I know I usually try to make this blog a blog about geeky media and retrofuturism. Hell, I have some thoughts on Iron Man 3 that will come on Friday. I’ve seen it twice. There are a lot of thoughts there.
However, there was something that popped up that made me want to make this personal for just a minute. I already retold this story in private once this week. Might as well share it with the world.
There’s been a story circulating around the internet recently about Abercrombie and Fitch and why they don’t stock any clothes for women above a size 10. Long story short? It’s pure high school logic. I’ll let the quote from CEO Mark Jeffries explain.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,” he told Salon.”
Basically, the reason Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t sell larger sizes to women is because in their CEO’s head, girls with a little more weight don’t belong and will never be his narrow definition of cool.
Now, I’m going to share with you something. Something that was way buried down in my Livejournal until now. It’s a picture of me about to go to my Junior year Homecoming in high school.
I was never really made fun of for my weight when I was in school. At least not that I remember. I know I had issues showing off my stomach for a while due to the fact my mother didn’t want me wearing things that showed off my midriff and I always gave her looks when she tried to insist I was “beautiful” instead of “chubby” as if I couldn’t be both at once. But for the most part, I was bullied in school for my panic attacks (which, spoiler alert, I will be talking a lot about in my Iron Man 3 review) and my nerdiness.
However, it was that homecoming dress that made me realize that my weight was going to be an issue to some people, and not necessarily the people I went to high school with.
I’ll admit, I dress girlier now than I did in high school. Hell, I probably dress girlier now than I did in college. But in high school, most of what I wore were t-shirts from Hot Topic and jeans from Old Navy. T-shirts and jeans don’t give you as many issues, especially with the vanity sizing from Old Navy. But when it came time to find that dress in that old picture, it suddenly became very obvious that finding nice clothes was not going to be as easy as finding a pair jeans.
My mom and I searched for almost two hours across multiple shops in the mall for a dress for the Homecoming dance. All the dresses I liked were nowhere near my size and all the dresses in my size were just completely horrid looking. Shapeless blocks with garish prints that reminded me of my grandma. At some point during this whole thing, I nearly broke down crying in the middle of Macy’s because I was worried that I would not find a dress I liked and I would have to go to Homecoming with a tortoise shell tent that I settled on because all the cute black dresses only fit on girls half my size.
But eventually, we found that little black dress sitting lonely on a rack somewhere in the back end of the store. I tried it on. It fit great. We took it home and I wore it to the dance and to many events after that. I still have it somewhere. It’s a good Little Black Dress.
I wish I could say that was the end all, be all to my weight/clothes issues. But over the years, I realized something: I’m on the borderline, and there is no such thing as consistency in the sizing of women’s clothing.
When I say borderline, I mean that I can fluctuate anywhere between being considered the national average and plus-sized depending on a company’s sizing. This leads to a lot of frustration when trying on clothes across stores. A size 14 in Old Navy jeans may fit me perfectly, but a size 14 shirt from H&M feels like it’s trying to squeeze me to death and leads to my PR Research group looking very annoyed at me when I’m trying to explain that the shirt they want me to wear to match with the rest of them does not fit and will make me look more unprofessional if I wear it than if I just wear a white button down that doesn’t match, but fits and makes me look like a regular human being.
It can be moments like that in a college library bathroom that make you feel like people like Mark Jeffries have won. I can’t fit into some affordable designer clothes. Clearly, I was never meant to be cool or fashionable.
However, it’s when I passed all my classes and kept the HOPE scholarship alive for another year despite all the personal roughness that was going on in my life at the time, the issue of a shirt not fitting was a minor issue.
So Mark Jeffries, here’s what one of those plus sized, not-so-cool kids has to say to you:
I may be chubby, but my sense of style goes beyond your narrow view of who should wear your clothes. And my outfits have cost less than one shirt in your store. I may be purposefully excluded from wearing your clothes, but why would I wear some generic polo shirt and pre-frayed jeans when I can wear galaxy leggings instead?
I was not a cool kid in school, but being a misfit has allowed me to find other misfits. While people like you struggle to hold onto some narrow high school worldview of what’s cool and not cool, we’re creating things goes beyond some brand.
I won’t fit into your clothes or clothes from most stores of the A&F ilk, but that’s no measure of who I am. I am a writer, a creator, a fire spinner, and a media enthusiast with a brain like Netflix. I worked my ass off in school to get an education that expanded upon all of this. I try my best to be aware and good, and that’s a never ending process. I’m plus-sized, but that hasn’t stopped me from being awesome, intelligent, and attractive.
To paraphrase Janelle Monae: Even if it makes you and the people you want to attract to your store uncomfortable, I will love who I am.
And I’m not the only one.