Home » A+E » Opinion: ‘One size fits all’ tugs at body image of young girls, women

Opinion: ‘One size fits all’ tugs at body image of young girls, women

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Model Adriana Lima with Victoria’s Secret Christmas goods at the New Bond Street store in central London Dec. 12.  Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Model Adriana Lima poses with Victoria’s Secret Christmas goods at the New Bond Street store in central London Dec. 12.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Since when did it become OK for clothes to be produced solely in certain sizes? You might not be able to afford the most sought-after items because price has often been the deciding factor on exclusivity in the material world, but to not be included because of your size? When did it become conventional for retailers to drive their marketing campaigns to just fit a small audience? With popular brands such as Brandy Melville, American Apparel and Victoria’s Secret carrying one size fits all sizes, there is no question in the female mind that the ideology they should all fit such a size has become a standard theory. The message they are sending to consumers is, “Hey, if you can’t fit into our clothing, don’t even bother shopping here,” — and their consumers are mainly young girls. So ladies listen up — this philosophy is anything but normal.

Brandy Melville, an Italian brand, received fame for its Los Angeles style and “one size fits most” merchandise. The brand has become popular among many female youths, which sparks the question: With such a diverse consumer population, how do they expect one size to fit all?

The Los Angeles Times reported the “average U.S. woman, who’s 162.9 pounds and wears a size 14, is treated like an anomaly by apparel brands and retailers.”

So Brandy Melville, you are telling me that your “one size fits most” ideal can fit a women wearing a size zero and a woman wearing a size 14. No, one size does not fit “most.” I myself have been in a Brandy Melville store and failed to find an article of clothing that fit comfortably and was flattering — and I’m a size 4 . Feeling like an “anomaly” was an understatement. This size leaves teenage girls with a sense of body dissatisfaction. If they were trying to thinspire teenage girls to fit into a certain mold when they implemented this bogus fad, congratulations because they have succeeded at just that.

The National Eating Disorder Association found that about 20 million women suffer from some sort of eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders are no longer just anorexia and bulimia but extreme dieting with a “drive for thinness.” Thirty-five to 57 percent of adolescent girls engage in a form of crash dieting.

While one-size clothing is likely not the leading cause to this number, I have to say that clothing companies have contributed to the alarmingly high statistic.

Some of the most desirable fashion trends are within the stores where they tell girls they should fit a certain size. The media is constantly criticized for the pressure they put on adolescents to look a certain way with their songs and images. However, retailers have sunk to a new low creating physical and material pressure girls cannot avoid. Without even fair warning, women are subject to judgment when they walk into these stores. There should be a disclaimer outside the building that says “only come in if you want to be ridiculed.”

One brand even took this desired skinny fad too far. Urban Outfitters produced a shirt with the words “Eat Less” printed across the front. I mean come on, what were they even going for when they produced that shirt?

Actress Sophia Bush took a stand against this ghastly T-shirt by declaring war on the popular clothing chain.

“You should issue a public apology, and make a hefty donation to a women’s organization that supports those stricken with eating disorders. I am sickened that anyone, on any board, in your gigantic company would have voted ‘yes’ on such a thing, let alone enough of you to manufacture an item with such a hurtful message. It’s like handing a suicidal person a loaded gun. You should know better,” she said in a letter to the company.

Preach, Sophia Bush, because you are spot on. “One size fits all,” when printed on tags, is not a size. It’s an attempt to drive a brand’s consumerism to a certain population. While these brands didn’t come out and claim exclusivity like Abercrombie & Fitch Co. CEO Mike Jeffries, their marketing screams loud and clear they have an intended target in mind. So ladies, if you find yourself not fitting into the “most” or “all” category, don’t sweat it because very few women meet that. Be who you are and wear your size loud and proud because unlike what these stores might portray, it is welcomed everywhere.

12 comments

  1. There are hundreds and hundreds of these articles on the internet with the exact same thesis, and the exact same supporting evidence. “Media/advertising/ brands are hurting the self image of women” then follow up with over done examples of women’s sizes then give the piece an ominous tone by citing the eating disorders that could be caused.

    Companies can market to whoever they want to. They don’t have a ‘duty’ to do everything in their power to help the world, their one absolute should be delivering a quality product to the market they choose at a price that is mutually beneficial to them the customer.

  2. And the way you prove your main point of “being proud of who you are” is by saying, it’s “welcomed everywhere. ”

    I agree with your point but you literally just wrote a whole article about supposed examples of when the female image has been attacked. So your happy one liner of “-it’s welcomed everywhere” was negated by an entire page of examples that you provided.

  3. This article is beautiful and I agree, despite being a fashion-lover, the feelings that clothing gives women should be one of enjoyment and confidence, not one of a negative connotation. I love you Taylor Cameron

  4. Whenever you use the word “but”, everything you say before it is perceived to be a lie.

  5. I think eating disorders are a big problem and agree that no one should be ridiculed for their body type. However, being overweight is a risk factor for countless diseases and while I don’t think it is the fashion industry’s place to try to fix this problem, I do think it needs to be addressed and that won’t be done if everyone is being told to love their body how it is. Feeling good about themselves for personal characteristics and actions rather than their appearance should be emphasized as opposed to telling them they are fine the way they are physically.

  6. howe dern @Jones

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