Woman, you're a girl now.

When I was at the Irish Festival this weekend, I intended to pick up some more Irishwear. For the most Irish-looking non-Irish girl ever. I browsed tables of t-shirts, most of them pretty tacky.

"Kiss my Shamrocks"
"Guinness- more than just a breakfast drink"
"Everyone loves an Irish Girl"

And so on.

Well, I picked up a cute little pink t-shirt with the Guinness toucan on the front. It was adorable. I rummaged through the pile for a medium, since they were the tight, snug-fitting kind. I held it up. It was ridiculously small. So I keep looking for a large.

I am interrupted in my search by a mom and daughter. The mom picks out one of the t-shirts for her daughter, and says "This one should be small enough."

This is the same t-shirt I was looking at.

The daughter was about 8 or so.

I had just confused a girl's shirt for a woman's one.

That's messed up. I get that this could happen initially if they were the non-descript plain colored shirts. But no. I was quite aware that these shirts were intended for more of a teenage/young 20s type of audience.

They weren't.

These were kids' t-shirts.

Women and girls are wearing the same clothing. I don't find it disturbing (in this particular case) that this shirt was meant for girls. Rather, I was disturbed for numerous other reasons:

1) Women's shirts are now cut so small that they can be confused with girls' shirts.
2) I am so used to seeing women dressed like girls that I confused the shirts.
3) I am so used to seeing girls dressed like women that I confused the shirts.

I don't...I don't know what to think. It is very hard for me (and other anorexia sufferers in my general age group) to figure out what to wear and in what sizes. I don't ever, for a moment, think that my eating disorder was about wanting to wallow in childhood. However, it's much harder to recover when you're supposed to dress like a little girl only you, um, look like a woman.

In fact, women are supposed to look like girls so much so that their clothing can be almost interchangeable. There is a lot of sexualization of girls in the media, no doubt about it. But I'm wondering: could the opposite be happening? Could women be told to look like girls as much as the other way around?

Most models don't have curves. Real women do. Fashion designers don't like that. So basically you're supposed to look like a pre-pubescent girl for your entire life.

It makes everything quite confusing.

There's this sort of lack of clothing for women in their thirties. It seems like you go from wearing tight, low-cut jeans that show off your butt crack to loose elastic-waisted cotton pants. I don't want either.

I just want to know what kind of shirt I'm looking at in a booth.

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mary said...

I don't know what they are thinking when it comes to clothes.
I do find that when you find styles you like it's best to buy a few because they'll be gone tomorrow. I do like the flair legged drawstring pants I coveted from my daughter. They were magic pants I think, cause I'm many lbs. heavier than her and they somehow fit me. They seemed to fit her too but the string...the string...therein lies the secret.
I suspect that with many of those poorly fitted shirts they are a waste of energy for the seamstress as they shrink in the machine and don't have long life spans. I'm not into disposable clothes so I prefer to buy well even if it's second hand.
You are creative Carrie. You'll figure it out. Maybe the sewing machine? Or just use your wand!

carrie said...


I have magic drawsting pants as well. They're big yoga pants. They're a tad short on me now (my lack of laundry skills are legendary. Have clothes, will shrink.) but that keeps me from tripping over the hem and going for a joy ride down the stairs.

And I think that's why I don't have really trendy clothes. I don't like going clothes shopping, even before the AN. It's a pain. And I'm poor. I did get some Irishwear, however. And I have a great hoodie I got at last year's festival. It's the one I'm wearing in the pic I posted.

Carrie /******

Jeanne said...

You get an Amen from me, sister carrie!

I have so much trouble at stores - clothing is either geared towards my teenage niece (with no curves) or my mother.

I want something fun, yet fitting for a woman in her thirties whose a wife, mother, and still has a professional job. For goodness sake, fashion industry, I'm in my thirties and I'm PROUD! Design something for my body, for a change!!!

Willow said...


My daughter and I share Tshirts; she's 10 & steals mine & inevitably spills something on them. I shop in the kids department (because I can and because it's cheaper). Size 14-16 tends to fit me just as well as the woman's sized girlie cut shirts.

I bought a shirt orignally for my girl (at an Irish festival as well, actually) thinking it was a kids size, but lo & behold when I got home "Irish Girls Rock" actually fit me better than her.

It confuses me too.

RioIriri said...

I have had large breasts my whole life. They are actually down to a D after reduction surgery in 2003 (they were H-cups; I seem to have some hormone strangeness). I have a HELL of a time finding t-shirts that accommodate the boobs without being a fricken tent. This whole "baby doll" t shirt phenomenon just annoys the crap out of me.

I also can't stand tight t-shirts anyway. The fibromyalgia just makes them feel like they're Scarlett O'Hara's corset on me, even if they're just a little bit tight. Clingy fabrics seem to be fine, but t-shirt material is literally painful.

I also have fairly broad shoulders (I'm pretty strong!), despite being five feet tall, so anything that does not have a generous neck opening tends to get pulled in a way that is uncomfortable on my throat.

So, I've given up t-shirts almost entirely. My tops consist of light, somewhat clingy but not tight fabrics, and usually v-necks. I also wear a lot of tank tops with cardigans or blouses. I wish I could wear some of the awesome t-shirts in my clothing drawer, many of which are free promotional material from various aquarium manufacturers. I have a lot of other t-shirts that have awesome animals on them (including a couple from the Asian Turtle Consortium) which would make cool conversation starters.

But, they're uncomfortable, and they sit unused in my drawer. :(

mary said...

I think that the limited thinking of designers reveals what a HUGE market it would be to design clothes for normal people. There's so much waste in the abundance of clothes made for smaller sizes or poorly cut designs. I have found a couple designers I like, for my body, and look for their clothes.
The changes needed can be so simple.
To me, with my rounder butt, I know I am more comfy in something that doesn't accentuate it. A top that's cut properly is hard to find but they are out there. I am a woman with $ limits, but with creativity to beat the band which more than makes up for it. I like dressing in clothing that I like as much as the next person.[and I love wearing necklaces ,thank you Carrie] I know the designs are out there as all one has to do is look in a pattern book to see the choices.
How about shopping ebay? I recently found a shirt at the flea market[and I don't usually buy clothes there as I do not need them] and it was an awesome blouse that I wouldn't have found in a store...not the ones I shop anyway. LOL

Thomas said...

Fashion designers don't think their clothes are shown to best effect when "interrupted" by the natural curves of a womans body?

Ummm - shouldn't they be doing mens/boys fashion design then?

Seems to me like its a sign of incompetence when you can't design for your target market. Seems pretty dang backwards to try and force the market to change to conform to your poor design skills.

I never did "get" fashion :P

ms. em said...

hi carrie,

i read this right after reading the AP article on the rise of women in their 30s, 40s, 50s reaching out for eating disorder treatment. v. interesting.

the AP article is nothing new, however, I'm sure it will be new to many people who read it. there is no denying that if you want a message heard, the AP will get it out.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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