The Legend of Omar the Tentmaker

My family is full of big, beautiful Southern women. I honestly can’t imagine them any other way. They are also fun, compassionate, helpful, and sweet. Oh, and hilarious.

There was a time when the clothes in the women’s section of a store were WAY less fashionable than they are now. I know, hard to believe, as the options above “normal” sizes aren’t that great now. The vast majority of clothes for bigger women were, well, floral. And big. Basically, big, flowery muumuus (not that I don’t love your muumuus, Aunt Nanny, they look really comfy).

So, out of this fashion nightmare came the joke of Omar the Tentmaker. Presumably, in this era of excess when many people are living in houses or even shacks, they no longer needed tents to live in like nomads. What was Omar to do? Well, he went into large womens’ fashion. Instead of tents, he made clothes that looked like tents. Big flowery tents.

My aunts and mom and Granny would go shopping for clothes and would often return from JC Penney or Dillard’s or wherever and say “Well, Omar had a lovely selection today. I bought a new dress! In fact, they were on sale, so I bought two.” Cue cheering and laughing and high fives. Anyway, now it doesn’t seem that funny, but they always laugh about it.

Some of Omar's finest formalwear on the loveliest women in the world.

I’m getting long-winded about an inside joke. Anyway, semi-fashionable me finally got my comeuppance. I always said there will be no clothes made by Omar for me. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I am not yet big enough in the belly to warrant a maternity swimsuit, but much to my chagrin, a regular bikini is just not going to work. They don’t stretch, and they’re just plain uncomfortable. Also, there is the issue of Lucy and Ethel. Let’s just say they are bigger, closer friends than ever, and my husband is loving them more every day.

P.S. He’s never seen The I Love Lucy Show.

So, all my current bathing suits are basically obscene, and I’ve been in every regular-sized store on the High Street. Suddenly, one Saturday morning when I was feeling well enough to get up, I saw an older, plump lady walk into a store. Then another. And another. There were bathing suits and conservative, comfortable-looking clothes in the window. So, I entered the shop, and lo, I found myself face to face with Omar’s finest wares.

I found his most appealing skirted, stretchy, full-coverage swimsuit and decided to emulate my favorite aunt (I’ll let them fight it out to decide who).

(this isn't the one I got, but it might as well be)

Then, just as I was about to check out, I noticed a selection of the most unflattering, large-strapped, 3+ clasp in the back bras possibly ever made. Seriously, a homeless person with big knockers would have rejected them, they were so unattractive.

Naturally, I bought two. And I cheered when I found out they were on sale.


  1. Oh my gosh. Omar the Tentmaker must be some south Ga joke my mom got from her family (Tifton) because he's made appearances in our family as well.

    Congrats, babymama.

  2. Omar the Tentmaker! I had forgotten about him but nice to hear the whole story. I'm glad you're blogging again, you make me smile and chuckle.

  3. Omar the Tentmaker was the name of a silent movie. The concept of a larger dress being made by a tentmaker named Omar simply was a pun using the name of a movie. As the silent movie generation aged, the pun lived on without the memory of its origin. There isn't a "legend" about a tentmaker named Omar.


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