Fashion retailers and size discrimination- you have more power than you think!
Something that Plus Size women have known for years is finally coming to the surface in various news outlets: weight and size discrimination is not only prevalent but often intentional. Recently the Huffington Post exposed high end athletic brand Lululemon for their intentional sizeist practice of removing “larger” sizes from the front of the store on display and relegating them to a disorganized heap in the back. Of course by “larger” sizes they mean sizes 10 and 12, respectively one and two sizes below the average American woman, which happen to be the largest size the retailer makes. Sources cited this action was taken to “protect” the brand, and to avoid “compromising” the image of the Lululemon customer. The message here is not benign, in fact we can look at this as a metaphor for the way larger women are treated in our society- relegated to the back so as not to be seen or acknowledged and treated with such distain that rather than being carefully displayed they are heaped in an apologetic pile. Popular culture fears fat to such a degree that it must “protect” from being associated with it so that image is not “compromised.”
A few months back Abercrombie was also outted for their blatant discrimination against, dare I say average sized individuals. The CEO’s comments about only wanting “cool and good looking” people wearing his brand, which did not include anyone over the stores interpretation of a size L item of clothing, lead to heightened awareness of weight and size discrimination. In a wonderful and powerful outpouring of social action many people have abandoned the brand- deeming the CEO’s stance as incredibly uncool.
Sometimes when it comes to social issues those in the know feel somewhat powerless to fight the machine, however as consumers of any size we have to power to shape corporations that are discriminatory and oppressive, just check out MissRepresentation’s #NotBuyingIt campaign! If a brand violates a value you hold- take your money somewhere else. We are all far more powerful than we know! A final thought for people of size: you do not need to apologize for the space you take up, when a store doesn’t carry your size it is their problem not yours, dress for the body you have not the body others tell you is ideal, wear comfortable clothes that flaunt your assets and hold your head high!