Dear Fashion Industry, Stop Treating Plus-Size Women Like Second-Class Citizens

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Listen up, retailers.

As fashion rapidly shifts to accommodate the plus-size market there are a few things you may not have taken into account.

When asked to submit the urgent messages they’d like to share with the fashion industry, 80 plus-size women responded overwhelmingly with five demands. The overall message? Stop treating plus-size shoppers like second-class citizens.

Here’s a deeper look at what they had to say:

1. No more online-only collections

“It is isolating to be fat and to shop online at brands with a store in your area. They want my money, but not my fat self in their store. It makes me feel like a second-class customer.”

-Véronique, Canada

“You want our money in your pockets but not our bodies in your spaces.”

-Sarah, UK

“…very few, if any, stores carry their plus-sized merchandise in-store. There’s clearly a plethora of us out here, especially in a major city, so (stop with) that ‘there’s not enough of a demand’ (line). Traditional retailers just don’t want fat girls to be seen in their stores.”

-Karianne, New York

“As a plus size woman, I want to walk into a store, grab a stack of clothes, and try them on like my girlfriends. I don’t want to hide away at home with mail orders. The majority of women in this country wear sizes greater than 12. I’d like to walk into a store and have that reality reflected in what I see on the racks.”

-Lisa, North Carolina

“When Anthropologie introduced A+, I was so excited. It was awesome seeing their beautiful pieces on some favorite fatshion bloggers, but it was so disappointing to find that like Reformation, Madewell and other retailers that have added plus sizes, you can’t find them in store. It feels like we’re the fat girlfriend, that folks want to love on in private, but are embarrassed to be seen with in public.”

-Caya, California

2. Equal access to trending styles

“Stop with the hideous prints and unflattering cuts. We’re big, not dead. We want to wear the same styles as slimmer people and do not want to shop in a separate section or store.”

-Leigh Ann, California

“I don’t want ‘flattering.’ I don’t want whimsical or cutesy or infantilizing (clothes). I want exactly what straight-sized women get for options of self-expression, just in my size. Why is this so hard for designers to grasp?”

-Mo, Minnesota

“Why is every top a square? They get wider but not longer and not feminine or curvy. I don’t want to look like a large box, I want to look like a hot, fashion-forward woman.”

-Haley, Idaho

“…stop telling us we need to hide. Even clothes that are designed specifically for large women are purposefully hiding our curves and shapes. I find a lot of tunics and baggy sweaters, basically sacks that are telling us we should hide those imperfect parts and essentially be ashamed that they exist.”

-Adriana, California

“I would love to see plus size retailers taking bolder strides to go outside of the norm. Size does not diminish style. The market is here and has been waiting for something new and different.”

-Constance, Massachusetts

“We like form-fitting. We love our shape. We like the same fabrics, colors, and patterns as thin people. Extra bows and zippers unnecessary.”

-Sam, Colorado

“It’s almost impossible to find a plus size suit that’s cut for curves. I’m a new lawyer with a ton of student loan debt. I need to look professional, but I can’t afford a custom-made wardrobe. Additionally, not all plus size blouses need crazy patterns.”

-Patricia, Washington

“We want to wear what everyone else is wearing.”

-Sara, Unknown location

3. Better and more consistent fit 

“Plus size does not always equal ‘curvy.’ Not all plus size women have wide hips. Some are flat-chested. Extra fabric is not always the answer.”

-Molly, Tennessee

“I love hiking, camping, fishing, all that stuff, and I want nice, durable, comfortable clothes! It feels like there’s nobody catering to the fat girls who spend time outside.”

-Briana, Wisconsin

“Bigger bodies need more allowance in the clothes for bendability, and all around comfort.”

-Alanna, Florida

“I don’t enjoy shopping. My true size doesn’t exist on a rack and I find it exhausting to even look. When I find a shirt that fits me well, I buy one in each color. I don’t want clothing to fix me. I don’t have flaws.”

-Kate, Oregon

“I would like to see wider and longer bra bands on bras and bralettes with smaller cup sizes. Not all bigger women have big boobs. I would also like to see underwear with wider crotch panels.”

-Briana, California

4. Models who represent a diversity of shapes

“I would say Savage X Fenty is doing an amazing job by featuring plus size bloggers and influencers as models for their brands on their runway shows.”

-Sheila, Texas

“I would love to go on a website and find models that look like me.”

-Makayla, Minnesota

“I shop a lot in UK store Marks and Spencer because they go up to a UK24, which works for me. Lots of different shape and size women shop there but all the mannequins are very thin. Its like they’re sending two different messages about who should be wearing their clothes.”

-Sarah, UK

“I wish retailers would use models who are not the ‘acceptable’ kind of fat. I’m tired of seeing only hourglass shapes and thin faces. I have small breasts and thick ankles. I want to see people with thick middles, ankles and wrists.”

-Nora, Missouri

“Please stop using size 14/16 toned models with no belly fat to represent plus size/fat folx. For the love of all things good in the world, use someone with lumps, bumps, rolls, stretch marks, etc.”

-Leah, 22, Minnesota

5. Better price points

“I have seen some gorgeous plus-size clothing, but it’s always so pricey. We need more affordable options, especially in the bra department.”

-Mady, Washington

“I can’t afford plus-size retailers.”

-Conner, Oregon

“I find that I have to spend a lot more on basic clothing than my non-plus size friends i.e., tees, leggings, jeans, undergarments, etc.”

-Rebecca, Indiana

Retailers can expect a steep learning curve when it comes to meeting the needs of the majority of U.S. women who are a size 14 or above. Thankfully, the women quoted above show there’s no shortage of ideas for the road that lies ahead.


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