Why Are Overweight Black Girls’ Clothes So Doggone Tight?

Who HASN'T seen this?
Who HASN'T seen this?

Time was, if you were too fat for your clothes, you either had to wear something of your mother’s or father’s or skip school – anything but wear something obviously too small and too tight. Back in the day, girls would wear coats in the classroom if seams or buttons tore loose on a blouse or sweater, or if they just didn’t have the means to dress the way they’d like.


The girls who intentionally wore too-tight blouses were widely known as whores.

Schools today have banned bare midriffs, low-cut blouses and similar forms of, well, “advertising.”  But today was the second morning this week I’ve been stunned at what I’ve seen standing on street corners waiting for the school buses: Black girls, nearly all overweight, each dressed in blouses so tight every roll of fat appears shrink-wrapped in cotton-poly. With nowhere else to go but up, the chest area is grossly over-emphasized.


The lower half is just as awful. The jeans appear super-tight – I pray, for circulation’s sake, there’s Lycra – and what isn’t stuffed into them spills over the top and just sits there, visible, between the top of the jeans and the bottom of the too-tight blouse.

The same with the skirts, which are unflatteringly short. Thankfully, fashion demands that leggings be worn with short skirts, but if you’re a two-ton Toni, why would you wear a miniskirt, anyway?

Actually, I can answer that: These girls seem to have no shame. No sense of self-worth or decency. I stare as I drive by, making sure my disapproval couldn’t possibly be misconstrued. I don’t know these girls, don’t know their parents. What I do know is that among adolescent girls, African-Americans have the highest obesity rates. That doesn’t mean there aren’t clothes that fit them. Quite the contrary: There are more plus-sized options today than ever before.

A couple of years ago, parents everywhere protested the suggestive teen fashions in department and specialty stores, and there was a “modesty” backlash. Today, fit teens do wear snug tops, but in layers – at least in school. There’s no flesh spilling out, no boobs bursting forth as if gasping for air because their clothes actually fit their shapes – even the most  buxom.


So what’s really going on here? And why does it seem to be mostly the black girls?

 Modesty is the conscience of the body. ~  Honore de Balzac

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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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