BY JOANNA DITTMER
Plus size lingerie shop makes everyone feel beautiful
“It’s not the norm to be a size zero or smaller,” said Barbra Parsons, owner and operator of Garters & Lace Plus located on King Street in Cambridge.
According to the essay, Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard, written by Kasey L. Serdar, feminine beauty is present in all forms of media.
“(The media’s) standards of beauty are almost completely unattainable for most women; a majority of the models displayed on television and in advertisements are well below what is considered a healthy body weight. Mass media’s use of such unrealistic models sends an implicit message that in order for a woman to be considered beautiful, she must be unhealthy,” Serdar says.
Ultimately, it isn’t normal to be a size zero.
Parsons opened her plus size women’s lingerie store in hopes of making women feel beautiful and sexy no matter their size.
She also opened it because she had first-hand knowledge of how challenging it was to find lingerie for plus size women.
One night, Parsons was talking with her husband and brother-in-law, and said jokingly, “I could open my own store. I could set it up in the basement and wrap all of the clothes up and everything.”
That sparked the idea. After about one month of serious figuring out what was needed to open the business, and with a lot of help from her husband, son and friends, the store made its debut in February 2012.
The first thing that customers notice when walking into the small shop, is the splash of colour – purple, cream and a bright green. Next the customer receives a “hello” and a big, bright smile from the lady behind the counter.
Parsons said she is there to make women feel comfortable and help them in any way possible.
“There is a lot of plus size women in the area, and there was nowhere to buy lingerie,” said Parsons. “I strongly believe no matter what size you are, you are a beautiful person.”
Body image is defined as a subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others. Parsons said contrary to popular belief, most plus size women are not self-conscious.
“A lot of the women who come into the store are not self-conscious about their size, only the odd one is uncomfortable,” she said.
Parsons worked in the industry for nearly a decade, for the majority of the time managing a retail store, before deciding to open her own business.
She didn’t foresee all of the hurdles she had to face during her first year of business, but she believes it can only go up from here.
The biggest one is getting her name out in the community.
“I knew getting recognized and known in the area would be challenging, I just didn’t expect it to be this hard,” Parsons said.
Since her name isn’t well-known in the community, she has also found the lack of customers challenging.
But Ellis Parsons, Barbra’s husband, has encouraged her in her endeavour from the beginning, and isn’t stopping now.
“I know it’s what she enjoys doing; I also know that she’s good at it.
“It makes her happy so I’ll support her in any way that I can,” he said.
Parsons said it was a dream of hers to open the store and hopes that within 10 years she will be able to open a few more Garters & Lace Plus’s in the region.
Garters & Lace Plus is located at 741 King St. E. in Cambridge. For more information contact Parsons at 519-653-1742.