Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Neilochka Sez: Boycott the Fashion Industry!

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AP Newswire — Neil “Neilochka” Kramer, a popular blogger from Los Angeles, and a well-known advocate for women’s issues (despite him being a red-meat eating hetereosexual), has called for a boycott of many of the top fashion designers and most exclusive boutiques.

“A few days after writing my post on stereotypes against “fat” people, I went shopping for a Mother’s Day gift for my mother-in-law,” said Mr. Kramer.  

My mother-in-law is size 18-20, and as usual, it was impossible to find any nice clothes for her.  When I got home, I did some Googling on the fashion industry.  It immediately became clear to me that most fashion designers and popular boutiques do not want their fashions to be worn by anyone over size 12.  Even the popular H&M in New York doesn’t carry any large sizes. 

I think there can be a strong argument that these companies are involved in discrimination.  These fashion designers and boutiques are involved in an apartheid system, making everyone over size 12 a second-class citizen.  I say it is time for the female consumer to take back control.  I am going to start keeping a list of every designer and boutique that ignores larger sizes.  This list will contain some of biggest names in fashion.   I suggest that women refuse to shop in these stores or wear a designer’s clothes until the companies change their discriminatory practices against larger sized women.  I know most women are caring and supportive of each other, and will be glad to show support for their heavier friends.”

Some female bloggers were surprisingly unsupportive.  

“Not wear Dolce & Gabbana?” asked Joan, a Cleveland mother who writes the blog, “The Daily Fashionista. “Is Neilochka crazy?”

Other female bloggers just quietly dropped him from their blogroll.

There is a long tradition of the billion dollar fashion industry catering to what it considers the “thin” elite.   According to the Washington Post, H&M discontinued carrying larger sizes after being publicly scolded by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.

“Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld complained publicly that in a much-hyped collaboration, the company had manufactured his line in larger sizes. “What I created was fashion for slim, slender people,” he was quoted as saying.

The designer’s recent book, “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet,” encourages readers to subsist on raw vegetables, curiously named “protein sachets,” and little else — ostensibly with the goal of looking like the emaciated Lagerfeld himself, who pared his 5-foot-11 frame by 80 pounds on the plan.

Lagerfeld’s motivation? Not health, as he freely admits in the book’s introduction, but the desire to fit into designer clothes.

If you’re H&M, [industry analyst] Cohen asked, which is more important to the image of your brand: your association with Karl Lagerfeld or serving this market?”

Mr. Kramer thinks it is attitudes like those of Mr. Lagerfeld that have made this an important issue. 

“I really think this boycott idea could work,” insists the defiant Mr. Kramer.  “Look what’s going on in Georgia.  When women come together, they can be powerful.”

Mr. Kramer refers to the current protest going on at the Augusta National Golf Club, where Bill Payne, the new chair, has stated that he will uphold the all-male club’s practice of denying membership to women.  

“It was these women’s organizations that led the 2003 protest against the Masters Golf Tournament, and caused CBS to broadcast the event without corporate sponsorship for two years in a row.” 

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Currently, these same organizations are trying to raise public awareness of companies who sponsor the Masters or whose CEOs maintain their Augusta memberships, which violates their companies’ anti-discrimination policies.

Mr. Kramer is anxious to speak with these women.

“I am trying to reach members of National Council of Women’s Organizations and the Feminist Majority and tell them about my boycott idea, said Mr. Kramer.  “If anyone could get this off the ground, it is these committed women.   My argument to them is simple:  The NCWO and the Feminist Majority consider male-only golfing as a way of keeping the old boy’s network alive.  I believe that a lack of shopping opportunities prevents large women from building important friendships with thin assoicates.”

So far, no one from these women’s organizations has returned Mr. Kramer’s calls. 

A spokeswoman from the Feminist Majority, however, told the New York Times that, “Most of our members have strong opinions on the fashion industry.  We call for the elimination of all fur products and the abolishment of the sweatshop.  But really, when you work hard to look thin, you want to dress nice.  Most of our members are not going to shop at Walmart with the fatties.”

94 Comments

  1. You’d laugh, but a friend actually told me that in the USA you can be vary “in” fashin speaking because you get designer clothes every imaginable size and that I might contemplate ordering them from there. looks like she got it wrong.
    There’s a real anti-fat-psychose going on. I believe that the induatry is just a mirror of how are societies are behaving these days.
    There was a polemic about a reality show for models where a model was told she was fat. She weighted 54 kgs for 1.78cm or something like that. i believe it happened in Germany, if am not mistaken.
    I rarely find anything that fits well here, I love t-shirts and tops but am compelled pick them in the boys section because the gril’s look like bras on me. It’s terrible. Now I just have my stuff done by a modiste.

    Fitèna

  2. Oh boy, is this post gonna open a can of whoop ass. And rightfully so! I completely agree with you.

    This is going to be good 😉

  3. Sign me up for the boycott!

    Who the hell wears a size 0, by the way? Can someone tell me? (I wear anything from a 4 to an 8, depending on where I buy the clothes – I’ll never understand that wide shift in sizing.)

  4. Neil, you’re really on to something. But at the same time, you’ve avoided one issue that is central to the way we perceive weight issues in this country: Class. Women who “can’t control their weight” are seen as lower class citizens than the ones who “can stay trim” — that is not my personal opinion, but the prevailing cultural norm. You said so yourself: Fat girls shop at Wal-Mart. Skinny girls shop wherever they want to. The nicer the boutique, the smaller the sizes. (I’m a size 14, by the way, and have found lots of clothes at H&M that fit me.)

  5. we have H&M here, i’m sure i’ve seen the bigger sizes theree as well, but i’ve never seen anything in there that appeals to me. i say forget the clothes for mother’s day, you should have gotten your mom a spa day.

  6. This is definitely going to stir the pot, but in a good way. I wish someone would address the varying sizes issue. A size 8 should be an 8, no matter where you are. The way it is now, I go into one store and things are so tight I feel like a cow and the next store they’re so loose I decide I can have ice cream for dinner. Both of those are equally not good.

  7. I’ve been accidentally boycotting fashionalble clothing forever. Why not pretend it’s intentional? Sign me up! I’ll continue to wear the style-less leavings I’ve always worn.

    Hello, Neil.

  8. If you get any more on top of things, the fasionistas are going to try to assassinate you, probably by smothering you in fur.

    Funny and timely, Neilochka.

  9. I know a couple of women who wear size 0. They are barely over 5′. I know even more women who wear a size 14 or larger. My friends and I often shop at the Gap owned stores or Ann Taylor. Why? Because we can all find our sizes there.

  10. The other thing to remember is that the way our clothes are sized was developed on a mathematical formula from measurements taken off “average women” in the 1940s. They measured a bunch of women who were around a size 6 and calculated up and down in regular increments to develop sizes.

    That is why a woman can perhaps find a pair of pants that fit perfectly, but not necessarily a dress of the same size — not everyone’s butt grows in the same proportion to their boobs.

    The question of inconsistent sizing raised by Just Run is another big issue. Some retailers deliberately over size their clothing so that more women will shop at those stores. For example, a pair of size 12 trousers from NY and Co will fit me perfectly, while a size 12 from the Gap make me look like I’m strapped in khaki sausage casing.

    Retailers have all kinds of tricks to make us buy their clothes. Undersizing is the least of the problems in women’s apparel.

    Bon. Maybe I should blog about this, too. I obviously am having a very hard time shutting up.

  11. Just to show support for you, I will not go to Wal-Mart today.

    I will wait until tomorrow.

  12. Michele, typically women’s clothing sizes are made so that the bust and hip measurements are 10 inches larger than the waist.

  13. Aw, heck yeah.
    I’m 5’10” and wear a size 14/16. FORGET trying to find something fashionable in a tall size in the stores….nothing doing in that realm. Therefore, I too have accidentaly been boycotting all fashionable fashion for many many years (and do most of my shopping online), and will continue to do so in solidarity with this new movement.

  14. I’m going to have to mull this over…my allegiance may be to fashion.

  15. There was an article published recently in the Boston Globe: [Size]0 is the new 8. Specialty retailers will vanity size for their customers in order to get them to keep coming back.

    The smaller the size, the better we feel. The better we feel in their clothes, the more we will come back and shop them again.

    Bottom line is that it’s a business, and they will do what they can to keep it afloat.

    (spoken by a true merchant – me)

  16. My female readers:

    You’re not getting off so easy.

    Did you support boycotting South Africa during apartheid? Do you agree with this protest at the men’s only golf club? Do you think businesses should be required to have wheelchair access for the 1% that needs it? Do you think that taxplayers should be required to pay for an interpreter whenever a Spanish-speaking criminal is in court? Did you know that state colleges must supply sign language translators for students who are deaf?

    Do you think stores should be required to carry women’s sizes — at least up to size 20?

    Would you be willing to NOT shop in a store that didn’t do this as a sign of protest? As a man, I can pretty much shop anywhere — unless I was extremely BIG or TALL — not the average American size.

    Would you NOT wear a designer that did NOT make clothes for all women? There are many designers that do — such as Calvin Klein.

  17. I happen to know for a FACT that Calvin Klein does not make jeans for three-legged women. My friend, we’ll call her Trish, has two left feet, but she’s a great dancer.

    Hello again.

  18. Finally, the easiest decision to make:
    in answer to all of your questions, Neil: NO, No,and NONONONONONO.

    Government, on any level, should not mandate business. When retail behemots discover they’re loosing disability’s target audience, they’ll accomodate all kinds of potential customers. There should be no law requiring wheelchair access- and I say it as a professional conract interior designer. No taxpayer’s money should be used for interpreters in public court, in any language – let private charity pay for it. Boycotting men-only golf courses is ineffectual – open your own and put a sign “women only” and be done with it.

    Fashion industry, as any industry, is regulating itself. If things are as they are, there must be some data in marketing research that supports the reasons for it. I any case, asking for more government regulation is only asking for more trouble, for everyone concerned.

  19. Scott, sorry, I was zoning out for a second, thinking about the possibilities of being with a three legged woman.

    Tatyana –  I love the fact that you are such a straight-shooter and consistent!

  20. Neil, can I say I love your work w/out sounding like a brown-noser? And to answer your above questions, in order: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Like Scott, I’ve been unintentionally boycotting the fashion industry for years now, why not let it mean something more! But can we do something about finding my size on the clearance rack at Old Navy? 😉

    Jules

  21. Neil, I loved you questions; if only every web of contradicting considerations I have been entangled in recently was so easy to answer!

  22. In support of the notion suggested in this post, I am hereby proposing the adoption of universal nudism in the United States, as a way of ensuring equality among people of all bone structures and body-fat percentages.

    And also because the deodorant companies would like to expand their addressable market, and I own their stock.

  23. Hmmm. I guess it wouldn’t be too hard for me to join the boycott since I cannot afford to buy Lagerfeld’s stuff anyway. My problem is that I like to shop the clearance rack. Apparently women who wear smaller sizes also like to pay full price so I never find much. Instead I find a great number of items in sizes 10-14.

  24. Ok, so does this mean you’re going to boycot Victoria’s Secret too? Just curious.

  25. Universal nudism would not discourage the disenfranchisement of fat people. Before long, in fact, they’d be burning fat people at the stake, I’m afraid.

  26. I’m sorry, were you talking about something? I’m still too busy poring over your post’s first photo with a magnifying glass.

  27. Apparently, Scott, you have never come close to the nudie beach. 85% (and I’m trying to err on a down side) of participants are on a heavy side.

  28. Jules — Old Navy is Gap Inc. low end brand. They do carry size 18 and 20. However, the Gap doesn’t want the same customers to shop at their higher-end Gap stores, like The Gap and the Banana Republic, which do NOT carry larger sizes. You can buy large sizes from the Gap online, but they refuse to actually carry it IN THEIR STORES, thinking an influx of heavy teenagers would be a turn-off for others — but they will still take their money, just online where nobody can see them.

    Also, what’s all this complaining about blacks being at the back of the bus?  They’re comfortable there. They get to where they’re going. If a private company wants it that way, I don’t see whats wrong with it. Actually, when I used to take the bus to school, the black kids would always go to the back of the bus anyway — so maybe it’s just natural, like large sized woman buying their clothes in the top floor of Macy’s, next to the restrooms.

  29. Neil, I don’t think I’ve seen a size 18 or 20 in an Old Navy store actually, with the exception of their flagship store in San Francisco. Of course that store also stocks leather and suede items as well as maternity wear. I think for most of the rest of the country these items are only available online.

  30. Neil, I’m sure you would apply same anti-apartheid principles and call for boycott of Black Entertainment Network or demand equal racial representation on Ebony magazine.

  31. Ebony magazine doesn’t cater to me. Neither does the Catholic Church. I don’t expect Protestants to want equal rights as rabbis. If Ebony became big enough, like the Oprah show, then I would expect them to strive for more racial representation.

    But if Macy’s is going to treat me as a second class citizen, then I would want to put my money were my mouth is.

  32. I don’t see principal difference, Neil. If Ebony became big enough, like the Oprah show, then I would expect them to strive for more racial representation– so it’s a matter of size, not principle? If not, then proprietors of Ebony are doing something illegal.
    And are you telling me Oprah show’s programming policy is mandated by some government fiat?

    I never heard Macy’s or GAP solemnly swear they are going to cater to people of all classes/sizes/walks of life. Good example above, with maternity clothes. What, all mothers-to-be around the country should feel they are treated as second-class citizens because only the flagship store in SF carries appropriate clothes?

    And who said anything about Catholic Church and rabbis? Don’t change the subject dragging religion and race into the matter, Neil. You started on business policies and advocate government interference in it. Stay put-or even your valid arguments look more like liberal demagoguery.

  33. I’ve shopped at all the Gap, Inc. stores and hardly ever find my size on clearance…yes I’m a bargain shopper and I admit to being a size 4. (Please no hate mail….LOL) My sister, size 1, always buys everything at 50% off because no one else can fit into it…maybe that’s why the thin are able to afford fashionable clothing – they get it at discount – LOL. Apparently, I’m not thin ENOUGH to get it cheap.

  34. Woo hoo! A good old fashioned boycott! Katie, save the grocery bags! We’re making our own clothes this week!

  35. I don’t think calling for a boycott is asking for government intervention. It’s something that people do in a free market. I think what Neil is calling for is a boycott in the same way that the United Farm Workers asked that people not buy grapes in the 70s. If no one is buying your product, then you either go out of business or you start listening to your customers.

  36. OK, drop the government interference. If enough people wanted to work for Ebony, they could organize to push them into doing so. But there would not be much support. But there is a large percentage of women over size 12 — actually the majority. I’m curious why women aren’t more outspoken — especially since they ARE the majority.

  37. not sure how many women want the ridicule…plain and simple

  38. Most women I know who are size 12 or larger are busy dieting to try to get into a smaller size. And then there are the ones like my stepmother who goes every few years for more liposuction.

  39. Yeah, I wouldn’t be making that statement: Hi, I’ve got a huge ass! Where are my pants?

    Nope. Just can’t see it. There is still too much cultural shame around weight — and the unspoken impression that people who are heavy are lazy, uneducated, poor, and have no self-control.

    Seriously. What the clothing designers offer is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues around weight in this country.

  40. Dagny, I was responding to the comment Neil made higher up the thread:
    …Do you think businesses should be required to have wheelchair access for the 1% that needs it? Do you think that taxplayers should be required to pay for an interpreter whenever a Spanish-speaking criminal is in court? Did you know that state colleges must supply sign language translators for students who are deaf?

    Do you think stores should be required to carry women’s sizes — at least up to size 20?

    If that’snot calling for government interference, what is?

    I have nothing against boycotting any Co on a free market or simply preferring certain stores by fly of fancy-that’s how the mechanism works. Just don’t get the government involved-it’s called FREE market for a reason. In fact, DAgny, we’re in agreement.

    Neil, you misunderstood:I wasn’t talking about staff that Ebony or BEN employs-for what little I know they might be EOE. I talk about the target audience they cater to-wasn’t that the subject of your post? You didn’t say anything about impossibility for a woman size 16 to WORK for MAcy’s, did you? Only to SHOP,right?

    As to why women aren’t more outspoken – I dunno, if more women were like my sister may be situation would improve. She sometimes gets frustrated by the lack of bigger sizes and asks the floor manager to make an adjustment in their purchasing policy.

  41. Frankly, buying your mother-in-law clothes is just weird.

  42. As businesses, they can sell what they want. They may be missing out on a substantial market, but that’s there choice. Other stores do tap into larger sizes as their primary market like Lane Bryant or even Torrid (something of a plus-size version of Hot Topic). Isaac Mizrahi designs for Target with sizes up to 18 for prices much more affordable than the big dept. stores.

    I’d rather they changed the sizing system to one based on measurements like it is for men. (I know it sort of is, but as has been said before store’s undersize so no size is a fixed value.) If pants were offered with a variety of waist and inseam measurements (like men’s), I’d have a much easier time shopping. I’m lucky if something is offered in tall or long.

  43. I think Neil is just upset because he can’t find a little black dress that fits him just right.

    It’s okay, Neil. You can tell us. We’re your friends.

  44. I also think much of this depends upon geography. I *am* a size 0. I live in NE Ohio. I have a helluva time finding age-appropriate clothes in ANY store to fit me. The majority of women’s stores here START at 6 or 8 and go up through the plus sizes. Places like Banana R. or Express or Gap have maybe 1 or 2 size 0s at the start of the season and they sell immediately. I’m tired of paying 80 bucks for a nice pair of dress pants to wear to teach in. And don’t recommend the Junior Department: I can’t risk dressing like my students!

  45. Nance, come shopping in NY or NJ or any state with considerable enough Asian female population; it would make perfect sense money-wise. What you could save on clothing prices will make up 3-fold on those plane tkts.

  46. To be honest, there are far more pressing issues in this world than whether or not I can squeeze my ass into a size 4 pair of designer jeans. Now if Dolce and Gabbana was directly responsible for AIDS, poverty, or war, I might give it a second thought.

  47. I bet Dolce & Gabbaba is responsible for at least a little bit of AIDS and poverty. War? Maybe not.

  48. i’ve been boycotting without the hoopla. when you are over a size 12, you DO struggle to find fashion. it can be pretty mind boggling to one’s self esteem. imagine being a young girl just wanting to fit in and wear Esprit but you are a size too big so you diet and starve and exercise and become obsessed with your body image.

    this could be the first step on a long journey to helping all young girls and women gain self-esteem. if wearing a size 18 wasn’t so stigmatized, the world would be a different place.

    and yes, there are far more pressing issues but we can’t deal with all of them at once so we have to do what we can in little increments.

    and “protein sachets”? fucking priceless! ha ha.

  49. Heather — good point about this being a small issue compared to poverty and war — but are you sure you really believe that?

    What is your opinion on that protest at the golf course? Is it no big deal about not letting women in there to play golf? After all, it’s mostly going to just be a bunch of mega-wealthy women anyway?

    And can you think of anything more mundane than the issue of gay scoutmasters in the Boy Scouts? Does it matter to you?

    I think sometimes, it is the small issues that matter.

    And Scott — a little black dress? in may? in Los Angeles? Right now I’m all about wearing flowing dresses in pastel colors that bring out the green in my eyes.

  50. You will just say anything to get attention from women, won’t you.

  51. Your comments about golf brought to mind the Olympic Club up this way.

  52. Dagny, great article. Maybe we all just like being in exclusive clubs because it makes us feel special. Maybe the more exclusive you make something, the more people want it. That’s why, from now on, admittance to commenting on Citizen of the Month will require a bank statement from each reader proving a salary of at least $300,000 a year, a copy of a diploma from a top-tier university, and if you’re a woman — a photo of you wearing the latest fashion and showing off your cleavage. Watch how my readership will quickly double in size.

  53. If they double in size they won’t be able to wear the latest fashions anymore. You should know this, Neil. I learned it from you.

  54. Neil, Daniel has already beat you to asking his readers for cleavage shots.

  55. Let’s get one thing out in the air, depsite the fact that I had a whole future blog hanging on this very fact. This is simply too important.
    I am a size 13.

    Now, most of my sex blog fans wouldn’t believe it, and my weight would absolutely dumbfound you (really, I promise), but you do have a most excellant point- when I go shopping, I can barely fit into the “normal” sizes. I have to shop plus sizes! When the crap did 0-12 become the norm?
    It isn’t. It really is discrimination.
    Anyone who doesn’t believe it, try finding hot bras from Victorias’s Secret in a A cup. Try. They’re all padded crap. And I can barely fit into their “large” size underwear!
    Clearly, they make the statement, “Unless you are shaped like our models, we do not want you sullying the good name of Victoria’s Secret by putting our overpriced bullshit clothes on your fat ass/itty bitty titties.”

    H&M, all those stores, are all the same.

    Bring on the boycott, for real, Neil.

  56. My opinion is that people get way too uptight over things that are of little consequence.

    In short,I support keeping Augusta single sexed, but I wouldn’t fight either way for it. I truly don’t see it as a women’s rights issue.

    I support gay scout leaders and I *would* fight for it, and that’s because I truly see it as a human rights issue.

    I guess I should clarify in saying, we all have our convictions, we all have those issues that prick at our consciences. I think it’s a noble endeavour to try and illuminate people’s minds in regards to our society’s warped views on size and weight, it’s just not my bag.

  57. Hey-

    I agree with the first or second poster who said that this theory / article will generate a huge amount of criticism… I have a girlfriend who is extremely slim and loves fashion – I can understand her, knowing that she fits into their style, but I sometimes wish that she would understand the kind of problems other people have (not saying that they should be discriminated agaisnst, just that they might also have an interest in fashion that is un-caterable)

    That being said, I offer my best of wishes to your and your effort, and will be in support of the effort, even though I am a guy.

    Cheers,
    Gus 🙂

  58. ms. sizzle,

    ” imagine being a young girl just wanting to fit in and wear Esprit but you are a size too big so you diet and starve and exercise and become obsessed with your body image.”

    This was a most insightful comment.

  59. Sorry Neil, no cleavage from me since the two kids and weight loss…how about if I name my next child after you? (Introspectre, I NEED that padded crap from Victoria’s Secret…can we boycott them later when we’re discussing objectifying women or foreign labor? That might give me time to find other alternatives…) 😀

  60. My god, Sophia wrote a comment! She cares. Hallelujah!

  61. Ms. Sizzle did get it. Ever since reading my comment, I have been thinking of my younger cousins. One is no fun in restaurants after having dieted her way down from a size 12 or 14 to a size 4. She agonizes over every bite of food she puts her in her mouth. The other has become content with a wardrobe of mostly t-shirts and jeans because that’s about the most she finds in her size for everyday wear.

  62. I love your passion, Neil, but please don’t think that those of us who wear a size 12 and up run around in potato sacks all day long! You may have to pay a little more or drive a little farther but there are options. Is it fair? no. Is it ideal? no. Is it likely to change anytime soon? The idealistic part of me says yes, but the reality based part of me says no.

  63. You know, I never really understood why larger women had to shop elsewhere, but I guess I never thought about it. Obviously some designers design clothes that would look horrible on plus size women, and they choose not to design those clothes, but that doens’t mean they should be persecuted because of it. Just like those people who design plus sized clothing shouldn’t be boycotted for not designing non-plus sizes.

  64. Ms Sizzle hit it: “imagine being a young girl just wanting to fit in and wear Esprit but you are a size too big so you diet and starve and exercise and become obsessed with your body image”

    That kind of dieting propels the dieter into a heavier size by screwing with the metabolism.

    While the issue is not on a global level of war and poverty, the issue here is about self respect.

    Go Neil.

  65. Jenni, that’s the argument that some in the fashion industry make — that trendy fashions just wouldn’t look good on large sized women, so why bother making it? But do you really buy into that argument? And who’s to say it would look “horrible?” People used to fear women going to work (or wearing slacks) because it would look “wrong.” TV shows used to hide Lucille Ball’s stomach behind a couch on “I Love Lucy” because a pregnant woman in public was unseemly. Fashion is called “fashion” for a reason. Fashions change. Can you imagine someone in your grandmother’s generation wearing a nose ring? If people got used to large-sized women wearing the same clothes as skinny models, maybe people wouldn’t think it looked “horrible.”

  66. Jenni, your argument is a plus-size nonsense. Designers don’t “design clothes that would look horrible on plus size women, and they choose not to design those clothes.”

     They choose not to design large sizes because, in their mind, it would make them less classy and glamourous. What message, do you think, it sends to the teenagers in this country?

    “Just like those people who design plus sized clothing shouldn’t be boycotted for not designing non-plus sizes.”

    Who told you they aren’t? …and secondly, have you seen any of this plus-size clothing? Geez, the denial or the lack of desire to understand an issue…

  67. There has to be a balance between concern for one’s health and obsessing over one’s body image. I wish my mother had taught me to eat healthier, to take care of my body. I did it by default in my teens and early twenties just because I was living on the West coast, surfing everyday, and eating vegetarian because it fit in with my pretentious mindset. Now after 15 years of eating all the wrong foods and watching my skin, my body, and my energy go downhill, I’m back to eating healthy, exercising and yoga, and drinking buckets of water. I feel better at 36 than I did at 26.

    As for my own daughter, hopefully I can pass on that life lesson to her. I will do my best to teach her that her value lies within her heart and her mind. But I will also teach her self control and wisdom in choosing what she puts in her mouth. I will also do my best to keep her active, not just sitting in front of a computer, PlayStation, or TV (my sons as well).

    Also not to be underestimated is how she sees herself through her father’s eyes. I think a daughter’s relationship with her father can be vital in building self esteem and a healthy self image. If he gives her love and self respect, rarely will she settle for anything less when other boys/men enter her life.

    Sorry if I’m rambling, I actually do have some pretty firm opinions on this subject. And I’m sorry if I sounded all snippy about the whole AIDS/poverty/war thingy. I wasn’t trying to be. Maybe I haven’t gotten all the pretension worked out of me yet.

  68. Heather, yours are all beautiful sentiments, but they still have nothing to do with Neil’s point. You can debate the health and life style issues all day long, it still has nothing to do with acceptance of people into the mainstream (of fashion or otherwise), regardless of their size.

    Your making it about health and “choices” hijacks and insults this discussion.

    Besides, it implies that people who are large, plus-sized or overweight are not healthy and made poor choices in life.

  69. You eat red meat?

  70. I would not make a blanket, polarized statement such as that. I was detailing my own personal experience. And saying all women are overweight because they have poor eating habits would be just as ridiculous as saying all skinny women are thus because of good eating habits. I’m not so myopic. Still, there is a reason why childhood obesity is on the rise, and there’s nothing wrong with promoting healthy lifestyle choices.

    Listen, even if the fashion industry was to change and provide larger sizes, women would still be seeking and receiving confirmation of their value through an external source. I want my daughter to be so proud of who she is, regardless of her size, that she doesn’t give a flying f*** whether or not the fashion industry gives her their approval. I’m all for the fashion industry changing their standards, but in the off chance that they don’t (which is likely), I would rather instill my/our daughters with enough internal self worth, that a mindless, empty machine like the fashion world wouldn’t even be a blip on their radar screens.

    Sorry if I insulted the discussion. Tough crowd.

  71. Introspectre is a 13??!! now I know sizing is fucked up. She looks like a 10, maybe.
    I’m an 8 but I hate clothes. Gimme my Levis and an old concert T.

  72. While I enthusiastically support anyone who is ill at ease with the fashion industry (who, I might add, aren’t very good at their jobs since they appear only capable of designing for one body type), your emphasis on women misses some serious issues related to men.

    Who is the asshole that began the business of designing sports jackets with fake pockets? What is the point of a pocket that doesn’t exist?

    Who came up with boxer briefs that have no flap to pee out of? Do they know how silly we look standing at urinals fighting with our drawers, pants around our ankles, as we struggle to urinate?

    And as for size … why are all men’s clothes designed for xxxxllll? What are we? Buffalo? I can’t buy clothes unless I want to wear tents. Take them to a tailor, what do they say? “Well, you’ve got too much cloth.” Duh!!!

    The fashion industry is made up of idiots. I mean, what is a fashion show but an exhibition of vacuous idiots, a complete absence of artistic sense and a very strong need to display a complete lack of dignity? (And let’s not start on the wretched taste in music. Who chooses that shit anyway?)

    I’m sorry. I fear I’ve ranted.

  73. Heather, I wasn’t insulted. My mother and many of the women in her family have struggled with weight all of their lives. My mother realized that a big problem was that until their 30s, most of them had been really active. When their activity level dropped, their weight went up. My mother changed her eating habits because she did not want to end up like her mother who is a size 22. I could say that it was not so much size but the the health issues that my grandmother has had due to her weight that inspired my mother to make these changes. I’d be lying though. My mother is a slave to fashion. The salespeople at Macy’s all knew her by name when I was in high school. Her sister on the other hand is on medication that makes it nearly impossible to lose weight no matter how she eats. My aunt is very comfortable in who she is though and will wear things that others think that she shouldn’t. (I’m not sure what size she wears but I’d guess at least a 20.) Because of her attitude, I think that she is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. I’d think the same whether she was a size 2 or a size 20. Because she is older, she is perfectly comfortable shopping at Lane Bryant. (Once upon a time Lane Bryant was owned by The Limited.) Of course I can see how Lane Bryant would not appeal to younger women though.

    I have spent years at the other end of the weight spectrum. When I was in college, people would often ask my friends if I had an eating disorder. My friends would laugh because they have seen me eat. I have never assumed that someone who is “overweight” has no control because I know that not everyone who is “underweight” has an eating disorder. I learned how to sew at 13 because I have a hard time finding clothes that will fit. I am 5’10” and wear a size 2 or 4. Clothes in those sizes are rarely made for someone my height. (By the way, I noticed that in stores owned by The Limited, The Limited, Express, and NY & Co, I used to wear a smaller size than in other stores. That is no longer the case. I think this is because the other stores have changed their sizing.)

    Beauty comes from within. What we choose to wear is just an expression of our inner self. My answer has always been if the stores do not carry something that fits me properly, then I’ll make it myself. Pattern companies still make patterns in a full range of sizes.

  74. Heh, it’s Bill Cosby on Neil’s blog! You’re sounding like an old guy who misses being on his old sitcom, already:
    “These kids today, with their baggy clothes and their weird hair and their msic – it’s just noise! with their hippin’ and their hoppin’ and their bippin’ and their boppin’….”
    Said completely out of love.

  75. OMG, Neil. 74 comments? and you’re not getting laid?

  76. If Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren can make clothes in larger sizes, then the other designers can too. It really can’t be as difficult as people keep pretending :-\

  77. And you’ve hit precisely the reason I stopped shopping at ANY stores for clothing – the stuff I like isn’t made in my size, and the stuff that IS my size is either cheap-looking and cheaply made or something I’d never be caught dead wearing.

    The solution? I make my own clothes. They look far superior to anything I could purchase at a store – they’re higher quality and a much better fit for my body shape than manufactured goods. And I definitely don’t look like a ragamuffin; I get people ALL THE TIME coming up to me and begging to know where I bought my skirt or my blouse, because they want one too.

    I quietly smile, hand them one of my business cards, and offer to make one for them as well.

  78. Did you support boycotting South Africa during apartheid? YES

    Do you agree with this protest at the men’s only golf club? YES – The prohibition of women supports business’s glass ceiling.

    Do you think businesses should be required to have wheelchair access for the 1% that needs it? YES – a life in a wheelchair is challengin enough without being denied access to businesses.

    Do you think that taxplayers should be required to pay for an interpreter whenever a Spanish-speaking criminal is in court? YES – the defendant is legally entitled to the best possible defense. How can that be granted when the defendant doesn’t understand what he’s being asked?

    Did you know that state colleges must supply sign language translators for students who are deaf? YES, and I support it.

    Do you think stores should be required to carry women’s sizes — at least up to size 20? NO – it’s a business, not a government agency or public service. I think that market forces should prevail. That said, I think that we should do everything we can to ensure that “market forces” strongly encourage inclusion rather than exclusion.

    Would you be willing to NOT shop in a store that didn’t do this as a sign of protest? Absolutely! I have. I also boycotted Hecht’s in this area when the only way to reach the plus size clothing was to navigate through the large appliance and furniture departments. I would also boycott any store that I knew to be selling items produced in sweatshops.

  79. Kate, just to be devil’s advocate here — would you agree that the private all-male golf course has the right to prevent women in if they wanted to — just like the protesters have to protest?

  80. What happened, Neil, having doubts? That liberal reflecsive on-one hand/on the other hand state kicked in?
    Or you just called me Devil?

    Flattered, in any case.

  81. Italian designers create beautiful clothing for larger women. It can be done, it just isn’t in America.

  82. You what is so annoying about H &M. It is a Swedish company, in Sweden they have a Big and Beautiful section in each store. As a teenager I would look forward to going to Sweden to buy really nice plus sized clothing that I actually like (many other stores carry plus sized clothing). I was really excited when H&M was coming to the States. And guess what they decided not to bring over the Big and Beautiful clothes. They say they have size 16 but it’s hard to find in most stores….

  83. Kate/Lani — that is interesting — and kind of weird. I would think there would be more of a market for those clothes here than in Sweden or Italy. Forget the cultural stereotypes we have here, it doesn’t make economic sense to me. Does it to you?

  84. I agree with the NO to regulating designer clothing. Since when is wearing designer clothing a basic human right!? Why not just require each designer to make mock-ups of their high end clothing for the homeless … that way ALL humans can wear D&G?

    NO WAY can you reasonably compare this to true apartheid!

    Designers are artists of sorts and artists have odd visions of what something should look like. They envision their crazy clothes on stick thin girls… well then that’s what they’ll do! Their clothes were designed to have a certain fit. Many styles just don’t look the same on all sizes. I for one can’t wear those little tube tops because they’d fall off my tiny chest. And my sweetheard thinks they look atrocious on ANY woman (large, small, buxom, or flat chested).

    Am I gonna cause a commotion because of it? Nope. Just won’t wear them. That’s just the way it is. So what?

    It’s just a body! Some bodies will look uglier to some people and beautiful to others.

    Let the market deal with market issues.

  85. ABT – I agree with you on the point that wearing designer clothes is not a basic human right.

    And I might have been over-the-top about comparing this issue to apartheid. I guess I was looking for an example where a minority ruled over a majority. That said, I see nothing wrong with the majority of American women making a bit of a stink to the fashion industry about the fact that their needs are NOT being met. And I suggested that women who are size 2 (the minority) participate in this, even if it doesn’t affect them directly, because it affects their sisters and friends. Just like progressive white South Africans who wanted to end apartheid Just like men who consider themselves feminists.

    The best way to cause change with the fashion industry is through consumer action. Look at how the industry has stopped making fur-related products.

    Yes, designers are artists, but in a way like architects are artists. I would never suggest a painter or novelist change their vision. But the fact that the Gap does sell large size clothing on the internet, but not the store in the mall smacks of discrimination to me.

  86. Few things. (again, sorry I’m late.)
    One is, when I was a fat woman (as opposed to now, when I am a not even close to thin woman; there is an approximate 80 pound differential), I had a problem with clothing that did fit, but was designed for a thin girl. Size was accomodated for, but flattery was not. Skin tight, too short tops… I don’t want a thin chick designer designing my fat clothes.
    And. This was always fun; Macy’s had a pretty decent ‘woman’s department, (don’t get me started on THAT description) but finding it; physically locating it within a Macy’s was next to impossible. It was always in the basement or on the top floor, tucked behind housewares and the baby clothes — nowhere near any other women’s (sorry) ‘ladie’s’ apparel. I always found that little extra kick of humilation oh so motivating.
    And finally, the new me is having a pretty hard time finding clothing that fits, in H&M or anywhere else. Why? Because my 14-ish body won’t squeeze itself into a 14 or 16 in any designer clothing. The higher the quality/price, the smaller the sizes. I try on a 14 in a fat store, and I’m swimming in it.
    For the record, when H&M did carry plus sizes, (another favorite phrase of mine), they did not fit my fat self. And in the rare exceptional moments when a garment did fit, man o shevitz was it not cut with me in mind.

    Roberta

  87. I don’t believe the fashion industry should create larger clothes to further support the obesity epidemic in America. As it is, US women do not need any further encouragement that being size 13 and up is acceptable or OK, because it isn’t. I know my comments will upset a lot of people but it is my opinion. I think women who are overweight need to try harder to eat better and exercise to be at a healthy weight and to be able to fit into mainstream fashion.

  88. Ha, a feminist group leader claims no one in their group “wants to shop with a bunch of fatties.” I don’t think they care about women, they only care about thin women.

    Really maybe you should ask them what makes them any different than a sorority house at a college?

    They’ve worked so hard to be thin, that now they’ve worked away any sense of morals or caring. I guess that’s the price to be thin, certianly seems like it with all the thin women viciously gnawing at their own.

    I liked “Not Wear Dolce & Gabana?” I can’t belive they allowed this woman to be a mother. The hell her children must go through..oh I can see it all now..”I told you, NO METAL HANGERSSSSS!” ala Mommy Dearest.

  89. Read The Healing (true tales of a food addict)
    Trafford.com (publishing company
    Author: Mari Keating Schofield

    Diets suck!

  90. I think that everyone is seeing the point in the wrong way the thrut is that skinny people have problems to.For example my sister has 15 years old and she has to go to the children section to find jeans because she cant find her size sometimes size 0 is large but she isnt anorexic nor bulimic belive me I see her eat and she esta like a cow shes never satisfied and well she isnt very tall like models I think shes 1.56 so she is small but she has that large dody like models and very skinny legs of course she doesnt look like emancipated or bonny skinny but she cant never find clothes and my little sister is the same but is like 1.54 and she cant find either she is a little more havier than my sister but it is a problem becuse fats can find in sears etc…
    I live in mexico and let me tell you than americas have more large sizes than spain or mexico they are like insane with sizes if you ever come to mexico or spain youll see in stores that we are constantly obsesed with sizes even in the most expensive store you cant find a size 4 4!!!!!!!! oh my god !!!!! is insane …..

  91. Kel, I am 5’10”, weigh 88kg/193lbs and work out 6 times a week at the gym, diligently watch my carb intake and could totally punch you out in a boxing ring. My body requires size US14/ EU44 clothing because I was blessed with a ripe bust and a ass like a loaf of bread you’d want to slice (thanks Pharrell) in addition to a broad-shouldered skeleton. But hey, I know I’m not the example you’re conjuring out of thin air.

    Your argument against larger fashions is as illogical as relying on BMI as an accurate measure of model health – until they get a coke-o-meter, there’s nothing that can sort that out. no fashion = nudity. And I get the impression that’s the last thing you’d want.

    I own current Viktor & Rolf, Missoni, Antik Batik, Cavalli, See by Chloe and a few other notables – you just have to know where to look and what truly suits you, not just be a label whore. Versace used to do a line called Versatile back in Gianni’s day, and Valentino did Carisma – the sad thing is that the designers were completely unsupported by existing media that noone knew about it (didn’t help that Gianni insisted on using size 8’s in the look book) Cutting off their noses, as it were.

  92. Just heard about this project launched by 2 models – check it out! Instead of boycotting fashion, make it play by your rules!
    They talk the talk, but now it’s time to Walk The Catwalk

  93. I agree with you on the design of larger sizes. Even the so called moderate priced designers, Jones New York, Anne Klein II, Ralph Lauren and the like that are sold in Federated Stores (Macy’s and the like)who have very classic lines in sizes under 14, loose it in the translation to their “Women’s” sizes. The styling no longer has curves, details are missing, shoulders are lost- they are now at the elbow, they are bigger but do not necessarily leave room for bust and the quality of the fabrics used is often inferior. I have experienced this first hand with my mother who has a difficult time shopping. On the other hand of the spectrum is the Petites line. I am 4’10’ and slightly above average weight. When I try to buy clothes in the Petite department it’s like they were made for old women or anorexics. And while I’m on the subject of style, what happened to pants that sit on the waist?

  94. This is a touchy issues for me at the moment. I’ve been a size 10 or 12 for most of my life. Recently I’ve creeped up to a 14 and I’m hanging on for dear life to not go past that point. I generally eat well (but enjoy my treats too) and I exercise, so I don’t feel like I am unhealthy at my current weight. I don’t think I look horrible either.

    The only reason I’m trying to hang on and/or to lose weight is so that I can continue to have some selection in the clothing that I buy. In addition to starting to creep into plus-size territory, I am also 6’2″ tall. That means that I already have to buy all of my pants at Tall Girl (which declared bankruptcy recently and I just about had a heart attack…thankfully they got bought/saved by Long Tall Sally from the UK) and the selection of shirts, dresses, skirts, etc. that fit me in non-tall stores is very slim. But if instead of being able to look for the small selection of things long enough for me in regular stores, I was having to limit myself to plus-size stores, my selection would be very very small indeed. Plus I find that the clothes in plus-size stores are big in all the wrong places (as if every woman with a bit of extra meat on her bones has that extra meat in exactly the same spot).

    Thank you for writing about this important issue. When I’m rich, I’m going to hire a personal designer/seamstress. Until then, I’ll have to battle the industry.

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