I remember how difficult it was to buy clothes that were appealing for women who were my size. It was rare that I could find something good in a nice department store – forget about your more upscale spots and boutiques – and was often relegated to the few stores that vanity sized up enough to cover women shaped like me without telling all of their customers that they catered to women like me.
And that, my friend, is the problem.
I happened to check out this write-up on Racked that said the following:
Maybe you heard about Saks Fifth Avenue’s plan to mix plus-sized designer offerings into the racks of their hallowed third floor[…] Maybe you also heard that Jezebel’s attempts to get a comment on this little nugget from Saks and/or a handful of the labels were pretty much in vain.
Here’s the part you might not have heard, though, at least if you haven’t spent years paying attention to designer sizing: Chanel and cohorts have been selling plus-sized clothing for a very long time, and it makes them a lot of money.[…]
Before then, skinny young bitches didn’t even want Chanel. When they finally did, they couldn’t afford it. And, frankly, most can’t afford it now. By the time they will be able to afford Chanel or Kors or Cavalli (or marry someone who can—just sayin’), they’re not going to be so young. And they’re very likely not going to be so skinny either.
That said: These labels have been producing plus-sized garments for years. Could you imagine if Valentino, Armani, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Donna Karan and Max Mara didn’t make 12s, or 14s, or 16s? They’d be dunzo; those charity-gala-ladies-who-lunch-museum-board-members-who-“winter”-and-“summer” make up a pretty big chunk of their markets.
The issue here isn’t the fact that these clothes are being made—they very much are. It’s finding those clothes, and that one of the foremost department stores in the world is going to be stocking them alongside smaller sizes in a flagship department. And given their market, they probably don’t want to advertise it. We’re talking about women who treasure discretion and quality over jewel-crusted monogramming and, frankly, don’t want their sizes—let alone their style and their access to such styles—bouncing around the internet.
While I think this is a pretty frank take on the matter… I think that very last line is where Racked gets it horribly wrong.
We’re talking about women who treasure discretion and quality over jewel-crusted monogramming and, frankly, don’t want their sizes—let alone their style and their access to such styles—bouncing around the internet.
Trust me… that has nothing to do with why the likes of Saks and Co. wouldn’t dare advertise that they serve the plus sized community. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
From The Plus Size Wars:
In April, Lane Bryant broadcast its first television ad for its lingerie line, Cacique. A bosomy, heavy-set model parades around a bedroom dressed first in a bright blue teddy and then a series of bra-and-panty sets. Settling on some lacy underwear in fuchsia, she checks the smartphone on her vanity table and takes note of a calendar reminder that says, “Lunch with Dan.” Who is Dan? Apparently not her accountant — she merely throws on a short black trench coat and walks out the door.
Lane Bryant bought air time during “American Idol” on Fox and hoped for a similar showcase on ABC (which it never got). When Fox requested edits, the company charged that it was the victim of size prejudice. “Yes, these are the same networks that have scantily clad housewives so desperate they seduce every man on the block,” a Lane Bryant press release stated.
Believe me, those networks know their market. They know their viewers don’t want to see some big fat girl parading around in her panties… and they certainly don’t want to think about her getting laid. [insert eyeroll]
Pardon me for the sarcasm in that last paragraph, but you’ve got to admit that this is exactly how this all sounds. We, day in and day out, are fed this image of women who don’t look like us… selling us a fantasy (and a product, don’t forget that part.) 68% of America is overweight… at this point, that Lane Bryant model looks more like most of America than that Victoria’s Secret model. But still… the Lane Bryant model’s ad is shelved… and I’m still looking at thin blond girls (or fair skinned thin Black girls – can’t forget them) in jungle print panties on my screen.
Why is it that the plus sized community keeps getting “shelved?” No one wants to go on record as saying “Yes, we offer plus-sized garments for women up to a size X?” Companies that once served the plus-sized community proudly all of a sudden relegated their 16-and-up clientele to shopping online for their items. I have an answer.. I just doubt that anyone will like it.
Think about the stores you know.. and where they’re located. The stores that serve the plus-sized community with pride. They’re not at the ritzier malls. They may be sprinkled throughout the “middle America”-esque locales, but really… the proud-to-serve-you types? They’re going to be strategically placed in locations where it is believed they will do best.
Think about the prices for those stores. The stores that might vanity-size up a little to secretly accommodate a few larger sizes. Those stores that are almost always offering some $25-off-$50-purchase kind of sale. Surely, you wouldn’t see Chanel in a store like that, right? Do you even know of someone who makes a $400 sweater in a size 22?
Big girls like to be fashionable just like everyone else. She may not look the way society wants her to look – though, keep it real… a size 8 doesn’t really look the way society wants her to look, either – but she wants to look presentable, respectable, and even occasionally jazzy. The problem is that no one wants to come out and tell this fashionable big girl with money to spend “Hey, we make beautiful clothing for you… come get it.”
Why? This is so anti-Capitalist! Someone has money to spend, someone has product to sell them… and the deal isn’t going down! You know there has to be a good reason for this, right?
Why won’t Chanel and the others publicize the fact that they make plus sized clothing? Simple. Because they know damned well that there is a certain type of woman identified as being plus sized – she is poor, cannot afford quality, is so unattractive that surely she wouldn’t wear my clothing anyway, whatever… the plus sized woman simply is not respected. “Her mere presence in a store must offend the sensibilities of the average size 2… thus why other labels had to force her to resort to shopping online only. We must keep them out of our stores, so that thin people won’t think our store only caters to big people!”
To me, this is the bottom line.. and it sucks. It’s disgusting to think that a store like Saks would avoid commenting and telling the women who long to shop there “Hey, we have things for you to buy!” as a means of protecting its image – because, let’s face it… if the national concensus about plus sized women is that they are poor, and Saks is now offering clothing for plus-sized women, then this MUST mean Saks is selling the cheap crap now, right? It’s not about hiding the sizes of women who shop there. It’s about hiding the perception that Saks “services these poor, misguided, fat souls.”
Ugh, and we wonder why so many women have such major self-esteem issues.