It happens all the time — a brand emerges, claiming to be super progressive, feminist, and revolutionary. But when you go to look at their stuff, the clothes only go to a size L or XL. They have zero plus options.
That’s not a feminist company.
I came across the above post on the Ms. Magazine Facebook page (I’m not linking to it because they don’t need the views). They’re touting this brand as revolutionary and feminist, but they’re selling sweaters in sizes XS-L, for $380 apiece.
Honestly, it’s so ridiculous I almost have to laugh instead of getting mad. But then I think about how people doing this are ignoring so many groups’ needs while still patting themselves on the back. And being praised by respected media like Ms.
If your company is not being inclusive of as many marginalized groups as humanly possible, you don’t get to brand yourself as feminist, woke, revolutionary, or any other synonym for “progressive.” This includes fat people, people of color, poor people, LGBTQ people, disabled people, and so on. Your models need to represent a variety of sizes, races, genders and expressions, ages, and abilities. Products need to come in a massive variety of sizes and be as affordable as possible. And people who are more marginalized than you are need to be benefitting in some way — most likely from donating a significant portion of profits to leftist charities.
Otherwise, you’re just a privileged person capitalizing off of people’s suffering and desire for change.
What’s a Brand to Do
Many brands who are progressive will be inclusive of other groups but still leave out fat people by not making our sizes. I’m not playing Oppression Olympics here, but there are a lot of otherwise leftist people who still leave fatness off their social justice radar. It’s probably not the only thing that is left off, but it’s the one I notice most (probably because it’s the nearest to me) and the one I’m talking about here.
Your politics are not radical or progressive if they don’t include fat justice. This includes anything you’re selling or giving away as part of an agenda. If you’re having an event and you’ve got t-shirts, they MUST include sizes far beyond XL or XXL. Go to 5XL. Order more large sizes than small ones, because people can always modify a shirt to make it smaller, but if it physically won’t cover your body, there’s nothing you can do. And no charging extra for them. If your manufacturer charges you extra, figure out a flat price across all sizes that will make up the difference.
Events must include seating accommodations for larger people. This means chairs with no arms at the very least — and make sure thin people don’t usurp them and leave fat participants stranded. It also means chairs that are sturdy. Check weight limits, they need to be at least 400 lbs. No attached desks. Make sure your event space is free of narrow aisles. Ideally it also means the bathrooms have larger stalls.
No, I’m Not Joking
I’m sure someone out there will think my parameters are silly, or that they go to far. Too bad. I’m basing what I’ve said on years of reading what actual fat people have said in various spaces. Your social justice space, and your brand, MUST make fat inclusivity a priority.
Spaces need to be accommodating, clothes need to fit us, and it’s time to lay off the anti-fat neoliberal “health” rhetoric. That last one is based on incorrect garbage, anyway.
It’s really not that hard.