This is something I’ve wondered about and struggled with: Do we have an ethical obligation to buy sports clothes only from manufacturers who make a full range of sizes? I’m not small, I weigh a lot, but I fit within the usual size range so I can buy work out wear wherever I want (except Lululemon–their size range leaves me out!) but I often feel torn about it. When I blogged about finding a sports bra that fit–see http://fitisafeministissue.com/2015/05/16/oiselle-bras-reviewed/–a few readers commented that I ought to have spent my money elsewhere since the Oiselle large (which fits me) is only a 12, not even a 14-16. And I agree that in a world in which 14 is the average size it’s odd to make your large smaller than that.
So part of me is with the people like Leah who advocate spending on our money on stuff made by companies that support body diversity. The other part of me thinks it’s okay if companies specialize and that we can spend our money on products that fit us and not worry about those who are excluded.
I’m curious. What do you think? Is there an ethical obligation to buy from companies who sell a full range of sizes? If not an obligation (maybe that’s too strong) is it better, ethically speaking, to buy from companies who sell a full range of sizes? Let us know what you think.
6 thoughts on “The Day my Purse Stood up for Body Positivity (Reblog)”
Being in a financial position that allows for considering how ethical a purchase is I’d a privilege, and so I think obligation is too strong of a word. I make an effort to spend my money at businesses that are small, local, donating to organizations whose missions I support, hiring/promoting people of all genders/ethnicities/abilities/etc., but most of the time, Target has it cheapest and I need it cheap. I look forward to being in a position someday to spend more ethically. But it isn’t a black and white decision either. That company with the range of sizes I wish every company would have might be assembling their product in sweat shops, sticking offensive ads on TV, making really low quality clothing. Spending ethically for one reason often means sacrificing something else for which I stand. I think it’s absolutely a very important, wonderful thing to keep purchases as ethical as possible. But because it’s not always very possible, I think the responsibility is to make the smartest purchase I can for my situation and communicate my concerns to the companies and did and did not buy from and to other consumers.
I have a hard time finding things that are comfortable and fit right, so whenever and wherever I can find them without spending an outrageous amount of money, I do it. I can’t afford to be concerned about the ethics and/or body positivity. I don’t shop at a lot of the stores that tend to exclude larger people and only use super fit/skinny models because frankly, I can get more for my money at Target and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing something not made for my body size anyway. I’m not a plus size, but I don’t have the fit body required for some of these styles. I shop for what makes me feel comfortable, and is within my budget.
I get the idea that we want to support body size diversity but it cuts in more than one direction. I understand too that normative expectations mean that larger sizes are often harder to find. But I’m short and I have really small feet. This often limits my choices in that clothing isn’t always proportional unless I can buy petites. But hardly anyone offers petites (ans they’re often more money) and especially not for workout wear. So from a narrow range of options I buy what fits. Re shoes, some companies don’t even make my size. Again, I find myself seeking what fits from a very narrow range of options. If I also had to factor in ‘does this company sell a full range of sizes?’ I fear I would end up with almost no options.
As much as I appreciate the issue, I stick with what is functional, fits, and is affordable. So I’m usually running in shirts from the boys department (broad shoulders and an a cup bra size means most women’s athletic tops fit really poorly) and men’s shoes (more choices in mens 9 than womens 11).
A designer here by the name of Wayne Cooper made a comment once, many years ago, when he was one of “the” designers in Australia. He said that he’d never make clothes bigger than a size 10 because he didn’t want fat women wearing his label (paraphrasing because it was a long time ago, but that was the gist).
Wayne now makes clothes sold in mainstream department stores (it’s amazing how your high standards can drop when the money is on the line), and they go up to (I think) a size 16. And don’t get me wrong, they’re gorgeous. I’d love to wear them, I’ve tried them on and they look absolutely fabulous. But back on the rack they go, even in the clearance sales. There’s no way I’d contribute to the bottom line of an arsehole like that.
So yes, I try to buy from businesses that promote body diversity, and I try to avoid ones that don’t. Sometimes I slip, but you will never find a Wayne Cooper garment in my wardrobe.
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