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Why high street shops are damaging body confidence


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Clothing brands aren't stocking enough of larger sizes in-store, and it's having a hugely negative effect on body confidence and undermining the body positivity movement as a whole. 


When clothes shopping, we have all faced that sinking feeling of disappointment when you realise that an item you like doesn't come in your size.

It's frustrating and saddening, but thankfully often a rarity, so we pick ourselves up and move on. 

Now, imagine having to face that feeling with every item of clothing you are drawn to. 

That's the reality for many plus-size women. 

For example, I went clothes shopping with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago.

In our three years of friendship we had never done a shopping trip before, something that I shrugged off as an activity that just didn't interest her.

However, this trip was a necessity as she needed a new outfit for her birthday celebrations, so we delved into New Look trying to find the perfect look for her night. 

We went in filled with excitement and optimism for our quest, but unfortunately, the trip didn't last long at all; it fizzled out from fun to frustrating in the space of ten minutes.

My friend is a size 18, sometimes a 20, and every time we found a potential item for her to try on, we'd be faced with disappointment: they simply didn't have her size in stock.

By the time we'd done a loop around the shop, my friend refused to even rifle through the hangers to check, and her cheeks were scorched with embarrassment and shame.

I suddenly realised why we had never been shopping before. 

In an attempt to save the trip from complete failure I suggested that we take a look upstairs in their "curve" range to see if we could find anything suitable up there.

I had never been to this part of the shop before, but was disgusted to find that New Look's curve range only took up a small corner of the floor space.

There were maybe 30 items on display, so even though there were plenty of size 18 pieces of clothing, none of them appealed to my friend. 

We walked away empty-handed, my friend physically deflated from the short time we had spent shopping.

She looked exhausted, and from the way her head hung loosely from her shoulders, I could see that this was not the first shopping trip that had ended with such pitiful results.

She seemed to be fighting a never-ending, losing battle against our societal preference of smaller sizes, and it was heartbreaking to witness. 

As a size 14 girl myself, I have experienced that feeling of being too big for fashion before, although not to the same extent.

Miss Selfridge, for example, favours stocking smaller sizes over bigger ones, with most of their items being sized 4-12 and the occasional size 14 or 16 piece if you're lucky.

Similarly, they only have regular or petite ranges for their clothes, excluding tall and curvy women from the brand. 

If Miss Selfridge marketed themselves as designing clothes specifically for petite and smaller women, then they would be an accepted and welcome addition to the high street - but that is simply not the case.

They are instead seen as another high street favourite who appears to be catering for the masses while, in reality, forcing bigger girls to face disappointment and insecurity when shopping in their store for the first time. 

Of course, pushing the body positivity campaign as much as possible is a vital step towards making social media and mainstream media more representative of the diverse body shapes that populate our planet.

However, not stocking enough larger sizes within high street shops, and including a curve range that is insultingly small, is a whole new level of unacceptable that I don't think a simple hashtag can solve. 

This is a fundamental flaw within our society that needs to be tackled, and undermines this fight for body positivity.

There need to be laws in place to ensure that clothing shops are stocking an equal number of sizes, or at least, a set number of the larger sizes.

Clothing is not a choice, but a necessary part of everyday life, and so we need to be catering to everyone instead of making people who are already discriminated against based on their size feel more insecure or ashamed. 

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