Since college, I have not only once gone shopping with a friend in stores. What I thought was a hobby for me and my friends in adulthood-drinking a coffee and lunch, walking the aisles, talking about trends, looking at the hilarious graphic T—shirts that will not die-was never possible for me. Since I have a larger size, I don’t have the mental capacity to cope with the embarrassment and shame of having to tell my friend that I need to shop in another part of the store, usually on a completely different floor, so that I can see clothes that suit me.
No matter when I was 14, 16, 18 or 20, the feeling remained the same: shopping in the store is not easy. I have avoided it at all costs in recent years. When I was in a bigger size, they just never had options for me. Then they finally got my size, but I had to go to a tiny corner to find them. Now, at a 14, I can find my size, but if your 14 does not fit, I have to take the awkward walk of shame from the dressing room to avoid the companion asking me if I want you to take me a larger size and I have to say: “there is none.”
This led to a terrible body image, a discomfort about talking to friends about clothes, and a closet full of items I hate because I was too aware, to be honest, of how something was OK. If you do not have options for shopping in the store, it harms plus-size women, and I can not imagine how companies have not noticed it either. Plus-size people buy your clothes when you give them the chance.
So you’ll see how excited I was when Old Navy announced that they would no longer have a separate section of their plus-size store; all the big clothes would live with even sizes in order of size, as they always did. All plus-size options will be available in the store, and if you shop online, you can shop your size through the same links instead of having to switch to a “plus-size” tab on the site. They will offer sizes 0-28 and XS-4X in store and sizes 0-30 online. The brand will also present all the garments in three models: size 4, 12 and 18. The mannequins in the stores will also represent these three sizes.
With Old Navy, other stores that retain all their sizes, including “Good American” Target online (and, with their collection have-Who What Wear-in-store), Madewell, J. Crew and Skims. Other brands that offer models of different sizes are Madewell and Girlfriend Collective. Nike made headlines in 2019 for finally adding a big model to her stores, but many other stores haven’t done it yet.
As you can see, there is a lot to do in this area of the fashion industry, and it is exciting to see a brand as big as Old Navy going into the next round. We hope that other brands will also take similar initiatives. Shopping if you have more than a size 14 shouldn’t be that difficult, and while it might take some capital to get started, the plus size market’s answer will be worth it.
It’s frustrating that the brands took so long to see how inconvenient it is to keep the plus sizes in another part of the store, but it excites me for a future where I can shop with all my friends. I should have the same luxury of browsing a store with a Starbucks in hand as my Size 8 friends-and eventually a big brand like Old Navy recognizes that.