Fat people don’t exercise.

It’s true. I learn this every damn time I go to a store looking for exercise and/or workout clothing.

It is that time of year again. January in Wisconsin. Cold, boring, dark and dismal and my body is asking me to do something, anything, to make it feel alive. I’m tired of yoga, and I wanted something along the lines of dance, so I decided tonight I might take a belly dancing class. I don’t really want belly dancing, I really want hip hop or urban or modern dance, something to a nice house or techno beat. But no, I cannot have those things. All we have here in Madison is ballroom dance, ballet, one-person tango — that is not a misprint, folks — I could be tangoing it up With Myself — and bellydancing. Bellydancing is the least of the evils for me.

I love yoga. But I want something with music, because I am so music orientationilated*, and I know I will be more likely to actually go if it has music involved.

So. I realize I have no Appropriate Clothing in which to work out, or dance, or gyrate or whatever for tonight. I won’t have time to go after work tonight, because I’m actually not sure I’ll even make the class because I have a late meeting, but I am really going to try. So I need to have my change of clothes with me. I figure I can get away with some sort of stretch pants and a tight fitting stretch shirt thing with a god-awful shelf bra in it. I decide to try Old Navy first and then Target, since I am on that side of town, they are next to each other, they both carry XXLs, which typically fit OK.

Old Navy has Nothing. Apparently, this season’s workout clothes involve nautically-themed sweatpants knickers, for the jaunty sailor in you. These will not do. I cannot gyrate in fleece knickers. I could potentially do a downward dog in knickers, but I would rather not because they are KNICKERS. I do not wear knickers, fleece or otherwise. And as for tops, they have nothing with lycra or spandex, and instead have opted for more nautically-themed shenanigans, such as sweatshirts with drawstring ropes, which would be useful for making a noose out of.

I consider, briefly, that Old Navy is perhaps going back to its roots; it is, after all, called OLD NAVY, and perhaps they are all wanting to go for a goddamned sail. Now is not the TIME, people. I need to bellydance, and ropes and knickers are not going to make that possible. Running through my head are visions of those stupid Old Navy commercials, where people would be dancing on a boat, singing lyrics to a snappy tune with words like “anchors away,” and “matey,” and “ahoy.” Completely Miffed, I march out of Old Navy and go to Target.

At Target, I am convinced I will find at least one outfit in which I can gyrate. I look hopefully for XXL stretch pants and an XXL shelf-bra stretch tank top shirt thing. Then I look frantically for each of these things. And it appears they do not exist. No, the largest sizes they have are XL. And while I am sure that I can manage an XL, because it is, after all Lycra and Spandex, I am not sure I want to, and I am not sure that it will be comfortable.

Begrudgingly, I take the cutest of the outfits to the fitting room. The pants fit. They are tight, but they are supposed to be, and I really don’t care. The top, however, is another story. As a pear shape, I am shocked, because it should be the other way around. Once I manage to pull the goddamned shelf bra down over my chest, I realize that I now cannot breathe, and that I may have actually re-injured my shoulder in the process. I try bending over in the family dressing room, and do a yoga pose to see what happens. The top rolls up like a shade, and becomes a modified sports bra. I stare at myself in the mirror a bit, pondering what I see, belly exposed. I see me, stuffed like a sausage into clothing too small just so I can learn to bellydance. This has been a workout in and of itself. Completely Miffed, I leave Target, and head home in rush hour traffic.

N calls, and can tell I am Irked To The Max. She asks what’s wrong. Sympathetic to my plight, and knowing the best way to prevent me from spiraling downward into a fury of perseveration on the unfairness of the Clothing Industry, she jokingly suggests Nude Yoga.

Instead, we decide that I will just go to this first class in my goddamned pajamas.

Now here’s where I rant, people.

I like exercising, especially when I am in a healthy place about it, and when I am not in a bulimic, How-Many-Calories-Have-I-Burned place about it. What this means is that I need to do non-traditional forms of exercise, exercises that are not trapped in a gym, on a machine, where I am counting numbers to see how successful I have been. That’s too dangerous for me. I do well in classes and outdoor sports. I used to love to bike, until a minivan plowed into me.

Some of my favorite exercise is of the outdoors, hiking-kayaking-camping variety. These particular forms of exercise require very particular clothings. They require shit that wicks sweat off of you, or neoprene suits to prevent hypothermia, or boats that fit your hips, or stuff that layers correctly. Many times you shouldn’t be wearing cotton because it doesn’t dry right. You even have to buy sleeping bags and back packs that are sized. And guess what! They don’t make any of these things for fat women. They expect me — us — to buy the “men’s” sizes, and deal. I am very clearly not shaped like what they think a “man” is shaped like.

If the insinuation is that fat people should be exercising all the time — because we should only exercise to lose weight — then why isn’t there a market out there for appropriate clothing? Or is it that we should be resigned to wearing the ugliest clothing possible while exercising — even if that clothing isn’t geared toward the exercise of our choice — until we lose enough weight so we can fit into the nicer clothing? Why is there a caste system even in exercise clothing? Huh? Hey, REI, Patagonia, Target, Bally’s Fitness: You want me to be thin, why don’t you make some clothing for me to get thin in?

 Probably because getting fat money is worse than getting no money at all.

*The word is oriented, people. Not orientated. Just a pet peeve of mine.



  1. January 23, 2008 at 11:26 am

    […] the rest of this great post here This entry is filed under Exercise Advice. You can follow any responses to this entry through […]

  2. Lindsay said,

    January 23, 2008 at 11:44 am

    If you’re just looking for belly dance outfits, it’s actually not hard to make them yourself. Get a sports bra that fits, then make yourself a pair of harem pants.

    I am a horrible sewer, but even i can make a pair of these. They don’t hafta be measured perfectly because they’re supposed to be all loose and flowy. You can make them out of any old colorful fabric you find on sale at your local fabric store. I don’t think i even used a pattern, i just kinda eyeballed it. They were a horrid rainbow clown-stripe pattern, but i paid like, a total of $5 for the fabric and tossed ’em together in the span of an hour or so.

    I’m sure a quick google search for “harem pants pattern” would produce some workable ideas of how to do it, if you’re interested.

  3. fatgirlonabike said,

    January 23, 2008 at 11:49 am


    I drop a lot of money at those sites for numerous types of clothes. But yeah, I totally agree. The lack of properly-made exercise clothes for fat people is pathetic.

  4. January 23, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Man do I know exactly how you feel! Try finding exercise clothes when you fall in the larger-than-plus-size range. I worked the MLK parade in frigid temperatures on Monday and I spent a solid month looking for long underwear. I didn’t find them. The coat I wore came from hunting/fishing store Cabellas, so, of course, it was a men’s coat and while it was warm, the shoulder seam came down to my elbows. Then there’s the bathing suit conundrum–where can I find a size 32 suit when most only go up to size 24? Pool chemicals eat suits and I can’t afford to pay $100 for a suit every couple of months even if I can find one in my size. It totally pisses me off!

  5. Bekbek said,

    January 23, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I laughed so much at the Old Navy portion of this post. I won’t shop there because their commercials set my teeth on edge.

  6. Berta said,

    January 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Weightless One — there is one of those fancy chlorine proof swimsuits at that junonia link that fatgirlonabike put in up there for only 30 bucks. And it looks like they have your size.


    I just bought 2 cause I am all about the water aerobics this winter.

  7. The Rotund said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:04 pm


    The links that fatgirlonabike posted are really great, but they are pricey and sometimes I can’t afford that and just want a damn tank top from Target, you know?

  8. GoingLoopy said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Also, try http://www.danskin.com. Their bike shorts, at least, are teh awesome. They don’t ride up even a little. I think Lane Bryant carries some of their stuff too, at least online. (I know online doesn’t solve the BUT I NEED IT FOR A CLASS TONIGHT problem, but at least you’ll have something for next time.) With bellydancing, could you do a flowy skirt with some bike shorts under? The hippie-type skirts aren’t hard to find, and they are most comfy.

    Also, try Wal-Mart. They carry at least some active-type wear in plus sizes.

    For the record, I agree with you – it shouldn’t be so difficult to find workout or outdoor wear for plus-size people.

  9. Kim said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:11 pm


    Website doesn’t seem to have a class schedule, but does list an adult hiphop class.

  10. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Kim: Hells yeah. I signed up for hip hop. So, hopefully, they are not full, and I will start next Monday. Thanks so much!

  11. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Oh, Kim: I signed up for the one at UW.

  12. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    On outdoors wear: I know, right? I mean, sleeping bags and kayaks and back packs? C’mon. I tried on a mens’ pack recently. No. It does not fit. The women’s packs fit better, but fuck, I have 52″ hips. They don’t make packs with hip straps that large, but the torso length in the mens’ packs are too long.

    And while we are on it: Can we please get over the notion that fat women have SHORT LEGS? I am 5’9 and that height is in my legs people. Let’s make some pants that are not a 31 inseam, for the LOVE OF GOD.

  13. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    On sewing: I am learning to sew just now. I have tried making pants twice. Once in high school, and once a couple of years ago — similar to those harem pants, right? Apparently, on both occasions, I did not give myself enough ass allowance, because each time, the back of the pants like dipped significantly low in the back. Like almost to the thigh low. I’m not sure what my problem is. I’ll figure it out eventually. I have a slow learning curve on these things.

  14. Jana said,

    January 23, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    You might want to check out Zuumba. I tried at the Y and although I’m not skilled enough to really shake it, it was super fun and a good workout. They have at home programs, too, so you can dispense with the entire clothing question. It’s at Zuumbafitness.com

  15. Lee said,

    January 23, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    You go gurl. You know what, I’m against exercising though. Because you’re losing weight doing nothing and all that energy could be used building a building or making the pyramid and helping the poor. But yeah exercise does make you feel good 🙂

  16. kristin said,

    January 23, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Hey thoughtracer- I have a Kelty pack that is great…my hips are about 46 inches, but there is plenty of webbing (like, 10 inches or so) left after I buckle the waist belt. I have the red cloud for short waisted people, and it’s perfect. Check campmor.com.

    I have exactly the opposite feeling about pants..I am 5’5″, and regular pants from say, LB, could be footies for me…

  17. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Hey Lee … I don’t lose weight when I exercise. Just gain muscle. I ruined my metabolism years ago. I can’t afford to lose any weight anyway. Clearly, I can’t find clothes as it is. Dropping down to a size 20 won’t make finding clothes any easier, that’s for damn sure!!

  18. Nemohee said,

    January 23, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Don’t you know that we fat women are supposed to exercise in sweatpants and over-sized t-shirts only?

    I lucked out and found some exercise appropriate clothing at a Hamrick’s in sizes all the way up to 4XL. But be warned: they flare at the bottom. That works for me, since I walk and bike, and it might work for belly dancing…

  19. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    ooh. What’s Hamrick’s?

  20. thoughtracer said,

    January 23, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    And I accidentally wore an oversized shirt to Yoga once, and that was a lesson in the expose of belly flesh, let me tell you. 20 sun salutations later, I was really annoyed having to pull my shirt down for the millionth time.

  21. littlem said,

    January 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Oh, good. Sarah hooked you up.

    Also, I think Kelly Bliss has some more sources on her site.


    “*The word is oriented, people. Not orientated. Just a pet peeve of mine.”



  22. Kim said,

    January 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I’m a UW alumna (now in SF) and I *loved* the dance department when I was there. I hope their continuing education classes turn out to be as good.

  23. corinna said,

    January 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Hey FPDE,

    I wonder if you’ve come over to my shopping site? http://www.ThisLushLife.com. If you look in “Zip” the category for exercise clothes you’ll find links to sites that do carry your size. I personally have taken belly dance classes for years and I love the yoga pants from Danskin (up to 4x) and then in the “Shush” category (for yer undies and other unmenshunables) I have found exercise and jogging bras through “Bigger Bras.”

    And to thoughtracer: 31″ – 32″ inseam is just a standard off-the-rack measurement for an Average length. 28″ for Petite. 33″ – 34″ for Tall. Avenue and Macy’s carry women’s plus tall.

    I don’t usually leave comments pimping my web site but I thought I would mention it. I hope you find what you are looking for. And of course, if there are online sites that you shop at regularly please let me know and I will add links.

    All my best,

  24. Orodemniades said,

    January 23, 2008 at 7:48 pm


    Happily, the joy of bellydancing is that you don’t need anything special to dance in. Skirt and a shirt, something scarf-like to tie around your hips and you’re good to go. You can totally dance in pants, too, but you tend to get hot.

    Now, part of the joy of bellydancing in the whole dressing up bit. I mean, shiny! jingly! Jiggly! Don’t we all need more shiny in our lives?

  25. La di Da said,

    January 23, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    I bought some stuff from the REI “extended sizes” range and it seemed pretty decent, along the lines of the stuff from Sport Hill. Their pants seem to run large though, I measured as their 3X (26-28ish) and the stretch pants were falling off me. The tops I got seem to run true to size. YMMV etc.

    This was all mail order. Apparently Australia is like Wisconsin! Who knew?

  26. Nemohee said,

    January 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    A Hamrick’s is this:


    They have a store locator, but it appears that they only exist in Virginia (where I currently live…Go Hokies!! *ahem*), Tennessee, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, and Georgia (where I used to live). ANNNND….they don’t have online ordering.

    They’re good for random finds, but mostly cater to the 70-ish and older crowd (if you don’t like polyester or knit with lace collars, I wouldn’t recommend shopping in their regular clothes…). Worth a look, however, if you live and/or visit the area…

  27. Fatadelic said,

    January 23, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    If the insinuation is that fat people should be exercising all the time — because we should only exercise to lose weight — then why isn’t there a market out there for appropriate clothing?

    Clearly clothing manufacturers experience cognitive dissonance at the idea of fat people actually getting of our behinds and exercising. Hey, there’s a market here! Want my money?

    And there’s been some great links in the comments to clothing stores… thanks!

  28. weightlessone said,

    January 24, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for the info about the suit from Junionia. I’m gonna give it a try, but I’m leary because not only am I really fat, but I have a LONG torso and short legs (yes, I’m one of those fat people with short legs even though I’m 5 foot 7 in). Most suits like the one you posted end up not covering my ginormous rack because of my long torso. Still, for $30, I’ll give it a try and eat the shipping costs if it doesn’t fit. Besides, I was planning on ordering some padded bike shorts from Junonia anyway.

  29. Mals said,

    September 1, 2008 at 7:26 am

    Hello – Old Navy sells all their plus size clothes exclusively online. They have some cute things. Check it out if you get a moment.

  30. March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    This post was great. Thanks for sharing. I feel exactly the same way when it comes to shopping for plus size clothes in general. Apparantly we all want to look like the Golden Girls. Also, thanks for all the links in the comments ladies! I just started a blog about my adventures as an overweight young adult. Check it out, I would love your input!


  31. revrea said,

    June 20, 2011 at 5:24 am

    Love love love this post! Took up yoga abt a year ago and my amazing hubyy got me togs from Lands End. Its been a struggle to find adaptations to classic asanas or combos like the Sun Salutation. Persist, persevere!

  32. charotte said,

    November 26, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I don’t lose weight when I exercise. Just gain muscle. I ruined my metabolism years ago. I can’t afford to lose any weight anyway.

  33. weight loss said,

    June 17, 2014 at 5:20 am

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.

  34. KateSchmate said,

    March 2, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Everyone working out is bulimic? Screw you. Stop insulting others and making excuses for yourself.

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