No, I’m Not Interested in a Plus Size Pyramid Scheme

Multi-level marketing companies, or pyramid schemes, are unethical and sketchy. I’m surprised it took them until now to prey on fat women’s wardrobe needs.

It’s called Part & Parcel, and a sponsored post on Curvy Fashionista appeared last week. Admittedly, some of the pieces are cute, and their sizing practices have potential, but if you dig into their “partner” program, it rings a lot of MLM bells.

Screen shot from Part and Parcel website describing their sales system.

MLMs prey on women, and seemingly especially on moms, with language of empowerment and being your own boss and flexible schedules. But they’re trash. Sellers tend to lose money, because actually selling product isn’t the point. It’s signing up people to be your “downstream,” which means when they sell something, they earn a commission and so do you. So they focus is on signing up more and more people, all of whom have to invest a not-insignificant chunk of change to get started.

Brands like DoTerra, LuLaRoe, Rodan + Fields, Herbalife, and Young Living are all MLM schemes. John Oliver did a pretty scathing exposé episode of Last Week Tonight about them. Watch it below (it’s about half an hour long, but worth it).

I don’t know yet if Part & Parcel is quite as bad as the examples in the video, but the discussion of your “partner community” screams MLM to me. According to this Fortune article, you don’t have to invest in a huge start-up kit, and there are only two levels, but it still gives me pause. I don’t want to see fat people exploited, and it seems like an unnecessary step to add in. If they’re trying to reach out to the plus size community to help others earn money, there are less sketchy-sounding ways to do that.

Plus, right on their website (and in the screenshot above), it says “When she signs up other Partners, too, you’ll also earn a commission on anything they sell.” Isn’t that more than the second level right there? You’re level one, your partner is level two, so her partners are levels three and beyond.

I could even get on board with them having the partners, if it weren’t for the second level where you make money off their sales. That’s more like an affiliate program. Why do they need the second tier? Even if it is limited to just one, it still means the partners are going to put some focus on recruiting friends, which is problematic. I appreciate wanting to help fat people make a little extra money (because, yes, we do make less and we do face workplace discrimination), but this doesn’t seem like the best plan.

It’s unfortunate. Their clothes are cute, and while a little pricey, they use a sizing system that allows you to customize different parts like sleeve circumference. If I wasn’t turned off by the partner structure, I probably would’ve given them a try.

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