In an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Sylvia Rubin writes, "Here's the good news about plus-size fashion. The industry is more or less listening to what women want." Eh. Sorta.

She continues:

The bad news: You won't find any Chanels, or sexy separates from hot labels like Alexander Wang, and the department store offerings are far more traditional than trendy - if they have plus-size departments at all.

Yeah, that's more like it. The article highlights blogs like Curvy Fashionista and a handful of plus-size online boutiques, but the overall truth remains that it's hard out there for a plus-sized shopper. I should know. With the holidays right around the corner, I've found that when you go just a couple of sizes up — from 14 to 16, or from 16 to 18 — the selection changes drastically — and narrows. Most of the time, cute scoop-neck tops and flirty dresses are suddenly replaced by dowdy tent-like tops and frumpy, conservative dresses. If you want to look on-trend, you have your work cut out for you. Plus-size online boutiques deserve applause, but quite often, the design and quality simply can't compete with real designer clothes by noted designers. It's crazy that adding 3 inches here or there means you're suddenly not good enough for J. Crew or French Connection.

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In addition, there's the reality that plus size means different things to different people. Commenter "PLozar" rants:

What some posters don't get is that "plus size" doesn't equate to "fat." Even at my absolute thinnest, I couldn't wear tops smaller than size 14 because I'm well endowed… The problem (as kd9 points out) is that simply increasing the dimensions doesn't create a garment that FITS RIGHT — and it's all about fit. Clothes in general are designed for women who are …straight up and down — and they just plain don't FIT anyone who has curves.

On the other hand, it seems like a miracle that any designers and retailers welcome plus-size shoppers — and the substantial profits, since the American woman wears a size 14 — when you think about the mindset behind the other comments on this article, which range from "NO fat chicks!" to "Eating everything at the buffet is not cute or chic" and, of course: "Do these dresses come with a side order of fries?" You'd think that a piece about plus-size fashion would be a place for plus-sized women share experiences, compare notes, and, you know, talk about plus-size fashion. Instead, it's a repository for vile thoughts. merciless mocking of the model (pictured above), and relentless fat-shaming. Some comments have been deleted; it's left up to your imagination how nasty or derogatory the "conversation" was.

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My favorite comment — winning points for fat-shaming and misogyny — comes from "tcttw," who says:

If the readers of these comments are going to be so sensitive — ok, offended — or, maybe it's the author, or the editors too, maybe stories like this should go on Jezebel.com. I cannot believe how many harmless but sarcastic comments were edited. It just proves you cannot take a certain gender so seriously.

Plus-Size Fashion Trends: More Options Online [SF Gate]