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Brandy Melville in trouble for “fat-shaming” because it makes clothes for tiny, skinny girls

October 17, 2014

Sammy Top

There should be a law against making these clothes

Tut-tutting from HuffPo:

While teens fawn over the retailer’s assortment of crop tops, halters, cardigans and more, critics say Brandy Melville has raised the stakes when it comes to fat-shaming. Though the fashion world has long fetishized skinniness, and some labels cater to even slimmer profiles, few have taken size exclusivity this far. Yoga-wear company Lululemon, which admits plus-size customers aren’t part of its strategy, does offer sizes from 0 to 12. Even Abercrombie & Fitch, derided for ignoring overweight kids, sells clothes with extra-large on the labels, up to size 14.

At Brandy Melville, nearly all the clothes are small, though a medium will pop up here and there. To be able to shimmy into Brandy Melville’s only size of skinny jeans, a girl would need to have a 25-inch waist — that’s around a size 0 or 2, depending on the brand. Most skirts and shorts on the website are about the same size. Similar skinny jeans at teen fashion powerhouse Forever 21 span sizes from 24 to 30 inches. In the U.S., the average 16-year-old girl is approximately 5 feet 3inches tall, weighs about 138 pounds and has around a 31-inch waist, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tut-tutting from Slate:

Browsing Brandy Melville’s online store, where most pants come in sizes 00 to 2, one has to wonder, “‘One size fits most’ of whom?” A store has the right to sell to whomever it pleases, and Brandy Melville certainly has the right to only make clothes for the select few to whom every other store in the country already caters. But in the words of my mother and probably yours, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

Though Brandy Melville is extreme, it is not alone in its skinny-only mindset. Abercrombie and Fitch drew criticism last year because of its refusal to make clothes for bigger girls. Many stores don’t bother carrying above a size 18 (and that’s being generous) despite the fact the average American woman wears a size 14. In other words, women up to seven sizes below average can find clothing, but women more than two sizes above are told to, “eat less.”

And teen girls are getting the message loud and clear: More than half of them use unhealthy weight control methods, including skipping meals and purging, in obsessive pursuit of bodies that Brandy Melville implies “most” people already have. In an ideal world where body size, character, and worth were not conflated, perhaps a store like Brandy Melville could coexist with the department stores and plus size stores. But we do not live in that world, and girls above a certain size are already taught they’re not good enough.

Yes, we must outlaw Brandy Melville because it makes big girls feel bad. Better yet–let’s force Brandy Melville to make clothes in bigger sizes. We need a National Ministry of Size and Self-Esteem to make sure that no one gets hurt by the idea that some girls are smaller and skinnier than others.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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4 Comments
  1. How does a place stay in business selling clothes that fit only a tiny percentage of the female population?

    • Many East Asian women are extremely petite, especially young East Asian women. So are young teenagers. Brandy Melville clothes are quite cheap–easily affordable by young teens. Brandy Melville has identified a market, and it figures that it can make money targeting that market specifically rather than trying to cater to multiple markets with multiple sizes.

  2. Buttercup permalink

    I don’t get the flap over this. When I was a teen they had 5-7-9 Shops, which was the name of the store and also the sizes they carried. The stores were popular at the time. Of course, clothing stores have a limited shelf life, as it seems each group wants its own “in” store.

    I’d also say that catering to small sizes would appeal to the type that wants to make sure everyone knows they are a small size. That facet of women’s nature never, ever changes.

    I also think that A&F and Lulumon knew they would incur the wrath of the fat, or rather pleasingly plump, and decided to risk it anyway. Because they figured the smaller women would like to be associated with brands that catered to smaller sizes. And you can say your yoga pants came from Lulumon and it not look like a humble brag.

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