28/02/2017 04:06 GMT | Updated 28/02/2018 05:12 GMT

I Dread Clothes Shopping - Shops Need To Start Representing All Women

Clarissa Leahy via Getty Images


I have a terrible habit of crying in changing rooms.

It's recently reached the stage where I now feel anxious walking into clothes shops.

I look in the mirror and stare at the parts of my body that don't match what I feel the ideal body looks like. I hope that when the zip is done up, suddenly I'll be transformed into one of the women I see in fashion adverts or on Instagram. Obviously, I'm disappointed. I pull and pinch the bits of skin that form rolls over waistbands, and that's when the tears start.

The thing is, I'm not overweight. I'm 5"10, weigh 11 and a half stone, I'm a size 12 (apparently Britain's ideal dress size), my BMI is 'healthy' and my doctor says I'm in good shape.

So why do I still feel so self-conscious about my body?

Marianne Grey, a size 12 woman, recently found herself having to buy a size 20 in H&M - shocking, but believable. I struggle to get into a large in most shops. At least we can find clothes I suppose. Imagine how disheartening it is to be the average UK dress size and not be able to buy a single item of clothing in high street shops.

Logically, we all know that manufacturers scrimp on fabric to save money, which explains the odd sizing and ill-fitting nature of clothes, but honestly, don't they realise that by doing this they are alienating potential customers and perpetuating negative body types?

It's far from a new argument, but it's an important one. The average dress size in the UK is a 16, yet it was front page news when Debenhams introduced mannequins of that size in 2013. Admittedly over the past few years there has been a rise in the number of plus-size models, which is fantastic, but the world isn't just made up of those two body types. What about the women in between those sizes? What about older women? What about disabled women?

Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the pages of fashion magazines and in adverts. Everyone deserves to know you don't have to look a certain way to be beautiful.

Who knows, maybe I wouldn't find myself crying in changing rooms if I saw women who look like me more often.

It's hard not to be frustrated by the fashion industry.

I completely understand the must-have trends are designed to suit a certain body type - but in this fast fashion society (another thing that needs to change) that we live in, it is ridiculous that all the clothes manufactured seem to cater for the same body type.

The body that designs are moulded around is unrealistic. All body types should be represented in fashion and the designs shouldn't just be the original with a bit more fabric attached as is so often the case with plus size ranges.

I love fashion, I love beauty and when I was younger I could happily spend hours trying on clothes and shopping but now I'm filled with dread at the thought of trying on clothes - or even popping into the shops.

But most importantly, I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. There are plenty more people like me and Marianne Grey who have come out of shops feeling deflated and self-conscious. I know other women who feel anxious and that their mood is significantly impacted when they go clothes shopping. And sadly, I know other people who find themselves crying in changing rooms.

It wouldn't take much to change this. Although hiring more diverse models would be a good start, actually manufacturing clothes to suit them and a range of body types would do so much to help women all over feel more comfortable and confident in their own bodies.

This February, HuffPost UK Style is running a month-long focus on our Fashion For All campaign, which aims to highlight moments of colour, size, gender and age diversity and disability inclusivity in the fashion and beauty world.

We will be sharing moments of diversity at London Fashion Week with the hashtag #LFW4All and we'd like to invite you to do the same. If you'd like to blog about diversity or get involved, email us here.