This is part of the #LargerThanLife Initiative … sharing stories, building our community, strengthening our souls.
Meet Azima Mohamed Patel, who currently lives in sunny Richard’s Bay. You know that feeling you get when you connect with someone online and you instantly know this is someone you’re going to be friends with? That’s how I feel about Azima. We immediately ‘clicked’ and she totally ‘gets’ what this initiative is all about. When I first received her response to my questions, I nearly got a pain in my neck from nodding so much!! She put into words SO much of what I felt … so much of what I hadn’t yet gotten around to putting out there! One has to wonder, if we feel like this, then there must be so many others out there that also do. It’s such a pity that after being ignored, or put down and fat-shamed for so long that they’re now reluctant to come forward and be heard. Thank goodness for genuine, outspoken women like Azima, who are willing to say it like it is!
We continued a lively email back-and-forth, and I could feel her enthusiasm which became even more apparent when she suggested Instagram pages for me to follow of people who promote positive body image for plus-size women! I told her I thought she was amazing … her response: “Haha, we’re all amazing!” This is what we all need, and what we should all be: women who build up our fellow women! Azima … I still think you’re amazing!
Please tell me a bit about yourself … married, single, kids, job, hobbies, favourite foods, favourite series binges? However much or little you want to let me know is absolutely fine.
I’m a crazy person, really, ask my husband! My moods vary like the weather. I adore deep conversations, and having a circle to lean on. I’m mum to a lively 7 year old who keeps me busy most of the day, especially during lockdown. I’m big on social activism, and working towards equality. My guilty pleasure is reality tv shows; Survivor, The Bachelor, and MasterChef are my favourites. Food is my vice. I can inhale a slab of chocolate, and live off just pizza and pasta every day. Sadly my physique is testament to giving in to this one too many times.
What size clothing do you usually wear? If you could let me know according to the S, M, L, XL etc. chart, and also the 16, 18, 20 etc. chart, that would be great!
I usually wear a size xxxl in regular stores, and a size 20. I feel like plus size stores have vanity sizing because in those I’m a medium.
Where do you usually shop for clothes? Where would you LIKE to shop for clothes, but can never find stuff in your size?
I’m a pretty casual dresser. I usually shop at Donna, Ackermans, Pep (really affordable plus size range), or PnP Clothing. H&M also has an extended sizing range in some styles, and Woolworths has plus sizes in most of their range.
I would love for every retailer to be inclusive and extend sizing of their regular line to fit a wider range of body types.
My especially pet peeve is trying to find good plus size eveningwear and workwear. It’s like they assume we all need an unshaped sack.
What do you consider to be a reasonable price to spend on clothes?
I’m a sale shopper, and unless I really need something for an event I’ll only ever shop on sale.
I’m going to include my max price below.
- A casual T-shirt R300
- A pair of jeans R650
- A dress (if you wear dresses, I know many prefer not to) R850
- A smart blouse R450
- A jacket R800
- A pair of shorts R400 – I only buy shorts for swimming though
What frustrates you the most when you need to shop for an item of clothing? (This can be as many things as you want to list – it doesn’t need to just be one thing!
The side eye I get from sales staff when I walk into a shop that doesn’t stock my size.
Not being able to wear designer items and brands because they cant be bothered to create bigger sizes.
Sleeveless everything, combined with no shaping – the most unflattering thing for my body would be a sleeveless sack!
Pricing for decent plus size clothing is disproportionately expensive compared to straight size items.
I cant really shop online because plus sizes are not the same across brands.
Drum roll please… the worst frustration is that finding a plus size sports bra is like panning for gold! We especially need support while working out, yet it doesn’t exist.
Do you only shop for clothes when you specifically need something, or do you browse and buy things as you see them if you find things that will fit you?
I’m a browser. I tend to buy basics that I can use in all occasions as I hate having to visit 10 stores in a rush when I need something at the spur of the moment.
Are there any particularly awful shopping experiences that you’d be willing to share?
I went to India, and none of the stores stocked clothing that was remotely plus sized. I was even embarrassed to ask eventually as I was laughed off repeatedly. Most Indian woman are little people!
If you had the opportunity to talk directly to retailers about the way they make and market clothes for Plus Size women, what would you say? This can be anything from a few words to a long rant, if you’d like to really have your say!
Make the same clothes, only bigger. Don’t change the cut or the item just because you think bigger people shouldn’t wear it. Let us decide. Also, please don’t use a straight sized buyer who has never been overweight in their life. They don’t understand our needs. Hire one of us to ensure buy in.
Also its really embarrassing to be relegated to our own section. We’re people too. Just extend your sizes in the regular range.
They only use a specific shape of plus size model- tall, hour glass figures. Show us real people, get a size 50 to model the dress if your trying to sell it to that size group. Don’t only get the size 16 and 18 models. Also, most plus sized people I know tend to be apple and not hourglass shaped.
To find out more about #LargerThanLife and what it’s all about click here.