It’s bizarre to me, the excuses given for not selling to plus-sizes. When business magazines do cover the plus-size market, they often say things like this: “The sector is considered a niche market even though one-third of American adults are obese, and two-thirds of women are at least overweight. But these women, who are identified as wearing pants size 14 or larger, control 30 percent of purchasing power for clothes.”
OK, there are multiple problems behind these “facts.”
1. The people that can fit in the size 8 and less clothing have been a minority since mass produced clothing became popular.
2. The “average” American woman ranges between sizes 12 and 16. The people that fall in this size range have to be very short to be actually fat – i.e. have collections of fat deposits in places that make clothing difficult to fit. Plus-size also includes women that are NOT fat. We exceeded Frank Lloyd Wright standard sizing as a nation while he was still alive and actively dodging paying his bills. Most women in this size range still flat or small bellies. Breasts are going to do whatever the hell they’re going to do – no amount of eating or not makes a genuine difference in how they turn out. Butts are often of relatively similar inevitability – working them out doesn’t shrink them, it just shapes them because they are composed of a muscle group, not fat.
So a woman who weighs 180 pounds, is covered head to toe in muscle, has a flat stomach and a tight butt – she’s not fat, even if she wears a size 18. She’s plus-size, but she’s not fat.
I am fat. I have decided to delegate my body shame to the people who wish to feel it for me. I have nothing to apologize for – I gather that those who fat-shame take some pleasure in their self-important pronouncements and harassments.
I also have the right as a human being to wear clothing I like, that fits me, and that I enjoy. My money spends pretty damn well, too – and as fashion retailers bounce paychecks, they may want to think about selling to someone besides the imaginary and non-existen size 4s they’ve been selling nothing to all this time.
3. That means that clothing retailers are refusing to sell to the majority of women in the nations that rely on mass produced clothing – most of whom would do no damage whatsoever to their images, except *horrors* make style in daily life accessible, instead of allowing social violence through clothing that is strictly aspirational. Yup, the retail giants are run by individual decision makers who are bullies, no more, no less. And they’ve got us trained to fork over our lunch money for mumus and burlap sacks.
What makes this so painful and hilarious to watch is that as the economy continues to not recover and more and more of these “aspirational” retailers circle the drain as we observing aspire to avoid their willful stupidity, they can’t figure out how to reach out to grasp that money available and stay afloat without insulting the intelligence of the plus size customer.
You want to stay in business, and you have a market available to you – and yet you keep telling yourself it’s “niche” when the facts are repeated to you over and over. You need the money.
But it’s irrational fear, irrational hatred, and the fact that the power dynamic is shifting to the very people you’ve treated like dirt that’s freaking you out.
Suck it up, retailers. Your flagging and failing stores are called “consequences.” Plus-size blogs like this, and consumers ignoring you – including smaller sizes that support their plus-sized friends and family – are called “consequences.” Time to put on your big boy pants and make some big girl pants that don’t suck for once.