Plus-sized inclusivity

Every time I have turned on Hulu for the past week or so, I have seen the commercial (yes, commercials, for I am a broke college student) for Old Navy’s new decision, cleverly titled “BODEQUALITY,” to include all women’s clothing sizes 0-30 in stores and online. They announced this by having Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant dance with women of all different sizes in jeans and shirts in a rainbow of shades. With an upbeat song and dance number, the ad draws you in until it delivers this bombshell: all sizes 0-30. 

Now I am sure some of you do not know what this means or why it is such a big deal. As a plus-size woman who has been a size 18 since freshman year of high school, I know a lot about this subject. Most clothing stores that try to cater towards women or those who choose to wear “women’s” clothes cap their in-store sizes at 14 or 16, with more available online. If they choose to include higher sizes in their store, the 16 and ups can be found in their own separate section normally labeled “plus size” or “women’s.” This makes sense because the bigger you are, the more of a woman you are, right? But whatever the reason, the clothes have been separated —  pushed aside —  because why would they need to be mixed in with all of the other clothes?

A couple of weeks ago, I actually went to an Old Navy while I was out shopping with my roommates. The three other women that I room with are smaller than I am when it comes to clothing size, so while they walked in and found something to try on in most other stores, I was left empty-handed. I did make it out of one store with a shirt, but it took me quite a while to find it on the plus size rack. In Old Navy, however, I started to discover something unique: all of the larger sized clothes were just on the regular racks with everything else. Anything that you could have found in a size 4 was also in a size 4X. I was shocked. I did not fall in love with any of their clothes, nor did I buy anything. But that was the one store I did not stop talking about because of their size diversity.

Why was this such a groundbreaking experience? Obviously I get clothes from somewhere. In fact, when I am not at school, I work at an extended size women’s clothing store called Torrid, which is where I have bought most of my clothes both pre- and post-employment. But I will not lie, they can be quite expensive, as is the norm with most specialty clothing stores. Even in your regular department store like Macy’s, the price of the clothing sectioned off and pushed into a corner is normally higher than anything else. And I know that we should be avoiding fast fashion, but there certainly is not a larger section of plus size clothing at any thrift store I have been in lately either. So, why are we hidden in the back of the store and charged an arm and a leg for our t-shirts?

It is because of our fatphobic society. Say whatever you will about being progressive, but it is the truth. In our post-BMI world, we should be more welcoming to those of larger size, especially those who identify as women. Even declaring our world “post-BMI” is a stretch, as I and a few other people I know got their COVID vaccines in phase one because our BMI technically makes us obese — which is absolutely ridiculous. My “obese” self should be able to buy the same clothes as my size medium roommate if I want to. Fat people want to wear cute clothes. We want to wear crop tops,  form fitting dresses and short shorts. But we can not, because the fashion industry will not let us.

Old Navy is doing something great by having every item offered in a range of sizes. Still,  they should not be the only ones doing it, and it should not be so abnormal. We should not be shamed for our size when we are perfectly healthy and happy. We should not be forced to pay more for clothes that are larger sizes when the average body size of women has gone up over time. It is time to stop making anyone feel bad about their body when they are happy in it. The amount of dressing rooms I have cried in because of the lack of size 18’s is ridiculous. Do not push us away. We are fat. We are fashionable. The two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. Stop making us feel like they do.