On The Importance of Body-Inclusive Representation in Marketing.
By Alessandra Grima
Who would’ve thought that fat people deserve the same shopping experience as our straight-sized counterparts!? Gasp! The audacity!
Sarcasm aside, consumers are necessary to buy products, and it doesn’t take rocket science to realize that consumers come in all shapes and sizes. What!? Plus size people wear clothes too!? Ok, I guess sarcasm wasn’t aside. It came back with a vengeance. My bad.
Let’s take a second to talk about what body positivity means. This isn’t a “fat girls only” club. It’s about accepting and loving ALL bodies (small and big) of any gender. I will focus on clothing for plus size women because, well, I am one, and we’ve had no representation until recently.
Growing up as a full-figured girl that hit 5’3” and DDs by age 10 was not cool. Nothing fit me, I had nowhere to shop, and ended up wearing a lot of FOX hoodies with jeans that couldn’t button. I just folded the button into my pants. Sexy.
I figured fashion wasn’t a thing I could be a part of—and I accepted that as fact. Why was a young girl already giving up? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO REPRESENTATION! So, when you read this, I know we’re all reading it as adults, but, (this is going to sound way more dramatic than I want it to), THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!
What this boils down to is, our kids need representation because it’ll shape their whole lives. I work retail, I see women daily, and most of them speak negatively about their bodies. “Oh, I can’t wear that,” “I have to cover my arms,” and “I’m too fat for this dress.” That to me is society failing us. How dare we allow women to feel this way into adulthood. We have put them down for decades, and we’re still blasting Keto, Peloton, and thin bombshell ads in their faces. Shame on us! If I had positive plus size representation when I was growing up, I wouldn’t have had to wait until 25 to finally, maybe, start liking my body…maybe. The only thing young, insecure me needed was to see ONE model or just ONE actress that looked a little bit like me. So, I became a model and an actress. *hair flip*
Now, marketing is this simple: no representation? Then we’re not buying, or at least, we’re buying
less. I can surf Victoria’s Secret’s website all I want, but I don’t look like anyone on that site. I don’t feel welcome. I don’t belong. Which was reiterated to 13-year-old me as I was entering one of their stores, “How are we today—oh, we don’t have your size.” Bitch!
Needless to say, I have never spent my money there! Bottom line, your consumer wants to feel included; wants to feel seen.
There are quite a few businesses making strides. Thanks to Die With Your Boots On, House of Widow, Foxblood, Killstar, and more, I have fashion accessible to me. Finally! If you're looking for sizes over 4x, check out Chubby Cartwheels, Exo Umbra, Hot Topic, or Torrid.
Fun fact: the majority of American women are sizes 16-18 (why, that’s me!), yet, I have zero stores to shop at in the mall. If I’m lucky, there might be a lonely Torrid or Lane Bryant. For men, the majority is pant size 40, which are scarce, too! THE MAJORITY!!! That’s a lot of customers and money companies are missing out on. I am 31, no kids, and fashion-forward. I have money to spend, people! If Vicky’s came out with a plus line (they won’t) with plus models (they’d never), I’m buying! That goes for any company that stops at size 10. I’m constantly hearing these big companies saying that carrying bigger sizes is expensive and no one is buying. No one is buying because you aren’t carrying the product! Some have made strides to carry up to 14, maybe even 18, but guess what? People are bigger than an 18. Gasp! I know!!! Mind blown!
Money talks? That’s bull; because most of America wears the sizes you don’t carry. You’re being fat-phobic and that’s just bad business.
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