We all love ordering stuff online and why not? It's less expensive, you have loads of variety and it gets delivered straight to your home, what's not to love? We all love freebies too, the more the merrier. So when Forever 21 shipped out its orders last week along with a certain freebie, why did it create an outrage? And why did that get me thinking? Let's find out.
So sometime last week, the twitter universe started reacting with posts about how some customers, who ordered plus-sized clothes from Forever 21 received Atkins bars along with their products. For those of you who don't know what Atkins is, it is a sort of weight loss/diet bar. Obviously, this created an outrage, with the brand being accusing of fat-shaming and trying to trigger people of all sizes who have eating disorders.
While Forever 21 quickly discontinued the practice and issued an apology, stating that it was a promotional activity and the bars were sent to people ordering clothes of all sizes, it surely could have seen this coming and probably would have been better off not associating themselves with such a brand. Because if they did this consciously, it takes the meaning of passive aggression to a whole new level.
The whole practice made me wonder, can the entire exercise of being body positive and inclusive by the brands be just one big marketing gimmick? Would the brands, if given a choice prefer making clothes of smaller sizes? Well, the evidence seems to suggest so.
In an interview in 2006, Mike Jeffries, the owner of fashion brand Abercrombie & Fitch said that he preferred to make clothes for people that fit his idea of sexy. In his exact words, he said "That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that". In another statement, he said, "Candidly, we go after the cool kids A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
Even to the brands that pride themselves on the fact that they have plus-size models walking the ramps, my argument is simple, those women are still models. They put as much effort to look a certain way as compared to let's say a conventionally looking model does. So when you project a woman who has ‘perfect' proportions, albeit in a larger size than the conventional standards and make her walk the runway, you're essentially still confining the ideal women to be of a certain body type. So basically, you can be plus-size as long as you're looking like the bigger bodies on the ramp or in ads, which in reality is just a subliminal form of typecasting someone to a certain body type.
And if you think the brands treat their plus sized models better than their customers, well, that is a bubble that is going to be burst right now. Did you know that plus-sized models are not paid to walk the ramp? It recently came to light the plus size models that were part of the Lakme Fashion Week, one of the biggest fashion events in the country, did not get paid like other models. Some of them did not get paid for something as basic as their conveyance expenses. The story is corroborated by Neha Parulkar, a model who spreads the image of body positivity on Instagram.
The fact that brands call a larger size a "plus-size" is itself derogatory, indicating it to be something different from the normal societal norm. If brands are smart, they'll remove the "plus" from their sizes and actually start treating people of different gender, body type, size, etc. as exactly that. People.