ole top and lil mami was out the door for school.
But then, damn, the shit talk started
“Like can she not find jeans?”
“LOL what are those?”
“Those leather leggings make her look like an actual whale”
“She’s just wearing those because she’s too fat to find jeans.”
“Oh my gawd, I can’t believe she’s wearing leggings because she’s too fat. She should just lose some weight”
I was too fat to find jeans I liked. These girls were right. Life as a fat teen trying on clothes, for me, was filled with hours spent crying in dressing rooms. I would grab my fat and look at all the clothes that didn’t fit then turn to the mirror and sob mouth, “what’s wrong with me?” So I’d go home and binge and crash diet the next few weeks. Everyone always encouraged the dieting. How sweet! Sometimes I wish I could go back and hug teenage me and let her know there’s nothing wrong with her and a plus-size fashion revolution is soon.
17 year old me already knew. Despite the shit talking I kept on wearing my leather leggings and jeggings. I rocked outfits I would still wear! I kept on doing me with weirdly long tanks tops and leggings (okay, maybe wouldn’t wear this). It eventually caught on and now everyone wears leggings, even dudes. Thank the fat gods that there are wayyyyyyyyy more options out there for plus-size people who need to back to school shop. I can’t imagine being able to get the greatest and the latest trends right at the mall or online as a size 16 in high school, but I’m so happy that my beautiful teenage chunkies are able to now.
I know it’s still tough for plus-size teenagers. Even with more of a clothing selection, it’s still not enough. We need to be more inclusive of larger sizes. We have so far to go.
If you know kids or teenagers then the way you talk about your body in front of them is incredibly important. Let them know it’s okay to be themselves by living your boldest life. I wish I had more people like that around me growing up. Between plus-size people getting more visibility and the increasing number of plus-size clothing brands, the future could be so bright. The future could be full of people who are happy at every size. It just comes down to us learning to accept ourselves and others and showing that acceptance to younger generations.
For this Forever 21 Plus back to school look I thought I would reclaim a little bit of 17 year old Maddie’s bruised ego by rocking some leather leggings and a big top. I’m one fine-ass killer whale in these (p)leather leggings.
What I’m Wearing For A Plus Size Back To School Outfit :
Plus size faux leather leggings Forever21 Plus
Tie dye top (similar) Forever21 Plus