For years, plus size teens and young adults had little in the way of choice for fashionable, youthful clothing. They were forced to shop at "fat" stores, and find the least conservative styles at the "plus size ladies or guys" store. Manufacturers and retail stores would call all their plus size clothing, "teen friendly" when in reality the large flower print smock type blouses didn't even really appeal to old ladies! It took years for the s/m/l designer mindset to realize that the majority of women and men, let alone teens aren't s/m/l.
Plus size pre-teens had it even worse. At that awkward growing stage, pre-teens had to buy jeans that were way too baggy, long and shapeless and even with alteration, they would grow out of them quickly. Swimming suits for pre-teens went to size 14 or 16 if they were lucky, and they were never sized properly or attractive. JC Penneys and Sears were about the only common brick and mortar stores with some choice for plus size pre-teen and plus size teen fashion. And of course, back then in the 80s and early 90s there wasn't an internet and catalog companies didn't cater to plus size teens either! Going back further, the fashion world all but ignored plus size people in general. There might be one large size store in town and the mumu house dress and the boxy navy suit were all they carried. Plus size teenage girls in the 50s and 60s had to resort to wearing men's jeans and slacks and shirts in order not to look like a 60 year old grandmother. The 70s brought an appreciation and realization that one size did not fit all, and jean companies began to stretch their line to size 18 and 20 with some fashionable choices. Richard Simmons came on the fashion scene in the early 80s and brought a recognition that plus size women and men were people too and might want some style in the wardrobe. But it still took another 20 years for fashion to embrace a teenage, youthful plus size look.
Thank goodness times have changed! Finally the fashion world has recognized there is a market for young, hip, plus size clothing and the internet is the delivery vehicle. The internet has forced choice on the fashion manufacturers and they are slowly realizing the demand is there and profitable. Forward thinking companies like Alight, Always for Me, Torrid, b&lu, Lane Bryant and The Avenue are delivering plus size teen fashions, in many choices and styles. Plus size teens still can't find many options at the mall but that will no doubt change as the popularity of the online plus size teen stores becomes evident. Television shows like Oprah, Tyra and The View are featuring plus size fashion shows as the norm and not the exception. The waif model is morphing into a more realistic body type and fashion designers are building their styles on "normal" women, rather than designing a size 0 and making it larger for their plus size customers.
This notion that plus size teens would rather hide because of their weight problem and then not need fashion is being replaced with the realization that with body acceptance comes a greater ability to deal with weight issues. Again, stars like Oprah, Tyra and plus size model Emme have consistently asked for change in the way society treats plus size teens and adults. Slowly our image of a beautiful woman or attractive man isn't limited to skin and bones, but includes all shapes and sizes. This new, healthy way of looking at size and style will ultimately help plus size teens feel better about themselves both mentally and physically. Hopefully the fashion world will embrace these new body types and retail possibilities and continue to expand their lines with plus size clothing actually made just for plus size teens.