We have a trip to Iceland – Reykjavik – planned for the end of February and since about October last year I have been slightly panicked by the need to have appropriate clothing for what could be really, really cold weather. I managed to buy a hat okay – and am now hoping it is freezing enough to wear it. But if not, no matter, I always have it in my wardrobe for that one day when the weather is biting on the Wirral.
But hats and gloves are one thing – I have plenty of both. Here is why. I can get them to fit. My hands might be on the large size and along with my head and feet come in a size greater than the 7 but I can get stuff to fit – at TK’s and other high-street stores.
However I can’t prance about in sub-zero temperatures in some good boots and furry hat combo, brandishing my cashmere wrist warmers against the elements like a demented female King Lear. I need trousers and I need tops. I did need a coat but thankfully a trip to the States gave me an opportunity to sort that out.
I know that brands like Columbia do ‘plus size’ clothing – I’ve seen it when shopping in America. I also can see it when I look at their website. But can I find it when I select UK and go shopping? Apologies – there is one pair of trousers. So no tops, no coats, nothing. What is a fat girl to do?
Don’t tell me to lose weight – that isn’t going to happen any time soon and anyway I now know that restricted diets over the years have got me to where I am now – fatter than before. So no, losing weight is not an option.
It just doesn’t seem fair to me that despite the desire to be active and participate in life I am thwarted by not being able to get the clothing to do it in. I have been going to yoga classes for several years now and whilst I know it should not be an issue, I used to feel an outsider because I didn’t wear recognisable yoga gear. Thank goodness for those holidays in America and the opportunity to shop – again I found some ‘cute’ (as the Yanks say) leggings – my favourite pair are patterned with colourful palm trees – and a couple of sport tops in lightweight material. After much research I now know that there are some options for active wear available from the online secret shopping society – unfortunately there is a tendency towards black and although it suits me I prefer a splash of colour.
Then it came to Iceland. Where could I find a pair of outdoor pants that would be up to the rigours of Reykjavik – waterproof, padded/lined – that fitted me? I searched and even ordered a few items from online stores, eventually buying a pair from Lands End.
What an effort though. And it seems odd that it has to be so. We are supposedly in the middle of an obesity epidemic and all us fat people are being exhorted to exercise. Yet we are not being offered the full range of clothing in which to do it. Some capitalist somewhere is missing a trick.
This lack of ‘plus size’ outdoor gear, yoga tops, cycling gillets and other sport-appropriate wear is perhaps a contributing factor to why some of us give up on public displays of activity. Not having the appropriate gear is yet another way in which I feel excluded and pushed to the periphery, whilst managing to stick out like a sore thumb. Not pleasant – When does the schoolyard get left behind?
Not being able to find a pair of walking pants is not the end of the world – it doesn’t stop me from walking – but it stops me from being recognised as a someone who takes the activity seriously. All the reasons a thin walker might want a pair of lightweight pants with inbuilt mosquito repellant apply equally to me. Ditto comfortable yoga pants, ditto a moisture-wicking sports vest.
In the meantime T-shirt and leggings it is.