Growing up the only time I would hear “Just for Me” was when a commercial slid across my grandparent’s television for the kiddie perm advertisement. I had to have it! At that time I did not know the creamy crack that elongated my curls would no longer fit my #hairgoals of #TeamNahFamNoPerm later in life. Nevertheless, I wanted the product because of the marketing. It was just for me. It spoke to me. It was made just for me. Right? When I finally got the box I was eager to hold it and keep it close. My grandma never told me to put it down and even allowed me to open the box to hand her the contents inside.
I became a chemist.
I watched and later asked to mix the chemicals because after all, the box did say it was for me and it was purchased for me. The young black girl on the front of the box, the white and pink cassette tape with a total BOP, JAM, SONG, HIT was on SIDE A. Getting Just for Me was a recurring 6-week surprise that I always waited for. I waited because it was for me and it did not matter if the same thing was in the box each and every time, I knew it was for me and I felt included.
Fast-forward 20 years.
Yesterday I went to Target, per usual, to BUY ONE THING. $100 later I
walked RAN out. But, prior to me leaving I walked over to the plus size section to check out one of my favorite brands: Ava & Viv. Since 2015, I have purchased items from this line including cute chiffon shirts with floral prints, army green cargo jeggings, and cute ripped jeans. Their prices are moderate but the clothes can take a lickin’ and keep on.
As I slid from rack-to-rack I was stopped in awe. PLUS SIZE MANNEQUINS! THREE OF THEM. I reached into my pocket with the speed of The Flash and grabbed my phone. As I snapped a photo an employee locked eyes with me and smiled. In that moment I knew she could see my amazement and excitement bursting out of my winter coat. I instantly knew I was going to write a post for Fatness Fiction. I knew the woman donned in khaki pants and a red polo could see that a fat girl’s unknown dream had come true. Or maybe she did not know any of this and only smiled because I was grinning like a creep and she was trying to keep her job. Either way, we connected.
As I reflected, I noticed this moment meant more to me than what I initially thought. It was more than the “Ah! Big girl plastic people do exist!” This moment was the realization that I had never noticed how I walked past so many mannequins that gave others (kids to buff bodied, penis bulging men) the opportunity to see how their purchase might look on them WITHOUT trying it on, if they did not want to. This representation made me recognize that for over 28 years (my lifespan) bigger bodies, especially plaster molds were not a “thing”.
This mannequin does not represent the entire spectrum of fat/thick/plus size bodies but we are getting there. As I chilled for 10 minutes with my new found homegirls, (the mannequins if you are confused) I found myself saying “This is just for me” and then I repeated it, only this time singing it to the rhythm of the song I once found on the white and pink cassette tape located in the perm box of my youth.
Each time I return to this particular Target, just like the box of perm from my local beauty supply, I will run to see these same plastic bodies there and act just as surprised as I did the first time I saw them. In the near future I hope to see my homegirls chilling with bikinis, crop tops, miniskirts, flattering blazers, thongs, fitted sweaters, and more on giving me the visuals of what I can expect to see on the racks behind them. I hope they become so common I know they are there and pass it by because it is now normal and just for me.
Ellise & The 3 Homegirls