Not For You
By April D. Ray
I have never been a small person. When I used to run races I would joke that I was not built to run, but rather to carry heavy things and bear children. I’m sure my humour was in part to cover up my insecurities about my own body, its shape, and its size. I would like to think that I have come to terms with it, but in all honesty I know that this will likely be a lifelong battle.
Horseback riding is a rare sport in that men and women of all ages compete against each other on an equal playing field. I wish I could say it’s also a sport that doesn’t discriminate between body types, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Look at the “Big Eq Diet,” which is basically slang for “disordered eating to be thin,” as tall and skinny is the fashionable look for the equitation ring. This is something I find personally devastating and so very dangerous to the many young and impressionable people in this sport. Obviously a tall and thin person looks great on a horse, but at what cost? A person of average build and shorter statue can look great on a horse too (see photo).
Recently I was shopping at a local tack store and looking for a long sleeve technical top to ride in. A long time ago I accepted that I am no longer a size medium and large is, and should be, my size of choice. But I refuse to believe that I am an extra-large, not because I think there’s a problem with being that size, but for the simple fact that in the majority of brands XL is where their sizes end. So anyone larger than me can’t fit into and subsequently buy their clothes, which does not make sense to me on any level.
Imagine my surprise when the large size in this popular brand did not fit me. The extra-large was a much better fit and I bought it despite my inclination to boycott the brand purely on principle. It got me wondering why these clothing companies are shrinking their sizes, and not just within the horse world. The average size of a North American woman in 2016 was somewhere between a 14 and 16, making a lot of these brands unavailable to so many. Aside from anything even related to creating positive body image and fostering an all-inclusive world, these brands are pretty much saying that these clothes are not for you if you are any larger than our largest (in fact very small) size. This is something that I hope will affect their bottom line enough to make some positive changes.
At the end of the day, much like a scale does not define me or anyone else, neither does the size on the tag of our clothes. I think it would just be nice for there to be some sort of sizing standard and of course, more clothing brands in the equestrian world that fit “true to size” and true to reality.
“Happiness isn’t size specific.” ~ Anna Guest-Jelley
Main photo: Ella Degea Photography. April D. Ray competing in Hunters