Too Fat For Zara

Of all the signs that I need to go on a health kick, there is just one that has made me actually do it. Others, I ignored. Like the time I wore a maternity top to work (well it was the only clean plain black top I had…) and that day when everything I ate was beige. Oh and that moment my three year-old said to me, “Mummy, is there a baby in your tummy?” was one that filled me with joy.

But I’m now two days into a new healthy lifestyle (blergh, hate that phrase) and what’s the reason? I’m too fat for Zara.


Not being able to shop in Zara is quite possibly one of the worst things that can happen in life. Let’s forgive the fact that I’m being slightly melodramatic here and consider that it’s the best shop for basic tees, colour pop blazers, cute skirts and on-trend dresses, never mind the winter coats and knits when it’s cold weather. Nine times out of ten, when you admire something that a friend is wearing, she’ll tell you it’s from Zara. It’s the new Topshop, now that Topshop only seem to be catering for super-skinny fashion students. And it doesn’t even matter that lots of people have the same top/skirt/trousers as you, because it’s Zara and we’d choose wearing the same Zara top/skirt/trousers as everyone else over living a life without Zara.

But recently, my Zara purchases have been limited to jewellery (they do a ridiculously good statement necklace) and the occasional XL top (but not everything comes in XL – oh and it’s just brilliant that some of their clothes only come in S and M *eye roll*.) I can’t even buy shoes there because I’m a size 8 (their biggest size) and their shoes come up small. So I’m basically a big-footed fatty in their eyes, which does wonders for my self-esteem.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I genuinely needed to start eating more healthily anyway, I’d start a one-woman mission to get fashion brands to extend their sizes to reflect their customers’ needs. It’s crazy that so many high street retailers only stock up to a size 16. And don’t get me started on Oasis, who a couple of years back, changed to sizing some of their products as S, M, L (Large is a 14-16 according to their staff. How is that even helpful? It’s probably too big for a size 14 customer but too small for a size 16 customer.) Needless to say, after years of shopping in Oasis, I haven’t been in, since. If you ask me, fashion brands should do away with plus size ranges (which are usually stocked with JOLLY floral patterns for fat women’s BUBBLY personality) and just concentrate on offering their regular range in more sizes.

But it’s time for me to make a change. A change that I’ve ignored making until now because – bizarrely – I appear to have the reverse of body dysmorphia. I look in the mirror and see the slim person I used to be. I walk along the street and in my mind, I’m a size 12. It’s only when I catch sight of my reflection in a window or the time I saw a photo of myself at a kids’ birthday party and thought ‘Wow, who’s that fat lady?’ that I remember. Shit. I’m fat now.

So while I don’t believe in diets (The 5:2 can jog on, as far as I’m concerned) and I don’t think you need to be skinny to be happy (read Bryony Gordon’s ace piece in The Telegraph on this and Daisy Buchanan’s The Debrief piece on finally feeling happy about being a size 14) I do believe in making small changes for the better. And it’s time for me to stop ignoring the fact that I got fat. So sweets, chocolate, cakes are out. Chips are gone. Fizzy drinks are in the bin. It’s all about salads, lots of protein and veg, and small amounts of carbs. Two things I might still indulge in are my skinny lattes and wine. Don’t make me give those up. Please.



  1. June 15, 2014 / 11:11 am

    ‘A big-footed fatty’ what a phrase (I lol’ed!) and something I’m sure you most certainly are not but good luck with the healthy eating. Just don’t deny yourself too much 🙂 x

  2. June 15, 2014 / 11:28 am

    Great post, and the very best of luck to you. I keep falling off the wagon myself, if I could only stick to it I’d be as thin as I am in my minds eye – clearly I too suffer from the same reverse of body dysmorphia!

    • Alison Perry
      June 15, 2014 / 12:56 pm

      Must be hard when you write a food blog! So many delicious things out there…

  3. June 15, 2014 / 11:40 am

    Making the decision to cut the crap is the biggest obstacle I reckon. Once you start making small changes it’ll become a habit and feel normal. Sweet potatoes, roasted cauli and chia seeds are your friend! And wine is still totally allowed now and again – I’m counting on you to be my one friend not to go tee total on me! PS for what it’s worth – Zara or no Zara – I still think you’re mega fit. So there.

    • Alison Perry
      June 15, 2014 / 12:59 pm

      I’m making a shopping list of those things Molly. And yep I definitely don’t want to give up the wine. It’s so good. PS thanks you’re not too bad yourself.

  4. June 15, 2014 / 11:48 am

    Alison- brilliant post! I feel everything you are saying – I too have had to step away from Zara! And it kills me…brought a dress in a supermarket last week! Thats when you know you really need to make a change! (but to be fair it a very simple stripe jersey dress that I can just about get away with buying with my weekly shop!)

    I too think I still look like how I used to look- until I catch sight of myself in a changing room squeezing myself into a dress/skirt I once would of stepped into with ease! I am with you on this health kick/small changes/stop ignoring what in front of me – moral support you have it!

    (but, please lets have a wine at Britmums!) x

    • Alison Perry
      June 15, 2014 / 1:02 pm

      Yes we will definitely be having a wine at Britmums! So relieved to hear it’s not just me who feels this way about body shape and Zara. Let’s support each other in being healthy – as Katrina Cool Bananas says we can be cheerleaders. X

  5. June 15, 2014 / 3:05 pm

    I think it often takes a kick up the bum like this to make us do something about it at last and as kicks up the bum go, that is a good one. Just think of all the Zara goodies you will be treating yourself to in the not too distant future. Now that is something to look forward to 🙂

    • Alison Perry
      June 17, 2014 / 7:52 pm

      That’s a really good motivational tool. You’ve done so well with healthy eating recently – you’re my healthspiration!

  6. June 16, 2014 / 7:07 am

    Whilst the healthy regime is a good thing of course, I do think that it is sad that some shops don’t cater for larger ladies. I am a size 16 and have been for years and I would love to be thinner but life and large bars of chocolate seem to get in the way. Good luck with the regime but if I was you I wouldn’t shop in Zara even if you do slim down, out of principle.

    • Alison Perry
      June 17, 2014 / 7:52 pm

      But it’s ZARA! 😉

  7. June 16, 2014 / 5:45 pm

    Zara is designed for petite Spaniards though remember-I always find their sizing strange. I agree brands need to change their ways-plus brands seems such a dated concept.

    I’ve just written about what I’ve known all along when it comes to eating and exercise-don’t deny, be kind and have treats to keep your sanity!

    • Alison Perry
      June 17, 2014 / 7:53 pm

      Yes, you’re right about Zara being aimed at weeny Spaniards. I’ll come over and read your post on yoga and health in a mo…

  8. June 16, 2014 / 9:13 pm

    I loathe the S,M,L,XL sizing and wish shops would stick to actual size numbers, although they vary from store to store, as straight away you’re labelled with the large tag. Good luck with the healthy focus and as Molly said already you’re lovely as you are 🙂

    • Alison Perry
      June 17, 2014 / 7:54 pm

      I know, the number of times I have to ask a shop assistant “what size is large?” and the answer is always different in each shop…

  9. June 16, 2014 / 9:44 pm

    You are a beautiful lady inside and out Miss Alison. You should remember that. And I love Zara too, but agree that their sizing is silly. x

    • Alison Perry
      June 17, 2014 / 7:54 pm

      *kisses Katie*

  10. June 17, 2014 / 2:07 pm

    I love Zara, but even as a size 10 with biggish boobs I often seem to fit in ‘large’ there- tis never good for the ego and gives a warped perception of size i.e. makes you feel bigger than you are. Well done on starting to think more about eating healthily etc- I feel much better since going lower-carb (not ‘no carb’) and eating lighter. Now just need to get the exercise thang going! x

    • Alison Perry
      June 17, 2014 / 7:55 pm

      Yes I think low-carb is a good idea for me – thank you for giving me the idea. I joined a gym yesterday – EEK!

  11. June 18, 2014 / 7:31 am

    Aww, Alison just remember- health isn’t an image, & although Zara clothes are certainly creations of beauty, it’s YOU that is the real beauty here-not a look or image. & Feeling good about yourself is tons more important than pretty clothes (although its a given, buying a flattering cutsie garment really can help too!)
    But, obvs me being me, i’m very happy for you & your health turn around, so GO YOU! (thats me with ma pompoms!) & I”ll get you onto the green tea one day….even if its the last thing i do!! 🙂 xx

    • Alison Perry
      June 18, 2014 / 8:42 am

      Thanks Katrina! You’re an excellent cheerleader.

  12. June 19, 2014 / 10:40 am

    Bloody Zara. You always look completely fab though x

  13. June 21, 2014 / 12:07 pm

    I’ll NEVER understand why shops don’t get with the programme and realise that, if they make us feel GOOD about ourselves, we’ll SPEND! If I had a clothes line, I’d make everything super generous for that very reason! I often cut tags out of my “larger” items! How sad is that?! Fab post xx

  14. Lady Chappers
    June 23, 2014 / 1:31 pm

    I’m with you. on the reverse of body dysmorphia! I think it’s because my face tends to stay slim even when my waist-line inflates so I never get the trigger to turn down the pudding menu or the 4th last glass of wine.
    I’m having a waist-line crisis at the moment so was planning to pop to Zara next weekend to pick up some new staples. I’ll let you know if I still fit!
    As an aside, whilst you say their cuts are for teeny Spanish people, I have always found their “regular” leg-length ludicrous. My 5 ft 10 friend has been known to get Zara trousers taken up in the past!

  15. June 23, 2014 / 9:16 pm

    Tell me about it hun, well said! I’m “the big one” from my group of friends so when we go out shopping I just awkwardly “window-shop” pieces that doesn’t even fit me! Zara and topshop is the worst! I think I’ve only purchased one zara jacket there which is an XL and even the sleeves on those were tight – I actually had to rip the lining inside for it to fit, not to mention it was an “oversized” style. I too am trying to go on this fitness and healthy lifestyle and you are not alone when you say “zara made me do it” I also feel like that. I love your blog, and your enjoyable posts! I too have just started out a family lifestyle blog I hope you could check out (whenever you’re free) I too also struggle on my body confidence, low self esteem and everything in between. I hope you could follow me on my journey 🙂

    Keep smilin

  16. Emily Murray
    July 29, 2014 / 2:29 pm

    I don’t even notice the ladies’ clothes when I’m in Zara – too busy making a beeline for their kids section. LOVE their boys’ clothes – so rock n roll innit!
    p.s. never give up the wine. Never.

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