I’ll start by saying that I know all women struggle with clothing. Ill-fitting swimmers that ride up ya bum, V-necks that end at your bellybutton, so many perfectly good tops ruined by cold shoulders.
But it’s a little tougher wrestling with your wardrobe when you’re a plus size woman. Example: I once fled from a Very Important Meeting, grabbed a pair of scissors from my desk and jogged to the loo to hack through the elastic on my too-tight knickers because they had been mercilessly and agonisingly cutting off the circulation in my legs for the past hour.
I walked back into the office triumphantly, thighs freed, to the strange looks of several co-workers. Probably because I’d wordlessly sprinted from the room with a pair of scissors in my fist, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Being plus size is full of moments like that - full of awkwardness and occasionally actual physical pain.
I have bras that fit my boobs perfectly but with bands that won't stretch far enough to latch more one overworked hook. Dresses that skim my shape beautifully but are way too wide around the neck, or way too long in the arms, as if the pattern makers just cut a size eight frock five times bigger like the incredible Hulk was gonna burst to life inside the thing.
Then there are nighties with those "boob holder" bits that sit ohhh, somewhere round my neck, and jumpers that look like woolen wet suits.
Worst of all, one winter I went without any kind of jumper at all. I was a suburban teenager making do with whatever nanna-friendly garb was on sale in the large ladies section at the local K Mart (bold floral prints, anyone?)
That year, the racks had been pillaged by the beginning of the season and I couldn't find anything in my size. It was a cold winter without a sweater, and a feeling of helplessness I still bitterly recall.
But even now, shortages persist. It recently dawned on me that I'm running out of pantyhose. Truly running out. When the last few precious pairs I have left ladder, there won't be a stocking in the world left for me to wear - not that will fit, anyway.
As a dedicated wearer of dresses and skirts, there's barely a brand of hosiery I haven't hoisted up and prayed they'd work. That they'd reach up to my crotch without leaving that hurt-y air vent that cuts across my thighs. That they wouldn't roll down over my belly, the band curling into a painful, fat-squishing loop as they went.
I still have the horrors when I recall striding out my front door and walking half way to the bus stop before I realised my brand new $25 opaque stockings were slowly but surely unfurling all the way down to my ankles. I waddled back home, managing to keep them up only by desperately gripping the sides through my skirt. The pantyhose went in the bin along with my dignity.
Several years ago a miracle occurred - I found the perfect pair of 80 denier opaques at Myer. Enough stretch, flexible bands, high waist, reached my dang crotch, and didn't ladder the second I pulled them on. For years, I was content, I was happy, I was the pantyho-princess.
Then, the line was discontinued. I cried genuine, salty tears over the news, and promptly bought every last bit of stock available in the entire country. That was two years ago, and there's only a few pristine pairs left in my drawers.
So what happens when I run out of my stockpile of pantyhose? Like that jumper-less winter, it may be a choice between suffering or simply going without.