Fashion

How Brandy Melville’s One Size Ethic Reinforced Fat-phobia and Anorexia

©Brandy Melville ©Brandy Melville

I spend my life going through every flaw I find in myself, and this includes habits like looking myself in the mirror and picking out every little thing that doesn’t feel right to me, or going on Instagram and seeing the popular brand Brandy Melville’s pictures filling their exhaustive Thin-Blonde-Californian-Tall-Girl advertisement collection. So, if you’ve ever been to ‘that’ side of Instagram or Youtube (or any social media at that point), I’m sure that you’ve encountered this brand at least once: Brandy Melville.

Brandy Melville launched in the US in 2009 and quickly became one of the trendiest teen clothing labels, even achieving number one rank in up-trending brands by 2014. In the same year, analysts estimated company sales of about $125 million annually, and a growth rate of 20 to 25 percent per year. But, what made the brand so controversial is their philosophy. When you think of a brand that is this popular amongst young tweens/teens and even adults, you would think that it’d be inclusive and for everyone to enjoy, but the problem arises: it’s not.

Brandy Melville clothing items are one-size, designed to fit a UK size 4-6 (which, if you’re not aware of the proportions, is equal to relatively tiny measurements), which, first-hand eliminates a majority of their potential customer base. They justify and defend their poor decision by pointing out that:

”Many of the styles are baggy and loose-fitting, or made from stretchy fabrics to incorporate a wider range of sizes. They claim there’s “something for everyone”, even if some customers can only fit into the over-sized t-shirts and sweatshirts.” ©

… which still doesn’t explain why there isn’t a wider range of sizes to choose from – because spoiler alert: ”stretchy fabrics and loose-fitting” doesn’t offer much more diversity in terms of sizing and representation.

No, it doesn’t.

The toxicity of this brand and the message it vehicles is sadly widely propagated due to their big social media influence. (They currently proudly stand at 3.8m followers on Instagram). They basically promote an idea that the ”Hot and Beachy Babe” must have a thigh gap, be a US size 0/2 and overall be thin (which is quickly visible by taking a look on their Instagram Page) and eventually teach young influenceable teens that any other body types are not good enough or won’t fit their idea of a beautiful body shape. On the two ends of this spectrum, it pushes the idea of ”Be Thin, Be Pretty” and it also pushes Fat-phobia to a drastic different level. For instance, in this Reddit thread, someone points out how ”clothing companies chose fatphobia over economics” and mentions how companies such as BM can think that it’s apparently ”worse to have fat people wearing your clothes than it is to get bad PR for shaming fat people” and that these companies are ”pretty invested in a slender, middle class, white average consumer.” Of course, this ethic is definitely not new, and definitely not exclusively promoted by Brandy Melville, but it still promotes it and reinforces this philosophy.

Brandy Melville is trying to branch out and add more sizes (they now have medium-sized pants) but they are still only a US size 2/4, which is a tiny step for such a big company- but I believe in small changes and baby-steps. That being said: I do shop at Brandy Melville because of my petite figure, and because of that, you’d think that this whole article is a joke, but it’s not. I love this brand, but not the message it vehicles. I feel badly knowing that I can’t share this love and appreciation with most of my friends and that most of the women population is not able to fit in these body standards. Just know, without any cheesiness included: You are beautiful, in every way, shape and form. The fashion industry is sadly not going to change tomorrow or in one week; these ideas are always going to be displayed somehow, but everyone is different and unique in their own way, so don’t be discouraged or insecure because of it; that gives them even more power.

As  clearly summed it up:

Some brands are for everyone. Some brands are not – and Brandy Melville is clearly in the latter category: It isn’t trying to dress everyone, it isn’t even trying to dress every teenager girl.

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