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Shopping for big and tall is a hit and miss
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I don’t know exactly when it happened, but the people who run department stores all got together and assigned labels to people based on their size.

Men, for the most part, have limited descriptions. You have young men’s, men’s and then big and tall men’s clothing. I am confined, at present, to the big and tall department (and not because I’m tall).

Women, on the other hand, have more pleasing descriptions. You have junior, misses and women. I don’t understand the last two.

First of all, the misses department is not relegated to married or unmarried women. We, in the South, often pronounce the abbreviation Mrs. “misses.” Mrs. is actually an abbreviation for mistress. The only time we generally use that term involves several former and/or dead presidents of this country.

I don’t think any self respecting woman would want to shop in the “mistress” department. This is the point that you can drop in your own joke about some man who would.

Then there is the women’s department. The truth is that the junior and misses departments are also for women, only smaller. Stores sometimes attach their name to the women’s department. I don’t know if Mrs. Belk, Macy or Dillard were large gals, but the stores which bear their husband’s names suggest that they might have been.

Men, particularly those who are tall or stocky, have to shop under the banner of big and tall.

There was, of course, “Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway,” a clothing store for large women in the movie “Hairspray.” That’s the exception.

I went shopping recently with my great nephew, Samuel, in tow. He is 6 and can read simple words, like “big.”

“What numbers are we looking for?” he asked as we looked for a shirt for me. He pulled one out and it was a “tall.” I had to explain that Uncle Harris was a “big.”

“Look Uncle Harris, it’s a big, like you, it’s big,” he said as he found the shirt. He wasn’t shouting, but it was a loud enough voice that everyone nearby turned and looked at me and smiled.

If you’re a clothing maker, couldn’t you have chosen a different term? Several come to mind, such as portly, especially large or, I don’t know, pumpkin-like.

Let’s make this equal opportunity. You could have junior, mister and man sizes. And while you’re at it, why is it that I can buy fat pants off the rack but if I lose 2 inches in my waist, there are no pants short enough? Are there no short medium-sized men?

And why are there no pictures of fat guys in your advertising? If you look at the pictures in the big and tall department, you see guys who look like they should be playing in the NBA. Show me the guy who is built like me.

It’s kind of sad, but I’m not alone in the big part of the big and tall department. Too many of us are going in the wrong direction on the bathroom scale.

The big episode was an incentive to begin my much-needed efforts to shed some weight. I had lunch the next day and ordered water in the super size.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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