I’m a size 14. Are you calling me a freak?
There is no way I would consider myself skinny - but I'm not really big by any means.
In fact for 43, I reckon I go all right. I dress pretty young for my age - skinny jeans and Converse sneakers are my norm - and when I'm out I often get twenty-something guys refusing to believe my age (or maybe they just want me to buy them a drink).
What I'm saying is, for the first time in years, I'm loving my curves and finally respecting this temple of a body that has got me this far in life. It has endured many a heartache, heaps of needle jabs from numerous IVF rounds, the lemon detox diet, the Maccas at 3am diet, a miscarriage or two and enough alcohol to poison Trump's hairpiece and yet here she stands (or sits, in a yoga pose, which is more usual these days).
So when I went jean shopping this one fine day, I got quite the rude shock in discovering that one of our major retailers doesn't want bodies like mine buying its clothes.
Let me enlighten you on my traumatic shopping experience. Perhaps it's happened to you too.
Here I am in a shop that has a cult following, trying on a pair of on-trend ripped jeans in a size 12. I'm in the change room doing the really sexy thing where you are literally trying to tuck your flabby bits into the fabric and pull the damn things over that one tricky bit of thigh (you know the one) when the young (did I mention tiny) sales chicky swings open the door revealing me in an awkward stand-off with the jeans. She mumbles that maybe I need the bigger size (geez, ya think?) and bounces off like Bambi in hot pants to find me a pair while I wait humiliated in the change room sweating and wishing I had worn more deodorant.
Here's where it gets interesting. Bambi bounces back to tell me they don't stock them. "Um, you mean you have no more size 14 left in store," I said. "Um no, we never got any in. Apparently we don't stock size 14," she said.
I ask, with contorted face, whether they don't stock them because this particular clothing company doesn't make them. I was really not understanding.
"No," she replied, staring down at her Doc Martens and shuffling from foot to foot, "we don't stock that size. We only go up to a size 12 at this store".
Did I just hear her correctly?
I pulled my "Brad and Ange did not just break up" face and clearly scared her because she jumped back and gulped, saying "the company does make size 14 and even 16 but we just don't stock them".
Why? Because people who are size 14 are freaks? I was gobsmacked. I am not a large girl and if they are not stocking what fits me then they are really only housing fashion that fits the slim. I have a pretty good idea what that would be doing for the self esteem of thousands of young women who don't have the benefit of enough years on this crazy planet to work out that it is, in fact, the store that's in the wrong and they are not too ugly/fat to be shopping there.
Young, impressionable and insecure minds who love this shop and want to wear their clothes can't because they are not catered for here. Is this really where it's at now?
Well that worries me. As if all the filters we can use on social media making us all look slimmer and younger and clouding what we really look like are not enough to mess with our young kids' ideas of self acceptance, we now have major chains dictating who is too chubby to shop in their stores.
It's OK though, you can buy size 14 online, just don't bring your chubby arse in store so we have to actually see you - is that what you are saying? Give me a break. Do we need our young girls to be healthy? Yes. Do we want them to feel good when they go spend their hard-earned money on a pair of jeans? Yes. If you are over a size 12, should you be banned from the major chains? No. I know I will open a can of worms with this because some say that anything over a 14 should be seen as a plus size and thus should be in shops for bigger girls but what message is that sending our young, healthy, strong girls who don't fit the skinny mould that social media is demanding they fit into? I'm so glad that when I was growing up, it was just Dolly magazine I had to contend with. I would have been a basket case had all that social media stuff been floating around as well.
Not being able to buy a size 14 pair of jeans in a major national chain when that is our average size means we are going to have a lot of explaining to do when these kids get older. So no skinny ripped size 14 jeans for me. I'll go back to my Camilla kaftan for now. You may have won the battle, for now, but you have not won the war.
Bianca Dye is a presenter on the Brisbane radio 97.3 show Bianca, Terry & Bob