The Fashion and Beauty industry is ‘gigantic’. New products and new styles hit us on a daily basis so that we simply ‘must’ go out and buy more. We can start to believe that we are ‘out of the loop’ if we don’t follow whatever ridiculous trend is out there at the moment. I started this business a very long time ago because ‘I know that every woman is beautiful’ and I love being a part of the journey to help someone see that. Sometimes it can happen like a light switch going on, an instant recognition of a beauty that was always overlooked but sadly, sometimes, it can take a long time to break through years of conditioning, bullying even, about their body shape or size.
I really hope that you are all very consciously aware that our society is driven by a ‘need’ to make us all feel that we are ‘not good enough’; the financial gain is phenomenal. Look at all of the weight-loss products on the market, beauty creams that promise to do the impossible, the cosmetic industry, the push to get everyone to a size six…Come on, where are all of your voices? This is so very wrong and the impact it has on men and women all over the world reduces me to tears. What if it was your daughter, your sister, your son, or your partner who just couldn’t lose weight? Is it OK for society to say that ‘his or her body shape is not acceptable?’ What if you (happily a size 10) ended up developing a condition that caused you to gain a lot of weight – would it take something like that to change your perspective?
I’m so tired of the fact that oh so many women who are above a size 16 are left feeling ‘deflated, depressed, empty, not good enough, isolated – the list of negative feelings is endless when they go shopping. They are limited to a few ‘plus size’ shops; even the name sends a shiver down my spine. I call any size over a size 16 ‘beauty-size’. Unfortunately, a lot of the ‘beauty-sizes’ that I come across are just thrown together, an excess of material with very little shape so some among us are left with no option but to spend a fortune even on everyday clothes.
This is Ann Donnelly. Ann is a very successful businesswoman and Mom and wife. She is petite and also beauty-size.
Ann says that she is ‘challenged’ all the time when it comes to clothes shopping. She cannot shop local – I think that it is so important that ‘this gets heard’, it’s not that she doesn’t want to shop local, the clothes are just ‘not in the shops’ in her beauty-size. She can find a few bits and pieces in Dunnes Stores sometimes but all of the rest of the time she has to venture further afield.
Ann and I had a lovely lunch together in Clonakilty and when I left and walked down the street, the sun was shining so there were lots of people about and I realised that half of the women walking passed me were a beauty-size too. I knew, more so after a wonderful and very intimate conversation with Ann, that almost all of these women were facing the same struggle that Ann faces on a daily basis; they left shops feeling ‘less-than’, ‘depressed’, ‘uncomfortable’ when they went shopping…I’m really angry now and really sad and full of empathy for all of the beautiful women out there, who, because they have beautiful big full breasts, a well-rounded tummy and a lovely generous bum are ‘society’s castaways, almost as if they are completely forgotten about! Shop owners, boutique owners – are you listening? I said – half of the women that I passed on the street were beauty-size!
Ann says that she no longer even bothers going into boutiques, and she hasn’t done much shopping online because she needs to fit something on. Debenhams has been one of the few shops that Ann has regularly found something ‘fetching’ to wear. She had a beautiful royal blue patterned dress on when I met her, it swept across her curves beautifully – it was from Debenhams. They have a petite line that encompasses beauty-size, isn’t that wonderful? She finds that a lot of the petite lines only go up to a size 16, again very limiting. Wallis and Principles are shops that Ann has found some lovely clothes, they also carry a Petite line. She can find a lot of clothes when visiting family in the UK or America, just not here. She knows what she likes, she has a good idea of what looks good on her, she loves Vintage; Ann is a real ‘Lauren Bacall’-style girl – but the clothes are sadly not out there for her.
Imagine getting a gift of a €300 Brown Thomas voucher, oh the excitement. Well Ann got one, off she went and the only thing that she could buy was a handbag – now she didn’t want a handbag, she wanted to buy some sensational clothes – but there were no beauty-size clothes there, so she left with a handbag – a reminder that she just ‘didn’t fit in’ yet again.
Because shopping can be so deflating, Ann says that she often ‘hits herself with a double whammy’ and leaves it until the last minute before she needs something; then she is under more pressure. A change in mentality is what is needed, go early, give yourself plenty of time, do the research online before you go to a shop – then you may not come away disappointed. Shop early in the week when shops tend to be a little quieter, you also get more help from shop staff because they have the time to help you then. Don’t give up; don’t settle for ‘matronly’ clothes. I know that your confidence and self esteem has taken many a battering, work on that, don’t deprive yourself of your ‘to be happy’. I’m sending you all a ‘huge cuddle’, I know that people can stare at you – F**K THEM. I remember when I was almost full-term with my twins, lots of people used to stare at me, I used to feel so uncomfortable that in the end it was easier to just stay at home; it made me feel so vulnerable. So, if any of you reading this ‘stare’ at someone because of their body shape, obviously, your mother never told you that ‘staring is rude’ – and reflects very badly on you!
I would love to hear from you. I would love to hear where you buy beautiful beauty-size clothes, I really want to do what I promised I would do – keep it very real for very real women. I want the women that I meet everyday to know ‘how beautiful they are’ – and more importantly, that there are no obstacles to overcome (put there by society) on the path to looking and feeling ‘beautiful’.
I posted the above article on my blog on Wednesday, September 23; I guess it really struck a chord with a lot of women because the number of blog views was a staggering 7,991 in ‘one day’! My email address is louise.anewu@ gmail.com and my blog address is immaterialgirls. wordpress.com, please get in touch with any thing you might like to add to what I’ve already written or maybe you have found a shop with really beautiful beautysize clothes, not just ‘coloured bin liners’ – this was the comment one girl made at the end of blog!
I was delighted to hear from Ann Donnelly that Gooseberry Boutique in Clonakilty had got in touch with her after the blog was posted asking her to ‘please call in and have a chat’. Ann was delighted. Susu, also in Clonakilty, got a fantastic review from a beautysize shopper on my blog and many people will be surprised to hear that they stock Crea Concept, Backstage and Sita Murt, all going up to a size 20/22 but size 24’s have fit in some of the ‘more generous’ labels. Dress to Impress, Rosscarbery, also got a fantastic review in a comment on the blog; Nora stocks some new but mainly pre-loved designer labels at a fraction of the original price and all sizes are catered for.
Isn’t it fantastic that we now know all of this, I’m sure there are many many more shops in Cork county that stock beautiful ‘beautysize clothes’, that only ‘some’ people know about – please tell me so that I can tell ‘everybody’ so that every woman everywhere can ‘look’ and ‘feel’ BEAUTIFUL.
Don’t forget Sienna in Kinsale is also getting the Ciso line in, it starts at 16 and goes up to size 28.