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Confessions of a Rack Queen

The plus-size topic is personal to me. It hits home on many levels, stirring up strong emotions.
    I am one of those so-called in-between sizes: six feet tall, 165 pounds and athletically build yet lean – typically a mainstream size 10. My bone structure alone means a designer size six will never look natural on me, yet true plus-sizes are too big. Researching this issue’s feature story, A Real Plus (pg. 64), I learned that I am referred to as a “rack queen” – a woman who wears size 8-12 and is expected to just buy clothing, even though her size is rarely, if ever, represented in ad campaigns.
    As a result of never being labeled “just right” by pretty much anyone, I grew up majorly self-conscious about my size. This was a contributing factor to the eating disorder I suffered as a teen, which saw my weight dip dangerously low and rebound unnaturally high before finally resettling at my original 165. Although the eating disorder itself was extremely unhealthy, it did give me the chance to experience life on both ends of the weight spectrum, which broadened my perspective. I was shocked to see how differently thin vs overweight girls were treated by many. Even though today I consider my weight to be ideal for my frame, my past experiences are the reason I cannot stand when people talk about my appearance. For the longest time, I also had an unusual obsession with wearing size medium, regardless of how it fit. It was a mental game, yes, but I did not like the connotation of large or small. Medium implied I was balanced, just right.
    Had I walked into your store, you never would’ve known about these body image demons dancing quietly in my head. You may’ve looked at me and assumed I had all the confidence in the world, and you likely wouldn’t have thought twice about commenting on my size, shape or figure. You may’ve even thought you were being nice by complimenting me. What you didn’t realize was that these seemingly innocent comments triggered feelings so strong and unpleasant they usually caused me to walk right out of a store.
    Why am I sharing this? Because I think it’s important to keep in mind that while this issue discusses plus-size bridal specifically, size-consciousness extends to women of all shapes and sizes. You should never make assumptions about your customers, regardless of size. We’re all individuals coming from very different backgrounds that shape how we view ourselves – and how we respond to stylists’ comments.
    The plus-size market has exploded in popularity lately, which is an extremely positive thing. I love the fact companies are trending toward showcasing real women and bodies in their ad campaigns; this reinforces an inclusive message of “you’re good enough the way you are!”
    In my opinion, this is a long time coming and one of the best changes that could’ve occurred not only to the fashion world but society in general. I celebrate the fact it’s here to stay!

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