The Plus-Size Dilemma, on-line or not at all…

16 Feb

I’m not saying I love being “plus-size” or that I love that there exists a category like this at all. We get to be the third clothing minority, along with the “petite” and “tall” categories and sometimes, if we’re lucky enough, we can fit into several clothing-size minorities at once. It’s hard enough to shop before, even when plus-sizes started showing up at some of my favorite stores, like any other clothing, plus-size clothing is often fit toward an “ideal” or “platonic” form. Let’s just say, that isn’t me either.

Google “plus-size” and you will find pictures of now celebrity plus size models: ANTM winner, Whitney Thompson (pictured above, there was also rumor that she actually gained weight to be able to win ANTM as a plus-sized girl) and Crystal Renn (who often is prey to controversy of not staying plus-size).

I have to admit, seeing these images and finding clothing in stores that was actually *gasp* too big for me, I found myself feeling more normal. Even shopping with my preternaturally tiny friends (who, by the way, often found “normal” sizes too small for them), I had a whole section of a store that I could find things to try on and complain about as well. This may not seem important to some but it was really important to me. And I know it was important to many many women because now they’re gone and we’re starting to complain… but, to who?

Ever since Old Navy quietly moved their plus-sizes to being primarily (if not wholly) on-line, followed by at least one Target (mine), women have started to complain. However, since there are still few other places to shop, we voice our complaints in their own figurative store.

There are few places where a review of a piece of clothing can become so energetic as seen on the review’s of Old Navy’s plus-sized clothing. Either you find comments about thins as simple as color differences, like this:

Or, you find yourself wading through a forum of women divulging information that, normally, would be considered humiliating: from height, weight, to hip and bust measurements, all to help others know what to buy by judging their own size/shape in comparison.

If the runways are starting to accept plus-sized models, as seen in Jezebel.com’s recent article Five Plus-Size Models To Watch, why is it that stores who were once open to acceptance are now shying away? Does it have to do with sales? Because the websites sure make that look unlikely.

Ultimately, the message I see being sent is that while it’s okay for plus-sized girls to spend their money at these places, they just don’t want to see us in their stores. And I’m not okay with that.

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11 Responses to “The Plus-Size Dilemma, on-line or not at all…”

  1. Elle February 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    I run into a similar problem being so short. In pants I wear a 5/6 short, and I swear it is the size they make the least. It’s like to be short you have to be bigger and short, or tiny and short. Well I’m medium and short, and I have one pair of jeans because I couldn’t find any others my size, and I’m not going to pay 30-40 dollars just to have the bottom of my pants get eaten by a puddle.

    • redshana February 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

      Exactly! Now, I have no idea how the clothing industry is going to meet everyone’s needs. And I’m not saying there’s one way. But we need to understand clothing differently, seriously.

  2. Laura Poff February 17, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    I hate shopping and am not really sure why, but what you blogged about is probably a contributing factor. When going to a store I always have to try on 3 different number sizes in all of their variations (hippy, straight, high rise, curvy, tall, medium, short, etc) just to see what fits me in that store and while I hate that, there is no way I could shop online because returning things is just way too much of a hassle. And paying shipping is not a pleasant prospect either.

    Although I don’t think I agree with your last sentence. I think that it probably is not that they don’t want to see you in their stores. It really is probably sales. And not just with plus sizes but with all unique sizes. It is just hard to keep everything in stock selling. I would be inclined, though, to think that given what the media calls the obesity epidemic in america that plus sizes would sell well. So maybe it is that some of the plus size women don’t want to shop in stores because of low self esteem whether it be the fear that nothing will fit, or that they’ll have gone up a size (and then is that because her size has changed or because the store has changed its sizing/clothes making process), or having others see them pick out and try on high size clothes? I think businesses make decisions based purely on the statistics of historical sales and the prospects of future sales based only on potential profits.

  3. Nikki February 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Poff said: When going to a store I always have to try on 3 different number sizes in all of their variations (hippy, straight, high rise, curvy, tall, medium, short, etc) just to see what fits me in that store and while I hate that, there is no way I could shop online because returning things is just way too much of a hassle. And paying shipping is not a pleasant prospect either.

    I am medium sized and shorter, like Elle, and I totally have this problem. I hate trying to by pants because either the waist is too big or the hips are too small or my thighs look like sausages in the pants with stretch (as they have it now). On top of that, the shorts are too short for heels and the regulars are too long for even stacks. So I have to spend a day (at least) to find pants that fit up top only to take them home and hem them.

    And, Whitney Thompson is plus sized? Seriously?

    • Poff February 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

      Oh yeah and I meant to ask that last question, too? Because she does not look what I think of as plus sized…

      • redshana February 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

        Like I said, in the fashion industry, plus-size starts at a size 10. Does that make sense? No. But that’s how it is.

  4. Nikki February 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    a 10? really? What was Marilyn Monroe? a 14? Last I checked 8/10 was average…the fashion industry needs to get in touch with today’s women.

    • redshana February 17, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      Marilyn Monroe was, I believe, a 12 but her version of 12 is our 10. At least, that’s what I had heard from before. But yes, the fashion industry needs to look at the actual statistics of the average size of women.

      • Amber October 13, 2011 at 3:19 am #

        I agree with this…it’s very offensive it’s like their saying that plus size women are too gross or something like that to enter their stores. I myself am a 13 and my friends say I’m not plus size but apparently i am based on the 10+ being plus size but whether i am or not i still believe this to be wrong and discriminate. I also find it ignorant that anyone should think of “normal” as being skinny or below vs. shapely or up. If you look at the majority of women today most are plus size or shapely vs. skinny or below. They just need to understand the message they are giving out to people and many women that are actually normal themselves. plus size is merely just a label to define shapely…

        • redshana October 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

          Thanks for commenting!

          I think the hardest thing for me lately has been hearing people accuse actors/actresses who look healthy to me of being fat. The societal understanding of weight is definitely messed up.

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