Women in Australia might be excited about the season ahead, but there’s one thing we’re not excited about: fitting back into our ski and snowboard pants.
Truly. Of all the women we speak to about their winter season plans – and we speak to quite a few – almost all have mentioned feeling nervous about pulling their ski gear out of storage and getting it back onto their bodies this season.
That’s just life. Year after year, there is so much that contributes to a woman’s changing natural body shape. Babies, ageing, lifestyle, stress, COVID and always the societal pressure to fit one size for all.
It’s a natural change, and mental challenge, that so many snow outerwear brands clearly do not think happens. Because while the mainstream fashion world is ever-so-slowly coming around to the fact that plus-size people may also like to wear stylish, well-designed, nice clothes – the ski and snowboard world has been pretty late to the party.
The thought of buying new snow pants turns us inside out. Hello, small change room with no mirror and snow gear that stops at a size 14 (which is really a size 10 or 12 in real life).
The female-owned company changing it all for plus size wear
Mon Balon spent twenty years owning and operating Ski and Board Recycle (later, Surrey and Hampton) in Melbourne. She has spoken to plenty of women who have gone into ski shops only to find nothing that suits them.
If you’re shorter, taller, bigger or wider than a standard women’s size 14 – which is, incidentally, the average size of the Australian women – there’s not exactly a whole lot of choice available on the shelves.
“Women would have to wear inappropriate men’s winter jackets as they couldn’t find anything to fit, or they would just miss out on the family holiday as they couldn’t join in on the fun and stay warm.
“They also talked about not being able to even pull on the pants as they couldn’t fit over their curvy hips, and also the pant legs and arm lengths being so long it was ridiculous – they’d feel terrible and embarrassed in the poorly fitting gear,” says Mon.
For context, Mon explains, the Aussie season is short and unpredictable – and retailers are nervous about buying stock unless they know it can be turned over in a short period of time.
“The short season means there is a whole lot to do in a short time and I think plus size snow gear is just thrown into the too hard basket,” says Mon.
It was this struggle that inspired her to open Australia’s first online store for plus-sized women and men, Plus Snow Australia.
The solution for plus sized ski gear: Plus Snow Australia
Plus Snow Australia is the country’s first ski store for men and women that caters up to size 30 for women, or up to 10XL for men. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And this isn’t a City Chic type of situation where plus sizers are stuck with just two options in colours no one wants to wear. Mon’s done the hard work for you to source the best, high-quality brands in a variety of styles; including XTM, Cartel, Raiski, Boulder Gear, Outdoor Research (coming in August) and popular brand Nobody’s Princess that were launched via Kickstarter.
She is also pushing hard for the brands which currently won’t sell their plus size lines into Australia, like Columbia.
MON IS PASSIONATE ABOUT CREATING A WELCOMING SPACE for PLUS SIZE BODIES IN THE WINTER SPORTS COMMUNITY – BREAKING TRADITIONAL BELIEFS BUILT UPON THE WHITE, FIT, YOUNG MALE SKIING STEREOTYPE TO INCLUDE EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF SIZE, SHAPE, ABILITY, OR BACKGROUND.
“We are advocates for plus-size skiers, snowboarders, snow and winter lovers, working to change perceptions of what an outdoor enthusiast looks like,” Mon explains.
And that’s huge – because representation matters. We all know that the mountains don’t care what size a person is; but when’s the last time you saw a plus-size athlete or adventurer on the slopes in person, let alone an ad for an outdoor brand?
“Winter sports are, quite literally, for EVERY BODY,” Mon adds. “We spend plenty of time petitioning brands for extended sizing ranges and higher quality gear options, plus we’re working to elevate the voices of plus-size athletes and adventurers – proving to the world that you can be healthy, strong, and require plus-size ski clothing.
“We need strong men and women breaking the stereotypes of what a strong and healthy outdoors person can look like, and show our children that it’s not a ‘skinny at all costs mentality’ anymore.”
A plus-size jacket or pant option for every shape and size
For those concerned about shopping online, there’s no need to be. Mon has established the free ‘Shop Your Shape‘ service – an opportunity to work directly with a team member at Plus Snow to establish products and sizes that are perfect for your measurements.
Whether you have a large waist to hip ratio, short legs, a long torso or whatever else – they ensure you can find ski gear that performs well, won’t break the bank and, most importantly, makes you feel great about wearing it.
“We want you to feel that tingle of excitement when your perfectly fitting, beautiful ski gear arrives at your door,” Mon says. “No more label anxiety or shopping overwhelm.”
And it’s key to get those good measurements for when you’re back on the slopes and you’ve had your first stack of the day – no more snow sliding straight down the back of your ski pants gap and into your thermals.
Life-changing for women. Really.
Let’s be real. Weight is very personal. We live in a society where women are not encouraged to take up more room in the world – something that becomes all too obvious when it’s difficult to walk through your average shopping centre and find something to fit, let alone find something to support you through your favourite sport.
Skiing and snowboarding is meant to be a positive, joyful experience, without being tied up in complications around shame and guilt that you might hold around your weight.
And when we are shopping for our new ski pants this season, we can’t wait to do it somewhere that believes we’ve just as much right to be on the slopes as anyone else.