I did not become a curvy woman overnight. I have been curvy my entire life. Born the child of a sturdy, healthy all-American family, I was always larger than anyone else in my class. Finding garments that fit me has always been a struggle. I have horrible memories of shopping for clothing with my mother. We found jeans to fit me in the “husky boys department.” My tops and dresses came from the women’s department. My personal style became more of a matronly tomboy look than the young girl I wanted to be. I think it was then that my dislike for clothing shopping and my love for sewing began. My mother turned to sewing for many of my clothes and I learned to sew for myself from her.
Now, I am skilled at sewing my own clothing. I am at peace with my body shape and all of its unique assets. I am still learning new ways to fit my body shape, thanks to the Curvy Sewing Collective. The curvy revolution that is going on in both the fashion world and the sewing community inspires me. Thanks to the CSC, I know that I do not need to change my body to fit the existing off-the-rack fashions! Sewing gives me the freedom to be my own fashion designer constructing garments that fit my body and reflect my personal style. This ability comes too late to save my frumpy adolescence.
Recently, a friend shared with me her struggle in finding suitable clothing for her adorable 6-year-old daughter. Suddenly, all of my childhood clothing struggles came crashing back down on me. Memories of shopping in a “husky” or “stout” department and wearing oversized flowy bright florals flashed through my mind in vivid color. This friend has a beautiful child that, because of her family genetics, happens to be more-than-average size. She is a few inches taller and bigger around than the current standard size charts. The child reminds me of me at the age of 6. This stylish little girl longs to wear the ruffled boutique fashions that are worn by her slimmer friends. She does not want to wear anything that is too long or too mature. Armholes reaching to her waist or the crotch of her shorts hanging to her knees is neither comfortable nor attractive.
This little girl is not alone.
I struck up a conversation with several other mothers, all of whom have daughters in the same age (and size) group. They assure me the struggle is real. Silly me, I assumed in today’s modern fashion there would be more options than in the late 70’s. Boy, was I wrong! My research shows that 1 of every 3 young girls is larger than the standard size chart. The Center for Disease Control released a report in 2004 showing young girls have increased over half an inch in height as well as 9 pounds. The mean size of young children is changing, while the standard size charts have not changed since the 1940’s.
This group of young people is so underserved by the ready-to-wear fashion industry. I hesitate to call them Curvy Girls because they have yet to develop curves, but I have been unable to think of another term that would be suitable and not negative. I found nothing in ready-to-wear for these little girls.
My alternative to ready-to-wear has always been to sew, so I thought I would sew something for her. I have not found any resources for sewists making clothes for young more-than-average-sized girls. While the Curvy Sewing Collective is an awesome resource for adults, there is nothing comparable for children. Through the CSC, I found multitudes of sewers out there making beautiful curvy fashions for adults. But what about the younger set? What is out there for them, or rather, the people who sew for them?
I firmly believe that Frederick Douglass was right. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men (or women).” The one sure way to have a strong body-positive Curvy Community is to start young. If we develop positive body images in young girls they are more likely to grow up to be mature women with an empowered body image. So, where are the patterns for this demographic? Where are the inspiring bloggers, sewing for their beautiful, larger children? If you have resources, please share them in the comments. We need to start this conversation!