Private and Public Policy Reviews for the Disabled

Size Madness

By Stephen Rex Goode, BSW

A couple of years ago, about the only place I could find casual clothing for my large body was Kmart. There were other stores, including Casual Male Big and Tall, but the prices were too high for me. Then, suddenly, everything above 2X seemed to have disappeared from the Kmart racks.Some Fred Meyer stores had “big and tall” sections, but none of them had men’s swim trunks. That was the item I needed the most. Prices there were reasonable.

Wal-mart has large sizes, but the largest I’ve ever found locally has been 2X. They don’t really have a big and tall section. They mix the larger sizes in with everything else. The signs on their clothing fixtures have one price for the garment and a higher price for the larger sizes. I think they ought out to have a big and tall men’s section.

I checked back at Kmart every few weeks to see if the larger sizes had returned. It wasn’t just the swim trunks that weren’t there. I searched for sweat pants for myself and a client who also needs larger sizes.

Then, about a month ago, I was in a Kmart and saw men’s swim trunks, basketball-style shorts, t-shirts, everything. Size went all the way up to 4X. 4X is adequate for me, though I sometimes like a 5X t-shirt just for roominess.

I don’t know why Kmart decided for awhile to not carry big and tall sizes, but I appreciate that they carry them now. So, they get a big Thank You from me.

So, here’s what I don’t understand:

Everyone is saying that obesity is rampant in America. As I look around, it seems to be true. As unfortunate as that may be, it seems that large clothing is a must. It seems to me that it would be smart for chains like Kmart to carry large sizes. Yet, there are dry spells in America where big people have to buy expensive clothing from catalogs and web sites.

One example of this strange state of affairs happened at the gym where I swim. They are always trying to sell t-shirts, hoodies, and such there. Walk in a gym sometime where they sell clothing and look at the sizes. 2X is about as high as you’ll find.

My gym orders a few items above 2X, but not many. By the time I look the table over, they’ve sold out of everything over 2X. I talked to the manager at my gym about it, and he said they couldn’t sell the larger sizes, so they don’t order them.

The funny thing is, after a certain t-shirt is around for awhile, they mark down all of that type to sell them. For weeks, these smaller sizes sit there unsold while people ask for the larger sizes. I don’t think that people really understand. I’ve speculated that it has to do with the large sizes costing more when they buy them and they can’t sell them at as much of a profit. I think it is shortsighted, though. Better to have articles of clothing that people want and will pay for than having to mark down all of the “regular” sizes.

I think that retailers are in denial about big people. Like many things we find unpleasant, people like to believe that America isn’t obese. Now, I think it would be good if we’d all live healthier. I’ve lost 50 pounds myself. I’m quite proud of that. I look forward to wearing smaller clothing.

Let me ask a ridiculous question that I think illustrates something important. What do they want really big people to do while they work at losing weight? Go naked until they can fit into the clothing that retailers want to sell?

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