Recently there has been a lot of push back in the fashion industry when it comes to using the term “plus size”. Plus size fashion in the last decade has become a profitable portion of the industry. Something that I’m assuming came along with the realization that fat people are people too, and as such they need fashionable clothing, and at an affordable price.
One thing that I have noticed is that when logging on to popular clothing websites like Forever21 or ASOS, plus size clothing is listed as a separate category. There is a section for women, a section for me, a section for kids, and then a section for plus size. Typically these clothes only feature clothes for women size 12 and up. Interestingly enough there is no indication that these clothes are strictly for women. It’s like listing it as “other”. Shopping in a category that is made for your size, but not acknowledging that you are in fact a woman. What would make sense would be to include the word ‘woman’ in the subheading of “Women’s Clothing”. I believe that most of this push back comes from women who are larger sizes not wanting to be thought of as something other than a woman. These clothing brands are not intentionally excluding fat people from their brand. In fact, including a plus size section is their way of being inclusive to all sizes, but there is still the images of the size 2 models on the websites main page. Even with all the buzz around body positivity people are still not feeling like they are represented because the message that is being sent is, “Yeah, you can shop here, but you are not the kind of people that we want as the face of our brand.” I think that all people, whether you are a size 2 or 22 should feel like they are important, and they are worthy of cute fashionable clothing, and at an affordable price. On a recent shopping trip I went with my friends to a popular retail store, only to find that the clothes that were made in my size were literally shoved into a tiny corner of this massive store. The selection was skimp and there were no sales associates working the area helping any of the customers that dared wander over there to shop in the corner of plus size shame. It was sending the message that if you want to buy clothes from this store you have to pick from what we offer and you have to shop in this corner where your size will not be a distraction or deterrent for our other regular sized customers. In the men, children, and women sections of the stores there were giant pictures of the models wearing the clothes from that particular section. In the plus size corner there were zero pictures of the beautiful full figured models that they typically have modeling the clothes on the website. Instead there were giant neon signs that read “PLUS”. Why not feature some of the women wearing the clothing, modeling the product, and encouraging plus size women to shop?
Traditionally plus size clothing has been more expensive, some people arguing that there is more material being used to make the clothing as a justification for charging $50 for a basic t-shirt that costs a “average” size woman $12. Other brands like Fashion to Figure, Pink Clove, and Torrid feature websites almost exclusively carrying products for plus size women who want to shop for clothes without feeling like they are breaking the bank. With such a long history of attacking, scrutinizing, and picking apart women’s bodies for the entertainment and pleasure of men, it is definitely time that we have more brands willing to step up and do the work to be more body positive and inclusive.