I’ve had a few different shopping experiences lately that I want to talk about. I’m going to start with my most recent trip to the mall when I visited La Senza in search of a new bra. In case that isn’t a store that exists in your town or country, it is a lingerie store, similar to Victoria’s Secret but primarily based in Canada. For my entire adult life, I have shopped at La Senza for bras and sometimes underwear. Actually, my first step towards eating disorder recovery also involves an experience shopping for a new bra at La Senza so it is very interesting to have such a different and more body positive approach, this time, I am writing about this store. For the last few years, I have been almost exclusively buying their Hello Sugar line, the only other bra I owned was the Ashley Graham/AdditionElle cage bra, well until last week.
I found out during their boxing week sale that they have discontinued my size in that particular line, I’m actually a 36DD but could sometimes squeeze into a 36D. Apparently they will only be making up to a 36C in the line I used to be obsessed with. In 2016, when almost every other brand is expanding the number of sizes they offer, this one is taking sizes away. The sales associate confirmed that she always sells out of the largest sizes first, in fact, their underwear store literally had no XL sizes left, but tons of XS and S sizes available. Maybe I am missing something but that just seems like poor planning and bad business sense?
On the other hand, we have Reitmans and WarehouseOne, that are both expanding their size range and including them in store with the rest of the sizes, no separate plus size section way at the back of the store. I love shopping in stores like that! Now admittedly both only go to XXL as far as I can tell, and they could do better, much better. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen me post about the mannequin’s at WarehouseOne because they have multiple plus size versions. During my last visit, I specifically noticed that there were more XL wearing mannequins than there were versions wearing a small. These are small steps, but for me, living in a small town, I am happy there is some progress.
Shopping online will never replace being able to try things on, see them in person and actually touch the fabric, in my opinion. I may love some of the plus-size online-only stores like SmartGlamour and Society+, but I really want to be able to shop in person, in most cases. Shopping online often carries an additional cost and when we force plus size women to pay extra for things we need to talk about the impact of this, in terms of feminist analysis. First, we need to acknowledge that thin privilege is a very real thing, so real that it actually impacts who gets hired to do the job and how much they get paid. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to read this article on the systemic discrimination that exists in the workplace.
On top of that, some plus size clothes straight up cost more than the same item in smaller sizes, If I remember correctly, Old Navy has been caught doing this before. Online shopping often means paying shipping costs and possibly even return shipping fees and/or restocking fees. I can’t be the only one who has given away online purchase because the cost to return them made any efforts pointless. The problem with this is that those fees are eating away at the disposable income of many plus size women, which of course means they have less to spend on other important things, or even just other fabulous clothes. These are all examples of oppression and I guarantee you that as this blog progresses, you are very likely to hear much more about privilege and oppression in terms of intersectional body positivity.
Stores, all stores, need to do better! Clothes and shoes should be available in a wide variety of sizes, from XS to 6X and maybe even offering custom sizes like SmartGlamour does. All stores should carry all of these sizes in all styles and stock them together in the same store. It is not okay to only produce pj’s and maxi dresses in larger sizes or to relegate plus size women to the back of the store. Stores should carry cuts that make sense for that size, as nothing is sillier than when you make a skirt larger, without actually accounting for additional curves. Stores should be charging the exact same price for all sizes unless it is a special order as that would potentially mean cutting a whole new pattern. Finally, stores need to simply stock more large sizes. Why do all sale racks look the same? It should be painfully obvious to all retailers that their larger sizes are selling out and their smaller sizes often have to be thrown out or donated. It’s simple math, we have money, we want to buy clothes, you want to make money, by selling clothes. Make stuff in our size and it’s a clear win-win for everyone involved.