On: Being a Woman in the Men’s Section

I love shopping, Fangirls, but it can often be a frustrating & discouraging experience for me. I’m a lady who heavily prefers men’s clothing to women’s, but I have a lady body. It leads to a whole lot of trying on, disappointment, and feeling uncomfortable.
Shopping is a very gendered experience. The departments are clearly defined. Usually split in half or on opposite sides of a store. The sections are then clad with pictures of happy models of the appropriate gender, sporting the nice clothing that looks great on them. It’s intimidating. When I walk into the men’s section of a store, it’s immediately screamed at me “These clothes are for men” Sometimes, I even get weird glances from associates or other customers. In high school, when I went to get my suit for prom & have it fitted, the associate there almost refused to help me because I was a woman. I felt angry, embarrassed, frustrated. But it did get a little better once I looked damn good in that suit.

Once I get passed the intimidation of enter the section or store, then comes the actual clothes. I know what I like, and it’s not hard for me to start picking things out that I’d like to wear. The trouble comes when it’s time to wear it. I cannot buy something without trying it on because chances are it’s not going to work. I have a lady body. I like my lady body and don’t plan on changing it, but I still desperately want to fit into men’s clothing. However, it’s just not made to suit me. If I could combine different sizes, I’d be in heaven, but men’s clothing is made pretty flat. It’s like I need a shirt to be a large, even an XL, in the bust, a large in the rest of the torso, but just a medium in the sleeves. But of course, I can’t do that. I have to settle for one of the sizes, usually leaving one section not up to par. Super long sleeves or getting that real tight button between my boobs or something else that shys me away from buying it. I’m not going to change my body to appeal to the clothing I like. Though sometime’s I get frustrated and know it would be easier to.

But you know what would also be easy? Making men’s clothing in sizes catered to women. Putting both genders in ads together, both wearing the clothes. Opening up the spaces in stores to just be one big integrated clothing section. Relieve the tension, get rid of the pressure to pick a side of the store. Quit having retail make people feel like shit about themselves. How do we do that? I’m not really sure. A few companies have popped up here & there to try to separate from that norm, but certainly not enough. I’m patiently awaiting the opening of Greyscale Goods, who last year was fully funded in a kickstarter campaign. But for now, it looks like I’m stuck at H&M in the fitting room, struggling through my pile, hoping.

I think a lot of people must have this problem, I know I’m not alone on this. If you have similar struggles & frustrations, let me know here in the comments or find us on twitter & Facebook, and we can rant & vent together, Fangirls. Happy hunting, we’ll find that perfect button down someday.

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