Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Irony Of Plus-Sized Active Wear

I just had a minor soap box moment on Facebook around this topic, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to post about it because I might learn something and it might be helpful to others.

In case you've never shopped for plus-sized clothing before--more specifically plus-sized active wear--allow me a few moments to educate you. "Active wear" for big girls for many retailers (and the designers that provide clothing for those retailers) equates to coordinating Velour sweatsuits, overly large bedazzled t-shirts, and "lounge wear." Are you familiar with these products? Let me introduce you to one of them: the Velour sweat suit.

Here's a stunning suit from one of the most popular plus-sized retailers, Lane Bryant.

Here's another purple stunner from Avenue. Do you think Velour catches fire when introduced to extreme friction like, say, when a plus-sized gal's thighs rub together while running?

Even Macy's is in the Velour game! Wow, look how figure-flattering that fabric and cut is! And only $46 for the pants alone!

Go to any retailer's website (preferably the larger department stores or plus-sized retailers, because they're the only ones that have big girl clothes), and find the Women's Plus page. Then find the link to Activewear.

Check out that selection, huh? WOOHOO! VELOUR PARTY!

In fact, here is Kmart's ENTIRE selection of Women's Plus Activewear:

Top. Pants. Jacket. DONE! What else could fat girls possibly want? And lucky us, they match!

However, in a jaw-dropping surprise attack, the Evil Empire itself, Walmart, seems to be the leader in appropriate and practical workout gear for those of us with big bones. This is practically sacrilege if you know what company I currently work for. Whatever--their selection is HUGE and includes descriptive words like "moisture wicking" and "performance." The prices are Walmart-esqe, and to top it all off, I was just assured by an experienced Walmart active wear shopper, the quality is good.

Shock and awe, folks. Shock and awe.

Evil Empire be damned, let's look at the two items that just made my wish list.

Compare the above pants to a similar pair of performance pants at Dick's Sporting Goods. (Please take care when entering the URL. It's You'll wish you listened to me if you didn't.) Here's the link to those pants. First, they're not made in anything bigger than an XL and there are no XLs currently available (I could potentially fit into an XL at this point). Second, they're $40. And that's one of the cheaper pairs!

In all fairness, I can kind of understand what designers/retailers are thinking in offering only the most unpractical active wear for the "fluffy" population of women in the U.S. I mean, think about it.

Fat women + comfortable but impractical active wear/lounge wear = continued fatness = more sales!


Fat women + practical active wear = fat loss = more regular sized women = loss of sales!

Therefore, impractical, Velour jumpsuits become the strategy for plus-sized designers/retailers.

Oh the irony.

What does that mean for me? Three things:
  1. I will continue to wear my 14-year-old Spandex (aka "slimeys") and holey yoga pants.
  2. I will contribute to the success of the Evil Empire by purchasing the two Walmart products above in the near future.
  3. I will use my existing clothing and practical active wear from Walmart to lose weight and no longer be limited to Velour sweat suits and bedazzled workout clothes.
Happy Sunday, folks!


  1. Kinda like Heidi's "active wear" line? It's mostly comfy and looks stylish. It's not meant to actually be FUNCTIONAL!
    Sorry the stores are such boobs about providing proper attire.

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