That is what I got told when looking for a pair of jeans a few weeks ago—for reference, they don’t stock any size higher than a 14. I won’t name the store, but I just had higher expectations for a company that claimed to be inclusive and progressive.
Fatphobia and a lack of inclusive sizing have always been inherent within the fashion industry. Perhaps this is done due to the anti-fat bias that exists and due to a push to have an ‘average’ size. But there is no one ‘straight’ look.
Unfortunately, I am not the only one with these experiences. The clothes that are shown off on catwalks are usually on models that are sized 6-10. However, the reality is, women on average are a size 14-16. So then why is it so hard to find clothes that are above a size 16?
Some may argue that there are many companies that provide a plus size range for consumers. However, it is often the case that these plus size ranges are not readily available in stores and are limited in a variety of styles. This limits people from being able to access clothing even further, as their sizes are segregated from ‘average’ sizes.
There is also the classic “well it costs too much to produce bigger sizes”. If this were the case, a size 6 would be priced differently than a 14. It may cost more to produce a wider range of sizes, but not to produce larger. This means that companies do have the capacity to produce these sizes but choose not to create a wider range.
Mahalia Handley—a creative director—also makes the excellent point that industries would make a much higher profit than they do now, as plus size women represent 68% of the shopping market.
So how can we make the change?
There is no denying that the industry has come far in terms of producing larger sizes and ‘plus size’ ranges. But we still have a long way to go.
The first issue to tackle is having companies produce and stock sizes above a 14-16. We all come in different shapes and sizes. Completely cutting off a large percentage of people from being able to access clothing, encourages a toxic culture that only supports those that are ‘average’. We need diversity and inclusivity across the industry to prevent this toxic culture from arising.
The second issue is to address is the progress that has already been made. Plus size ranges that are at the back of stores or on a different tab on a website need to be altered. People shouldn’t feel separate from being able to purchase clothing. Having a range of styles should be the norm. Companies shouldn’t marginalise any plus-sized person any more than they already have.
The final issue is to encourage businesses and companies to make the change. Take it to social media to ensure that everybody is represented and praise brands that have taken the initiative to be more size-inclusive. It’s also extremely important to bring attention to those who need a smaller size than what is provided in stores, and that this does not happen primarily to women—but men too.