Why This Recent Kohl’s Launch Is A Glimmer Of Hope For A ‘Superfat’ Like Me

"If you aren’t at the superfat/infinifat end of the fat spectrum, you cannot possibly begin to understand what this means to someone like me."
Superfit Hero

Beloved indie plus-sized brand Superfit Hero recently launched a collection in 100 Kohl’s stores nationwide as part of the department store’s Curated by Kohl’s collection, which features “digital need-to-know brands” for a limited time. Unlike so many other attempts at inclusivity among brands and designers (looking at you, Old Navy and Lena Dunham x Honore 11), this release ― though small ― matters tremendously because the brand’s full line of sizes (large to 7x) will be available in the brick-and-mortar stores and the Kohl’s website.

Superfit Hero has been on my radar for quite some time, so when a representative reached out to me about this collection, I was beyond excited; I was actually shaking from the adrenaline rush of finding out that a major department store had taken notice of this brand and decided to feature it.

The idea that I could go into a store and try on clothes in person for the first time in maybe 15 years was just thrilling. I could actually buy something at a store that wasn’t just an accessory, and this concept felt so alien but also so, so good. In fact, I intend to go to the store closest to me to try something on ― just because I can ― in the next week.

If you aren’t at the superfat/infinifat end of the fat spectrum and never have been, you cannot possibly begin to understand what this means to someone like me. So let me try to give you context.

When my grandmother knew she was going to die in 2015, I realized I had a major issue. I had nothing appropriate to wear to a funeral. Like, not even close to appropriate. My wardrobe consisted of stretchy pants and cotton tees almost exclusively. I began ordering clothes as soon as it looked like she might not make it.

In the end, I didn’t have to worry. One of her dying wishes was for us to not spend the money (the woman was frugal like few I’ve known) to fly back for her funeral. Which was particularly good, since nothing I ordered really worked (and then I had the joy of paying to ship it back).

But it made me realize that there are multiple people in my life who are older and who could soon die. Not to mention, if the pandemic has taught us anything, that life can be unpredictably and cruelly short. So last year I ordered several items to keep in reserve, for a “just in case” funeral.

This isn’t something most people ever have to consider. Shopping for a funeral at the last minute isn’t fun for anyone, but at least it’s possible for most. For those of us in bigger bodies, it’s simply not.

Any unexpected occasion, sad or otherwise, can become something we simply can’t attend because we don’t have suitable clothing ― and there’s no time to order anything online. And that’s if there’s even something pre-made accessible to us online, not just the option of a custom-made garment.

And sure, you can tell us to “just” lose weight, but at the moment we exist in fat bodies. “Just” lose weight doesn’t exactly help in this moment, even if it were possible.

Though it’s impossible to know if this launch at Kohl’s will lead to other brands being pushed to extend sizes or for stores to carry more inclusive size ranges, it’s still a big step in the right direction.

It’s not just that Superfit Hero carries up to 7x and that I can wear their clothes, either. This brand features models who are truly, to use my preferred word, fat. They’re not showing the “idealized” fat bodies only, like some brands do. They show people who look like me, people whose bodies are typically ignored, even by the limited number of brands who sell our sizes.

Seeing their ads has been empowering. Seeing bodies like mine represented, seeing fat people shown as being active in a positive, non-diet-y way… that’s needed, and it’s also so appreciated. Of course, I realize trolls won’t see it this way. It’s “glorifying obesity” to them, and to that I say bullshit.

“Seeing bodies like mine represented, seeing fat people shown as being active in a positive, non-diet-y way… that’s needed, and it’s also so appreciated.”

I’ve lost so much of my mobility over the years due to improper treatment for fibromyalgia. When I was more active and belonged to a gym, I was a lot smaller than I am now, but I was still bigger than any brands’ activewear collections. I had to make do with what I could find to wear to work out in that came in my size. I would’ve given a lot to have had access to proper workout clothing. It’s hard to know how much that might’ve changed my relationship with both exercise and my sense of self-worth.

Consider that when brands decide my body (and even bodies much smaller than mine) don’t deserve clothing, this says I’m not deserving. I’m rendered invisible by the fashion industry.

Founder Micki Krimmel began Superfit Hero to give more activewear options to people she knew in the roller derby community. Superfit Hero dropped sizes extra-small to medium a couple of years ago so they could truly focus on “the needs of a community that has very few options for activewear.”

Perhaps the most encouraging thing Krimmel shares is that Kohl’s gave the brand absolutely no pushback on including every size they sell in the release. “They didn’t fight sizes at all,” she says, and I have to admit it shocks me. I’m so used to people who look like me being excluded that it’s just what I expect to happen.

Feeling invisible while knowing that most people are silently (or sometimes not so silently) judging you is a very strange experience. When brands like Superfit Hero feature bodies that resemble mine, it’s a reminder that not every brand is all about making money off of us while refusing to acknowledge our existence. Brands that take our money but only show the clothes they sell us on models up to an ideally proportioned 2x or 3x (looking at you now, Torrid) but that also know they have us over a barrel when it comes to size options are the norm. But they don’t deserve to be.

A collection like Superfit Hero’s being released nationally ― even on what might seem like a small scale ― in a large chain like Kohl’s could be a chance for the fashion industry to come to terms with the existence of those of us in the largest bodies. That hope is hard to hold on to ― we’ve been burned before, after all. We’ve seen too many brands claim to be going “inclusive” only to stop at sizes well below those we wear.

But still, it’s hope… and it’s real and it’s so potent.

If this launch does well, this could potentially lead to a regular partnership for the brand. It could lead to more stores carrying the brand. It could lead to stores finally recognizing that superfat bodies exist and that we need clothes, too. It could lead to a much truer inclusivity in fashion than anything that’s come before, and that feels worthy of celebrating.

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