If you scroll through clothing company Brandy Melville’s Instagram page, you are sure to see what the company considers society’s ideal woman: over 5 feet 7 inches tall with a tiny waist, long legs and a skinny figure. The company uses this “perfect” aesthetic to appeal to its teenage consumers.
With its trendy clothing and convenient location at Town and Country for Palo Alto High School students, Brandy Melville has cemented itself into Paly’s clothing culture.
However, this popular brand’s seemingly-progressive sizing policy is actually a step backwards in body acceptance, as it only caters to girls who fit a narrow-minded ideal.
The brand offers only one size option for a majority of its clothes, the “one size” being a small or size 0-2 in women’s clothing. In fact, a slogan on the many signs around the store is “one size fits most.”
This sizing policy discriminates against women who may not fit into the “normal” small sizes perpetuated by Brandy Melville.
This poses a major problem as size small definitely does not fit most. Teens look to the media for what is “acceptable” and “beautiful.”
When young women only see a certain type of woman represented in “cool” fashion, they accept that as the norm. This unhealthy ideal is poisonous for young, impressionable teens and will further damage a fragile self-esteem.
Brandy Melville created its “one size fits most” policy to eliminate the difficulty of finding a specific size.
This would supposedly make the shopping experience much easier, as the shopper would be able to pick out a piece of clothing within the store and purchase it, knowing it will fit. Yet, it is likely a majority of women are not able to fit into these clothes in the first place.
According to a study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average clothing size for a woman in the U.S. is a size 16.
If the brand were attempting to be convenient for most women with “one size fits all” clothing, the clothes would be produced to fit the average woman’s body, not an incredibly skinny physique.
There are obviously a large variety of body types, eliminating any possibility these clothes can fit all or even most women. As a result of this sizing, young women feel as if they are not normal, not feminine and unable to conform to the ideal body image society has set in place. Sophomore Emma Donelly Higgins said she has noticed a double standard with men’s clothing.
According to Higgins, this difference in treatment and sizing is yet another example of misogyny in our society.
“I have noticed that men’s clothing brands tend to be more size-inclusive.” Higgins said. “They seem to hold all of the sizes that would be classified as plus-size in the women’s section in the same section as all the other sizes.”
Women’s clothing is divided into size specific sections, as opposed to the all-inclusive men’s section.
This, along with the “one size fits all” trend, speaks to how women are objectified and ranked based on their appearance, whereas men are usually judged by their character or personal successes. Brandy Melville only produces clothes for a selective percentage of the female population limits its consumer base to girls who they see fit to purchase their clothing and wear their brand.
Their sizing policy shames girls with different, “unflattering” body types, implying they are not good enough to buy Brandy Melville’s product.
However, many brands like Aerie, Modcloth and Thinx have introduced campaigns primarily focused on body acceptance and positivity. These campaigns have proved to be successful and inspiring, as the brands have gained recognition for supporting all women.
Aerie in particular contradicts Brandy Melville’s discriminatory ideals. This clothing company appeals to the same demographic of teen girls; however, its models range in size and body type, showing young girls they can be beautiful and successful no matter what their body looks like.
If influential brands like Brandy Melville were to include sizes for all body types, it would be a huge step forward as well as an important statement for societal standards.
Brands and images in the media play a huge part in what we deem as “normal” and “acceptable.”
Brandy Melville including a bigger range of sizes would show many girls their bodies are more accepted in the larger media.