Despite a clear demand for plus size clothing, many fashion houses have been reluctant to design and sell clothes for fat women. Fat women are expected to be pleased with a burlap sack, or whatever cheaply made polyester elastic waist garbage that they throw at us. This is not to say that there aren’t stores that specifically focus on plus size women, there just aren’t enough of them. And the very fact that fat women are forced to go to plus size stores, specifically separates us from the rest of the population.
Saks is busy patting itself on the back for going up to a size 16-18 and I say it is not far enough. What about the women that need larger clothing than that? Are they not worthy of feeling beautiful, sexy and stylish because they are fat? Why does there even need to be an upper limit, when designers are willing to go as low as size zero in the lower register? Until fat women are able to walk into every store, and find something that not only fits them, but looks nice, we have not reached a point of fat acceptance.
The designer-level racks at select Saks Fifth Avenue stores are expanding. Beginning this fall, the options for women looking for sizes 16 and 18 will include more high-fashion styles.“Saks Fifth Avenue always strives to meet the needs of our customers. After recent review, we concluded there are customers who desire designer clothing in sizes that are not currently available in our stores,” the company said in a statement.Saks has for years had its Salon Z department, which caters to plus sizes, but this new initiative targets ripped-from-the-runway looks from the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, and will include larger sizes within designer departments.Adding larger sizes, especially for designers who sometimes don’t sell anything larger than a 10 or 12 in their own boutiques, is a considerable commitment, said Sasha Iglehart, deputy fashion director at Glamour. “It’s a real investment for these brands to make sizes in that range. It’s not just taking a pattern and making it bigger,” she said. “The proportions are different, and there has to be real thought into what’s flattering to women in that size range.”“I hope this inspires other retailers and designers,” Iglehart added.The conversation in the fashion industry about larger sizes has gotten louder in recent months. It had been rooted in the notion that models were too thin and setting a bad example for young women. (source)
The issue with the fashion industry is that they have a history of promoting a specific body type as representative of the female form, therefore unsexing all other women who don’t fit within a very narrow parameter. There is no reason why thin women and fat women cannot walk the catwalk together, thus showing that beauty is not related to size. Privileging one form over another, simply creates a new standard of oppression that we are meant to follow. This is particularly why I have not been quick to celebrate the elevation of Christina Hendricks as a revolutionary change. What happens if you don’t look like her? What happens if you are size 20,26,28? Instead of embracing the idea that curves are in, we would be much off promoting the universal idea that women are beautiful in all of the shapes and sizes that they come in.
The other question floating through my mind is how much of a premium are fat women going to have pay for their clothing. Often when a dress is made in a so-called normal size and a plus size, the plus size costs more to compensate for the price of the extra material. In most cases, the extra cost is certainly not justified but because there are so few options for women to get plus size clothing outside of making them, they are forced to pay the increased price. Fashion houses can only win by being more inclusive; it is the fat women that will pay the cost because we have been deprived for so long. We deserve to have nice clothing made specifically for us and we deserve to be treated as though this is not a hardship. We absolutely deserve to be included everywhere and I am tired of designers telling fat women that we should be grateful when they throw us a bone.