The Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Lingerie

Well if you want to see some Victoria’s Secret models in lingerie and heels, then my friend, you have come to the wrong place. Sorry. But, since you’re here, why not have a wee read and you never know, Gigi Hadid might actually feature.

This is pretty much a sequel to my “Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Fashion” post, which was basically me complaining that I can’t buy clothes that fit. But this one’s exploring (not so) “inclusive” lingerie. I can tell you’re on the edge of your seat already.

You. Right now.

The reason I decided to write about this is because I see a lot of people online complaining that they can’t find bras to fit, and that retailers only offer “small” sizes and don’t cater for ‘curvy’ or ‘fuller’ women. I just want to point out that like with clothes, sizing often excludes smaller sizes just as much as larger ones.

bra

For those of you who may not know, bra cup sizes (the letter) start at AAA – yes, like the batteries. The next size up is AA – also batteries, followed by A- you get the idea. I’m telling you this because most retailers only offer from size A (or in many cases, B) and upwards.

As well as this, the bandwidth (basically the circumference of your back) starts well, at any size, depending how small the person’s frame is. This tends to be any size from 26 inches upwards. But, the sizes offered mostly start at 32 inches. This has lead to people either having to go to elsewhere and look harder for underwear, or buy the bigger size and just get on with it (tumbledrying works too at shrinking them though- you’re welcome).

For the record, I’m not saying that smaller sizes aren’t available, they’re just less readily available. This means that instead of buying a £2 t-shirt bra in Primark (when we still had one 😦 ), I have to go to M&S and pay £6 for one that isn’t as pretty. Basically it means people have to pay more and have less choice.

Although larger sizes are also harder to come by, meaning women have to go elsewhere for their size too; the difference is that there are several “inclusive” brands like Bravissimo, Curvissa and SimplyBe which cater specifically for those with fuller figures. Ah, the old “forget including various groups, only including one additional one makes us inclusive and not exclusive at all” thing again. *sigh*

Anyway, these brands are also more expensive, because the retailers know we’ll just fork out the money because we haven’t really got a choice. If there’s such a demand and so many needing to go to alternative retailers for these sizes, why don’t more brands start offering them? Why are they making it so hard for us to buy things? JUST LET ME SPEND MY MONEY.

Then again, why would you want to increase your customer base, sales and therefore profits? Pffft silly me.

Recently, there’s been a lot of praise and celebration at the launch of Rihanna’s lingerie line ‘SAVAGE X FENTY’ because it catered for a range of sizes and “real” women. It offers multiple shades as well, meaning that several skin tones can wear a ‘nude’ or ‘skin coloured’ bra which is actually, well, skin-coloured(!!) So women no longer have to all wear the one universal shade of beige that somebody decided was all we needed. Who knew such things were possible? But yes, Rihanna’s new line is great, it does cater for a lot more sizes than typical high street retailers, and it does represent women of all shapes and sizes – as long as you’re not below an A cup. Or smaller than a 32. Oh you are? Hmm. Never mind then.

This has led to people (rightly so) asking that other brands follow suit and also cater for “real women”. But that’s my issue. “Real women“. Basically, to be a real woman you have to have big boobs and a bum. Reinforcing the self doubt and unfeminity felt by women who don’t naturally have these assets have. They don’t need or deserve to be made to feel any less validated as a woman than their more curvy peers.

How is showing slim built models any worse than showing those with figures which are unachievable to some without getting cosmetic surgery? Most people can change their weight; but people can’t help it if they naturally have small breasts or bums (and don’t even THINK about telling me to squat, I’m warning you). How can you tell women -especially young, vulnerable girls- that they’re not real women? Do you know how dangerous that is?

Imagine how it must feel not be able to find underwear to fit, and then be told it’s because you’re not a “real woman”. Not to mention those with alternative gender identities such as trans or intersex, who may require smaller sizes too and already find it hard enough to conform to female beauty standards.

Every identifying female is a “real woman”. End of. Stop telling girls that their natural build, genetics or lifestyle choices make them any less of a woman.

Make small bra sizes available. Make large bra sizes available. Don’t tell women the reason they’re not catered for is because they’re not real women. Stop damaging our girls.

Gigi-Hadid-Catsuit-2018-Victoria-Secret-After-Party

There you go, happy?

The Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Fashion

Why do I (and many other women) only seem to buy clothes from the same 3-4 companies all the time? For me, it’s not so much a preference (or the fact that they’re a lot cheaper than Topshop), it’s because these are the few shops where I can actually buy clothes in MY size.

And so is the struggle of many people. “Ooh XXX have a sale- oh wait, they don’t do my size”. *goes on website…checks sizes…exits website and huffs*.

Now don’t get me wrong, it does have its perks- think of all the money I’ve saved because I can’t actually buy anything 🙂

NM26

Over the past few years, there has been an “inclusive fashion” movement among retailers whereby they have extended their clothing size range beyond the traditional 8-14s, to cater for women of “all shapes and sizes”. Shops have gone from offering 4 or 5 sizes to 9+. So what’s the problem? Well, for one, the range only seems to extend to suit one body type.

While an increasing number of retailers now offer sizes over 16, very few cater below a 6. Now, to my delight, around 2 years ago Primark began producing clothes in a size 4 – but this was at least 5 years after they began producing sizes up to a 22.

Yes, there’s a whole debate and backlash about this;  some believe that offering smaller sizes promotes an unhealthy lifestyle and reinforces beauty standards, with others saying how one extreme is no better than another, and promoting larger sizes contributes to the normalisaion of obesity.

But this is not about that. Trust me, I did my A Level HE assignment on this topic and drafted and redrafted a literature review around FIFTEEN times so I am not even going into this *has flashbacks and shudders*.

I’m simply saying that yes, it’s obviously good that retailers are adapting to meet the needs of their customers, but why cater for one type over another? I just want a pair of jeans like, it shouldn’t be this hard.

It does lower your self esteem when you bring 7 items into a changing room and none fit or look nice, but that’s not just the case for larger sizes. Do you know how it feels to look like you’re wearing your mother’s clothes? Not good (no offence, ma – I think your clothes are lovely). It probably feels just as bad as looking like you accidentally tumble-dried your clothes and shrunk them.

NM25

I welcome retailers extending their size range and catering for more than 5 sizes, I don’t think anyone should have to go a certain shop/s to be able to buy their size, or settle for clothes too big or too small for them. I’m just saying that retailers need to branch out a bit more. “Start doing a size 16, that’ll keep ’em happy”- well Mr Multi-National Retailer, on behalf of said “’em”, we are not happy.

Bringing in an additional 2/3 sizes doesn’t make you ‘inclusive’. Being inclusive means bringing in a variety of new sizes. Only extending your range to suit one body type actually makes you more exclusive than inclusive, just saying.

Don’t get me wrong, “inclusive” fashion is great – as long as you’re between a size 10-14 and are no shorter than 5 ft 3 or taller than 5 ft 7.

Now, some retailers have started offering a “petite” or “tall” range, thank God. But why?

If the average woman in Ireland, the UK, America, and most countries is around 5 ft 4, why are nearly all clothes made to suit people who are over 5 ft 6? And why are the models always 5 ft 7 – 5 ft 10? Surely it doesn’t make much sense to make clothes which only fit a a very small proportion of your customer base rather than the majority? But maybe I’m just being fussy, idk.

NM27

And so is the beauty of online retailers – they offer plus size ranges, size 4s, maternity wear, petite and tall ranges *heavenly choir sings “ahhhh”*.

I personally prefer online shopping, but it’s not because I can buy clothes from the comfort of my bed while looking like a sight that is not fit for anyone except the postman to see (although I am determined to make dressing gowns a socially acceptable outerwear) Note: NOT a ‘house coat’. It’s because I can buy clothes.

People wonder why high street shopping is down year-on-year. Maybe we’ll go into your shop when your clothes don’t make us feel bad about ourselves and you actually do our size. And I’ll give you that gem of business advice for free.

NM28

I was planning to write about the exclusivity of the bra industry but I guess I underestimated just how exclusive the fashion industry was- silly me. So to the (I’m assuming) joy of any male readers that haven’t given up or fallen asleep already, you are spared. And well done you for making it this far, you must either be interested in what I have to say on this topic, or you’re really bored.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to do some online retail therapy, because I can. And because Boohoo have 30% off coats -sorry, bank account.