Not being able to find adult-sized clothes affects life and self-esteem.
Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu
Sumaiya Rahman’s inability to find proper-sized clothes has taken a financial toll and impacted her self-esteem since she moved to Canada.
Rahman is an international student from Bangladesh living in St. John’s. The fashion industry categorizes her as a “petite woman” because she stands at less than 5 feet.
“After I had moved here, my closet started to fill up with kids’ clothes,” Rahman said. “This never happened back in my country. I am a regular customer, just shorter.”
Nadiya Qureshi, a fashion designer in Toronto, says this problem persists because Canadian women are taller on average and clothes are designed accordingly.
“We have enough expertise to make dresses for petite women,” Qureshi said. “The industry just doesn’t give them equal importance.”
“Our society doesn’t accept a woman in a teen’s outfit that well.”
Rahman says it may seem like she is overreacting, but society can be judgmental when a 23-year-old is seen wearing the clothes of a 12-year-old.
“When you walk into a room, you can’t ignore those judgmental eyes,” Rahman said. “Our society doesn’t accept a woman in a teen’s outfit that well.”
She stayed home and stopped socializing after a few weeks. The more time she spent isolated, the more she found herself breaking down psychologically.
“I felt excluded,” Rahman said. “It showed me how different I am from others. I started hating myself at one point.”
After realizing that she was losing her self-esteem, she found some stores that sell clothes designed for short people. Unfortunately, this did not make Rahman’s life easier.
The stores only existed online and were high-end and charged premium prices. While others might go and buy their dresses at the brick-and-mortar stores, she had to wait for weeks every time she needed a dress.
And the clothes that were available in her size were mostly for senior citizens.
Qureshi says it’s not just a matter of making clothes smaller, the clothes have to be purposely designed for the smaller frame.
“People think petite clothes are just the regular ones in smaller sizes,” Qureshi said. “That’s not true. It requires special attention and separate designing. An adult woman may be short, but she can be equally curvy as a taller person. That’s another reason why they always don’t fit in teens’ clothes.”
Rahman says she is tired of being treated different in Canada. She understands she is not like the majority of Canadian women, but that’s no excuse for what she sees as discrimination.
“Why do we still have to go through this? This is unacceptable.”