It seems that fashion in the United States is made for the thin….at least when it comes to women. Sizes that most stores carry and sizes women actually wear are quite disproportionate. The average woman in this country wears a size 14, while Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch, Wet Seal, Urban Outfitters and Zara don’t even carry a size 14. Express barely makes the cut by carrying up to a size 14 while H&M and Forever 21 only have designated sections is select stores with “plus size” clothing. To H&M that means anything above a 13 and to Forever 21 anything about a 31 in pants
Why is it that style isn’t true to size? You would think that if stores like these weren’t serving their customers, they’d be run out of business. While I think that in almost any other industry this would be true, fashion is an exception to the rule.
Fashion is different because of how we perceive women’s bodies. Specifically, how we think they should look. Women are told that they are supposed to be thin and twig-like. We are supposed to have tummies flat as pancakes, breasts that are perky and pert. Our thighs sleek and small. Waists so small, it would require you to go without food for days in order to achieve. The only thing we can have that is big is a booty. But even so, most of us were not born with a body like Kim Kardashian.
Because of these messages, we only see a certain type of woman represented in fashion. She has a body that less than 5% of us have, that doesn’t celebrate the beauty of diversity or the wonder of curves. Plus-size models are not even plus-size, often coming in at a size 6. Even so, when was the last time you saw plus-size models in a runway show? Yeah….never.
Thus, clothing stores only advocate one type of body. The type of body women are “supposed” to have. If you don’t happen to have that body type, then you are out of luck. You are stuck in a nightmare that will never end. It seems that any store that you go to, you will see this phenomenon.
Because of how deeply this message is drilled in, we then internalize it. We learn that being skinny is what we should strive for and that those who are naturally thin should be put on a pedestal. We don’t protest the retail industry’s lack of representation of body sizes across the board. Instead, we abrade ourselves for being too fat and not fitting into the sizes that we think we should. We blame ourselves instead of the product. It’s not the product that is too small or made poorly, it is ourselves. Or so we are told to think.
I am tired of having to conform to a standard set by the fashion industry that I cannot attain. I want to shop in stores that celebrate a variety of body types, shapes and sizes. Check out Dots, Torrid and ASOS for inspiration. I want to see a world in which everyone’s bodies are deemed beautiful. We can make that happen, by fighting back. Refuse to conform,. Refuse to shop in stores that don’t give a good representation of diversity. Write to companies that do, in praise. Write to those that don’t, in anger. Only buy clothing that actually fits you, no matter the size. Stop blaming yourself for not fitting into a pair of jeans and blame society. Live by these principals and never take no for answer.
Here in the UK the same is true although many of the high street stores have long since caught onto the idea that people come in all shapes and sizes. For me one of my biggest problems is I am short and so have a nightmare trying to get trousers that are the right leg length. They would fit fine if I was happy to wear them around my armpits! I am not a standard shape….but then who is?
I have found that the worse offenders of this are the high-end fashion houses such as Zara, Banana Republic, Karen Milan Etc…. you have no hope in there unless you are 5ft6 – 5ft8 and a size 6 – 12 (that is UK size which is 0-8 in the USA)