Today I wanted to shift gears a little bit and talk about size inclusivity. I touched on it a little in yesterday’s shopping post and didn’t think it was the biggest deal (I was saving the bigger stuff for today) BUT you guys were into it! I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spent the entire day attached to my phone replying to DM’s. I tried to keep track at first, but lost track after 500 messages (somewhere around 3pm maybe?). Wow.
Your messages were so supportive and amazing but this post is actually an apology. I’m the first to admit when I screw up, I would say I’ve been a little (a lot?) ignorant. There is a sad truth (for me and many a “straight size” blogger):
when something doesn’t affect you, it’s very easy to ignore it.
The thing I want most in the world is for The Stripe to be a site where everyone who visits walks away feeling great. I didn’t realize how many readers I have that wear above a size 12 until we really got into it in the DM’s over the weekend. (I’m sorry.)
I worry a LOT about using the wrong words/being accidentally offensive, which is so easy in this day and age (I literally asked my friend Nicolette, “Is it still okay to say plus size? What about “straight size??”). So if I say something wrong, call me out nicely and we’ll all learn something from it. I do think it’s an incredibly important to talk about this stuff even when we feel clueless. It’s better to talk about it and feel nervous than not talk about it at all, you know? I also find those opportunities where I feel clueless and get vulnerable are the times I learn the most.
I’ve always had a “stay in your lane” approach. If I start sharing more plus-size (I got the go-ahead on using that term) options here, someone is going to be like “WHAT DOES SHE KNOW!?” And there are so many people already doing a wonderful job at it. Katie, Nicolette, Lydia, Olivia, Kellie, Sarah (and countless others) all come to mind. It’s also so easy to mess up and make a bad recommendation when you’re not speaking from personal experience.
After pulling together yesterday’s post I learned that Madewell’s larger sizes are all over the place and actually really quite hard to shop if you are over a size 12 (something that irks me as their “straight sizes” are always spot on… why can’t they figure it out!?) They also don’t carry the larger size range in stores so from what I’ve been told you have to order several pairs online and hope for the best. (Oof – do better, Madewell. I love you and you are my favorite brand to shop: you’ve figured out sizing for the rest of us so I know you CAN. I want to be able to tell ALL my readers to shop from you!)
Unlike offering up advice for a different skin type than my own or a different price point than I usually shop, this is a bit of a political thing. I know I’m so late to the party saying this but THERE ARE SO FEW GOOD OPTIONS for women who wear a size above 12. I don’t know that we’re going to get anywhere with only those women complaining about it… Also, I think we ALL need to complain, regardless of what size we wear. So yeah, maybe you are lucky and can usually find something when you go shopping but if so, let’s recognize the fact that it is an enormous privilege. I thought that the average woman is a size 14, but she’s actually a size 16 or an 18, yet so many designers don’t cater to that.
I felt so stupid writing some of this, like I’ve been living under a rock.
(I’m sure many of you are throwing me a little shade and being like DUH GRACE) but it inspired me because I’m sure so many other people will feel the same way I did. I got DM’s from readers yesterday who didn’t know what inclusive sizing was! I think my biggest takeaway is that like I said above, it can’t just be the women wearing a size 12 or higher that are yelling at brands to expand their sizing. We all have to do it, or nothing will change.
This really started watching my friend Katie’s Instagram stories. Katie is my most stylish friend (style is subjective so I should instead say that she is the friend who I get the most inspiration from and whose Instagram I shop off of the most). She was treated so poorly at Theory – I was really upset watching her story. Aside from being angry on her behalf, I felt guilty and mad at myself. I had NO IDEA that Theory only carries up to a size 12. I hadn’t even really thought about it to be honest… that goes back to not paying attention to the things that don’t affect you. Her stories (and then talking more with Nicolette and Lydia) made me do a lot of thinking. (It also made me respect Katie even more; that she is able to dress as well as she does while dealing with this.)
I’d rather acknowledge my ignorance and learn from it than pretend it doesn’t exist.
As I mentioned above it’s a huge privilege to be able to walk into any store and almost always see my size. I personally boycotted Intermix ages ago (internally, I’ve never spoken about this!) because they don’t keep my size out front. I’m a relatively small person and my size (usually a 6) is always tucked away in back – I hated having to sheepishly ask if they carry “larger” sizes. I can’t imagine feeling like that every single time I shopped. It would completely suck. Katie writes about this a lot and documents it on her instagram stories and it’s infuriating/makes me so sad.
So what to do about this. I’m giving myself a little challenge.
For the next three months (April, May, and June) I’ve decided to do a little experiment:
- I’m only going to shop brands that offer (at a minimum, up to a size 16 or XXL – ideally larger). I realize this approach is not fully inclusive, but hey it’s a START.
- I’m going to only accept gifted items or sponsored posts* from brands that offer at a minimum, a size 16 or XXL. I know that size 16 is not plus sized; ideally I will feature larger than that BUT it’s very hard to find a brand that is truly inclusive, offering from 0-40. (If you know more brands that offer that range besides Universal Standard; please comment below – would love your suggestions!)
- When I wear older pieces (which I do a lot), I will always offer a plus alternative.
I would also like to challenge YOU ALL to shop inclusive.
It doesn’t matter what size you wear; let’s all try and be better at supporting the brands that are working at this. Two of my favorite contemporary brands (Mara Hoffman and Tanya Taylor) are already doing a great job at it and I’m going to work to highlight more inclusive brands like I did yesterday.
One last thing: I mentioned this in yesterday’s Spring Cravings post, but it wasn’t until I tried to shop only inclusive brands that I realized how hard it is. Usually fashion roundups only take me a couple hours to pull together. This one took almost the whole day because I had decided to follow my new sizing standards.
I didn’t want to compromise on quality and style and was whining about how hard it was, which in turn motivated me more because I realized that for all my complaining, how would it feel to be in the position of someone actually trying to shop and find the things I want in a size 14 or 16?! Honestly guys, just go to Shopbop, click on “all clothing,” and then filter the sizes to include a 14, 16, or XXL. IT IS ALARMING how few things pop up. (I love you Shopbop but let’s work on this please.)
So I am doing this self-imposed little challenge (and would love for you to do it too).
And I’m new at it. Please be gentle. Call me out if I mess up (I probably will); but I think this is really important. XOXO
*Full transparency here: Before deciding to do this I had already bought + accepted some gifts from brands that don’t meet this criteria (they’ll show up here this month so forgive me on those BUT for those I promise to commit to finding similar items). And I have one sponsored post already committed w/contracts signed for a brand that only goes up to size XL.
PS – thanks to reader Holly for sharing this: the image above is a work by an Iraqi artist, Adel Abidin, reflecting on his first visit to the US and what people would say when they heard where he was from.