My Cousin Just Fat Shamed Me over a Bridesmaid Dress


She knew the dress wouldn’t fit

by Amy March

Q: Dear Amy,

My cousin just got engaged and I could not be happier for her. She’s my best friend, and within a few days of being engaged, has already asked me to be her maid of honor.

I want to preface the rest of this by saying that despite our friendship, we couldn’t be more different. She’s tall and thin and her parents have a lot of money, while I’m plus sized and broke and trying to save enough money for the four weddings I’m in next year (including hers). Her wedding isn’t for another eighteen months, but she’s diving into wedding planning like it’s happening tomorrow. Recently she found a bridesmaid dress designer that she loves and told me she has her heart set on. She invited me to come to the salon to try on the designs, and I went into things expecting that she just wanted my help picking out the final selection (which I was excited for!). Except, when I got there, it became clear very quickly that the reason I had been invited was that the designer does not make plus-size dresses, and my cousin was trying to find out if they would fit me without actually having to say it out loud.

I have worked really hard to get more comfortable with my body over the recent years, but I can’t tell you how humiliated I felt in that store, trying on dresses I knew weren’t even going to go up over my ass. Worse, I feel low-key gaslit by my cousin. The whole salon experience felt like a setup, but she’s acting like it was perfectly normal behavior, which in turn is making me feel like a drama queen. I feel like she’s become so absorbed with wedding planning that she’s forgetting how to treat people, and the whole thing is giving me major confidence issues.

So what the hell do I do? Do I bring up the dress thing? I also feel like my size is now the elephant in the room (the rest of the bridesmaids are her friends from college who are similarly tall, leggy blondes). So if a dress isn’t going to fit, it’s my fault.

I’m having major mixed feelings about how she’s treating me right now. But I also don’t want to be that bridesmaid who can’t just roll with the punches. What do I do?

—Sad

A: Dear Sad,

I am not having mixed feelings about how MeanCousin is treating you right now. My feelings are unified, and none of them are fans of hers. I am so sad for you. Let’s count the ways in which she has misbehaved.

Bridesmaid dresses present a lot of opportunities to treat people well. You can pick a color and let people choose their own dresses, pick a designer and color and let people pick their own style, provide multiple options, or even just pick one dress and tell all the bridesmaids to wear it (you’ve asked them for their budgets first right?). If I had to present one overarching rule for this it would be “People First, Then Dresses.”

Yes, it can absolutely be a challenge to find plus-size bridesmaid dresses. You won’t, for example, find them at most fancy wedding salons, which often top out at 18, if they go above a 12 at all. You’ll struggle to find them in a regular department store, where most dresses come in either 2 to 16 or plus sizes, not both (ridiculously). Think you’re going to use one of those services that promises to send out dresses in a variety of sizes so you can have a trying on party with all your girls at home? Not if you want to use it as advertised. Even if they carry dresses up to size 24, they don’t have those sizes available to try on. David’s Bridal makes most of their dresses up to size 24 or 30, as do a lot of traditional bridal salon bridesmaid dressmakers. But even if a dress can be ordered in size 28, it’s going to be pretty impossible to find a sample in even close to that size to try on in store, and they won’t hesitate to charge an extra fee for larger sizes. I wish I could say Here Is The Solution Ta-Da, but I haven’t found it yet. (Have you? Do share!)

So yes, in theory you might need to cut the bride some slack in this process because she too is trying to work in a space that just sucks. But I think it is a bare minimum requirement of human decency to choose a dress that comes in the sizes your people come in. Never, ever, ever, force someone to try on a dress in front of you to see if she can possibly squeeze into it. Not sure what size a bridesmaid needs? If you’re uncomfortable asking, err on the side of picking a dress that comes in a wide range, email your bridesmaids a couple ideas with the size ranges listed, and ask for people’s thoughts.

Absolutely, say something to your cousin about this. She’s your best friend! She has deeply hurt you, and it’s okay to tell her so. “Hey, can we talk about that trip to the dress store? It was pretty humiliating for me. As you can tell, I’m plus sized, and that designer obviously does not make plus sized dresses. It felt like the pretty dress was more important to you than how I felt. For future reference, I wear size XYZ, and I’d appreciate it if you could pick a dress that comes in my size.”

You are not being a drama queen. MeanCousin did not do something perfectly normal; she did something particularly cruel. And she did it for a particularly terrible reason. I hope that when you tell her how you feel, she will do the right thing and apologize. There are beautiful dresses for every size and shape. Putting pretty before people is an ugly look.

Amy March

Amy March

Amy has loved weddings at least since the second grade when she made an epic diorama of Charles and Diana’s wedding for “important historical event” day. She has purchased every issue of Martha Stewart Weddings ever published and will happily talk to you for an hour about the relative merits of blush and bashful. Her happy place is poolside with a glass of rosé and a good book. 

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  • Elizabeth

    1) Agree with everything Amy said. It was inconsiderate to say the least.
    2) I’ve seen weddings where the MoH had a different dress to make them look special. You are special. You are her best friend. You should wear a dress you love, that looks great on you, and says “I am here for this wedding!”
    3) If the bride wants everyone to be uniform, she should either pick another dress, or accept that it will not happen in the dress she selected and chose not to care because everyone is going to be looking at her anyway.

  • Nd

    Yes, Amy!! I’m small myself, and I’m clueless about plus sizes, but there is no possible excuse for cousin’s behaviour. Honestly, I would have a hard time letting go of that treatment without an impressively agonized apology.

  • Katie

    From what the LW said, I feel like they’ve grown apart. They might have been best friends someday, but right now one of her first actions in the wedding planning was “make my bridesmaids wear a designer dress”. It’s not that she didn’t think about LW’s size or her feelings – she just didn’t think about feelings at all, focusing on just the pretty. What if other friends, no matter how tall and blond they are, are not excited about those dresses either?
    Amy said a lot about how the cousin can correct the situation, but I’m not sure she’ll want to. If she does, great! If not, there’s nothing left besides having a heart-to-heart with her. Maybe she’s just blindly unaware of what’s going on. But if she brought you to that salon on purpose, then is it even worth staying both in this friendship and the wedding?

  • laddibugg

    If she’s your bestie AND maid of honor, you are the person who needs a dress first. I’m also wondering what size the LW is–as in, is she a size or two away from the largest size (in which case cousin might assume she can lose the weight quickly) or is she more than a few sizes away. She said plus size but that could mean anything. The cousin’s actions are hurtful either way, but I am trying to understand her thought process. If the largest size is a 12 and LW is a 26, yeah, that’s probably not going to happen in 18 months for someone else’s wedding.

    • Jess

      And even if she was close to being a size, thinking somebody is going to/should lose weight to fit into a dress to meet an ideal look is super not ok!

      Like you said, hurtful either way for sure.

      • Her Lindsayship

        SO NOT OK! I almost wondered if the cousin was trying to send some sort of message to LW by putting her through this episode, and it makes me rage-shudder. I hope she was just being utterly clueless and disrespectful, rather than outright conniving and mean.

        • Bad DIL

          Speaking of sending a message – a friend of mine was pregnant when she was supposed to be a bridesmaid and the bride kept asking if she’d “really be comfortable – really?” and finally my friend realized that all the other bridemaids were 5’10” and super skinny and that the bride didn’t want a pregnant bridesmaid. So she pulled out.

          • penguin

            Ugh that’s awful

          • Amandalikeshummus

            That’s terrible. I used to have a running joke with my bff that she couldn’t be pregnant when I got married; but that was because I wanted her to indulge in wine, not because I was concerned about a bump.

      • laddibugg

        Exactly–it’s just that I have seen so many ‘Bridal Bootcamp’ posts and such that I can see someone thinking it’s ok to ask someone who is thisclose to fitting into a dress to lose weight (it’s totally not)

        • Jess

          Yup, there are people who are so, so, so ingrained in the weight loss mentality. It’s super gross.

          Also, LW says she’s been doing a lot of work to be comfortable in her own body – if the bride knows about that work, I cannot even imagine trying to suggest that those years be undone for my wedding.

    • MC

      I agree that the cousin’s actions are hurtful, but I could TOTALLY see how the cousin did it with the best intentions and just didn’t think through the whole thing. She found dresses, she knew that her MOH was a bigger size than the rest of her bridesmaids, and wanted to have her MOH try them on before she picked them. She may not have foreseen, if she’s been thin all her life, how humiliating it would be for MOH, or she may not have any knowledge of MOH’s size or plus sizes in general. So not to say that what she did is okay, but I do think it could have come from a place of good intentions with total ignorance of MOH’s experience as a plus-sized person.

      • Amy March

        Really? Thin people are just blissfully unaware that plus sizes are a thing and being too big to fit in something is humiliating? I’m not down with excusing that level of ignorance myself.

        • Angela’s Back

          It also seems like if the cousin really wanted to know if this designer could work with plus sizes, it could be handled in a phone call to a sales rep without the LW being involved at all, instead of dragging this poor woman down to the salon and making her attempt to fit into a dress.

          • penguin

            I wonder if it’s something where the cousin knew her MOH was “plus size” but didn’t know what that meant practically. Size 12? 16? 24? What happened still isn’t OK, and she should have just asked ahead, but I wonder if this was thoughtlessness from the cousin more than maliciousness.

        • MC

          I’m not willing to excuse it either, but we all know that privilege blinds you to the experiences of others, and I’m hoping that that is the case here (rather than the cousin intentionally trying to humiliate her or another worst-case scenario). I 100% agree that the MOH should talk to her cousin and tell her why she’s hurt and that the situation the cousin put her in is inexcusable.

        • Katharine Parker

          I don’t think that thin people are unaware of plus sizes, but if you have always been a size 2, you might not think about the problems of size 16 being the largest size available. I don’t think this excuses the bride and it’s entirely possible that the bride is aware of the LW’s size and was just being a dick, but being able to ignore the issues of straight size vs plus size is what thin privilege is.

        • sofar

          When my sister was coming at me with bridesmaid dress suggestions for my wedding, I had to have A Talk with her about how size 16 is too small for some of my bridesmaids. To her, a size 8-10 was considered “plus size” and a size 16 was, in her eyes, unfathomably huge.

          I can totally see a bride calling a dress shop and hearing, “We go up to size 16” and thinking, “OK good, surely cousin will fit in that!”

          Not saying that’s OK. Bride was being appallingly clueless in this case and owes her MoH a big apology. But this cluelessness exists.

          • Cleo

            Wait WHAT? Size 8-10 is considered plus size? In what universe (beyond “plus size” models who are smaller than the off the rack versions of clothes they model)?!

            Don’t mean to be rude, because I really want to know…where did your sister come up with this?

          • Amy March

            Yeah this is just below minimum acceptable standards of comprehension about the world. If any size is “unfathomably huge” to you, you have more problems than not understanding fully the differences between 18, 18W, and 1X. That’s not just ignorance.

          • sofar

            This is par for the course among her friends, I think. They wear size 0-2. So, size 8-10, in their minds, is 8-10X their size. This is NOT how sizing math works, but since they don’t wear those sizes, that is irrelevant to them.

            It’s also just unchecked cluelessness. I wear a size 4 and I know how this shit works.

          • MDBethann

            Yeah, I’d be curious to know too. I’m 5’10” and have to buy sizes 8-12 because of my height and hips but have never had problems finding those sizes in the “misses” sections in every store (a cut that fits my larger hips and narrow waist, that’s a different story). Plus sizes usually start around 16 or 18. I know society has conditioned women to think that sizes 0-4 are “normal” but that’s only true if you are closer to 5’0″ than to 6’0″.

      • Jess

        I am a thin person. I have, over the course of my life, inadvertently said and done things that made my friends humiliated about their size. My friends were kind enough people to tell me that those things were shitty and not to say/do them. I hope I have learned and done better.

        So yeah, this ignorance is possible.

        It is, however, not excusable and Sad should definitely be empowered to say, “Hey. That was super hurtful. Don’t do that to people.”

        • sofar

          Related: The other day my tall, thin, willowy pregnant friend was talking about maternity clothes at a babyshower and said, “I mean, why would anyone even BUY maternity clothes in the summer? They’re so overpriced! Target and H&M XL maxi-dresses and flowy tops work just fiiiine. And they’re WAY cuter.”

          Didn’t even occur to her other women in the room wore XL (or bigger) when NOT pregnant and therefore would not fit into that size when pregnant. Someone pointed that out to her, and she was like, “Woa I’m an ass. I’m sorry.”

          People get trapped inside their own experiences.

          • idkmybffjill

            Same for less tall pregnant ladies! I could buy XL clothes but they would be super unflattering and many of them WAY too long (like the maxi example).

          • penguin

            A+ response at least

          • BSM

            What @rachelbrownjohn:disqus said. All pregnant people (just like all not pregnant people) are shaped differently.

            Also, both Target and H&M (and tons of other fast fashion retailers) sell really cute, affordable maternity clothes. Why would you buy clothing many sizes up when you could buy something that may work better than “fine” for the same price? I don’t even understand her argument if you put aside the thin privilege.

          • MDBethann

            Not to mention the fact that as a pregnant woman, I WANT the support from maternity pants and shorts. Especially with pregnancy #2, this baby is heavy and I need all the support I can get. Old Navy sells cute maternity stuff too and was one of the few places I was still able to find it IN a store instead of online. My main complaints about maternity wear is that (1) pants have mostly gone “skinny” or “pencil” (um, why, when pregnant, do I want to squeeze into tight clothing that probably isn’t professional enough for work anyway?) and (2) retailers are dropping maternity sections in stores and selling most maternity stuff online (hello – I need to try stuff on because I’m pregnant and oddly shaped and no idea what size I am now, so online shopping is more expensive and less convenient).

          • sofar

            More variety, probably? I’ve shopped with some pregnant friends and, based on my observation, if you can fit into XL when pregnant you have more choices than if you stick to the maternity section of any store. Obviously pants need to be maternity. But, while the maternity section at Target may have 10 shirt options and 3 dress options, the XL options for both those items are much more bountiful.

          • BSM

            Maybe in-store (although I feel like in-store selection these days kind of sucks for almost everyone), but that has not at all been my experience online.

            I’m petite, so I did buy a some tees a couple sizes larger early on in my pregnancy thinking I could use them now, postpartum, and beyond (for a more oversized look), but maternity shirts/clothes are way more flattering and comfortable for me overall. That’s why I buy them, even in the summer!

      • Tolkien Gay

        I’m all about believing that people are generally good and giving them the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not sure she was so ignorant in this case. She had to have known it was a possibility that nothing would fit. Also, I feel like most women are so aware of sizes and body differences, even if only from their own experience. How many times have we all had to wear a few sizes up because the brand is different than we’re used too? That sucks. We’re so aware of how clothes fit our own bodies and how we feel when we try things on in a store in those horrible mirrors (let alone in front of people!), I feel like it’s not a far stretch to understand others have a similar (and sometimes worse) experience.

        Then you have the conversations that friends tend to have throughout their relationship about clothes and shopping and their self-criticisms to where I imagine it’s hard to be ignorant of the body image struggle. Especially in a wedding environment where aesthetics are everything.

    • Jenny

      I mean if it’s 2 dress sizes, depending on the style of the dress and where the person carries their weight, and how tall they are, that’s usually a minimum of 20 pounds, and probably more like 30-35. Which is basically asking someone to eliminate 300-400 calories a day from their diet for an entire year. That seems like a pretty big ask.

      • laddibugg

        Even if the dress zips halfway up, seriously asking someone to lose any amount of weight is unacceptable. But….not everyone thinks that way, and I can see someone thinking it’s ok to say “Oh just diet and lose 10lbs” as opposed to like, 75 or 100 pounds.

        • Jenny

          Agreed! Plus it’s not like trying to loose x amount of lbs in y amount of time works out all the time anyway. After one close disaster of ordering 1 size down because I was planning to loose weight, I always just order in my current size and figure if I do loose weight, I can have it taken in. I just think people who aren’t plus size often think that loosing a few pounds is so easy, and it’s like a. maybe for you, and b. there is a difference between cutting carbs and losing 5 lbs of water weight in 2 weeks, and making long lasting changes and sustaining them over a year.

  • idkmybffjill

    Ugh, I hate this so much. One of the reasons I did mismatched dresses is because my girls were all DRASTICALLY different in size/shape/coloring, and it felt absolutely silly trying to find a dress that might possibly flatter them all. It’s worse when most of the bridesmaids are one size/shape and there’s an odd man out. It doesn’t feel good to be that odd man out – but it’s never the bridesmaids fault ever. Nor is it a “problem”. It just means when picking dresses you shouldn’t pretend all of your bridesmaids are quadruplets. UGHHH. this makes me irate.

    • Katharine Parker

      On the other hand, if your bridesmaids are quadruplets, should you dress them differently so you can tell them apart? Something to ponder.

    • sofar

      I did the mismatched thing too for this VERY reason. I’ve been a bridesmaid in so many weddings where there was so much fretting about finding a dress that was “flattering for everyone” and not making anyone feel body-shamed and ENDLESS reply-all emails trying to agree on a dress that wouldn’t have someone crying in the dressing room.

      But, people! You can cut all that crap out by letting people wear what they want or doing mismatched dresses.

      • idkmybffjill

        Yep. And if THAT level of willy nilly is too much – there are lots of options for same fabric/color, different fit.

    • MDBethann

      I hear you. My bridal party had two brunettes (with reddish highlights), a pale redhead, and a pale woman with black hair. Trying to find a color that would work with all 4 was hard, especially since only the two brunettes (my sis & college roommate) were even close to the same size/shape. I eventually figured it was going to be either blue or green and the ladies all agreed on a shade of teal. But there was no way I was going to squeeze them all in to the same style, so I found a designer (Alfred Angelo, I think they recently closed, however) that let you pick a color and chose from a range of dresses that could be made in that color. That way, each of my ladies could pick out a style (sleeved, strapless, skinny straps, etc) and size that worked for THEM and their body type. I thought everyone looked good on my wedding day, but I definitely wanted all of them to be comfortable!

  • Jane

    I was thinking to myself how I really dislike all this idea of the bride choosing the bridesmaids dresses. To me, it never made sense. Except for your young children, you cannot dictate what other people wear, no matter the circumstance.
    I am very sorry for LW. Her cousin and best friend besides thinking she is entitled to choose what LW can wear, completely disregarded her feelings and specific difficulties in finding a dress that fits her (everyone struggles with finding dresses but plus-size gowns are particularly difficult). – on a personal note, I recently was “forced” by the shop employee to try a wedding dress that would clearly not go above my hips and that was very upsetting, so I can empathize.
    I agree with Amy. Find a moment when she is not talking about the wedding to express your feelings. Tell her you were hurt this all experience and that you won’t any dress that clearly doesn’t fit you.
    On a side note:
    Internet took me to this article: the bride who requested the bridesmaid to spend 15000$ on a dress: https://apracticalwedding.com/expensive-bridesmaid-dress/ – when I clicked the home page and saw this article.

    • Amy March

      Ok but she is entitled to choose her bridesmaids’ outfits though. Whether or not you like it, that’s an acceptable thing to do. It has to fit their budgets and their bodies though!

      • Jane

        Didn’t mean to make a personal attack to LW’s cousin. My feelings are towards the general idea that it’s ok to choose bridesmaids dresses, with which I disagree (but perfectly happy with agree to disagree with everyone I talk about this). LW’s cousin felt entitled because wedding “norms”
        say it is acceptable. (To clarify, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the bride to be involved in the process and express her preferences, but the final decision should me maid by the bridesmaids)

        • sofar

          I agree with you, fwiw. I understand that it is considered acceptable (and is traditional) for the bride to choose the bridesmaid’s outfits. And I myself have happily (and not happily, but with a smile) worn many a bridesmaid dress.

          But I appreciate brides who are pushing the envelope in that regard and doing the “wear what you want” thing with bridesmaid attire and making this more of A Thing.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            socially acceptable norm =/= the best idea we as a species could have come up with

          • sofar

            Thank you for wrapping my words into a concise, pretty package. :)

            This. This exactly.

          • Jane

            I can’t upvote, so here is my written upvote.

          • Jane

            Sure! Just because I disagree with the principle, it doesn’t mean I would not happily comply to make my friends happy on their wedding day.

    • laddibugg

      What Amy said. You can tell people what to wear in YOUR wedding party. . If they don’t like it, they can tell you ‘no’, and not be in the party. You might be ok with folks showing up wearing any old thing but that doesn’t mean other people have to be.
      I want everyone to wear the same dress. I’m open to allowing folks to suggest dresses and vote among themselves what they want to wear within reason–I’m not wedded to any one style, whatever style it is, it’s got to be the same.

      • Jane

        I know 99% of people disagree with me. And I don’t think you are a bad person for wanting your wedding party to wear the same dress. I just disagree you can tell people what to wear in your wedding party. And I think a person you (general you) invite for your wedding party is someone who is important enough to you for you to prefer their presence over their looks on the day.
        Please don’t get this as a personal insult, I you sound like a laid-back bride, and I am sure your bridesmaids are more than happy to wear whatever you prefer. :)

        • Amy March

          “Someone who is important enough to you for you to prefer their presence over their looks on the day.”

          Come. On.

          Wanting to choose outfit and matching ones at that doesn’t mean not choosing something your bridesmaids are happy enough to wear and does not mean you care more about their looks than their presence.

          • Jane

            I think you are 100% right, no question about that. Never ever said brides who want to choose bridesmaids dresses completely disregard their feelings (except LW’s cousin, clearly). That sentence was a direct reply to what laddibugg said: ” If they don’t like it, they can tell you ‘no’, and not be in the party.”

    • emilyg25

      I’m not a fan either, even if it is accepted etiquette.

    • K.

      I mean, maybe all of your closest people would work super functionally together to make a decision like this, but if I hadn’t said, “Hey, I want you all to wear these rentable <$100 dresses in blue, long length, but you can pick the neckline," there never would have been a decision made about the dresses. Not because they were opposed to choosing something but because most of my closest people are indecisive and somewhat flaky (I call 'em like I see 'em). The only one who isn't was my super type-A MOH and she comes from a wealthy background. She def would have tried to push $250+ designer dresses on the group (again, calling 'em) and I would have had to intervene anyway, but now with a group of pissed off at each other women on the wrong foot with each other.

      TL;DR Sometimes it's a practical thing to choose the dress rather than purely aesthetic. (Unless you're the super chill bride who is OK with bridesmaids literally wearing anything they want, which sure, but that's not really a culturally realistic expectation.)

      • Abigail Jacob

        So much this! I was a super organized bride who had picked out three different choices for my bridesmaids that all came in plus AND maternity options (let me tell you how hard that was!) and then when I asked for input, pick your favorite option, etc…..crickets chirped. I seriously didn’t get a SINGLE opinion from any of my bridesmaids. So I picked what I thought was the easiest option and said fuck it and ordered all the dresses myself.

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          Ha, yup, when I asked my bridesmaids for input on anything, I just got a chorus of, “Whatever the bride wants!! :) :) :)” back each time. Even when I asked them for their budget. Very sweet, but a tad annoying because c’mon guys.

          • Leah

            Ahhh this. It’s lovely of them, but also DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY DECISIONS I AM MAKING WITH THIS WEDDING. Please take this one and make it yourself!

          • penguin

            This reminds me of a post on Captain Awkward. “And then I Googled ‘can you die of decision fatigue’…”

      • Marcela

        I was trying to be super lowkey and chill when I told my 2 bridesmaids to just pick a pick knee length cocktail dress. Somehow I still got pulled into several multiple hour shopping trips to find the dresses. There’s just no winning.

      • Jane

        Sure! I don’t mean to make an universal rule that every single human has to abide. I am also aware that many times the bridesmaids don’t know each other which makes the communication more difficult, so a bride who steps in makes everything easier. I’ve already commented how I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the bride to give her suggestions. Although, these suggestions should never coerce the bridesmaids. Saying something like what you said, is more than acceptable as long as everyone involved is free and feels free to say “I don’t want that dress”. It could be because of the cleavage, the fabric, the colour, the price, the cut, or just because they didn’t like the dress. Also, of course, the bride also as a say in terms of restrictions (the typical, don’t wear a bridal gown or a see-through dress to my super conservative religious wedding). Apart from that, I don’t think the bride should not dictate what other people wear.

    • wannabee

      I gave my bridesmaids extremely loose guidelines on what to wear (really only asked that it be cocktail length, and honestly, if someone had been like “I found the dress of my dreams and it’s floor length!” I wouldn’t really have cared). I suggested they wear flats because the wedding is in a field. I also let the bridesmaids know that if they bought a new dress and wore it before the wedding (to a party, to another wedding), so much the better. I have worn plenty a bridesmaid dress with a genuine smile, and no one has ever treated me like the LW’s cousin treated her. But I still have about $500 worth of dresses I’ll never wear again in my closet, and waste drives me crazy. I wish the green/environmental trend extended to wedding attire–my fiance and his groomsmen will all be able to wear their wedding suits again for years to come, why do bridesmaid dresses have to be different?

      • quiet000001

        One of my probable bridesmaids (we’re pre-engaged right now, hah) is in college. Her mom (my SIL) paid for my dress as her main gift, and I full intend to do the same plus tell her to see what she can find in the realm of fancy/formal dresses that she’d actually wear again. She does enough things where she needs fancy clothes that I’m hoping she’d actually get use out of it. Because a) as a college student she has better things to spend money on and b) it’s such a waste to have a dress you only wear once. And even if she decides she won’t personally wear it after all, if she’s gotten it with the idea of wearing it to non-wedding events, then there is more chance someone else will get use out of it if she donates it to a thrift shop or something. (You know what I mean, some stuff just looks very bridesmaid-y?)

        I’m having enough trouble with the issue myself because I know my mom is going to want something traditional, and it seems so weird to me to have a dress you wear once and never again. I’m waiting until we go dress shopping to tackle that issue totally, though, since ATM I have no idea how traditional stuff will look on me anyway.

  • ManderGimlet

    Ostensibly, bridesmaids/maids of honor are the people who are most important to you in your life, who are so special to you that you want them standing next to you on one of the biggest days of your adulthood. It implies a relationship based on mutual trust, respect, and love. Why so many people think that can be thrown in the trash because a wedding is being planned is beyond me!
    “Rolling with the punches” as a MOH/maid means fielding some panicked calls about caterers, going to an aunt-arranged bridal shower with every eye-rolling party game, getting stuck with a tiered, salmon colored, polyester cocktail dress that you clearly will never, ever wear again. Being emotionally abused and made to be humiliated over a dress is not a punch you need to roll with!
    Say something now, when she has plenty of time to figure out her priorities and you have plenty of time to decide whether or not you are enough of one to her to perform these duties. Asking someone to be your MOH is not just an honor to them, it is a HUGE FAVOR to you as the bride. You don’t insult and hurt the person who you are essentially asking to put up with your bullshit for a year and a half.

  • Her Lindsayship

    “I am not having mixed feelings about how MeanCousin is treating you right now. My feelings are unified, and none of them are fans of hers.”
    *raucous applause*

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  • Tara

    What an awful experience! Definitely not something a friend should do to another friend. I will say, as someone who has been plus size since high school it is my experience that some people who are thin and always have been that way that they don’t always understand this stuff. If every store you have ever been to carries stuff in your size you might not stop to think about if there will be stuff to fit your friend. Regardless, the LW definitely should explain to her friend why this is so hurtful and that if she wants her MOH to actually enjoy the wedding she should help her find a great dress! People before dresses for sure.

    • sofar

      Agreed on the clueless factor.

      When I was in the early stages of wedding planning, my sister (MOH) was showing me a J. Crew bridesmaid dress she wanted the bridesmaids to wear. This was the conversation.

      Me: It’s pretty, but there are no plus-sizes. So we can’t.

      Her: But … but it goes up to size 16!

      Me: Yeah OK but that won’t fit two of the bridesmaids.

      Her: Wait… really? Size 16 isn’t big enough for them???

      Me: -_-

      I ended up telling everyone to wear whatever they wanted in a solid color.

      • idkmybffjill

        It’s the thin privilege equivalent to Lucille Bluth’s “what can it cost? 10 dollars?”, but it’s so so true. Beyond about a size 12 I have genuinely not a clue about sizing.

        • sofar

          LOL that Lucille Bluth quote is always so relevant.

        • penguin

          The best part about that quote is that she’s talking about a banana.

          • idkmybffjill

            It’s one of my absolute favorites. Typing it made me smile in a big way. hahahahaha

        • Kate

          “I need someone to unload the groceries!”

      • Cathi

        I’ll vouch from the other side about being clueless. As someone who has always bought from the low end of the sizing range I just have no concept of what “size 12” or “size 16” actually means in terms of people-size.

        My brain wants to think it’s some sort of linear scale, and I don’t consider myself to be terribly small (I’m tall and in the “normal” range of BMI) so therefore why wouldn’t things up to size 16 be big enough for anyone but the absolute outliers? It’d be like someone telling me that have a million Mexican pesos. I’d have to do a bit of research to figure out what that actually means in a way I can relate to.

        I mean, obviously we should just ask our friends what their needs are and not just go around making assumptions. I’m just throwing my hat into the “shockingly oblivious” ring.

        • Sarah E

          I’m the same way on reconciling the size numbers I see with actual bodies I know. I have certainly made blunders with my bff, assuming because a store has an XL, it’ll fit. And recently, a friend who I considered to be athletically built complained about plus-size availability, and I literally had an internal record scratch because I hadn’t even considered what size she would really need.

          I’ve spent my life without major body issues, so even though I’m small, Ive had to adjust my perception of “normal” as compared to “average size and shape of human woman.” Still learning and adjusting here, and hopefully the cousin in this letter does the same

        • Amy March

          I dunno, maybe because the average size of an American woman is 16, and that’s been widely publicized, so obviously no, size 16 is not big enough for anyone except an “outlier.”

          • Cathi

            I’m wondering if maybe I worded my ignorance about clothing sizes outside my own range in an offensive way. If so, I apologise.

            I’ve not read the size 16 being the average size, but that’s actually a good data point to have that helps me visualize number size to people-size. I’ve been completely shocked in the past (while wedding dress shopping, actually) to learn that people I think are the same size, or maybe just one size larger, are actually shopping 5 sizes (if we count every size to be an additional 2) larger than I do.

            I just don’t know how the scale works, is all. And I think most people don’t unless they’ve had to shop for a variety of sizes themselves. It’s really not a logical or easily visual thing.

        • MDBethann

          So if it helps at all for perspective, I’m 5’10” tall and before my current pregnancy, I weighed about 150 lbs (most I ever weighed was 155 lbs not pregnant). Most people consider me tall and thin when they look at me. Size-wise (pants/shorts), I’ve traditionally been a size 8 or 10 at Ann Taylor or LOFT, though it became more of a 10 or a 12 after I had my daughter because childbirth does things to your hips. The waists on pants are typically way too big, but if I try and get anything smaller, it won’t fit over my hips and thighs. Even my friends who wear larger sizes than I do are often surprised when they see what size I wear – they assume because I’m tall and thin that I must wear a size 6, but length plays a huge role too.

          I really wish women’s clothing was done by measurements – at least pants & shorts – like menswear. My husband can find pants much faster than I can because he knows his measurements and they are roughly the same wherever he shops. As I woman, I don’t have that luxury. i also think clothing sized by measurement would make it fit better as well, but that’s just my guess.

          • Cathi

            Your information for perspective is super fascinating to me, because it highlights exactly why I have no fucking clue how number sizes correlate to human people.

            I’m 5’9″ and maybe 10-15lbs lighter than you and nearly all of my work pants are Ann Taylor size 2 (shirts are XS because even breastfeeding I’m part of the itty-bitty titty committee). I would just assume you would wear a 4, maaaaybe a 6. After pregnancy altered my physical structure a bit I’m in size 4 for comfort, but can still fit into the 2’s if I stand up really straight.

            “Size 16” sounds so astronomically far away from “Size 2″ that I just ignorantly assume that if a 5’9”, 135lb person is a 2, then idk size 16 is for 6ft tall 500lb people.

            SIZES MAKE NO SENSE. And I really hope that I’m conveying what I mean. Not that “omg people who wear 16+ are huge” but more “omg, size 16+ is for way smaller humans than I thought”.

          • MDBethann

            You are totally correct that sizes for women make no sense. At least bras involve some sort of measurement, but even that changes – in my third trimester of my 2nd pregnancy, I’m currently 2 sizes bigger than before my first pregnancy (originally a B, now a D). My shirts have always been mediums with an occasional large for sleeve length, but time will tell depending on how my body adjusts post-partum.

        • There’s also the factor of how much the same size can vary among brands…. And, of course, the sometimes different “wedding sizing,” which may/may not involve bridesmaids dressing. It’s like they are purposely trying to make size navigation difficult…

      • Jewels

        I just managed to get my sister not to put me in a fitted bridesmaid dress. I have a belly and violin hips, so fitted never looks right on me because even if I’ve lost weight my violin hips make it look like I have a muffin top. I just felt like crying the whole time I was trying the ones she wanted on. She basically said she’d pick whatever she wanted but luckily someone steered her away from it and we’ll have something a bit more flowy. Now we’re trying to convince her to be reasonable with the budget… idk why this is such a difficult process with her.

        • sofar

          OMG! I am just cringing on your behalf. Like, why do some people forget about the humans that will be wearing the dresses?

  • HarrietVane

    Even with the most generous interpretation of motives (i.e. she didn’t know they weren’t going to fit when she asked her to come– perhaps she’s a 16 and the bridal store’s 16 is more like a 10) the bride should have apologized when she saw how upset her MoH was. I totally agree that the best way forward is to bring up the hurt, but the idea that the bride would think that having the ‘right dress’ was important compared to caring for the ‘right people’ is terrible.

  • JLily

    She should have handled it differently, for sure. You aren’t being dramatic at all, and she owes you an apology. But my other thought is that maybe this wasn’t meant to set you up. I don’t know how the fitting part of the day went down, but is it possible that she didn’t know your size or what sizes would have fit you? Dress sizing can vary widely, and I, for one, am really bad at being able to guess other people’s sizes. Maybe she thought that having you there would help determine whether these dresses would work for your party in terms of sizing, price, and just whether you liked them? Its possible that her motive is as you describe, but it could have also been unintentional. Def agree you should talk to the bride about how she made you feel. The road to the wedding can be long for the Maid of Honor and she needs to treat you like the important best friend that you are.

    • savannnah

      My thought about not knowing sizing is that if you are BFF with a plus size girl, you would know she doesn’t shop at the same places you do. At my most generous, its just very careless.

      • Amandalikeshummus

        I don’t know that I would realize shops that do so much customizing wouldn’t have plus sizes. The bride seems very careless, but also it seems like she’s trying really really hard to avoid talking about something that needs to be talked about. Like, “I don’t want to make my cousin feel fat so I’ll just pretend she doesn’t need a special size.” It doesn’t work like that; but that’s where I get to in being generous with the bride.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          I had a similar thought about the bride’s flawed approach. It sounds like she tried to make it NBD by acting like everything was normal, because she couldn’t think of a way to say, “Hey, so, about dress sizes and what will fit you…” and making it A Thing.

  • Katharine Parker

    The only possible explanation I can imagine for the bride is that she didn’t know the dresses wouldn’t fit. If the designer claimed they came in size 16, but didn’t say that 16 was street size 12, perhaps. Or if the bride wasn’t sure of her cousin’s size and thought, “cousin is probably a 12, right? This will be fine.” (I’ve worked in retail, and guessing people’s size is tough! So generally you shouldn’t do it.) Having said that, neither of those things is acceptable. The bride would be thoughtless in either case, and she should have been upfront with the LW from the jump–“I love these dresses, but the sizes come to a 16. Will that work for you? Are you open to visiting the designer to see what the options are? If they won’t work, we’ll start over, no worries.”

    Also, whether this was a case of thoughtlessness or intentional meanness, this is such a clear example of thin privilege.

    • idkmybffjill

      I was actually very guilty of this exact thin privilege (we didn’t end up going), even when I was doing mix matched! I thought – Ooh fun! Bridesmaid dress shopping, and set up an appointment at David’s Bridal because I knew they had a huge size selection – luckily my plus sized bridesmaid alerted me that they wouldn’t have sizes for her to try on in the store. I was mortified and so grateful she gave me a heads up.

      • savannnah

        I also think this is a good example of how plus size isn’t all the same. I was thrilled to be able to shop at David’s bridal for my wedding dress because I knew they would have sample sizes in 16 and 20 and I could actually try on something.

        • idkmybffjill

          Yes! I think this was part of my misunderstanding when booking the appointment, because I knew they had a wide range of plus size bridal dresses. But I think the sample size bridesmaid dresses only go up to a 12 or something? I’m not sure but I was very caught off gaurd!

          • savannnah

            Yes- I do remember the bridal dresses had much more of a range than the bridesmaids. Why, DB, why?

          • idkmybffjill

            For real. Forever grateful my friend gave me a heads up instead of letting me drag her to an appointment where the clothes wouldn’t fit her. I’d have been SO upset.

    • Abs

      Yeah this does seem more like thin privilege than meanness–it’s totally
      possible to be someone’s best friend and not know what their dress size
      is (I don’t know the dress size of any of my close friends, because it
      has never come up). If you’ve never been anything close to a size 16,
      say, you can’t necessarily picture how big that is or isn’t, and you don’t necessarily know that bridal sizes are smaller. It’s totally possible to be ignorant of all of this without being a bad person.

      Then there’s the issue of the bride acting like everything was normal. Depending on how their relationship is, it could be that the bride feels really awkward about the whole thing, but is afraid that she’ll just put her foot in it more by talking about it (not the right move, obviously, but we do live in a culture where people talk about banning the word ‘fat’ as though it’s unspeakable).

      I think Amy’s absolutely right–LW should talk to the bride, and the test of whether the bride is worth anything as a friend will be how she responds. She should expect nothing less than a full “oh my God I’m so sorry I’ve been feeling terrible about this for days and didn’t know how to bring it up.” And a new dress plan.

      • Basketcase

        “If you’ve never been anything close to a size 16, say, you can’t necessarily picture how big that is or isn’t”
        I had this happen with my brother once in a general shop. He was all “ewww, who’d be a size 16?” (looking at a plus size range that started at 16) and I cringed and said, “umm, me?”.
        He looked at me in shock. I wasn’t massively overweight at the time. But that’s clothing for you.

    • Jan

      Yeah, it could be a (dumb) mistake. But even so, this is a good reason NOT to marry yourself (no pun intended) to a specific designer or collection, until after you have had a conversation with all bridesmaids. It’s about size constraints, but also other considerations, like modesty, access for breastfeeding, possible pregnancy, etc. Talk first, then obsess over dresses.

  • theteenygirl

    This upsets me so much. For anyone else who is trying to fit a vision and also different shaped people in their life, I hope this helps..

    When I chose my bridesmaids, I chose my two sisters and one of my best friends. They are all drastically different sizes. My one sister is shaped basically exactly like me, which is petite and slim. My other sister is curvy plus size and is really busty. My friend is tall and strong and athletic. I wanted them to all look their best, so together we decided to get their dresses custom made to measure from an Etsy store. My curvy sister has had enough hard times shopping for plus sized dresses, so cutting out the trying dresses on part made this particularly appealing to her. My friend had never worn a long dress before, so we took a shopping trip to the mall to see what shapes looked best from her and chose a dress based on that.
    Two of the dresses didn’t fit super well, but with a bit of alterations now they look great and most importantly, they all feel great in dresses that are flattering.

    LW – I think if you feel like you’re going to stand out amongst the other bridesmaids no matter what then STAND OUT! Maybe you can convince your cousin to let you buy your own complementary but different MOH dress – one that makes you feel AH-MAZING. I’m thinking glitter. If you’re into that.

  • savannnah

    As someone who is plus size, has bridesmaids who are the full spectrum of shapes and sizes and is in a bridesmaids wedding a month after mine where I am the only non 125lb 5’2 woman (seriously, I love them but they are all clones) I have thought a lot about how public people’s sizes and bodies are during weddings and wedding planning. Being plus size myself helped me to come super early to the decision to let everyone pick their own dresses from wherever- I gave them a color range, length and a pintrest board with 75 bride approved and currently buyable dresses to pick from if they were directionless and they went to town.

    My bridesmaid took another route however and while it was a super fun time for all of the other bridesmaids to drink champagne and ooo and ahhh at the designer bridesmaids dresses and try them on- I was like you LW, dreading my turn and knowing full well I would not be able to fit into any of them and all that hard work that I’ve done to love my body- esp this year as I plan my own wedding went FLYING out the door and it was awful and so unnecessary. Its hard to feel big and yet invisible at the same time. The shop we went to did cover my size- or rather the 3 sizes up that the shop measured me for and then I got fat-surcharged as well. That feeling of doom about yourself can linger like some gnat for weeks afterwards and you can end up feeling more disappointed in yourself- that you let people make you feel some type of way about your body- than anything else.

    I made a point to tell my bridesmaids about the shop fat-surcharging me and she was shocked and had never heard of a store doing that. But of course she hadn’t- she does not need to think about these things. So LW my long winded advice is to talk to your cousin about the situation, how it made you feel and be honest- its a long road to the wedding and something like this hurt will only grow.

    • Amy March

      Right. Nearly all standard bridesmaid dress designers, to the extent they make plus sized dresses, charge an additional $40, $60, whatever for those sizes. Which is particularly awful when you say your budget is $250, and the dress “costs” $250, but in your size it is $310 and you don’t find that out until everyone is filling in the order form.

      • savannnah

        YEP. The already pricey dress at $300 was now $350. Surprise!

      • Lisa

        I think there’s something to it on the designer’s end. I get charged a “tall tax” for needing to special order a dress in a different length than most people. (When I was in a Fancy Wedding, I had to pay $50 more for the extra length. I found the tallest heels I could so I wouldn’t have to cut off an inch of it.) If there’s extra fabric involved, the company is going to try and make more $$$ no matter what.

        • Henri

          I see where you’re coming from, but designers already make a solid profit (especially when they are making/selling clothing at that level), and they could easily price clothing evenly across all sizes so the cost-for-them evens out across sizes. I’m not feeling particularly bad for designers selling in boutiques having to accommodate human bodies that they should have been considering from the beginning.

          • Lisa

            I didn’t say I felt bad for them or that they should do it. They’re choosing to pass along the cost of the extra materials to the people who need them instead of raising the prices to absorb the price for everyone. I’m not saying the choice they’ve made is right; I wanted to point out that it’s not a problem unique to plus size clothing. It’s a problem for anyone who deviates from the “standard.”

          • Henri

            Ah yeah, that’s very true.

          • Katharine Parker

            It feels worth pointing out, though, that “standard” when it comes to sizes, is significantly smaller than the actual average size of the American woman, which is 16-18, not within the 0-12 of most straight sizes.

          • savannnah

            Also the cut off for what ‘extra’ fabric is seems to get smaller and smaller as you go up in price.

        • Katharine Parker

          I also order tall sizes when available. Sometimes they’re a little bit more expensive, not always, but I do think there is a difference between a special order costing more and part of your standard run of sizes costing more. Also, being tall isn’t laden with the cultural baggage of being plus sized, so it feels different to me.

          • ep

            “Also, being tall isn’t laden with the cultural baggage of being plus sized, so it feels different to me.”

            Hard agree.

          • Katharine Parker

            I knew a girl once who told me she experienced discrimination because people in middle school made fun of her for being tall, and why didn’t that get the attention of racism?

            I wish I were exaggerating.

          • Jan

            This… is a huge bummer.

          • mjh

            I…..argh.

        • Jenny

          It’s this, extra fabric, but it’s also that as you need to use very precise cuts of a bolt of fabric, it takes extra time/different machines/special layouts/etc. Not saying that it’s right, or that this is always the case, but it isn’t just oh more fabric=more money, it’s that the way plus size dresses/tall dresses have to be layed out and cut, often means they can’t cut 2 from the width of 1 bolt, or however they have it layed out.

          • Katharine Parker

            If they can figure out sizes 2-16 to be the same price and use the same materials and process, though, why does making a size 18 suddenly cost $60 more?

          • Jenny

            I’m not saying this is always the case. But let’s say you are working with a standard bolt of fabric (60 inches wide) maybe the way you are cutting it means you can a size 2-16 pattern laid out using the width of the fabric. But for sizes 16+ or tall sizes you have to layout using length of the bolt, which uses more fabric. If you were using a standard size 8.5 x 11 paper you could fit an alphabet where the letters are 2.8 tall x 1.2 wide for example. But it you want to fit larger letters you would need to get a legal size sheet. Just a crappy analogy.

            I’m not saying that this is right, or a good excuse. But there are factors here that are beyond just extra fabric. I don’t know anything about professional/designer clothes and how they are manufactured. I say this mostly from the stand point of a plus size seamstress who has made her own clothes at a certain point, usually the 14-18 range depending on the width of the fabric, you can’t layout the pieces the way the pattern calls for, so you need more materials and you need to essentially design a new layout of the clothing pieces.

          • Katharine Parker

            I understand what you are saying, but I also think designers know that they can upcharge on this and there is nothing the consumer can do about it. Does this process cost $50 more every time? You’re describing an alternate layout that happens once and a recurring additional cost in fabric and possibly labor if the cutting is more work.

            It’s also an additional cost that could be spread across all of the sizes of dresses, but isn’t. They’re choosing who to charge extra.

          • Jenny

            I don’t know a lot about how mass manufactured/ or even semi mass manufactured clothing works. As someone who sews, I generally think that clothes are extremely under priced for the amount of work that goes into them. I don’t know about how their pricing structures work, but part of why mass produced things are super cheap is the mass part of them. If you are having to change the layout, it likely means you have to change the way the items are picked up, and lined, and you have to change those patterns as well. They could spread the cost across all sizes of the dress, but until that becomes something people look for, it would likely just mean their dresses are priced higher than the competition. It sucks, but among the things that suck about how the fashion industry treats plus size women, I’m not sure it breaks into my top 10 list.

          • Jess

            As always, this has been an incredibly informative comment on how clothes get made! Thanks!

          • savannnah

            To me this argument is the same as not making other than White nude shoes or band aids. It’s just ‘extra’ because its not considered mainstream and the industry is not set up for it.

          • Jenny

            It’s similar,but in those cases your are talkinga bout the same design, but swapping out a different color material, much easier. No one needs to design a new bandaid, or a new “nude” pump, they just need to purchase materials in a wider range of colors. In this case, you are asking a designer to recreate a new layout for how the pieces of their pattern had been arranged. It’s not designing a totally new dress, but it is using someone’s time to create a new (optimal ) layout for sizes, and because it’s no longer on the width of the fabric, they will need to do it for every size over 16/18 (whatever the cutoff is). It would be similar to having a graphic artist design the same material for a a business card, a 4×6 flyer, a 5×7 flyer, a 8.5×11 flyer, an oval insert, and a bus ad. Everything is mostly the same, but you are going to have to adjust certain things to keep features from getting cut off, or looking overly stretched due to different aspect ratios.
            Again, as a plus sized person, it’s fucking annoying. But at least I can see the rationale.

          • I get where smaller labels face challenges in producing a wide size range in garments… There are intensive logistics involved, especially if you aren’t a big enough company to take advantage of issues of scale. But for major David’s-Bridal-Style retailers there really is no good excuse, and I think it’s a terrible choice to pass higher costs onto your customers.

          • lottie

            Right. If you look at garment patterns, you’ll often see something like sizes XS-M require 1.5 yards of fabric, while L-XXL require 3 yards — it’s because you can get the front and back of the shirt from 1.5 yards for the smaller sizes but can’t for the larger ones so you need double the length. Given that decent garment fabrics cost minimum ~$18/yard for voile/lawn/chambray and way more for silk etc, the cost is often in the material. Pattern grading is also tricky — can’t just enlarge the shirt front 1/2″ in every direction for each new size, so that’s work too. So, again, it’s sucky but not irrational.

      • theteenygirl

        This was a big reason why we decided to go the custom route. My sister found a few plus size dresses in salons that she liked, didn’t love, but liked well enough. And all of them had a charge of $50+ to order over a size 12 or 14. I was livid and we decided not to buy and support that.

      • Jan

        This happened to me when I was in my sister’s wedding a few years ago. And I’m not even traditionally “plus sized”, she just chose a designer that ran 2-3 sizes smaller than street sizes. I had to pay extra to order the larger size, then alter it to fit my weird body. My “added fabric” plus alterations cost more than the original dress! Of course, the rest of her bridesmaids were stick-thin models and I just kept my mouth shut because I was already a bit mortified as it was.

    • penguin

      Ugh the fat surcharge. I got that when I bought my wedding dress, although the store waived it for me. It still pissed me off – they were like “oh we’re giving you a discount!” and it’s like I’m glad you’re not making me pay the fat tax, but it’s still a bullshit charge and you waiving it just brings me back down to the original (full) price.

      • emmers

        I feel like retailers should just … have everything cost the same. Average it out, and make it all cost one price! Kind of like at the all you can eat dining hall in college, ravenous people get charged the same price for a meal as someone just getting a light lunch.

        • Abby

          Agreed. They’re already averaging the cost of fabric across a bunch of sizes, they just picked an arbitrary cutoff at which they decided it’s ok to bodyshame their customers.

          Though I hated the uniform prices in college dining halls and definitely abused tupperware to hoard snacks for my room to feel like I was getting my money’s worth.

    • Katharine Parker

      I feel like an asshole that I was unaware of this. This is shitty!!

      • savannnah

        It’s really only on ‘designer’ dresses and some online retail shops that have extended sizes. Deeper Dive: some mainstream brands also do not put XL or XXL sized clothing on sale when the S-L sizes of the SAME beautiful tulle skirt (or T-shirt, whatever) are on sale.

        • Lisa

          I work a side job in retail, and I find it incredibly annoying that petite items don’t follow the same pricing schedule as their regular-sized counterparts. We’ll frequently have items from early spring on final sale, but there will be one on-line returned petite dress in the same style for full-price on the sales floor.

          • savannnah

            I guess I see a lot more options for petite sizing than plus when I’m out shopping.

          • Lisa

            It really depends. I’ve heard lots of tales of petite women having issues finding properly fitting clothing in their price range as well. Since retail is struggling generally right now, a lot of stores are cutting their “extended sizing” options, which include plus, petite, and tall items. I’ve noticed in recent years that a lot of my former go-tos have stopped carrying the sizes I wear or drastically reduced their offerings in those extended sizes (and attached higher price tags). It’s something that definitely affects everyone who can’t wear standard street sizes.

          • savannnah

            I get that- and I also think there is a large difference between properly fitting clothes and clothes that I can put my body into at all. Most retail places that I can think of that have tall or petite sizes or that did (and many are still available online) never carried plus sizes.

          • MDBethann

            Maternity clothes sections are dwindling too. A girlfriend and I were both pregnant 3 years ago and again this year and we both noticed it was harder to find maternity wear in stores like Macy’s or Old Navy (Old Navy Outlet still had some, thank goodness) and that while Target still had some maternity wear, most brick & mortar stores had shifted their maternity wear to online only, which totally sucks when you are constantly gaining weight and changing shape and have NO CLUE what size you are going to be next week, let alone several months from now.

          • I am a petite woman (XXS, flat chested) and I have always struggled to find clothes that fit well. I think it’s a struggle for everyone, it’s just that you always notice what they don’t have…. I always get the impression there are lots of options for larger sizes because size 0 jeans and size 5 shoes are always sold out or never even stocked in my city, but it’s a case of the grass is greener on the other side, and because I don’t actually look beyond one size bigger than what fits me before dismissing the selection available, I really have no idea what the store has for someone on the other end of the spectrum… I just dismiss everything as “this is too large for me, if I were taller/curvier/had bigger breasts it might fit”

  • KitBee

    Oh man, as a fellow plus-size lady, I feel you, LW! This is such an incredibly awkward and painful situation, and you are 100% justified in being upset about it! I would definitely talk to your cousin and let her know how you feel. If she’s truly your best friend, she will apologize profusely and do everything in her power to make you comfortable throughout the rest of the dress-buying process.

    I’m trying to look at the cousin’s actions in the most charitable light. She may have realized that it would be rude and hurtful to–for example–send an email saying, “I love these dresses that come in sizes 2-16, but will they fit you?” And she may have thought that inviting you to just try on the dress would be LESS rude; well-meaning people often err on the side of never talking directly about weight or size, because they don’t want to cause offense. Of course, I still think it was a tremendous misstep on the cousin’s part, and it was thoughtless at the very least. But perhaps she simply didn’t realize that, by trying to approach the issue indirectly, she was causing LW even more distress.

  • I’m stuck on how the LW says she’s best friends with the bride, but the bride treated her this way. While my best friend may not know my exact size down to the number & what cuts/styles are best for me, she would have enough of an idea to do the legwork of knowing if a designer could accommodate my size. Or if she truly didn’t, she’d be close enough to me to have a fucking conversation about my size, styles that could work, and how I’d like to handle shopping for a gown. She wouldn’t invite me to pick out dresses at a shop where I can’t try on anything and I’m embarrassed cause I’m the biggest person there.

    • Amy March

      “close enough to me to have a fucking conversation” is, in general, a good standard to use when choosing bridesmaids

      • Jess

        Embroider that shit on a pillow!

  • Mrrpaderp

    The bride’s after-the-fact reaction really jumps out at me – “she acted like it was perfectly normal behavior.”

    There are a lot of thoughtless-not-malicious explanations for setting up the appointment in the first place, as others have pointed out. Thoughtlessness under these circumstances is forgivable WHEN IT’S ACCOMPANIED BY AN APOLOGY. That’s not what happened here though. Not only did bride (unwittingly?) put LW in an awful situation. When she realized just how awful it was, she doubled down and insisted that she didn’t do anything wrong. That’s not low-key gaslighting, that’s full on gaslighting with flashing neon signs and all the confetti. When you hurt someone’s feelings, you apologize, you try to make it better. I’m not sure what advice to offer LW other than, you’re not being dramatic and you’re not crazy and you absolutely deserve a heartfelt apology.

  • Beez

    One of my best friends basically did this when I was her bridesmaid. I’m usually an 18/20, but I was postpartum and breastfeeding, and even though for the 15+ years we’ve been friends she has made numerous comments about how she knew she would need to dress a lot of body types for her wedding (usually about her sister and I, who both have giant boobs even when not breastfeeding) she chose dresses that only go up to a size 18, and that’s if you can find them in that size and color, and that were notorious for not fitting in the bust beyond let’s say a c-cup, even at their largest. For the $160 dress (on sale) I had to spend over $300 in alterations to get it reworked to fit me.

    I tried to advocate for both her sister and I, and her sister and her had a major falling out over it, and both of us had to buy extra fabric and have the dress significantly overworked. The same friend insisted on seven different events, all requiring presents (though it’s unclear how her MOH, a college friend of hers influenced that), and I already felt like a major outcast for literally not being able to attend all of them (I had a tiny baby at home) that I didn’t want to make more of a scene and be more of at outcast for the dress not fitting. The seamstress kept insisting I could wear the dress again, but my postpartum/breastfeeding body is not my regular body, so it’s actually huge on me now. It’s all just very, very frustrating. And I love my body and very rarely have trouble dressing myself generally, which is why I dread being someone’s bridesmaid. I always end up in something that looks horrible on me, and doesn’t fit, and needs a ton of alterations, and just makes me generally miserable. It sucks.

    • Amy March

      I am so sorry she did this to you.

      • Beez

        Thanks. It sucks, you know, because you want to be there for your friends, but I really do dread being a bridesmaid at this point. I’ve never had a good bridesmaid experience.

    • OMG I’m so sorry this happened to you. Also SEVEN EVENTS WITH PRESENTS?????

      • Beez

        I still feel like that was nuts, and I’m glad others agree. My college friends are a super low key group, and we’ve thrown plenty of lovely showers and bachelorette parties for each other but probably only one of each. My friends college friends, however? Completely different story. I’ve never spent that much money on someone else’s wedding. And I bowed out of everything I could, but then I got a lot of grief over it from all of them. I didn’t want the narrative to be about me, though, so I tried to ignore it all as much as possible. It was really, really hurtful though.

      • Kate

        Yep, this totally happened to me when my brother got married. There were just so many freakin’ events, and I live five hours away and was expected to drop everything and come to all of them. The kicker? They got pregnant with a honeymoon baby so we immediately went into baby showers and gender reveals and oh god I am so poor….

  • topscallop

    “So if a dress isn’t going to fit, it’s my fault.” NOPE. It’s your cousin’s for trying to force you into a dress made for someone a different size than you. When you talk to your cousin about this, I hope you come to agreement that you as MOH can wear a different dress than the bridesmaids, just because I think that will make the actual shopping component of the question easier. In terms of your friendship…yeah, she needs to hear that she’s hurting you. You can phrase it in a way that gives her the benefit of the doubt that her actions weren’t intentionally hurtful, but she needs to hear it, apologize, and do better going forward. Her relationship with you should be a lot more important to her than what you wear on one day.

  • Colleen

    Ehhhh. Sometimes straight sized people don’t quite understand how clothes and sizes work for fat people. She knows you’re fat, duh. But it’s not crazy to imagine that she didn’t know your size, and is unclear about whether you’re a size 12 or 18 worth of fat. It’s a little awkward that she tried to feel out whether the dresses worked for you instead of just asking, but there’s that’s ask vs guess culture thing, and I’m 100% on the side that she was trying to be inclusive.

    Totally reasonable for you to be upset, but I’d temper that with holding that she loves and values you enough to have in the wedding party, and not get a dress that doesn’t work for you.

    • Amy March

      A little awkward?!?

      • Colleen

        Size and bodies and friends with outher women and weddings are all so fraught. But what’s going on here in this persons life is their best friend trying to figure out what size they are without explicitly asking. Painful, to be sure. But not cruel, and not a catastrophe. From what I can tell, the dresses have not been ordered and that the bride is invested in finding a dress that does fit LW. I agree that there’s better ways to go about that, but 10% of this letter is the brides mistake and 90% of it is the LW’s projections around that mistake

        • Amy March

          She made her come into the store knowing the dress wouldn’t fit. That’s wrong and cruel and I’m stunned so many people are eager to excuse this based on ignorance.

          • Colleen

            I’m curious about what part of the letter leads you to think that the bride had her come to the store knowing it wouldn’t fit. That would totally change things for me. I read the letter as the bride asking LW to come to the salon to see if it DID fit. It wouldn’t make logical sense and would be a waste of the bride’s time to invite someone out to try on a dress just to rub their nose in their fatness.

          • Amy March

            She knew there was at least a strong possibility it wouldn’t fit. That’s clear from the letter. And making someone try and squeeze into a dress you know full well may not fit is wrong and cruel.

          • Colleen

            All the LW says is that she’s short and fat, that the designer doesn’t make plus-sized dresses, and that the bride invited her to the salon. The phrasing makes it sound like LW didn’t expect to try on dresses.

            I just don’t see a reasonable explanation for the bride having LW try on dresses she knew wouldn’t fit. There’s nothing in the letter about her then trying to pressure LW to loose weight. And when she acted like it was a perfectly normal thing, to me that sounds like she thought she behaved perfectly normal. But I can absolutely understand the bride thinking that they might work, and wanting to check. People are dumb about bodies, especially fat bodies, and the most likely/logical explanation is that the bride didn’t get that, for example, a size 16 wouldn’t work. I’d call that hurtful and ignorant, but I wouldn’t go so far as cruel.

            Also, there’s tons of super reasonable emotional stuff in the letter that I think is coloring this interaction beyond the hurtful body stuff. The bride is tall, rich, thin, she’s planning her wedding not to LW’s timeline, the other bridesmaids sound intimidating. I can imagine easily in that context, the bride’s assumptions about LW’s body landed extra extra hard.

          • Colleen

            I also think there’s a lot of space between “Shove yourself into this dress I know doesn’t fit you for my own pleasure and amusement” and “Does this dress fit you?”.

            In no way am I saying the bride handled this well. But there’s a lot of reasonable interpretations of her actions before the point of active cruelty is reached. It sounds like this relationship is painful in some ways overall to LW, and that those parts deserve to be worked through and addressed.

          • Henri

            Just pointing out… you don’t have to be a cruel or malicious person to do something that is cruel.

            I can think of several other ways of assessing whether this dress would fit (online listing, getting the sizes and measurements and sending those along, just ASKING “Hey, think this will fit you?” and trusting the response) without requiring a full try-on in a store. So even if the bride didn’t mean it (I don’t really care one way or the other), the impact of her action is the same. She didn’t see or consider all her options, and she hurt her MOH.

          • Colleen

            Oh, sure. I just don’t think that asking someone to try on a dress to see if it fits is inherently a cruel act.

            For sure for sure for sure the bride coulda just asked and would’ve saved a whole bunch of mess from going down.

    • idkmybffjill

      Idk man, I don’t think she needs to temper anything. I’ll give you that bride could’ve been clueless – but LW is WELL within her rights to say, “Hi that was very not cool and not okay. thanks.”

      ESPECIALLY because this bride seems like the type who will also buy robes and pajamas and stuff and if LW doesn’t speak up now, she may be in for a journey of clothes that don’t fit and a bride who pretends to not get how clothes work.

      • Colleen

        I do think so much of her feelings about this are influenced by the other stuff she brought up in the other letter. Nothing about her feeling upset is unreasonable, but the parts about the bride being wealthy and planning too past, those feelings could be mediated a little more.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Yessss!!!!!!

      I’m going to be honest: As a straight sized person who barely knows how to dress my own body, I purposely sidestepped this issue by having everyone pick out their own dresses. People thought I was trying to make it easier on them. Nope. I was making it easier on ME, because I’m not about finding a single style that works on six different people.

      But man, I could totally see myself doing something like the cousin did if I *had* wanted matching dresses! And yes, it would have been born out of good intentions, because I’m totally one of those ‘guess’ people.

    • I’m straight-sized and in all honestly I could see myself making a mistake if I was trying to navigate a specific event clothes vision with plus-sized friends. BUT If I did something like this — something that was unintentionally cruel and hurtful towards a close friend — I really hope that they would not temper their response towards me. Like, this was a really big mess up on the bride’s part, and if I was in this situation I honestly would prefer that LW express just how shitty it was so that I could get my head in line for the future. Not that LW owes anyone her emotions as a learning experience, but I don’t think that pulling her punches is actually doing the bride any favors.

      • Colleen

        Yeah, totally fair.

    • That’s when, as the best friend, you pick up the fucking phone and say “best friend, I want you to look gorgeous at my wedding, do you mind sharing your size? What style do you think would look good on you?”

      None of this would have happened if the bride hadn’t assumed instead of asking, and actually acted as a friend when the MOH was clearly uncomfortable.

      • Colleen

        YES. I think that part is SO WEIRD.

        I am guessing that bride is “guess culture” and felt that asking directly would have been rude or hurtful, but as Team Ask Culture, I firmly believe that so much hurt could have been avoided if they had just talked about it.

        • quiet000001

          I am plus sized (14-16) and I have no hope of guessing what size someone else is even if they look like they might be close in size to me, because stuff fits so weirdly depending on where you carry your weight and your general build. (When I lived in England I had more trouble shopping because I have broad shoulders and at the time they seemed to cut stuff mostly for pear shapes so I had to size up to get my shoulders and upper arms into things, for example.) So I don’t have a clue why someone wouldn’t just ask. Or if you don’t want to ask the exact number, find the size chart for the designer you are considering and ask if they look like they’d work, that way someone just needs to give you a yes/no/maybe with a lot of alterations rather than an actual size.

          (Going by numeric size is risky with bridal anyway because some of them are sized weirdly. Always check the size charts!)

  • Nicole

    I had this happen to me, and I never said anything, and I still think about how awful it made me feel. My now SIL (who is also plus size like me) made me try on a size 12 dress in front of the other 7 bridesmaids. And when I whispered to her, “This isn’t going to fit me”, she insisted it would and made the salon employee go in the room with me to get the dress on me. When I came out of the fitting room in a dress that would never zipper in front of 8 other people, it took everything in me to not burst into tears in front of everyone.

    But the worst part was that the bride sent me a text a few days later saying that she had ordered me the dress — but ONE size up, and that I owed her $200+ dollars for it and it was not returnable. Fueled by anger and frustration at her entire wedding, I lost some weight and was able to fit into that dress (BARELY.) But the damage is done — I will never forget the way she made me feel, which was downright awful.

    So use my story as a cautionary tale — say something now, and get a dress you feel beautiful in. If she doesn’t value that, then she doesn’t value you as a person, and she should find a new MOH.

    • ART

      Wow, I wish you could find a new SIL…that really hits all the APW don’ts, including spending other people’s money. Sorry :(

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  • NotMotherTheresa

    That whole experience sounds super hurtful, and I’m really sorry that you had to go through that.

    In your cousin’s defense, I’ll admit, as a non-plus sized person, I can ~see~ where she could have made this mistake honestly. The challenges of finding plus sized clothes are one of those things that you just don’t fully comprehend unless you’ve been through it (#thinprivilege), and as such, it’s super easy to misstep. During my own wedding planning, I was EXTREMELY conscientious of every possible concern a bridesmaid could have (budgets, body image issues, weight gain, weight loss, etc.), and my largest bridesmaid still had a pretty tough time finding a dress, simply because plus sized options are so limited.

    I certainly hope I didn’t put her (or any of the other bridesmaids) though the agony your cousin put you through, and she certainly owes you an apology, but if it makes you feel any better, I do feel like this could have been a genuine oversight. Bridesmaids dresses (and weddings in general) are a serious minefield, and it’s easy to do some really hurtful things without intending to. If you’re as privileged as your cousin sounds like she is, it’s even easier to make those mistakes, because the horrible truth is, unless you’ve been on the wrong end of some other people’s wedding plans, it’s easy to overlook certain things!

    • Amy March

      If you let them pick their own dresses, then no, obviously you didn’t put them through this. It is not “easy” to do this.

  • mjh

    So sorry you’re in that situation, LW. I think the position the bride put you in is totally not okay. I don’t think she necessarily realizes how that went down for you, though if she doesn’t, I believe it is her responsibility to address that gap in her knowledge and the hurt that she caused with it. LW, I understand the mixed feelings but want to say that I think you need to worry about your needs right now. If you think that getting some resolution from talking to her about it would help you, don’t worry for a second about not being the bridesmaid who rolls with the punches. She loves you enough to choose you to be her MoH, surely she doesn’t want to leave his hurt on your shoulders. If it doesn’t feel worth *your* while because it takes more from you than you think you’d get back from getting an honest apology and some more consideration from her, then that’s one thing (and one that I can totally understand. Solidarity). But I don’t think you should hold back on account of not wanting to be a squeaky wheel. You deserve far better than you got.

    I was MoH in one of my very best friend’s weddings years ago and the “so absorbed in the wedding planning that she’s forgetting how to treat people” LW mentioned totally happened with my girl. She was thinner than me, and I already knew that she had a lot of hangups about her own body and different views from mine on concepts relating to expectations on women’s bodies in general but from the bridesmaid dress experience, I learned a lot more about what she thought about my and other people’s bodies.

    I’m not plus sized, but I’m thick and on the higher end of non-plus sizes and I was the largest of her bridesmaids. I also have an extreme hourglass shape, so I knew that unless she picked something with stretch, I’d be needing some tailoring no mater what she picked. She wanted J Crew bridesmaids dresses and she tried in her own way (/unsuccessfully) to not make me feel awkward about it, but she was concerned about me being able to fit into J Crew’s dresses. I think she felt that she was positive and tactful by saying to me that she’s concerned that they might not work because “they don’t do a good job of making clothes that fit different sizes”, but she still said that only to and about me. She said she liked the idea of a distinction between my dress as MoH and the bridesmaids dresses, so maybe we could two birds one stone that and have them wear J Crew and me wear something from David’s Bridal. We went to a David’s Bridal to check out styles and see what she likes, and the first dress I tried was an unflattering cut and did awful things with my 36HH/34J breasts. I told bride from the dressing room that this dress was a no go, but she said she wanted to see and asked me to come out, and when she looked at me she said that it would be fine if it fit and I should try the other styles out in one or two sizes larger. It was so awkward watching her try to tactfully navigate what she seemed to see as my body dysmorphia while I was trying to gently push back on the weird box she seemed to put me in in her mind. I ended up just telling her that I would order one of the J Crew styles she picked out and see if it would fit. She spoke very carefully and was obviously trying to not offend me, but she said I could do that if I wanted to but I should know that I’ll probably need to return it and she’d need to see me in the dress to decide if it worked or not. Judging by her clearly trying to speak calmly and her sky high eyebrows as she spoke, it was clear that she was incredulous that I could possibly fit well into anything they manufacture, and perhaps that I was a whale who thought I was a dolphin.

    I checked out the size chart and saw that the dress came up to a 16 but that my measurements seemed best served by a 14 petite, so I ordered that and didn’t tell her the size I ordered since it seemed likely she’d have something to say about it. It fit pretty well, the only problems were that the neckline was a little low and the waist was big. When I tried it on in front of her, she was shocked and excited. A tailor added a little silk to the neckline to avoid showing any cleavage and took the waist in, and it worked out perfectly. When the bride saw me in it, she got all happy and emotional.

    While I got the brunt of it, the other bridesmaids weren’t immune. One bridesmaid who is very slight wears a size 2 petite. The bride had set up an appointment for some of the ladies to try on sample dresses at J Crew, and when she had to estimate sizes for the associate to pull, the bride estimated that said bridesmaid wore a size 12. She was shocked when she found out that her friend wore a 2. The issue I really felt the need to push back on (and did) was about shapewear. The bride thought it was totally reasonable to require that all the bridesmaids wear shapewear of some sort. There were five bridesmaids, and for two of them (and the bride herself) shapewear was a go to standard for all fancy events/times you care to look good. The other two and myself did not own shapewear and had never worn it before. This was a tough one, because I found the requirement of shapewear for bridesmaids to be hugely problematic and implying that our bodies weren’t good enough for an occasion without modification, but the bride saw shapewear as totally standard issue and as basic as requiring any clothing, like the formal event version of a no shoes, no shirt, no service kind of thing. She couldn’t even begin to see how requiring shapewear could imply a judgement on our bodies, and she was really surprised by the pushback. The two other bridesmaids who weren’t shapewear owners/wearers were not happy with the requirement and raised eyebrows and complained about it when we were among ourselves, but they didn’t say anything to the bride. I can understand it not being worth giving push back to a very opinionated person, especially when they’re in full on wedding stupor and I’ve certainly felt that there were times when bringing up something that was hurtful would take more from me than any resolution I could get would give. I think we all have our lines, though.

    • Amy March

      She. WHAT.

    • HarrietVane

      yikes, this sounds excruciatingly uncomfortable

    • notquitecece

      Yeah no. Other people’s underwear is THEIR OWN DAMN BIZNIZ. You do not get to tell other people what underwear to wear.

      • quiet000001

        Right? I could see mentioning if a particular brand of shapewear is comfortable if it is what someone is actually planning to wear and the general topic is what underwear works under the dresses, but unless the dress is one of those ones that requires special underwear for decency (which is its own kettle of fish as far as a problematic bridesmaid dress choice) then what people actually wear is not anyone else’s business.

    • BSM

      Wow. Pretty sure I just ground down my molars another mm reading through this.

      If someone was requiring me to wear shapewear… Jeez, how hurtful.

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  • gonzalesbeach

    im a little nervous for LW since there are 18 more months to go. the line from LW about her being “so absorbed with wedding planning that she’s forgetting how to treat people”. maybe good time to also check in with bride about her expectations about pre-wedding activities, about budgets (LW’s! not the wedding budget) etc. etc.

  • notlob1986

    To all the people saying “maybe LW’s cousin just didn’t realize the size gap……” I say – NO.
    BULLSH*T.

    The problem isn’t that LW’s cousin might not (in good faith) understand XL sizing, the problem is how her actions framed the situation. Simply, her actions indicate that LW’s inability to fit into her cousin’s favorite designer’s dress is the problem, and NOT that the designer doesn’t make dresses beyond size 12-16.

  • J Swanson

    As the maid of honor, you could totally have a different dress. People do that all the time, and if the other bridesmaids fit this “perfect” designer, problem solved.

  • thechimes

    Macy’s carries a bunch of plus sized dresses for some really great designers. I don’t know what their definition of “plus sized” is (if it’s really plus size or only goes to 18), but I do know we looked there for one of my bridesmaids. We did totally different dresses for everybody because there’s no way people look good in the same dress. I had the exact opposite experience shopping as a bridesmaid once. Ended up picking the dress that looked good on the other people and not on me (the non-plus-sized bridesmaid). There’s just no winning solution for everybody as Amy described.

  • I think there’s a chance that the bride has really good intentions and thought they could customize something for LW. Failing that, she needs to speak up. I would have no problem telling a friend, “This dress is like a two-seater car: no room for the junk in my trunk. Do you want me to bow out, or are you okay with me looking elsewhere for a dress?”