in which i lay out my insecurities as a 13-year-old in a too-small uniform

in which i lay out my insecurities as a 13-year-old in a too-small uniform

i feel like it’s easy to find athletic clothes for most sizes these days. in fact, i feel like it’s easier to find clothes in general if you’re bigger than a size 10. when i was searching for a prom dress in 1996, the pickings were slim for a teenage size 14 (probably a size 12ish these days). my mom and i went to st. cloud to check out what the mall had, since willmar was a non-spot for anything prom dress related. we searched every store, and i think i was almost ready to go with some weird split pants thing from penney’s before we found a forest green size 14 dress that fit like a very tight glove, probably in the back corner of deb or something, tucked away where no one would find it. i sat and danced very carefully that night.

i feel like clothing has gotten easier to find for bigger people. when i was wearing a size 20, i hated that every shirt fit like a muumuu, but eventually the retailers caught up, and now days, you can (mostly) find the clothes you want in the size you need.

but that’s not what this post is about. let’s go back to being a 13/14 year old in the early 90s. oh man, those years were tough, and your peers were even tougher. i was probably the biggest girl in your class (not just clothes wise, at a not-so-bad-in-hindsight size 12/14, but also 2nd tallest – mackenzie was 6′ at that point, i was probably close to 5’7″ or 8″, near my current height). ugh, teenage girls have it rough. and i decided to have a hand at being on the volleyball team during 8th grade, something that all my classmates had been a part of the previous year. i didn’t want to miss out this time around.

so we practiced, learned the basics, figured it out. and we were ready for our first game. the day before, we got our shamrocks uniforms (go big green!), and i managed to get the biggest size available, which was probably equivalent to a size 10 these days. it was probably a child’s size large. who knows what it was. i looked at the shorts and knew my ample behind (which i’m currently at relative peace with) would NOT fit in those shorts. i was on the verge of tears and stuffed it in my bag in the locker room, then tried not to cry on the way home.

i was NOT wearing that uniform to the game.

(currently, i would refuse point blank. if my teammates or coach wanted to know why, i would put on said uniform, parade around in it, then peel it off hoping that the fabric would rip. or i would wear it and say screw you world – you made the uniform small; you gotta watch stuff jiggle. but i was 13. give me a break.)

now. time to give my mom MAD PROPS. i got home and was filled with DREAD. how was i going to manage this. i don’t remember the specifics, but i do know at one point that my mom asked me to put on the uniform so she could see what was up. i don’t know what she remembers, but i remember feeling like a completely humiliated stuffed sausage in that setup.

(you have to remember – we were not as body positive then as we are now. the early 90s was a time of baggy acid wash jeans, loose silk boat-collared shirts, oversized colorful polos, and we still had big hair. we did not want to be a stuffed sausage.)

i’m pretty sure she called mr. byron, coach of the 8th grade shamrock team and father of my classmate beth, and pled my case. somehow, and i’m not sure how, the shamrocks scraped together the money for new uniforms for the 8th grade team, and the current sausagey uniforms went to the 7th graders. i know i wasn’t the only one who benefitted from this. i may have been the biggest one size wise, but there were a couple other girls in my class who were also not that much smaller than i was. i think there was a collective sigh of relief among everyone who weighed more than 130 lbs.

unfortunately, we did have one game before the new uniforms were in. i was allowed to wear a long sleeved white shirt and a pair of blue shorts i owned (not quite green but the closest i had). we taped my number to the back of the shirt. while i was in the locker room, a couple of my classmates tried to heckle me into “just wear the uniform for this one game” but no way was i budging. they were comfortably lounging in their uniforms, while mine would have lodged itself uncomfortably in many places.

thankfully, no one cared after i served to some girl on the other team who couldn’t return it to save herself. i think i scored 6 points in a row.

go big green!

PS: i quit volleyball after that, which is probably a good thing because they went to basically full coverage spandex underwear for the lower half the uniform for the rest of the 90s, and that would have been the end of my teenaged self. uniforms these days aren’t horrible, but still not enough for 12-year-old me to say “sign me up.” 40-year-old me would say “bring it on.”

2 thoughts on “in which i lay out my insecurities as a 13-year-old in a too-small uniform

  1. The spandex uniforms were the only reason I didn’t keep doing volleyball in high school. No way I was going to add fuel to that already high bully fire as an ample bottomed 8th grader.

  2. Same story… though cheerleading uniform and age 16-17… stupid girls sports.
    Also I believe volleyball wore biker shirts all through my high school years

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