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My Lane Bryant Store

As a woman of size it is imperative to have access to super cute clothes that not only fit, but don't make you look like an animal printed circus clown. This can be tough since someone's fashion mantra seemed to be "Big women look good in stuff with jaguar prints and farm animals! Also? Muu Muu's!!" and walking into a local Macy's, or Dillards usually ends up with me crying on the floor in a fetal position trying desperately to justify my purchase of a dress with a beleaguered cow on the front of some satin leopard print sheath that says "Got to keep on moo-vin'!" on it.

It's rough out there.

Which is why stores like Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, even effing Fashion Bug (but eff you Catherines! Eff you and your hipster sheep adorned costumery, touting mantras like "I'm a baaa-d girl, how about ewe?!" and eff all the sales ladies who tell mothers and grandmothers that this would be a great gift for their college aged fat daughter/granddaughter with promises that "It's sassy! Young girls love sass!" SHUT UP YOU!) are so important.

Because while most of these stores are expensive as heck, the animal print you find will be fierce and there's not a horse in site. At least not where the clothes are concerned.

Anyhoo, with any shopping experience comes the time where you pick the store that is your store. This is the store that you always go to, where they always know your name and they call you first if they get any new fun stuff in. This is the store that will hide that cute new shirt that's on the cover of the new catalog for you because they know you will be in like clockwork to get it.

I recently moved and let me tell you, finding this store has been a chore. First, let me tell you a little bit about the typical Lane Bryant worker. Lane Bryant workers are usually women or really skinny black gay men. They aren't necessarily all loud, but they are friendly and very outgoing. They'll talk about their men and their love lives and their kids and what the new trends are and do all of this while getting you a fitting room and making sure all the sizes are right. I'm from the midwest so I have the added benefit of midwestern hospitality to go with my expectations. During my move I did take that into consideration, but there were a few things I missed.

1) Trifling ghettoness or stank buttedness. Black girls, white girls, Latino gay men, they all gave me attitude at one particular store.

Them: "Oh no you didn't just walk in here with an Ashley Stewart bag!" "O-M-G, their stuff is like, so cheap!" "Aye Dios mio!"

Me: "As few choices as big women have we cannot be discriminating against the other big lady clothiers."

Them: "Whatever"

So I spent my little money and left. I went through 2 Ashley Stewarts, another Lane Bryant, and even a frickin' Rainbow+ before landing at the new Mecca that is Lane Bryant: PG Plaza. Located in the heart of Prince George's county (which... lolz), is an oasis of shopping. PG Plaza is basically what happens when you've been spending most your life livin' in the gangsta's paradise. Except with a Macy's. Everything about it has a thin layer of Afro-latino-ness and for some reason it works. There's the customary attached Target, the food courts with eateries that can only be found in that mall (Polla con Casablancas anyone?), and purse kiosks for days featuring "Authentic" "leather" "Coach" handbags and wallets.

I don't know, I like it, but it can be an acquired taste. So after work I needed to go to Ikea and return some items. Since I knew I would be in that area I decided to go to PG Plaza to use the coupons that the lovely Noreen supplied me with. I walk in and start storing up on the clothes and the cutest woman comes up to me all,

"Hey girl! You want me to start a dressing room for you?" I smile and politely nod as she wrangles the pile of clothing off of my arm and takes it to a room. She comes back holding the top I'm wearing now and says "Ooh girl, this top would be so cute on you and you know it's on sale right? Is this your size? Yeah, I thought so, what are you looking for I can grab some things for you!"

And yes, I realize that the main ploy is to get me to spend my money and buy stuff but I was there to do that already so I might as well enjoy it.

So I get up to check out and some other customers have come in and that's when the party starts.

"Ooh girl, I'm gonna wear this to the club!" says a shapely young woman holding up a neon green and black lace corset.

"You can do that girl, with jeans! Some of them skinny broads be wearin' em with leggings, but I got to much butt and thighs to be doing all that." says the cashier ringing me up.

"Girl please, that's why I'm getting it. I got too much butt and thighs for myself so I gots to share it with these men, you hear me?" says the girl stocking the earrings.

"Ooh girl where you get that? I'm gonna get one tonight, okay? I'm gonna get some of that body paint, and just randomly hang a rope from the ceiling, you hear me girl?" says the woman who was restocking the panties but instead decided to model a few by holding them up to herself and sauntering around the store.

"A rope, for what girl, that sounds kinky!" says the other customer. The woman smiles a smile we all know too well as the cashier says "Guuuuuurl, don't even ask cause you don't wanna know!" to which we all fall out laughing.

"Naw-uh girl, y'all need to be writing this down, y'all need some tips on how to keep these men guessing, okay? You gotta man sweetie?" She asks me and I know that she cares, you know? That feeling where it's not just small talk, but she knows you'll be back because of all this right here?

"Not yet."

"It's cause you don't have this corset girl!" And here's where I pause because I realize I'm in the presence of something that shouldn't be as rare as it is: Big boned sexuality.

Men can look like frickin' whales and have women slobbering to get with them, but big women are the scourge of the Earth and I wonder how soft, supple women are also expected to be vessels of nothing by lean protein with 0% fat. Now mind you, I wanna be healthy and Lord knows I could do without this gut -this is why Weight Watchers exists- but I also know I'm never going to even desire to be below a size 10 and I don't think it's fair that I'm made to feel bad for that.

So I see these big, beautiful women talking about their children and their men and how they want the booty to stick out so it can get a good smack and it turns their man on to see their boobs fall into their armpits and maybe it's okay to feel good about your body and maybe if you feel good about your body others will too!

It's a concept, and one that I would think about later, but first I had to keep this woman from making me go bankrupt.

"Girl if you don't quit spending my money!" and she laughs because she knows we're having fun and that I love her and I'll be back, "Girl don't worry, we'll save it for you for next time!"

And I knew she would. See you in two weeks!

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January 2014
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