A few years ago we would never have seen a plus-sized model like Tess Holliday on the cover of a glossy magazine like Cosmopolitan UK and we certainly wouldn’t have seen local beauties like Yoliswa, Thick Leeyonce and Charnelle Paulse becoming recognisable stars in their own right.

Even so, as a society we have a way to go before we really see the results of the revolution around spreading acceptance and love for all body types.

And one fashion blogger based in the U.S. is ready to continue the movement. 

According to Refinery29, model Katie Sturino who owns style brand, The 12ish Style is a firm believer that any size could look sophisticated, fun and chic on any body type. 

Frustrated with the fact that fashion brands are still not as accommodating as they could be, she recently posted some photos demonstrating just how hard it is to find clothes for her body type.


She also posted a poll asking her followers for their feedback on how they feel about finding decent clothes, and it turns out that not only do they feel the same, but they're tired of frumpy, ugly clothes.

In response to this, she posted a challenge, along with the #MakeMySize hashtag, asking readers to ask fashion brands to create clothes in sizes that go beyond size 12. 

Encouragingly, she revealed to Refinery29 that there have been some incredible responses from brands. The key in this movement, is, of course, not only to get the conversation going but also to inspire people to take action and see that the default size isn’t model-thin.

She’s not the only one who's an active part of this conversation.   

READ MORE: I'm a fat girl and used to hate being in family photographs

Marciel Hopkins, former Miss SA contestant and now active body positive influencer and curvy model recently posted this image on Instagram, which really resonated with us. 

READ MORE: “I lost 14kgs in 4 months to enter Miss SA” - local curvy model 

A size 14 jeans didn't fit her size 14 bottom. Which is why she says: "Ladies, please don't let this issue get you down! I've been a natural size 14 since the age of 16 and it hasn't changed ever since - only during my Miss SA year when I deliberately lost weight.

"My bum measurement hasn't changed, as I get measured every month... And STILL I can't fit into the normal size 14 of a massive mainstream clothing store!? This is demotivating and demoralising to ALL women; even more so if you struggle with low self esteem and body confidence.

"But please, please remember: Your size does NOT determine your value as a person. You are not more or less worthy for wearing a smaller jean size than the woman standing next to you in line. I know this is a big mind shift to make, but it really doesn't matter if you wear a 12/14/16 size jeans, as long as you feel good and comfortable in them! So screw the sizes that play mind games with us ?? You are MORE than worthy and valuable, no matter your shape or size!"

Why aren't clothing sizes standardised? 

Business Insider recently ran a story on how sizing is not standard in SA stores and can be quite confusing for the customer.

In it, they compared all the different sizes in popular retailers in the country. There's a massive difference across stores and it's confusing and frustrating. A medium in one store can be a XXL in another.

Our retail industry has some 'splaining to do.

"This inevitably means that most women are two different sizes for tops and bottoms, and that finding a dress or suit that fits perfectly is a challenge," says Business Insider South Africa editor Helena Wasserman. I've found that to be quite true and I'm not the only one.

I wanted to write something about how I often struggle to find clothes, especially as a big girl, but then our fashion and beauty editor, Marisa, suggested I try a fashion challenge where I would actually try to find on trend items in my size, and see how it goes. 

This seemed like a great idea and more practical and helpful to everyone, I thought.

I tried six physical stores and one online. I went for either clothes in my size (16/40) or a size bigger (18/42) just to give a little bit of leeway in terms of sizing. 

READ MORE: I changed 3 bad habits after following these body positive bloggers

Also I tried to find things that were fashionable and affordable. These two qualities did not always pair up. I found that a lot of plus size clothing is more expensive, especially if it’s pretty. The cheaper options usually look quite plain or are just unappealing for my needs.

So what did I find? 

Online

I tried these four items:

This jacket/pants combo looked so great on the model and I saw that there was a size 42 for both, so I went ahead and ordered it excitedly. 

It was such a disappointment. Neither the jacket nor the pants fit at all. I looked like a scarecrow with my arms at weird angles trying not to get the jacket to rip and attempting to get the pants on was like trying to force sausage into a casing. 

READ MORE: 'Plus size' models who were shamed for losing weight

This velvet bodysuit looked promising and I was keen to try it on. It would have gone great with the suit too. I went with a XXL as that’s what the model in the images was wearing and I thought we looked around the same size. I was wrong. It went about halfway up my chest and did not go any further. 

Image: Spree

But there was hope! This beautiful dress from Spree fit me great and it was a size 40. Here’s a picture. Cute, ne?

Image: Carmen Williams

In store

So I tried a few 'high street' stores to see if I would be successful there. I haven't been lucky about finding anything in my size in the past, tbh, but I tried anyway.

STORE 1:

At the first shop - a very popular international retailer, I tried on a check jacket in what was called a size 42, but it looked very small to me. My arms didn’t even fit in it (don’t even talk about the rest of me). I also tried the pants to go with it. It was not pleasant.

Next was a pretty, fitted white shirt again in a 42, but my large hands couldn’t even fit through the cuffs.

Then I tried an orange lace dress in a 42. It hardly went up my hips. 

Oh, and btw, it’s R20 more expensive once you go past a size 40.

So, a little crestfallen I moved on to the next store. A South African retailer.

READ MORE: “I lost 14kgs in 4 months to enter Miss SA” - local curvy model

STORE 2:

Firstly, I walked around and noticed that everything seemed small. It was like that scene in Alice in Wonderland where she drinks the potion and she becomes very large and the door she needs to get through becomes tiny. I looked at quite a few things and wondered how on earth tiny tank tops could be a XXL when they looked so very small.

So I picked out a gingham pinafore below. It was cute and trendy. But when I picked up the size 16, I just knew it wasn’t going to fit me. It looked more like a size 12. But I was on a challenge here, so I went with it. 

I paired it with a bodysuit in a XXL. Both did not fit me. 

I have a picture where I’ve got the bodysuit on and the pinafore is just barely halfway up my legs, but I won’t be sharing it here for fear of horrible embarrassment. It’s not a great look. 

Then there was the check blazer below in a size 42. It was the only thing that fit me, and it didn't fit great. Oh, and btw, it’s R20 more expensive once you go past a size 40. 

Image: Carmen Williams

I was very unhappy after leaving the changing room. But I still had more shopping to do. So off to the next store I went.

READ MORE: 5 bloggers who teach us the importance of self-love

STORE 3:

I was not in a good mood at this point and was fearing the worst. But I looked around the store for about five minutes and saw quite a few trendy things but nothing in my size so I turned around and left. 

Then I went and bought some slap chips and ate my feelings. 

I was so disappointed and upset that there were so few clothing choices in my size and I felt like I was some sort of huge monster that didn’t deserve nice, moderately priced clothes.

But then I decided to try some more shops another day and things went a wee bit better. 

I went into one particular store with a bit more hope since I know the sizes are usually better.

STORE 4:

I tried on four items. 

This gingham shift dress in a size 16. it looks okay in the picture, but it was really tight across my arms and chest. I actually struggled to get back out of it. I had a slight panic picturing having to call the attendant and have her cut me out of it. Luckily, I managed to get out. Eventually. 

Image: Carmen Williams

Then I tried on the jersey below in an XL and pants in a 16 as well and they both fit! They look pretty cute, huh? 

Image: Carmen Williams

I was buoyed up by these results, which made me feel a little more confident to face the next store.

STORE 5:

I was surprised to find that they actually stocked size 42 in some things since I'd tried buying there in previous years and could never find anything nice in my size.

But I found this cute skirt, velour top and dress and a fluffy, sparkly jersey. The skirt was a size 40, while the top and dress were both 42 and the jersey was an XXL. The skirt fit, but I didn't like the way it looked on me and I felt like I was suffocating in the velour top. The dress fit, but I didn't like the way it looked on me and the jersey also just barely fit. See for yourself.

Image: Carmen Williams

Image: Carmen Williams

Image: Carmen Williams

So I moved on to the final store. While the last two had given me a mixed bag of results, I was still hopeful that this one would be better. I wasn't completely wrong. 

STORE 6: 

I tried this floral bodysuit in a size 18, a grey skirt with buton detail in a size 16, a green jacket in 18 and a wool dress also in 18. The skirt and the dress fit great, but the bodysuit didn't fit all the way down and the jacket was a bit tight. 

Image: Carmen Williams

Image: Carmen Williams
Image: Carmen Williams


So it looks like it's a bit of a hit and miss with clothing sizes and especially clothing for bigger women in SA stores.

I asked my Twitter fam how they felt about it and I found that I wasn’t alone

We have women actually crying in changing rooms. Women who feel negatively about their bodies because they can't even find a nice top to cover them. Women who want to love the skin they're in and want to go out and take on the world, but they can't because they lack the confidence to do so because they cannot find clothes that suit them and make them feel happy. 

But it's not just the bigger girls who are unhappy:

Although there are some people who manage to find clothes few and far between: 

I also asked for some positive experiences:

But this is still a problem. 

Why is the clothing industry so determined to make us feel guilty for having average bodies? Or for being fat? Sometimes I joke with my colleagues that I don't go into certain stores because all that will fit me are the earrings, but it looks like my little joke isn't that far off. 

Do you struggle to find clothing? Are you shocked by the sizing differences in stores? Or have you had positive experiences in store? Tell us about it

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