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By Hanna Howe

While shopping for clothing this weekend, I noticed how many stores use the word “woman” to designate their larger sizes. From K-Mart to the designers at Macy’s, the message is that “large” people are women. Which leads me to wonder if these stores consider the rest of us to be girls? I wear a size 10/12 which means I don’t go into the “woman” area, but maybe I will if shopping there means I am a real grown-up.

What puzzles me is the mixed message given by this labeling of larger clothing (average, that is). If that clothing is for real women, why do advertisers want us to believe we should be skinny? And are the clothing stores recognizing how wrong the fashion industry is by labeling large clothing as “women’s”? I doubt it but one can dream. Perhaps someday we will all want to be mature and will purposefully gain weight in order to shop in the “woman” section of the department stores.

I also wonder further about the target audience of advertisers. Do advertisers want us to believe that our partners want those skinny bodies next to them in bed? Most men I talk to, enlightened and otherwise, dream of curves and bosoms. I don’t believe in changing my body for a man but even if I did, I don’t think the example set by the fashion industry is the one men truly desire.

I want to be a woman, which just may mean shopping in the “big” size area and bringing back the Marilyn look. Who knew it would be the clothing stores themselves to inadvertently point out that round can mean mature and beautiful.


Hanna Howe is self employed doing everything from administrative assistance to manuscript evaluation to desk top publishing. She will enter graduate school in the Fall to study African literature. Hanna is 26 years old and is finally recognizing the link between the fashion industry and women’s ingrained self-loathing.