A Facebook posting by a gay man in Texas has gone viral and prompted thousands of comments. In it, Sam Hatton explains his crushing disappointment at an attempt to buy a wedding suit with his fiancé.
Hatton is bigger and taller than average. Or as he puts it, he’s a “6’2” 350 lb teddy bear”. He sometimes struggles to find clothing in sizes that fit. Understandably, he wants to look great and feel comfortable on his wedding day.
Sam and partner Jake decided to go to suit retailer Indochino, which makes custom-fit suits. Its website emphasizes how the company will produce the “perfect fit” as all suits are made to measure and customizable for individual clients.
“Jake, my partner, and I are getting married in September. He’s pretty casual. I’ve never seen him in a suit. So the prospect of that alone was half of the reason to have a wedding,” Sam said on his post.
“I, however, like a good suit. Being an overweight man, it’s one of the few options I have to look nice. Plus, I needed a new one. So instead of looking like loose bags of potatoes in rentals, we opted to research and buy, knowing how much places like Indochino cost. Why not just pay twice the rental fee and get a relatively nice-looking suit?
“As a fat person, I’ve learned to plan. I cannot stand pitying looks or being given any reason to look more out of place in a world that isn’t made for me. It’s something I’ve learned to do from being embarrassed a few too many times. The booth at the diner is too small or you accidentally catch a belt loop on the door frame for the millionth fucking time. I wake up in the world as someone who has to prove they aren’t a clown. It is exhausting.
“So I researched and planned. I read fashion blogs by overweight men who endorsed Indochino. I read and reread Indochino’s site and several times entered in my measurements and got very excited. I was going to get to share the same unfettered experience with my partner.
“I wouldn’t have to make any concessions or pretend like I was having just as much fun watching, I was going to get to participate! I’m getting married and I was getting to do a standard thing the standard person way. I was excited!
“We drove three hours to the nearest Indochino store in Dallas. It was our first time making an online suit purchase so we wanted to make sure everything was properly done.
“Jake and I wait our turn. He was scheduled first. When our very kind associate, obviously trying to think of a way to say something uncomfortable said, ‘…so long as you fit within our measurements.’ She tried her hardest to look at both of us but everyone knew what was about to happen. I was crestfallen.
“She kindly measured Jake first. I want to emphasize how kind this person was. She obviously wanted to make me feel as human as possible. I can’t say how much I appreciate that. Then she measured me.
“Shoulders, broad, good. Neck, good. Arms, good. Waist. ‘Sir, I’m so sorry but you’re just a few inches out of our standard measurements. My system won’t allow me to fit you.’
“Knowing it was coming didn’t really prepare me. Neither did the very kind theater for what everyone knew was about to happen. ‘She was incredibly apologetic.’ I’ve learned to appreciate kindness in these situations. But I’ve also learned not to speak out for myself out of politeness. I’m trying to break that habit.
“Sorrowful, holding back tears, I said, ‘It doesn’t say anywhere on your site that I wouldn’t fit. You have to understand how embarrassing and hurtful this is.’
“I made sure to indicate that my complaint wasn’t with her, but her employer’s system. She, without prompting agreed that it was awful, I could see the human concern in her eyes and indicated that she would work hard to make sure someone who could do something knew what happened.
“She also gave me the name and number of a good tailor. She asked if she could have him reach out. I consented.
“But, Jake still needed a suit,” continues Sam. “It took about 30 minutes to help him pick out fabrics, accessories, etc. He looks good in a suit by the way. They had to figure out a way to get his butt to fit right in the pants. I tried to switch to my ‘just as much fun to watch’ mode, but it wasn’t working.
Sam says the incident triggered lots of painful memories.
“All I could think is of every incident I’ve been embarrassed, outside of my control. Every time I’ve been made to feel like an obstacle or a thing in someone’s way. Every time I’ve been pushed aside for the ten people waiting in line who were ‘normal’. Every fad diet my mother thought would be ‘helpful’. It was too much to take. I couldn’t even look my partner in the eyes. If I had I would have ended up bawling right there and then.
“We finished, paid, and left. I think we spent just over $500. Not bad.
“Jake asked If I wanted lunch. I asked him to drive somewhere private. Navigating Dallas traffic, he found a parking structure. I asked him to leave. I know it’s probably not healthy but I needed to do this alone.
“I didn’t just cry, I wailed. For 20 minutes, in a dark parking structure, I mourned my dignity. I can’t describe it as anything other than loss.
“For those of you who don’t know how it feels, I really do envy you.
“After I was sure I was finished, I checked my phone. I had a missed call from a tailor. The woman at the store hadn’t wasted any time. She really is a good person. I was seen as a person by her that day, not an obstacle.”
The tailor turned out to also be kind and helpful.
“I’ll be getting a custom suit,” said Sam. “It cost about three times what we paid for my partner’s. Don’t get me wrong, it is worth every penny. It’s a completely custom suit made by a small business owner. The point is, that day, there wasn’t just an emotional premium for being fat, there was a $1000 fee.
“I am reminded every day that I live in a world that isn’t made for me. When I was a little younger, seeking out queer relationships drew that reality to an even finer point.
“Fat people are people. We aren’t a joke. We aren’t clowns.
“And yes, we’ve tried fucking keto.”
The posting has had almost 4k comments and 10k shares. Many comments came from people who could relate to Sam’s experience and feelings.
“This made me cry so hard. I relate to every word… Every moment…” said Laura Clubbs Perez. “I think you will both look stunning and I pray your wedding is as beautiful and as special as you are.”
“I’m so sorry this world is so cruel to those of us who don’t fit into this world. I cried so much reading this because it touched all the scars still on my heart from experiencing these moments and feelings myself,” said Rachael Berg Watkinson.
Sam and Jake are based in Abilene, Texas. They met in September 2014, after matching online. They immediately hit it off and moved cities to be together just two weeks after their first date. They are marrying on September 18th this year. Sam is the chairperson for the Abilene PRIDE Alliance.
Sam told Queerty he had been overwhelmed by the response to his posting.
“It has been incredibly uplifting to see that my story resonates with so many people. As a queer person, I know what it’s like to be excluded for who I am. I know what it’s like to be disparaged or not to be taken seriously. Most queer people know what that feels like.
“Being large isn’t the same as my queer experience, but it is similar. I think that’s what has resonated so much. People know what it feels like to be excluded for being different. They know what it’s like to try and pass as straight in an interview or to be the volunteer that takes the photo so you don’t have to be in it. They know the general malaise the concerns over this are met with. Day after day.
“I hope that maybe this can be the start of a conversation about what difference means. That maybe, someday soon, we can see each other for the complex, compassionate, beautiful creatures we all are. That we meet each other with dignity and respect instead of trying to explain why we’re better.”
He said Indochino had reached out to him and informed him, “They are working in the short-term to make sure that it is clear on their site where the sizing options end for in-store suits.”
Queerty reached out to Indochino. A spokesperson sent the following statement.
“We are disheartened to learn of Sam’s experience in our showroom and apologize for making him feel excluded or in any way ashamed about his body. We pride ourselves in providing exceptional experiences for our customers and we let Sam down. We have connected directly with Sam to learn more about his experience and understand how we can improve as a company.
“While we would love to be able to accommodate every person; the made-to-measure pattern technology used in our showrooms does have limitations. Our alternative online pattern, although not limitless, is able to accommodate a wider range; however, we have found historically that customers who are body diverse are not always successful in achieving a satisfying fit using this option.
“As immediate next steps, we are adding clarity to our website so that customers are aware of the restrictions of our pattern, and we are driving greater awareness around body diversity within the organization.”