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As an enthusiast of all things sartorial, finding out I was pregnant meant one thing: The opportunity to get myself some fabulous plus size maternity-wearand cheap prom dresses up my baby bump in all the glitter, all the bodycons, and all the horizontal stripes I wanted. (OK, so maybe the news of the life form I was creating meant more than the opportunity to explore a facet of fashion I hadn't yet participated in, but clothes were definitely up there on the list of things making me feel damn excited.)
At the time, I was working in an office filled with fabulously stylish women, one of whom was also pregnant. She often wore a figure-hugging (and belly-highlighting) black and blue striped dress that reminded me of a vintage sailor, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on something similar. It should have perhaps been obvious that finding legitimately cute maternity-wear in sizes 20 and above would be dishearteningly challenging. I mean, since when has finding cute apparel in sizes 20 and above ever been anything but psychologically trying? In the back of my mind, I suppose I should've known this. I was just pushing the thought back — hoping that I'd find something precious enough for the already-precious bump growing larger each day.
What I couldn't have predicted, however, was the extent of the desexualization I'd feel when perusing clothes designed for fat pregnant people. Instead of tight dresses meant to showcase the miracle of life and all that cliché goodness, all I could find were tarp-like ones that seemed to scream, "Your job as a woman is done. Plus, you're already fat. Why should you need to feel sexy?"
Plus-size fashion (albeit particularly plus-size fashion up to a size 24) has come a long way in recent years. I tend to think of 2012 as the time when things started changing for the better. Where before, fatshion was limited to boot-cut jeans, A-line silhouettes, tunic tops, and dresses more comparable to potato sacks than actual clothing, the plus-size blogging revolution and the increase in unapologetically vocal fat activists seemed to directly correlate to shifts in the retail industry.
Prior to 2012, it's difficult for me to remember ever purchasing a piece of clothing I was happy with. Most plus-size fashion perpetuated every notion of "acceptable bodies" I'd ever come across. Because fat bodies were allegedly shameful, unattractive, and definitely not worthy of sex (or even of the feeling that is self-love-fueled sexiness), our garments served to hide every roll, wobble, and chunky bit. "Sexy" silhouettes were out of the question entirely. So were any that showed off the layers and intricacies and curves of our figures.
Things are more diverse than all that now, for sure. If I want to show off my love for my body by decorating it in threads that make me feel fearlessly sexy, I can turn to indie brands like Re/prom dresses cheap NYC or Zelie For She or larger names like Fashion To Figure. I can find low-cut, slinky, thigh-baring, booty-hugging wears that seem to embody my right to bodily autonomy and sexuality as a person who weighs over 250 pounds. But if I want to do that now — as a person who weighs over 250 pounds and has a very clear baby bump to boot — it's as though time has turned backwards. Plus-size fashion has perhaps evolved. But plus-size fashion for pregnant people is still stuck in the Dark Ages.