Sunday, March 1, 2009

The average American woman? What's that?

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

There was an interesting article in the LA Times today about the perpetual blindness of the fashion industry to any woman larger than a size 6...because, you know, they can't possibly want to dress well. The author, Emili Vesilind, points out that "When it comes to shopping, the average American man has it made. At 189.8 pounds and a size 44 regular jacket, he can wear Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel or Armani." But despite the fact that the average American woman is a size 14, the fashion industry continues to trot out rail-thin models who represent some absurdly small percentage of women. Fashionable stores tend not to stock sizes above a 10, and we all remember that scene in Mean Girls when Regina can't fit into her prom dress at One Three Five (not a real store, but it could be) - she asks for the next size up, and the saleslady says, "I'm sorry, we only carry sizes 1, 3 and 5. You can try Sears."

This isn't a joke. Visilind points out that "It often seems that it's easier to find and buy stylish clothes for Chihuahuas than for roughly half the country's female population." This is particularly mind-blowing because it means that the fashion industry is losing insane amounts of money. They could be selling to plus-size women, who spend about 20% of what "regular"-sized women spend on clothing every year. This makes no sense, and it's simple prejudice. "At the crux of the inequity," Visilind writes, "according to some plus-size designers, models and retailers, is prejudice toward women the industry doesn't find particularly glamorous or sexy. Like fifth-grade girls who secretly live in fear of being ostracized from the cool clique, they don't want to be caught talking to the fat girl."

This is really ridiculous and petty. Leaving the absurdity of our standards of beauty aside, the fashion industry is turning down large sums of money in order to maintain an image which isn't helping them at all. I'm assuming that, by the prices of their shoes, Prada likes money as much as the next designer - so it makes very little sense that Miuccia Prada has publicly stated that she won't sell clothes above a size 10.


At May 21, 2009 at 11:35 PM , Blogger chase said...

when I was younger I used to get so upset that I couldn't shop at the 5 7 9 store :(
I wonder how many young girls still get upset at this.

At August 3, 2009 at 9:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that I've seen alot more plus-sized clothing specific stores than I have for smaller built woman. It's not very often you hear smaller woman complaining, but it can be difficult finding clothes in our sizes as well. I don't know how many times I've gone to regular department stores or places like Wal-Mart, only to find that they didn't have anything smaller than a size 5 available. I believe that all stores should carry a wide range of sizes for all women.


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