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COLUMN: 'One Size Fits Most' Is An Inherently Exclusionary Policy

Brandy Melville's Sizing System, Or Lack Thereof, Discourages Women Who Don't Want To 'Fit In'

Hieghts Senior Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 23:01

For many of us, the glorious days of high school meant a lot of concerted effort focused on fitting in. Although not true across the board, the pressure to conform and be validated by our peers was strong. I like to believe that as we age, many of us are slowly but surely growing out of this habit and moving away from this impossible need. Even if this desire to fit in does not entirely dissipate as we grow up, it can be helpful to simply distinguish the difference between “fitting in” and being accepted exactly as you are.

Unfortunately, there are some members of the fashion industry who are hell-bent on keeping us forever 13 and seeking to fit in, in more ways than one. One such brand is Brandy Melville. Let me start by saying that I have only recently begun to explore this brand. A snowy downtown adventure to Newbury Street revealed that this brand had a new store in town. After hearing about the clothes for years now, I figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about.

Boston’s store displayed lots of crop tops, oversized chunky knit sweaters, fabulously cheap accessories, incredibly soft tees, and a shocking lack of size tags. A friend let me know that this was pretty typical “Brandy,” which runs with a “One Size Fits Most” policy. While many of the styles were loose-fitting and would be able to accommodate a variety of shapes, I was completely baffled by the concept. Why remove sizes? Even if one size fits most, this doesn’t mean that it is flattering on most. We are all built differently, and offering a variety of sizes, even if merely from small to extra large, allows a shopper to find the most flattering piece for herself.

It was intriguing to hear the phrasing of Brandy’s sizing scheme, “One Size Fits Most.” It seems we have moved in a direction of political correctness away from “One Size Fits All,” but still, simply why? This is rarely, if ever, true, even when it comes to accessories. I personally have a huge head and those one size fits all hats do not accommodate my aforementioned head plus crazy curly hair. But this is not the problem. Yes, the phrasing has become more politically correct, but that doesn’t make it actually okay. “Most” excludes more of the population in this case than people would like to admit. There is no way those crop tops would fit my generally average-sized body the way they would a much smaller girl. And this is only one example. One size fits most is simply not how the world works.

The girls wandering this store were mostly in their teens and 20s. According to statistics compiled by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), “91 percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting.” Women in this country have a notoriously tense relationship with their bodies and their physical appearances, and we don’t need any statistics to tell us this. We all struggle in some way, and battles with weight are so incredibly common that it seems insane not to support each other, and demand that the fashion industry support us as well. Why must a line of maxi skirts and plaid shirts make us all feel just a little bit worse about ourselves?

The moral of the story is this: the clothes at Brandy Melville are generally pretty cute if you are into that sort of look, and they are reasonably priced for what they are. The clothes are trendy, fun, and young. But they are also, ultimately, exclusionary. The rules our mothers taught us on the playground are still valid—it’s nice to include everyone. I know it sounds incredibly naive to say, but what is the point of making someone feel lousy while she tries to buy a t-shirt? Even on a practical level, why would a company choose to limit its customer base to such an extent? People who cannot comfortably fit in Brandy Melville one size fits most styles—as well as those opposed to the ideals that the company is holding up—will, in time, come to walk out the door even in the face of a fabulous floppy maroon hat that they may really want (just saying).

At age 22, I am tired of proving to the world that I want to fit in—whether it is into Brandy Melville’s styles or in any other way. I don’t want to fit in, and I shouldn’t have to. I will continue to shop at stores that cater to all women, no matter what the small printed number on the tiny label on the inside of their clothes says. Don’t give me the size that fits most: give me the size I need.

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