Charity-shop treasure in Loughborough

Last Wednesday I went to Loughborough to meet up with some friends. After one single coffee at an overpriced restaurant, we all parted our ways. It was the first time I went there; and while it looked like your regular small, comfy town, I hung around for a bit to explore its tiny shops. There were charity shops everywhere, and some of them were so huge and full of nice stuff it was like going to heaven. Although many had unique and cheap accessories and artefacts, the vast majority still had the usual problem of catering clothes up to a smallfat size (18 or 20, maximum 22), or no plus-size clothes at all.

But then there was this:

One of the shops had options in femme clothing beyond the size 20. They had a vast amout of 22s, 24s, 26s, in all colours and styles. Some of their offers went up to size 30!

I couldn’t miss the opportunity, so I went into the fitting rooms to try on a few candidates.

For a perspective, this is what I was wearing that day. Office wear, yes. I went to a networking meeting.

Blouse: Evans via swap. Cardigan: Primark. Skirt: Ann Harvey via swap. Scarf: Autograph via Oxfam. Boots: Vintage via Absolute Vintage London.

I tried on a black cardi and a black skirt, because I had been in desperate need of those items of clothing for centuries. Specially now that I’m All Grown Up (whatever).

Cardigan: M&S via Mystery Charity Shop. Skirt: I think it was Mothercare? via Mystery Charity Shop. Blouse and boots: see picture above.

Just got the cardigan. It was nice, comfy and could be worn with anything. They had a black and white Chanel-like cardi that also fitted me well, but I was a bit skint and wasn’t sure if I would ever wear it at all. The skirt was roomy and shiny, but it was very long for my taste. I talk to people about arts and writing, not about Our Lord Jesus!

Not only that, but the shop assistant was kind and treated you like a human being. There was a friendly atmosphere. Fashion-savvy people of diverse shapes and sizes would get in and look/try/buy all the precious things and talk about things like colours, textures, possible outfits, opportunities where to flaunt their potential acquisitions. NEVER about flattering. Hallelujah!

Which shop was it, you say?

Nope, it’s not Shoe Zone. And nope, it’s not that Virgin Media gazebo either!

British Heart Foundation! Right in the city centre, near Church Gate and in front of the bus station that’s in front of the Casino. You know, that company that says we fatties are all walking heart attacks and we don’t deserve any of the fine things in life because we’re gonna die young anyway? I expected they would reject plus-size clothing at their charity shops to avoid “glorifying obesity”, but they do not. To the contrary, this place had so much to offer to bigger people, specially to bigger femme-presenting people. There is more to life than mumuus, and potato sacks, and they know it!

You know what makes a difference? When people donate nice clothes in larger sizes. More of us should do it. And you know what I have noticed? That in every plus-size swap I’ve been to, the leftovers are donated to charity shops. Thus, not only rad fatties plugged into the Internet and the community benefit from plus-size swaps, but the public in general. Charity-shop goers, superscrimpers, anyone who steps into a second-hand store, initiated or not into fatshionismo nor at least into the very basic idea that we are human beings too. Trust me, when a sad self-loathing fat person finds even one item of clothing that fits them like tailor-made and makes them look like a star, a spark inside them ignites. And deep, deep into their hearts and minds, they get the notion, for at least one millisecond, that there’s more to life than this.

I know it because that’s how I felt, in my self-hate reductionist days, whenever I managed to find one single thing that could fit me instead of me fitting into it. While the change wasn’t immediate and I wouldn’t leave the shops like a full-blown fatshionista, it accumulated into the memory bank. And when the surges of fatshion and activism got more and more amped up, they galvanised all these bits of validation and humanity. It was then that I was fully charged.

And on that bombshell, I leave you with a jewellery mannequin they had for sale. They could have easily turn it away claiming it was going to make customers rush for the butter bars, but they didn’t. They sold it there, standing up, in all its sauciness, playfulness and beauty.

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