CYCLING & MEC: Fat Girls Not Allowed!

The weather is coming.

We woke to fog yesterday, then a bank of clouds rolled in and parked upon us. Now, the weather cautions that rain, lots of it, for four days, will suddenly shatter the record-breaking drought we rainforest folk have been enjoying since late July.

As a girl who’s taken to a cycling/walking-only lifestyle after spending 60 hours-a-month-plus on Vancouver’s buses last winter, having great rain gear is the most important thing to me.

Unfortunately, in the last two years I have regained 28 of the 75 pounds I lost, and my cycling gear is too snug and a transit strike looms here my fair city. I cannot be without gear, and the idea of going and buying men’s industry rainpants because the fitness industry thinks a size 18 girl can’t pedal a fucking bike is getting pretty insulting to me.

So, I wrote the “leader” in getting outfitted for the outdoors here in Canada. Here is my letter to Canada’s

Dear Customer Service:

I’m very, very frustrated.

You have so little available to larger women in your outdoor gear. I’m a 16/18, and I have moved to a city where I’m now 24/7 walking and cycling, and the rainy season is upon us here in Victoria.

My old XL MEC pants are coming apart at the seams after a very stressful year in which I added another 10 pounds to my frame, and I’m proud of my efforts to try and get fit of late since I’ve battled a lot of injuries to get here, but there’s no denying:  I’ve certainly gained weight, and I can’t NOT cycle just because the rain or wind are rolling in and I don’t have the option of proper gear.

You don’t have anything beyond XL, really. And you’re frequently sold out in the largest sizes.

It’s not like you seem to have a surplus of any of your biggest clothes at the end of the season, so you can’t argue they’re not selling, and yet you refuse to provide any sizes beyond!

I’m in a giant debate on Facebook and Twitter, where I have 5,000ish followers, talking about how little we can find at MEC, where we would EXPECT to find the gear, and how hard it is to cobble together something effective from other stores, usually where we’re forced to reduce ourselves to wearing men’s clothing, all because we have the indecency to be a size 18 or size 20 girl, or beyond, who’s trying to change her lot in life and be active outdoors.

You’re a LEADER in the fitness industry in Canada. If YOU don’t make it possible for the slightly-above-average girl who is ACTUALLY PRETTY AVERAGE to adopt a healthy, outdoorsy, fit life, then WHO, I ask, will do this for us?

Would it really be so horrible to offer fitness gear to people who actually want to become your customers, who are trying to change their lives, but who weigh a little more?

I keep hoping you’ll suddenly wake up and include us, but I guess it’s time I write a letter.

Also, I’ll be posting it as-is on my blog, to foster dialogue. That’s, and you’re welcome to reply there too if you like.

Thanks for listening. Here’s hoping next season it gets a little easier for me to be your customer for more than just my tires.

Steffani Cameron.

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  1. Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    This could apply to basically every regular-sized women’s clothing store I ever walked into. I have ranted about how the design of tops, especially, is not made to fit women with a sizable bosom (G, in my case), and how making clothes for curvy women like they do in Europe (including shirts with different depths to accommodate larger busts) would actually HELP them. Because not all women are smaller than a C.

    Anyway, I feel you, I do, despite my being a bit smaller than you (and yet still being a 12/14 and having a lot of trouble finding clothes that fit well, so defaulting to elastic waistband yoga pants).
    Anabelle´s last [type] ..READ: Play Him Again by Jeffrey Stone

  2. Rana
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Why don’t you learn to sew and make you own clothes? How far does a company have to go to accommodate everybody? Size 28? 40? I often hear the obese complain about how they are active. As somebody who grew up in an overweight family, I witnessed firsthand my parents and siblings’ eating habits and I know what they did to keep “active” and it wasn’t enough. They thought it was, but I didn’t… and I am the only one who is fit.

    I often see posts online about how healthy food is expensive. REALLY? Go to a green grocer: you can get a POUND of apples for a dollar. Can you get a pound of any fast food or processed food for that little money? It does take more effort to lead a healthy lifestyle but it’s well worth it.

    I don’t have the time to cook”? Yet people have no problem finding the time to bitch online and attempt to defend themselves in forums. It’s sad how what was considered obese 50 years ago is now “average”.

    I am 5’6″ and 120 pounds, and I am also flat-chested and without hips. I do experience a lot of frustration when shopping. I am always finding lovely garments that do come in my size but as soon as they go on my body, they look hideous. And my body shape is not a consequence of my lifestyle choices. My point? Women’s bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes and it is impossible for designers to accommodate everybody. Do you really think MEC–or any other outdoor retailer–is trying to be inconsiderate?

    I realize that by posting this, I am opening myself up for attack. Go for it… but that wouldn’t be using your time wisely.

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Oh, fuck off with the condescension.

      You don’t know me or my life. I may have too much food, but I make 95% of my food from scratch and use real ingredients. Asking a company to sell clothes past SIZE 14 isn’t fucking unreasonable.

      And I live a 24/7 walking and cycling lifestyle, so again you don’t know me on that front too.

      You can get all high and mighty and reply, but I don’t need it and I likely won’t publish it, so THAT WOULDN’T BE USING YOUR TIME WISELY.

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Weirdly I don’t think the solution to “I can’t find clothes in my size to accomodate my active lifestyle.” is “You’re lying, you’re not active enough.”

      I don’t think being able to get basic workout clothes above size 14 is crazy talk. MEC has enough stable/season independent product line that they should be able to accomodate higher sizes without worrying about having to get rid of it by the end of the season.

      I’m sorry that not all the clothes you pick out look good on you but there’s a big thick line between “Man this doesn’t look great on my body type” and “Well shit, there’s nothing here that I can literally fit into, guess it’s back to painful chafing in my cotton t-shirts again.”

      A little empathy can go a long way here. My life is not your life and your life is not someone else’s life. We all have difference experiences, biology and motivations. It’s easy to say that something that works well for you will obviously work for another person. It’s easy to look at the people around you and paint their lives on somebody else because they look similar.

      Time and time again it’s proven that size and appearance isn’t an indicator of health, it’s lazy. Why would you so be so defensive against someone who is asking for clothing to be active in? She wants to be active, she is active, she wants to pay money to a someone for clothing to make that activity more pleasant and comfortable. Why would you have a problem with that? Because a stranger is larger than you and that makes you uncomfortable? Don’t you think that’s weird?
      Kathryn´s last [type] ..Your Mom

      • Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        You get the “more patience than I have” award of the day for your well-thought response. So grown-up and smart-like. Well done.

  3. Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Right on Steff!

    I can’t find clothes to fit at MEC either (or other outdoor stores in all fairness) and I’m “ONLY” a size 10–14 depending where you are measuring. I’m a 5’4″ woman who weighs 150 lbs with hips that are larger than my waist (and who wears “petite style” clothing) . I’ve gone through every jacket MEC carries and found nothing.

    I totally get your frustration — I too have money to spend and can’t.

    As for the unhelpful comments above — Kathryn said it best.

    I sincerely hope you find outdoor gear that fits your lifestyle. Bravo for continuing your efforts to get fit.

    Illegitimi non carborundum
    Janis La Couvée´s last [type] ..iPod Pharmacy Week October 15–19, 2012. Donate at Victoria’s Simply Computing Store.

  4. Sherri
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    My partner owns a bike shop in Langford and always tries to stock larger sizes. I told him about your post and he wasn’t surprised but he did say that sometimes he can have a hard time getting the larger sized clothing from the vendors but he says the larger sizes always sell out quickly! I also am plus sized and ride here in Victoria. They don’t stock a ton of clothing as they just don’t have a big enough shop but he can order in pretty much anything you need/want and he has a real knack for finding vendor clearouts and passes the savings on to customers.

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