Plus-size folks don’t need anyone “actually-ing” size-exclusion — many of the excuses and explanations thrown at us are nothing more than gaslighting.
By Briana Lawrence
So there’s this Ivy Park x Adidas clothing collab. Y’all have probably heard about it. You have likely watched — just like me — as various celebs were gifted with giant orange wardrobes to promote the launch of Bey’s latest business endeavor. Reese Witherspoon was adorkable. Megan Thee Stallion was Crazy in Love. Lizzo… had someone else wearing the jumpsuit while wearing the shoes and the open, probably unzippable, bomber jacket.
I’m in the double digits that start with a “2”, so I’m used to being excluded in anything deemed as fashionable or trendy. I was gonna sit here and eat my food as I watched people rightfully point out yet another brand ignoring a major customer base that’s screaming at designers to “Shut up and take my money!” But then? I made the mistake of reading the comments.
I might have big disappointed but not surprised energy toward this collaboration, but there’s nothing quite mosquito-buzzing-ly irritating as a “well actually.” This always invokes images of soccer mom haircuts that are “only trying to help,” appearing at your family dinner with unwanted recipe suggestions. No one wants vegetables in the mac and cheese. Trust. Me.
So here’s a list of issue-deflecting suggestions that need to be left out of any conversations that are meant to — checks notes — “help.”
1. Plus sizes cost too much to make
This is probably the most absurd excuse and is meant to gaslight fat people. I wholeheartedly believed it, though, until I met my seamstress wife. I’d go to the fabric store with her when she was buying materials for my cosplay and feel like I was about to break our bank account because, “Don’t you have to get a lot of extra fabric?” Turns out, she didn’t. She’s never had to and still doesn’t have to unless I’m asking for a ridiculous ball gown that would, spoiler alert, require a lot of fabric anyway.
However, that doesn’t negate the damage of being made to feel like a burden because, “My body’s too expensive to design for. My body’s too difficult to make clothes for.” That’s essentially what you’re telling us when you say it costs too much: we’re an inconvenience and not worth the effort.
Recommended: FAT PEOPLE DESERVE TO GLORIFY OUR BODIES
2. Maybe this is a test run
Look. I understand brands testing the waters before going all in.
THE BIGGEST OF BUTS.
On top of the fact that some of these brands have enough of a following to make their money back about as quick as Marvel movie ticket sales… why can’t we be part of that test run? In fact, shouldn’t we be a part of the test run if you’re looking to include us in your product? That test run rhetoric shows me that plus-size is seen as an afterthought; that you think fashion decisions are based on whether or not thin people are receptive to it. But how is the success of smaller sizes going to dictate whether or not it’ll work for my fat body? How?
3. It goes up to (insert size)/it works for (insert plus size person), isn’t that enough?
Have you ever gotten such an obtuse, Karen-esque response to your valid concerns that you wanna block instead of engage? Clothing comes in a variety of sizes, and most brands don’t have a problem going as small as possible… but not the other way around. Plus size doesn’t stop at XL and you are, in fact, ignoring countless people if your clothes don’t go beyond that.
“But,” she who should’ve been blocked types, fingers aching to slam her foot further into her mouth, “I’m plus size and I can fit—” yes, and that’s wonderful, but that doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t be able to fit into the clothes, too. You are one variety of plus size that exists in a sea of beautiful bodies, just because you can fit the clothes doesn’t fix the fact that we can’t. If anything, it’s a not-so-subtle knock about our weight because we wouldn’t have this problem if we had smaller fat bodies, after all, those bodies can wear those clothes. All we’re asking is for the ability to wear the clothes alongside everyone else, including plus-size folks who don’t need multiple x’s in their wardrobe. There can — and should — be more chubby bodies in the clothing roundup.
4. The clothes run a bit big
This might be the most genuine attempt at a solution besides the obvious “make bigger clothes.” While I know what size I typically wear, there are times where something smaller works because of how it’s made. So yes, there’s a chance that I might be fine if the clothes run big, but that tends to be when I’m working within a plus-size scale. Higher twenties are most comfortable, but lower twenties can work. However, in the case of clothes that stop at XL? Yeah… that XL won’t do much for me.
5. The creator has been inclusive before! Just give them time.
Here’s a hard pill to swallow meme: someone being inclusive in one aspect of body positivity doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of failing in another. Yes, Beyoncé has included plus size dancers in her productions. And yes, Adidas has plus-size options in their other clothes. But with this Ivy Park x Adidas launch, all those past good points just make the missed mark even more upsetting.
Maybe the bigger sizes will come if I give them time, but imagine the impact of a clothing brand including us with smaller sizes from the very beginning, and treating clothing as something that everyone should have access to instead of something that caters to a certain body type first and foremost. I’m used to the exclusion, but I’ll always wonder what it’d be like to be taken into account without needing to remind clothing brands that we deserve more than shoes and jackets we can’t zip up.
Briana Lawrence is a freelance writer and self-published author who’s trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series, or the pieces she writes for various websites. When she’s not writing about diversity, she’s speaking about it at different geek-centric conventions across the country, as she’s a black, queer, nerd girl at heart. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of comics, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to JRPGs. You can find her work at www.magnifiquenoir.com