the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

OhmyGod! A Size 14 in the Beverly Center!

The Beverly Center

The Beverly Center

Remember how in Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman’s character learned what it was like to be a woman by dressing as a female?  I was reminded of that movie when I went shopping this past weekend at my local mall.

The Beverly Center is one of the best-known of Los Angeles’ area many big malls.   The Beverly Hills – West Hollywood location brings in a lot of celebrities and wealthy folk.   Despite the tiniest movie theaters in town, it’s a great place for people-watching or encountering Nicolas Cage buying a gift for his latest wife.

F, my cousin from Israel, flew into town to attend a big anniversary party.  She thought she might be underdressed for the party and asked me to help her find a party dress.   I decided to take her to the Beverly Center.

F is thirty years old, a funny and attractive woman.   She said she wears a size 14.   I took her to the Bloomingdale’s in the mall.   A saleswoman told us that this Bloomingdale’s doesn’t carry any dresses in size 14.

OK, no problem.   Onward.   There were tons of stores in the mall.   We went to Ann Taylor, DKNY, Boss, Banana Republic, Max Studio, etc., etc., etc…. No dresses in size 14.   One boutique even had a sign on the window which read something like, “We don’t carry items over size 12.”   It was fairly intimidating, as if they were telling us, “Please don’t even walk in here and create bad feng shui with your fat cells.”

My last resort was the mall’s Macy’s.

I have clear memories of my mother (size 16-18) dragging me to the Macy’s in New York every year for their big Columbus Day Sale.   She said it was the best place to find dresses for work.   I used to help her search the racks in the big-size department (located in a dark section near the restroom, hidden from view like the the crazy family member no one wants to talk about).

But at least my mother was able to find some dresses there.

Not in this Macy’s.

I was told that they didn’t carry size 14 because this store was an exclusive “boutique” Macy’s, which I guess means “No Fat People Allowed.”   I asked a salesgirl if she knew any other malls where we could find a size 14.

I received a blank stare.

I saw a fashionable African-American woman in the cosmetics department who was clearly a larger size.   She looked totally comfortable in herself, as do so many bigger black women.   I asked her if she could help my cousin find a store for a size 14 party dress?  Her demeanor changed.   She looked shocked, as if I just “outed” her as a plus size woman and she would be fired immediately.

Is this what so many women have to go through — especially in places like Los Angeles?   The Beverly Center had plenty of clothes for all types of men, skinny to the fattest slob in town.   Shouldn’t a mall be required to at least have one store with a dress over size 12?

Men would have sued this place long ago.    Women of LA unite!


  1. Jim

    You needed to take her to a regular mall, like in Pasadena or Fox Hills.

  2. Neil

    You mean there’s no one over size 10 in Beverly Hills? I live nearby and I see plenty of women over size 10. Where do they all go? Do they have to get their dresses mailed to them in a plain brown wrapped envelope so no one will see?

  3. Natalie

    We go to Loehmann’s.

  4. Jim

    I think it may even be for racist reasons. Many blacks and Latinas are bigger sizes and they don’t want them in the shopping mall.

  5. Neil

    It dosn’t make much sense to me economically. Can’t you make the most money by having every size possible?

  6. Marie

    That would make too much sense.

  7. Molly

    Well, people at The Beverly Center must think that we all want to wear shapeles sacks and that there is no money in that. Until this culture starts appreciating and celebrating the beauty and the sexiness of mormal-sized women, without placing them in some “special” and separate Plus-Size category – we are in big trouble.

  8. Molly

    The Beverly Center is also overpriced.

  9. Kate

    In some of the higher-end stores, she probably could have worn a 12 or even a 10. Many chi-chi stores suffer from size deflation. the article at discusses this trend.

  10. ElizaF

    That is revolting! An American size 14 is a UK size 12 – I think (!?) That is the size of a normal woman FFS! Size 0 is a disease not an achievement.

  11. question girl

    it’s not just in LA that this is an issue… in most malls these days, IF you can find a “fat” girl store, the clothing is made of polyester…

    14+ women are lucky if they can find a layne bryant in their mall these days – and then, you are stuck with all the “i dont care that i am fat – i;m still gonna wear splashy colors in see through materials”

    forget about the fact that i work out 3-5 days a week for 2 hours, eat a diet a weight watchers supervisor would be in envy of – and my dr tells me i am fine

    i still am a 14/16 and i refuse to go clothing shopping anymore

  12. 14 and Cute

    Try a Chico’s store , the size 14 would be labeled as a size “3”. They only carry 0,1,2,and 3. The clothes are made for women with a real figure and look fabulous on. You can also look at Avenue and Lane Bryant. You might as well shop where they want your money. As far as size being a “race” thing, I am part Mexican and was skinny most of my life, now I am a 14. I see plenty of larger white women and women of all races. Face it, large just does not look as CUTE in the designer clothes as skinny does.

  13. Sarah

    I have had this problem for a long time. I am white and 5’10 and athletic (triathlete). I am full bodied and have big strong thighs and calves. I can barely fit into a size 12, usually cannot. Even when I slim down (I yoyo alot depending on how active I am), I have a terrible time finding clothing. I am completely dependent on websites for larger sizes. It’s a real bummer to never be able to go shopping, to try something on, to see how it feels before buying, to wear that brand new outfit on a Saturday night. I feel desperate for clothes and order/return all the time. It’s just a huge bummer. If they’d only carry a size 14, everything would be different. 12 is just too small.

  14. in northridge

    i am having the same problem. like sarah, i have a very broad built. i , also, have an hourglass shape. regardless of how much i weigh, i still could never find anything to fit my arms, thighs, or butt…and, continue the wearing a size 14/16. (everyone thinks i am a size 10 and are shocked to hear the truth. when i go shopping with friends, they give me things i would dream to fit into). the waist just becomes huge. the one place that consistently caters to women, who are large with no gut, is banana republic. i also love shopping at anthropologie and find ella moss tops and dress (anthropologie and nordstrom) to be quite flattering. it is quite frustrating, because the assumption is that if you are thick, you are fat. i’ve tried shopping at the “fat girl” stores, and the smaller sizes are too big. they do not fit an athletic female body: they are shapeless and are too roomy at the waist and stomach. i wish someone would get a clue and design clothes for athletic and broad women that are figure flattering and gorgeous. i look absolutely hot when i find the right dress, and any designer should be proud to have me wear their clothes.

  15. ZX81

    Elizaf – A US 14 is a UK 16.

  16. Crittergal

    You mean, men don’t know this?! Y’all think we look sloppy and hopeless because we *want* to?

    I live in Washington, D.C. – not exactly the fashion capital of the world – and it is impossible to find clothing that fits. Saleswoman sneer and rake you up and down with their eyes if you even smile hopefully in their direction.

    Even if the fabric covers my body, the clothes are *always* cut awkwardly – if it fits my hips, then the bust is so big, I could store both Olsen twins in there.

    Even if it’s just pants or a skirt, not a dress, anything that fits over my hips could be worn in maternity because the waist is so big.

    And its not just a cultural thing. When I worked as a cashier, a customer once grabbed me by the elbow and asked me, “Excuse me, but when did you white girls start getting booty?” We’ve always “had booty” but, just like Uncle Clyde and the Shotgun Incident, it’s not something we mention in polite society. Or display, apparently.

    And amen to Question Girl on the Lane Bryant front. I wear a lot of LB out of necessity, but sometimes you walk through the racks of super minis with slits up the fronts thinking, “We should *not* be wearing this.” Ugh!

  17. FredericaBimble

    Eliza F: No, a US size 14 is a UK size 18….There’s a 4 size difference between the two. A size 14 US is pretty large. A size 0 US is a UK 4 – whilst this is quite small, it isn’t drastic on a 5′ woman. It is about right, actually if the woman is petite. A US 6 is about a UK 10.
    So, ‘size 0’ doesn’t seem that far out, after all.

  18. crunchy carpets

    Yeah and I usually prefer to shop in the states for bigger if that is changing..but never shopped there..was at the mall in Burbank..liked that one..GOOD shopping for us obviously GIANT ladies.

    Our mall here is all petites too…LOVE that..sigh and would men sue?

    My dh can’t find XL’s that fit him in Gap or Old Navy anymore..but just soldiers on.

  19. wa

    I remember going shopping on Montana Avenue and being turned away because I was a size…Eight.

  20. Elizabeth

    “A size 14 US is pretty large.”

    It is the average American size for freak’s sake!!! It is really not a plus size, it is on the margin.

    The Macy’s in downtown LA has plus sizes. I am a 12 top and 16 bottom, and I can generally find things that fit great there. Actually they carry 14 and 16 in regular lines too.

    In terms of upper level designers, i know that Calvin Klein (the full name, not CK or whatever) makes 14 and maybe 16 because they have Calvin Klein dresses in that size at the Ross I go to.

    Shoutout to Ross! They have great deals and a large plus size section with some great labels– at least in LA.

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