But There’s a Reason for That

Dream WorldMy first activist project was in kindergarten when I had had enough of coloring and playing house and I organized my class to boycott our naptime and chant “We Wanna Learn, We Wanna Learn” while rhythmically pounding our little fists on our desks.  Since then I’ve been involved in all kinds of activism and one common threads I find is that whenever anyone points out an inequality, bigotry, or issue to work on, there’s always someone who wants to tell them that they shouldn’t do anything about it because there is a “good reason” for how things are now.

I talked about asking Barney’s and Disney not to make Minnie Mouse into a 5’11 size 0 to walk an imaginary runway and I got all kinds of e-mail telling me that the fashion world is all about tall and thin and there’s not point trying to change it.

I talked about fat phobia in the dance world and I got tons of e-mails telling me that I needed to understand that a thin body is what works professionally, and that’s just how it is.

I talked about asking stores to carry larger sizes and I got all kinds of e-mails telling me that it isn’t easy for designers to make bigger sizes and that there are expenses involved, so I shouldn’t expect any change.

Reader Holly mentioned in a comment that it’s important to understand why things are the way they are and I agree with that – I’m not trying to suggest that we not understand the things that we are trying to change.  What I am suggesting is that activism is often, if not almost always, about asking people and organizations to change behaviors and practices for which they currently have what they consider to be a “good reason” that justifies the status quo.

Yes the fashion world is about tall and thin.  Yes, the professional dance world is almost entirely about one body type.  Yes, stores are currently set up to do a specific size range.  Yes, anything that we take on as activists will have reasons for being the way they are, acting the way they do,  and having the policies they have. Those are the reasons FOR the activism, not the reason not to do the activism.

It’s about declaring that that we deserve the same things that other people have, even if that means that things and people and policies have to change.  Try chanting: “What do we want?  Equality!  When do we want it? Only when it doesn’t require anything or anyone to change!” It just doesn’t have that ring to it, you know? For example, if thin people can walk into a mall and find clothes in a multitude of stores, styles, colors and price points, but fat people have to go to specialty stores where they find a small selection in limited styles, colors and price points then there’s an inequality there that we can work to fix even though there are all kinds of reasons given to us as to why the current situation is what it is.  We can try to change the status quo, replace it and make what used to exist irrelevant, or all kinds of other options as activists.

Whether or not you choose to engage in activism is completely your decision,  but if you see an inequality or bigotry that you want to change, let me suggest that you not be dissuaded by the argument that there is a “good reason” that it works that way. Let’s suggest that equality is worth some ingenuity.

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Published in: on December 4, 2012 at 6:53 am  Comments (30)  

30 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. People said there was a ‘good reason’ that black people were not allowed to sit with white people. They said there was a ‘good reason’ that women were not allowed the vote. Thankfully, the people who said that were proved wrong.
    “It’s just the way things are.” is NOT A GOOD REASON. That sort of talk is what allows women to still be treated unequally. That kind of attitude is what leads to a woman who has been raped, being beaten for it in certain cultures.

    Move on World. Those reasons aren’t as good as you think they are. Those good reasons? Only good for the people they don’t affect.

  2. When I wanted a bra in my size from a local shop (Evans) I was told they didn’t have it in stock as it wasn’t a common size and that I could only order one if it was physically in the warehouse (they don’t transfer between shops either). Their online system is the same, you can only wishlist it if they actually have it.

    I started wondering how they knew it wasn’t in demand if the only way to judge demand was to order X amount, send them all out to random shops and then decide if their was need for them based on whether they sold or not.

    If all the people who need that product live in areas that aren’t getting the product, ie I had to go to go to a town a significant distance away to get a chance at a bra that fitted, so they did do them, they just didn’t stock them in any way that made sense. If a size is that uncommon surely you’d leave it in the warehouse so it could be ordered and sent to where it is needed and then you can distribute based on demand, not some random scheme where you go we’ll stick one there and one there and oh one there, but not one their ’cause no-one there will want one (the last being where the actual demand is).

    Mine is a limited case as I am very, large chested but if it happens just once in this case it’s pretty likely it’s happening in other cases. The whole, oh we don’t make larger sizes as their is no demand, when there is no way to register demand. Also I want big size tights with short legs, so I can actually wear tights without trying to figure out what to do with 5 ins of extra length.

    Oh and the reason they don’t change the system is it’s easier for them not to, most of the time the reason things don’t change is ’cause nobody wants to put in time, effort, money or any combination of them.

  3. Recently, I saw a winter jacket I liked in the NorthStyle catalog. I love my current winter jacket, but it is starting to show its age, and I don’t often find styles I like. This one, I liked – but I am not an impulse buyer when it comes to clothing, especially outerwear. So I thought about it for about a week, then decided I really did want that jacket. So off I went to the company’s website this past weekend.

    Imagine my thoughts when every single “X” size – 1X, 2X, 3X – was listed as “no longer available,” while the straight sizes were all either “in stock” or ” expected on (date)”. This was a red wool hooded swing coat – they did have a cheaper, polyester version of it in my size, but I was not looking for cheap (I don’t buy a winter jacket every year, more like every 5-10 years), and I sure as hell didn’t want polyester anything. Oh, and the jacket is exclusive to NorthStyle, so it’s not like I could get it anywhere else.

    Having just read your Lane Bryant saga, I wrote to the company and expressed my displeasure rather forcefully. I asked why it was only the larger sizes that were no longer available, and mentioned that if I wanted one, I was willing to bet there were lots of others who wanted one as well – isn’t there money to be made here? Obviously, the jacket’s a popular item – wouldn’t they want to sell as many as possible? Unless, of course, they really don’t want fat people wearing their clothes. I got an auto-reply saying I’d have an answer in 24 hours.

    I never did get an answer. Instead, I got a regular “buy our stuff” email the next day, showing me the item and essentially saying, “Remember that item you looked at? It’s still here!” Except, it wasn’t – at least, not in a size I can wear. I thought about writing another scathing email, except that I got a nasty sinus infection in the meantime and didn’t have the energy.

    I decided to look again yesterday – lo and behold, the X sizes are now available (or at least, “expected on (date)”)! I’m sure it wasn’t just because of my single email; I’ll bet many people expressed their displeasure! So I get my jacket, and I get to feel good about maybe helping other people get theirs, too!

    I’m sure there was a reason for the larger sizes being “no longer available,” but apparently that reason changed. The point is, if we don’t speak up, we can’t ever expect anything to change!

    Ragen, thank you so much for your blog, and for everything you do. Now that I am 52 (today!), I’m a lot different – but I spent so many of my younger years feeling like I didn’t deserve to exist because of my size, or like I deserved any abuse I got, or like I didn’t deserve anything nice in my life. My message to young women is, don’t stand for it! Size does not equal worth, or beauty, or decency, or anything else! Don’t allow yourself to be treated like crap!

    • Happy birthday! Enjoy the heck out of your coat when it arrives :-)

    • I wrote in that when Regan was contacting Lane Bryant their responses appeared they had not even READ her emails. I hate writing to a company, thinking up a well-crafted letter to get your point across and then they reply with stock BS. I think some companies are afraid (or unable to) tell customers “no.” Any experience with this? Like you go into a store looking for something very specific (does not have to be clothing) and you ask for said item and they show you a bunch of other stuff.

    • Very, very happy birthday to you!!!! I loved your quote “if we don’t speak up, we can’t ever expect anything to change” it’s so right on. Speaking up doesn’t guarantee change but if nobody speaks up that basically guarantees that there won’t be change! You are an inspiration!!!! ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  4. AWESOME! These were my favorite bits:

    “Those are the reasons FOR the activism, not the reason not to do the activism.”

    “Try chanting: “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Only when it doesn’t require anything or anyone to change!” ”

    Genius!

  5. Thanks, Ragen. you are right on again!

  6. Hi Ragan,   Enjoying and forwarding all of your posts. I admire you tremendously. Fight the power! I thought this story would amuse you, given your escapade in kindergarten: I was suspended for two days from kindergarten (this was in 1958-59) for coloring a pair of shoes brown instead of black, which was the instruction. I only had brown shoes, you see, so could not see the logic. And because even then I had a hair-trigger temper, I didn’t make my case so well to the teacher and was – er – loud doing it. Result? Home-bound for two days. I never got over being pissed off about it and basically snubbed and cold-shouldered my teacher for the rest of the year. Did I also mention I hold grudges? I’ve mellowed a bit over the years (some may disagree) but I went on to become the first girl in my family to graduate from high school without getting pregnant or married before graduation. Also the first girl to graduate from college. Also the first girl to get a graduate degree. My pig-headedness has paid off and I wouldn’t change a thing.   Have a great day,   Linda   P.S. I was also permanently kicked out of bible study class at my church at the age of 12 for arguing that school dances do not lead to drug addiction. I stand by that until this day.

    From: Dances With Fat >To: lilib@yahoo.com >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 10:54 PM >Subject: [New post] But There’s a Reason for That > >danceswithfat posted: “My first activist project was in kindergarten when I had had enough of coloring and playing house and I organized my class to boycott our naptime and chant “We Wanna Learn, We Wanna Learn” while rhythmically pounding our little fists on our desks.  Since” >

  7. Your bit about kindergarten made me laugh out loud. I, too, had a problem with naptime. My choice was to lie there and make up stories in my head. Probably why you’re an activist and I’m a novelist.

    Love your blogs!

  8. Hi Ragen,

    Great post as always, thank you. I’d just like to reassert that I fully supported (and still do support) your efforts to expand the plus sized clothing market and never said you should stop trying – quite the opposite. I simply pointed out that the current dearth of plus sized clothing is not, as a general rule in the high street mass market, down to fat hate or fat phobia. It’s down to logistical, engineering and financial business decisions, given that manufacturing both straight and plus sizes does generally involve two lots of everything and one market is less explored territory and therefore a higher risk. (What people say they will buy and what they actually do buy are two very different things. Right now, news about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy is setting the internet on fire, and yet I cannot find a single person here in England’s green and pleasant land who will admit to caring about it.) Once again, I recommend the excellent Fashion Incubator blog by Kathleen Fasanella.

    I’m sure many businesses can be persuaded to change their minds. Many already have done. My point was simply that you (generic ‘you’, not you personally) are not likely to get results if you approach them by accusing them of things they aren’t doing. First of all, it doesn’t address the root cause and gives them no justification to change (none of the “good reason” that you so rightly point out). Secondly, it can, if handled clumsily, present plus sized shoppers as ill-informed and unreasonable, and not many businesses will be very interested in chasing that customer.

    I’m mostly a lurker, as you know, but I felt this time that the point was worth making, since people seemed to be under the impression that your (admirable) emails were the reason for Lane Bryant expanding its range. In fact, the timing of their launch shows that it was something they had already planned to do. Again, you most certainly can and should continue to press for further change, and I wish you every success. But it helps to understand a little about the workings of the industry you’re trying to shake up. Knowledge is power.

    Best of luck, as ever.

    • I’m not so sure about that. Businesses can change, but the change is quite reluctant. How do you prove there’s a desire for something when that something is nowhere to be had?
      The dearth of plus size clothing goes back a long way, at least in the US. I can remember periods of time when the fashion industry has complained loudly of being in a recession, losing money, etc., but even that has not shaken them up enough to serve the underserved. They are very particular about where their income comes from.
      How much of a risk is it when smaller people have plenty of choice (and therefore there is far more competition) and larger people are stuck with second best at higher prices because that’s all that can be found? When did exploring new territory and expanding one’s market become a bad thing?

      • I don’t believe it’s a bad thing at all. Niche markets, including tall,petite and buxom people, have long been underserved. We know businesses can change, many have. I simply state that it’s misguided to attribute it to hate.

        I myself am straight sized, though not skinny or thin, but I have very big breasts. There are not many shops that size their clothes for women like me. I am not abnormal, I am simply outside the average to an extent. Mass produced clothing works around averages. It isn’t because clothing companies hate or fear buxom women.

        I agree businesses can change and should be urged to do so. I just don’t agree that they’re currently motivated by hate and deliberate attempts to marginalise plus sized people. And I don’t believe customers will effect real change if they work from that assumption.

        • It’s understandable that items for a niche market will be harder to find. I’m sure many of us have some sort of body measurement outside the norm (aside from fatness) that cause us difficulty in finding certain items. For example, in my case I have a somewhat large skull size which makes it difficult to get women’s glasses with nice frames.
          But I’m talking about a large demographic, not an individual. If half of adult women wear at least a size 14, and 90% of available clothing (I don’t know the exact statistic here) is only available below that size (and the 10% above is of lower quality on average) then something’s amiss. It doesn’t mean that manufacturers deliberately decide to shaft fat women, but that is the effect and even when we point it out we can’t seem to budge the numbers much. The situation is admittedly better than it used to be but still has a long long way to go.

          • My suggestions would be to keep emailing them (I don’t recommend writing templates for people to use – companies can’t stand receiving the same email hundreds of times from different people. Apart from feeling spammed, it makes the movement look as if it lacks passion and therefore the people in it don’t really care that much, not enough to spend a few minutes crafting some original copy), and be polite while you’re firm – companies are unlikely to start wooing a vituperative customer. I would also suggest supporting the existing businesses where you can. I know we all love a bargain, and it isn’t fair that you shouldn’t seek them, but the truth is, the more money they make, the more likely they are to keep going down that route. So if you can afford to buy full price, I would.

            And of course, when you do email them, don’t accuse them of fat hate and bigotry and wanting to marginalise plus sized people etc etc. Because that’s not their motivation.

    • Holly,

      The average woman’s size in the US is a 14. The fact that virtually everything above that — and certainly anything significantly above that — is considered “experimental” or a “niche market” is in fact an example of institutional fat bias in society.

      • Hi Tori,

        Thank you for the information, being English I’m less familiar with the US market. Here in the UK, the average dress size is 16. This is generally where plus sizes start, but it’s a straight size as well. Once in plus sizes, though, sizing tends to become more generous, so a 16 at a plus size retailer is usually bigger than a 16 in a straight size one. There’s a reason for that as well (in a nutshell, companies profile their customers and size around what they understand to be average for their market. Teenagers, for example, tend to be thinner than middle-aged women. The numbers on dress sizes aren’t arbitrary – they’re based around a very old scaling system, telling pattern cutters how to adapt the medium size on the size run for the larger and smaller sizes around it.).

        It may well be that businesses are behind the times – it’s generally agreed that we’ve all got bigger and taller in the last few decades. So they may not yet have caught up. Or it may be that they are marketing to a particular customer. In these times of recession, the demand for cheap clothing is high, and as a general rule that’s easier to produce than the relatively new plus sizes with their relatively new increased demand. They may be aware of the correlation between poverty and obesity (is this an example of what FA calls ‘intersectionality’?) and trying to market to people whom they believe have more money to spend. (High end fashion tends to come up small – richer people tend to be thinner. Again, customer profiling.)

        What they are generally not doing, though, is working with a revulsion or hatred of fat people. They will be doing what they believe to be the most profitable. They may well be wrong in their justifications and that’s where you come in, to redirect them. But you can redirect them only if you know where they’re heading in the first place. And in mass produced, high street, “affordable” (I realise that’s relative) fashion, there just isn’t a fat hate bias or fat hate cabal or deliberate attempt to exclude plus sized people. They have logistical, engineering and financial reasons for their decisions. The reasons may no longer be sound (though there are logistical matters with designing and cutting plus sizes – not insurmountable at all, but they do exist) but the point is they are what companies are working from. There are logistical and engineering and financial issues with making clothes for very busty women like me as well, which is why there is only one store in the UK that specialises in it. And yes, they’re pricey too. And I understand why.

        tl;dr: It is really not personal. Once you know the real reasons why you’re underserved, you have a better chance of persuading them to change. And I hope you succeed.

    • I simply pointed out that the current dearth of plus sized clothing is not, as a general rule in the high street mass market, down to fat hate or fat phobia. It’s down to logistical, engineering and financial business decisions, given that manufacturing both straight and plus sizes does generally involve two lots of everything and one market is less explored territory and therefore a higher risk.

      While it may not be *conscious, deliberate* fat-hate on the part of an individual company, the fact that the plus-size market is less-explored territory didn’t just happen in a vacuum. Even what we define as “straight sizes” and “plus sizes” is based on the cultural ideas about what kinds of bodies are “normal.” I’m pretty sure there are more women who wear a size 18 than who wear a size 2, and yet the size 2 is part of the “normal” straight-size range, while 18 is a plus size (sometimes it’s in that overlap of about 14-18 that’s covered by both straight and plus sizes, but a lot of brands don’t go past a 16 in “normal” sizes). A size 2 woman has a lot more clothing options than a size 18 woman,and that doesn’t actually line up with which one has the more common body type.

      As another example, look at how clothing manufacturers define “small” and “large.” The average woman is a size 14, which is usually a “large” size. So what’s “normal” if you go by population is treated as “bigger than normal” by sizes. (Looking at Nordstrom’s, for example, “large” is a 12-14. So a size 12 woman who’s actually a little bit thinner than average is defined as “large.”)

      There’s more to “isms” than just individual, personal animosity, whether we’re talking about sizeism, racism, sexism, or whatever. A lot of it is cultural, systemic, and unconscious. But that doesn’t make it non-existent.

      • With respect, you are misguided.

        “Medium” in a size run has nothing to do with the medium of the population overall. It simply means the middle size of that particular size run. Companies profile their customers and size their clothing accordingly (this is all in the Fashion Incubator blog, which I continue to recommend). Fasanella likes to use the comparison of ballet dancers (generally very slight people) and barrel racers (generally heftier people). A company producing clothes for ballerinas will size its clothing accordingly, with its medium size average for its customers. Same with the barrel racers. We may well find a barrel racer who wants a tutu, and that person may be out of luck, but it’s not because the tutu makers hate larger people or don’t think they exist, or don’t want their money.

        I am a UK dress size 12-14, if that means anything to you (my waist is a size 10 though – it causes problems in clothing, but that’s not because companies are discriminating against with very exaggerated hourglass shapes). I like to wear vintage style clothes. They come up small. I usually have to get a large or extra large in those size runs, even though I’m actually a size or two smaller than the average British woman. Recently I bought a coat in a somewhat upmarket shop generally aimed at middle aged women (I’m a younger woman). Their clothes were sized for women 20 years or so older than I am. They came up large, and I walked away in a small.

        The average of the population isn’t really relevant when stores are sizing to suit their expected, typical customer (and why should they not?). Companies should be allowed to profile their customers to serve them better, plus sized clothing most certainly included. With respect, I think you need to learn a lot more about how this industry works. Check out Kathleen’s blog….it really is excellent.

        • With respect, I think you need to stop being condescending about our lived experiences that this is, in fact, a widespread, systemic problem. We’re not stupid, and we’re not imagining things. PLEASE STOP.

          • At no point have I denied your experiences. What I am refuting is people’s misguided reasonings behind what’s causing them. You are not an expert in clothing manufacture just because you wear clothes, any more than I am a mechanic just because I drive a car.

            I have acknowledged that plus sized people face difficulties in finding clothes and that this can be truly heartbreaking. But if people will insist that it is victimisation and every kind of “ism” when it isn’t, and take offence when someone informs them about the logistics of sizing and manufacture, change will be that much harder to bring about.

            Your problems are real. But some of them are caused by logistics and engineering.

            • Amen to that. I’ve seen almost this exact argument played out in feminist discussion, too: people pointing out that the experience of discrimination is a subjective experience based on some assumptions about the situation and other people objecting that denying that what they perceive as discrimination is, in fact, discrimination is to deny their ‘lived experience’. In particular I saw this with Cambridge students spray painting posters which advised women not to get in unlicensed taxis, saying it was victim-blaming. When it was suggested that the intent was not to victim-blame, but in fact to inform (in the same way that signs warning that pickpockets may be operating in the area aren’t trying to blame you for getting your stuff nicked), people got very upset that their ‘lived experience’ was being ‘denied’. I don’t really know what that means. It’s not a lived experience, it’s a logical deduction that goes like this: there’s a poster talking about rape, it’s targeted at women not rapists, that means they think it’s women’s fault. Obviously that particular issue is much more subtle, since there’s more to it than whether or not the intention was to blame women or not.
              The point, however, is that it’s completely valid to point out that someone’s reasoning about whether or not something is discriminatory might be flawed. Besides anything else, denying this idea often leads to forums where only the ‘most discriminated against’ get to have an opinion (I’ve actually heard that said, in those words, completely seriously) because no one else can have ‘lived experience’. But in this case all that your lived experience is is that you can’t find clothes which fit. There’s nothing else to it than that. And from that alone you can’t draw the conclusion that your problem is a result of discrimination.

            • Holly, thank you! Your posts have explained a lot that I wasn’t aware of about clothing manufacture/sizes.
              Very often, it really does feel like an -ism, but it’s mainly all about profit. Profit all the way. Companies want to sell to the Population Norm, because that will garner the most money. Sad but true.

              They do fat people a disservice, and miss out on a market share, but I certainly do not think it is a fat hate thing. It’s a market target thing. (I’m a size UK 24-26 or 26-28 depending on the shop, hourglass, stupidly small waist in relation to hips/bust. Finding clothes is hard!)

              • Hi cookwitch1. You’re very welcome, although the thanks are really due to the very talented and experienced Kathleen Fasanella and her superlative blog. When I first discovered it, I spent literally hours on it, gaping as everything finally made sense. It was incredibly illuminating and she has a talent for explaining even the most technical matters in a lucid manner that laypeople can easily follow.

                It is certainly to a large extent about profit – businesses that aren’t interested in making money don’t tend to do very well (sorry). Fasanella actually writes a lot about this as well. She is very dedicated to both social causes and successful business – an ethical capitalist, I think. There are some interesting discussions on the blog amongst her and her expert readers.

                She also knows what it’s like to be plus sized…

                Clothing design, cutting, manufacture, selling and marketing is an incredibly complex business. There’s so much to consider in costing, proportions (a small woman with a bum needs only an extra couple of inches, a plus sized woman with the same proportions needs many more, and the curves of her body aren’t on the same gradient), cutting to minimise wastage, shaping, fitting and goodness knows what else. It’s a highly technical business. It requires a lot of expertise in engineering, mathematics and more.

                Plus sized clothing can certainly be successful and profitable – we see the evidence every day. Lane Bryant was obviously further ahead of the curve than we realised. This IS an industry that can be changed, indeed is changing. But you need to understand it to influence it.

                (Another change I’ve noticed is a slow turning towards sizing and marketing for shape -good news for women with exaggerated shapes like you and me, perhaps.)

                I’ve seen a number of other FA bloggers wrongly claim that the dearth of plus sized clothing is down to hatred and bigotry and discrimination, and send pointless, vituperative emails to customer service staff over it. I saw one particularly poisonous case where a blogger called upon her readers to try to cripple an individual woman’s start-up company because it wasn’t offering clothes in her size and the founder couldn’t explain the technicalities to the blogger’s satisfaction in 180 character tweets. Given how often I hear the words “educate yourself, it’s not my job” within the FA community, this seemed….inconsistent.

                So anyway…this is why I decided to step out of the shadows on this one. I know this is a major and very serious matter for plus size people. I felt that having some understanding of what’s causing the issues they face would be useful – I don’t see how one can shake up an industry without knowing a few basics about how it operates.

                I’m very glad you found it useful. I hope others do too.

        • To start off with, you’re being really condescending. “With respect” does not make what comes after it respectful. Please take it down a notch. Yes, I’m aware that I don’t understand tons about how the fashion industry works. You don’t appear to understand how -isms work, because you keep assuming that unless people are doing something out of conscious, deliberate fat hatred, there’s no discrimination involved.

          The average of the population isn’t really relevant when stores are sizing to suit their expected, typical customer (and why should they not?). Companies should be allowed to profile their customers to serve them better, plus sized clothing most certainly included.

          Sure, they’re allowed to profile their expected and desired customers. But when we live in a “fat is bad, thin is good” culture, part of that profiling is going to be negative toward fat people. That doesn’t necessarily equate to hate, but it is a form of discrimination. The belief that fat people don’t care about how they look, the desire not to show fat women in catalogs—that all plays into it. If it didn’t, you would expect that someone, somewhere, would be viewing fat women as their expected, typical customer. The fact that they don’t doesn’t mean that they’re sitting around thinking “We don’t want the ugly stupid fatties to buy our clothes,” and none of us is arguing that it does.

          What you’re arguing is that because logicstic constraints exist, there is no sizism whatsoever in the fashion industry. Which doesn’t make sense at all.

          • You took the words right out of my mouth, Kelly K. I’d also like to point out that while nobody here is saying it isn’t harder to cater to a much wider range of sizes in the same line, there’s proof positive that it’s far from impossible. eShakti (http://www.eshakti.com) carries a wide range of styles in their line, and every single piece in the collection comes in US sizes from 0 to 36, with every size being sold at the same price point. In addition to that, custom sizing (from your own measurements) is available for a fee of less than ten dollars.

            The company has managed to do this since 1999 and they’re still in business. That tells me that their business model is not only entirely reasonable, but potentially quite successful, too.

            And I know where I intend to spend my painfully limited clothes buying budget in future: the place where I can get something I find attractive made of the same fabrics as the smaller sized clothes in a size that fits me correctly at a reasonable price.

            Is it commonly done? No. Is it easy? Maybe not. Is it more than possible? Absolutely. Do women of size deserve nice clothes? Yes, we do.

            If once in a while one of us expresses ourselves in a more than average assertive way it’s because of the massive, massive injustice we’re subjected to every day in a world where ‘excuse me please, but might you kindly consider?’ has a way of being ignored and treated as quaintly pointless.

            I’m also old enough to remember when it was pretty ‘uppity’ of people to think that the color of their skin shouldn’t determine where they sat in restaurants and buses or what jobs they could even apply for. They didn’t understand that everyone who turned them away from businesses or stuck them in dark corners weren’t mean people who actively hated them, either. It was simply how
            business worked.

            Whether because of race, gender identity, sexuality, religious affiliation, or girth, I don’t have a lot of faith in how things ‘simply
            work’ when it leads to blatant inequity.

    • I think there more going on than just market share. There is an excellent blog about how standardized sizing was originally decided upon in the USA, and it’s pretty clearly biased. For example, measurements from non-white and non-urban women were thrown out. http://analogme.typepad.com/analog-me/2011/11/history-of-measurements.html

  9. There is a certain way that capitalism works too: when the consumers demand something, the market complies. You were just being a consumer demanding a certain product and you effected a change. If someone says that’s not how it goes, they need to go back and take economics 101.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

  10. As a fellow rabble rouser from kindergarten (my class was good for learning stuff, but I was the one who got left-handed scissors in all the classrooms!) on, I can only say let’s bring down a Bastille or two!

    People can always find reasons why things shouldn’t change. It’s up to those of us who see a better, fairer way to fight for it.

    No, the changes don’t happen overnight, and yes, there are practicalities to work out… but if we allow short-term practicalities to stop us before we start, we’ll never get anything done for anyone ever.

  11. The town I grew up in was built mostly on a flood plain for the major river in the area. Every spring, it would flood for months, leaving the place basically a swamp year round. The settlers could have said “Well, there’s a good reason that ground isn’t inhabitable, let’s move downstream where there’s more flat land that doesn’t flood,” but they didn’t. They built levees and eventually a very large dam to change the “good reason” so that the ground no longer was swampy from flooding. Now there is a city of ~100,000 people where there once was swamp.

    Understanding the reasons things are the way they are is not justification for not changing things; it is ammunition for change.

    Great post. :)


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