Today I had the honor of volunteering and shopping or the first time at The Big Thrifty. Hosted at Triangle, Inc in Malden, MA, The Big Thrifty brought together plus-sized folks of all sizes for clothes and accessory thrifting fabulousness.
As a supporter of Toni Amato and Write Here Write Now, I arrived early to greet Mimi and the team with bags of ice and baked goods to sell. My role? To set up and support the bake sale benefitting Toni’s work. After 30 minutes of setting up the bake sale space and then staring in wonder at the tables upon tables of clothes ranging from 14+, the doors opened. And people were already there-they’d been lining up since 11:30 AM.
For the first 45 minutes I hung out at the bake sale, chatting with Toni and my partner, and watching everybody shop for shoes and accessories. But, as the beautiful ladies piled into the dressing room with arms upon arms of dresses, shirts, and pants, the boys looked at me encouragingly and shooed me off to shop.
When standing amongst the racks of clothes as a shopper, the first thing I noticed was not the merchandise but the attitudes. Everyone was cheerful. Folks were holding up dresses, making comments, and helping each other find items to wear. It was unreal.
I pawed among the racks looking for dresses and pants, coming up with a pair of black jeans, a spaghetti strapped black summer dress, and two pairs of thigh highs (I know, right?? Fantastic!). On the first go around I made sure that I picked up only things that I knew I could fit, mainly because I’d been completely unthoughtful when dressing that morning and not worn underwear nor a bra… And while the venue offered a communal changing room, I was a bit worried about flashing my breasts publicly.
If I thought that I was done after my first shopping trip, I was sadly mistaken. As the team of volunteers kept unwrapping bags of goodies and placing them on the racks, my anticipation kept rising. What if? What if there were more dresses for bodies like mine? What if the perfect pencil skirt was out there waiting to come home with me? (can you tell I’m in a femme-space?)
And so, I forsook my bake sale duties-leaving my Mister with Toni to sell-and went on shopping round two. Happily, at the dress rack (where else) I ran into my favorite coworker and her best friend out for a girls’ day shopping. We laughed as we picked through items-holding them up our bodies to see if they would fit. I found three more dresses. But, these were slinky and lower-cut v-necked summer dresses, and I wasn’t sure how they would fit.
Giddy, I approached the bake sale table to show off my finds. “But, I need to try them on…and I’m not wearing a bra,” I beseeched the bois. Their response was instant- go to the dressing room, don’t worry, and (with some sass) make sure you stand in front of the door while you change so we can sneak naughty looks at your half-naked self.
Buoyed up by their teasing support, I ventured into the dressing room. And there, I found Eden: tens of beautiful, curvy, thick, big, round, rubenesque, sexy, playful, curvy, rotund, full, voluptuous women. And they were smiling while half-naked in bras and underwear. They were giving each other body positive feedback and preening in mirrors. If something didn’t fit, there was no self-deprecating humor nor tears, but rather a “Who wants this? Someone’s gotta fit this fabulous [you fill in the blank item]” exchanging of outfits and celebrating the new owner’s forsook-dress-clad reflection.
I smiled non-stop in that dressing room. I took off my shirt and didn’t care that I was half naked. I didn’t care that I have a belly and my breasts are small. I just enjoyed it- dress after dress and smile after smile. And, when something didn’t fit, I passed it on with a smile too.
I returned to the dressing room one more time after a third shopping trip-again, loving the experience.
And then I worked up the courage to approach the pop-up store, The Thicky Chick.
I’ve been eyeing one of their black shirts all morning-sleeveless with a mesh back. I assumed that it would go wonderfully with my pleather skirt. And so, I took a deep breath and asked if they had it in my size. They did. And, while they were pulling it out, I laid eyes on a beautiful black corset.
Armed with goodies into their temporary dressing room, I exuberantly pulled on the coveted shirt. It was lovely but not the sexy I’d imagined it. And then there was the corset… gorgeous, but too big.
Not to be discouraged, I asked if I could order one in my size. They said that I could. But, as I was looking at their table and fingering the flirty black skirts, they pulled out another corset. Again black, but with metal stud clasps. Interested, my Mister reached for a flirty, short red skirt. “This would look great with that corset,” he said. And so I headed into the dressing room once again.
When I emerged, after some help getting into the corset from the Mister, everybody looked. There I was in a short, flirty red skirt and night-black pleather corset. I looked hot.
And the ladies around me told me that as the Mister looked on with delight. “He’s got plans for you,” the storekeeper joked. I blushed and felt warm and happy. To be big and sexy and feel it… It was almost too much.
I left The Big Thrifty today with five dresses, a pair of jeans, a summer skirt, and two pairs of thigh-highs for $65. I left the Thicky Chick pop-up with two skirts and a brand-new corset for $50. And, you can believe I’ll be logging onto their website to order the first one I tried on that was too big in just my size.
More importantly, I left The Big Thrifty today with joy; with exuberance in my sense of beauty and embodiment of sexy. I left with my first experience of true body love from others in community. And that, my friends, is a priceless commodity.