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The Mid Section


This blog will explore what it's like having a fat Mid Section in Middle America, comparing and contrasting the Mid Western fat experience with that of the rest of the country and exploring the perception and treatment of fat people in the United States at large.

Growing Girl

Buying new clothes for your kids as they outgrow the old ones can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to school uniforms, which many school systems use for grades K-8 here in Northeast Ohio.  Restricted by style and color choices, as well as which stores sell them, the selection is limited.

Recently, my now nine year old needed new pants for school, not so much for length but for width.  Her size 8 pants, which are allegedly made to fit a child her age, were so narrow in the waist they were cutting into her middle when fastened, making her belly red.

Just A Bit Of Background

What was so confounding is that according to our family doctor and the anti-fat medical propaganda, my daughter is the ‘perfect’ height and weight for a child her age, so it stands to reason that a ‘standard’ child should be able to wear a ‘standard’ size garment made for someone her age.

Suck In, Honey

Yet my daughter cannot wear size 8 pants because the waist is too small.  This got me to thinking about the subliminal message that is being sent to children and parents alike: kids must be even thinner than what they already are, even thinner than what even the medical industry deems as ‘healthy.’

This manufactured construct made of fabric that in turn is a social construct enrages, saddens, and frightens me.  Free, built-in body shame with every purchase – not a shopping reward I want, now or ever.

A Measured Message

If my daughter and children her size are being constructed as larger than ‘normal,’ what about the kids who do have larger bodies? Where are the clothes for them? What type of body shame is being foisted on them when clothing manufactures are not providing them with easy to find off-the-rack-options that actually fit them?

Born and raised in Northeast Ohio with her BA and MA from the University of Akron, Mary has 20 years experience in the corporate sector working for local companies and Fortune 500s in customer service, PR, sales, advertising, and broadcast media. She currently teaches English Composition at Stark State College and UA. Her passion is living and teaching tolerance while pushing for Size Acceptance. She hopes to inform as many everyday Americans that the issue of Size is not an issue at all but merely a distraction from the real issues, such as the decline in public education, our infrastructure, economy and healthcare system. Mary loves irritating people by speaking her mind and presenting them with annoying facts, contrary opinions, and life's little ironies; when not doing that, she loves being with her family.

To learn more about Mary, click here!


Previous Comments

  • Leann Rittenbaum's avatar


    Many years ago, I worked in a school uniform retail store. I can’t tell you how many kids, kindergarteners through high school seniors, came through and ended up going home with sizes that were nowhere near their “normal” clothing size.

    Almost every young boy (and even some girls) needed a husky pant size. I consoled many girls who were seniors in high school who had to buy their plaid skirts in double-digit sizes because they were the only ones they could actually zip up.

    I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but reading your article made me remember how horrified, angry or upset our customers would get when it came time to purchasing their uniforms. Even the parents were annoyed.

    I wish I knew then what I know now - I could have offered words of wisdom and encouragement that would have been so much more comforting than “It’s just how the manufacturer makes the clothes!”

  • Mary Stein's avatar

    Hi Leann:

    Thank you for the expert support of one who worked in the retail clothing profession. You accurately described my feelings and my daughter’s - eight years old and thinking she is ‘too big’ because her pants were made too small.  Fortunately, she lives in a HAES family, but I worry about the kids who don’t.

    Another sneaky trick in clothing is in women’s clothes:  High-end designer brands will size their clothing ‘down’ (EX: a dress that would usually be labeled a size 8 or 10 is instead labeled a size 6) so women will buy them at whatever price just to claim that they wear a smaller size.  It’s not about anything other than profit, from the clothes, to the weight loss, to size bias, etc.

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