Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Forgotten Size

Let me get the obvious out of the way right off the bat: Americans are getting larger. The obesity epidemic is all over the news, the average shoe size for women is growing, and there are a lot of people doing important work in helping girls realize that all sizes can be beautiful and there is no one-size-fits-all in fashion OR in bodies themselves. I firmly agree, anyone can be beautiful and there is a point where you have to accept your body type. Everyone should try to be healthy and that means something completely different for different people.

However, there is a group of people who have been completely forgotten because of these trends. There are still a LOT of naturally small women, petite in every way, who are getting a little bit abused by the American fashion industry.

I'm 5'0" and hover around 95 lbs. My BMI is in the normal range and my doctors have always told me 95-97 is my ideal weight range because my frame is tiny. There was a time when I could walk into stores and fit pretty well into an off-the-rack size 4 (3 or 5 in juniors, depending on the cut), unfortunately, that was 20 years ago when I stopped growing at the age of 12. In vintage clothes I'm usually about a 6. In today's clothing I'm lucky to find a 0 or even 00 that doesn't just hang on me.

Add in the petite aspect and my choices are very limited. Even petite clothes are made for women taller than me, without a good tailor I wouldn't be able to wear anything. Only a few brands seem to grasp that petite women are shorter in every dimension, not just height. NO ONE makes jewelry that fits, especially bracelets. Children's clothes don't work with curves, of which I have plenty, and who wants to dress or accessorize like a child in her 30s?

I've been searching the web since it was unleashed upon the world and have found plenty of the standard fashion advice for petite women, but no one actually discussing it on forums or blogs. There are lots of resources for every other size but very little in the way of camaraderie for the vertically challenged. If I'm wrong, and you know of one, please let me know in the comments, but if I'm right - well, hopefully this one will become a chance for those of us in the forgotten size bracket to help each other out!

I'm not a fashion maven or even the sort to peruse a fashion magazine (outside of a waiting room, at least), I just want to be able to wear clothes that fit and make me feel good. I also don't want to limit discussion to clothing or accessories, because there are so many more challenges involved in being very short in an increasingly large person's world. Just like any other group, we cope and could use some support, but sometimes it feels like everyone else thinks we have no right to be upset when we're discriminated against just because our battles are so opposite of others.

This country, and this world, includes all sorts of shapes and sizes. We all deserve a voice.