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Reality Check: Realistic Sizes For Real People


I’m having myself a nice leisurely stroll through the bookstore on yet another Wednesday afternoon. Oh, a book I won’t have time to read. How lovely. A tourist feverishly capturing each and every available proton ricocheting off the souvenir shot glasses. Priceless. As I weave in and out of visitors looking bemusedly about and my fellow students searching for this and that amenity, it finally strikes me that I’ve never once purchased my own Stanford apparel. In truth, I’ve tried many times and continually block out the horrific embarrassment of attempting to “try on” anything in the arm-pinching, boob-strangling, tummy-itching women’s section. With the wanton abandon characteristic of so many trips prior, I skip (walk with vigor) up the stairs and mosey over to my designated side.

I have no idea what the Stanford bookstore assumes women look like when it orders its apparel. I’d imagine a flat-chested, hipless individual, devoid of biceps, sans organs, ribless and on the whole subsisting on dreams and sparse foliage. I can only guess they picture a five-inch nymphish little thing, maybe with an oversized hat or a hipster scarf, maybe just a prepubescent boy who enjoys v-necks. For the record, I don’t have anything against prepubescent boys, or the willowy girls who drift here and there in the stiff breezes of our quaint Farm. If there were a section for petites and a section for non-petites, and a section for talls or wides or what have you, I would be perfectly content to share the second floor in perfect harmony.

Sadly, it seems my entire shopping experience is dictated by these exceptions to the norm. The medium looks remarkably like the small, the small like the kids’ large, and so it goes on down the line. Sure, I could get a 2X, strap some sticks to myself and fashion a yurt, but for bookstore prices I might as well make do without. What is so difficult about a large? Maybe I’m a bit biased as a New Yorker, but I see no rhyme or reason for a women’s section without tops allowing for actual shoulders. Actual waists. Actual breasts. While I’m a big fan of t-shirts, I’m an even bigger fan of clothes that fit correctly. Some tees have that unflattering unisex straight edge from armpit to hem, some have a massive swath of cleavage, none fit correctly at the bust and all of them are too short. Glaring around at the little people flitting here and there, I muse on who forgot that the torso occasionally lengthens as the subject’s height increases.

Dejected, I usually find myself offering apologetic, sheepish smirks to passers-by. Oh, I wasn’t actually looking for anything for me. Six-foot girls don’t actually exist; I’m hiding my male genitalia elsewhere. I pretend I have a little sibling and make appraising sounds and gestures at the baby clothes…Then realize I might be mistaken for someone’s parent and quickly hide in the hats section. It is an odd thing, turning this way and that, imagining my ribcage somehow shrunken and my shoulders dislocated to accommodate some stupid shirt, but it is just another of those treats I will probably never indulge in at Stanford. I’m doomed to the basement, shopping once or twice every quarter. The men’s section is alluring, of course, and an easy remedy. If I’m going to get something oversized, at least let it be a sweet looking sweater and baggy pants to wear when every single other piece is in the wash. But why do I have to? Why can’t I strut my stuff with every other five-foot wonder in the ladies’ section? Why can’t I shop for my equally normal sized relatives at the bookstore? And why can’t I even find a hat that fits?

Alex is wondering whether yurts will be in style anytime soon. E-mail her your thoughts at [email protected]

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