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A Little Faith in Forever

February 12, 2010

Forever 21, the hub for all things teen and trendy, has a plus size section.  These kind of things always shock   me because God knows… I could have used something like this while I was growing up.  I stumbled across it one day when I was checking Forever 21 out on-line for hair accessories.  I was suspect to say the least.  Partly because they call it “extended sizes” as you see above and partly because their “regular” sizes look like they are meant to fit a 10 year old child so it would stand to reason that a store like Forever 21 would need “extended sizes” for the average size woman (which I am not and in case it’s not clear, I am more than average).

Given my suspicions, I didn’t buy anything on-line that day.  Plus, I assumed they would be like Old Navy’s Women’s Plus which requires you to pay for return shipping for all plus sized clothing even though there’s a store 5 minutes away from my house.  I also assumed that their Faith 21 Extended Sizes was only an on-line thing (again, like Old Navy).   Imagine my surprise when I walked into my local Forever 21 to buy some accessories and lo and behold there was a little section tucked in the back that says: Faith 21 Plus Sizes.

What?  Really?  Nice!  I was in a time crunch that day so I couldn’t check it out but I promised to come back and see what this Faith 21 was all about. Well, I did.

Faith 21 has it’s pros and cons.  Initially, I was so impressed that Forever 21 even had a plus sizes line.  I was then more impressed that they sold this line in the store.  But upon my return when I was actually shopping in the Faith 21 section, I realized just how small and cramped the section was.  This store is massive and the plus sizes section was tucked away in the back and could not have been smaller if they tried.  There were a few of us rotund ladies shopping at the same time and as you can imagine, it was difficult working around one another.  More because of the limited space and less because of our fat asses.

I’m smaller on top than on bottom and I knew from jump that none of their pants/bottoms were going to fit me, but I held out hope for their tops.  I only tried on two because I was looking for something pretty specific and they both fit so that was a plus.

As much as I’m glad this store exists and wish it had existed for me when I was younger, I honestly don’t think I could have shopped there as a teenager or young adult out of mere mortification.  In this store as a fat girl, you are relegated to this tiny section of the store (next to the dressing area) with a big ass sign that says “plus sizes”.  All of a sudden, I was longing for their “extended sizes” phrase on their website.

This feeling was amplified when I went to the open dressing area to try on my two tops.  I am a grown ass woman and felt overly self conscious about holding my two items and going into one of the dressing stalls.   I felt like everyone around me was looking (they weren’t) and wondering what the hell does she think she’s doing (again, they weren’t).  I reminded myself that I’m a grown ass woman and should not be self conscious around stick figure teenagers.  I then proceeded to go about my business after my little self talk.

All in all, a good experience because shit, at least Forever 21 is trying to dress the not so skinny girl.  And giving those pudgy young ladies an opportunity to fit in.

You see, Forever 21 is the kind of store that always makes a fat girl feel different.  Because most women in their 20s own something from these kind of stores because they have trendy clothes and most importantly, cheap clothes.  (And yes, I’m well aware I’m no longer in my 20s but work with me here).  But you feel stupid walking in there when the mini skirt hanging from the rack would snugly fit just one of your thighs.  So you are once again reminded that mainstream retail is not tailored for you and that’s all you need to not feel worthy.

But like I said, they are trying with their Faith 21 line so I can applaud Forever 21 for that.  But I don’t think this store will be incorporated into my usual retail therapy.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2010 7:49 am

    A while ago I was killing time at the mall and found the Deb plus section. It was all plain jeans and t’s and hoodies. On the one hand, I wouldn’t shop there even if I was a skinny 16 year old but on the other I felt bad for the girls who do want to experience the 80’s for themselves and are left with only t’s and hoodies. It was kind of sad, but I do have to say the sales staff was much kinder than anywhere else I’ve been. I didn’t get the impression that size had registered at all, at Charlotte Russe too. It’s only the gap that makes me feel judged, smug bastards!

  2. February 28, 2010 1:49 pm

    I’m a faith 21 fan for two reasons.

    Budget: They’re within my friendly range and can compare somewhat reasonably with one or two stores where I shop. I DO NOT shop at Lane Bryant, Avenue, Torrid (anymore), Macy’s because if I do make one purchase there, I could have shopped elsewhere and gotten much more for my money.

    Fashion: I suppose my style is a bit different. I enjoy forever 21’s usual line of clothing and was very happy that they provided additional sizes.

    I do agree that the small section is disheartening and they tend to pack a lot into that section.
    I’m still immensely happy that plus size clothes is available there therefore widening my shopping options.

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