The Subtle Way Clothing Companies Body Shame Women and Girls

Source: Gyorgy Bakos/Unsplash

For those who wish to undermine someone’s confidence, body shaming serves as an undeniably insidious strategy. By playing off people’s physical insecurities, it’s easy to make them feel weak or inadequate. People use this tactic on one another all the time, but now, clothing companies have also begun to integrate their own subtle sort of shaming for both women and young girls.

As a relatively small individual, I often browse the children’s section in Old Navy. (Their styles are more diverse, oddly enough, and the prices are lower, so why not?) Except, when I was younger, the girls department went up to size 14-16, which was considered XL. Now, the selection stops at size 14—today’s XL—while girls who seek anything larger are forced to shop online, as size 16, also referred to as XXL, can only be found on the brand’s website. Returned items on the regular racks offer a glimpse into the extensive selection that’s actually available.

Yet, while this gimmick might merely be some marketing ploy to force children and parents to shop the adult section, it sends an awful message to growing girls who are not yet ready to make this transition. They must spend extra money on adult styles, or resort to online shopping, essentially ostracizing them from their age group. Excluding these sensitive girls and young women from the in-store experience implies that their bodies aren’t acceptable—that they don’t belong—during an already rocky time filled with physical and emotional changes.

Aerie’s tactics are somewhat similar when it comes to bras. While the American Eagle offshoot wants customers to believe “the real you is sexy” because of the decision to stop Photoshopping its models and its willingness to feature diverse body types, Aerie fails to mention that the slogan only applies to those who wear the sizes available in-store.

Shoppers who come in looking for bras in size DD or larger can try on the sample (that’s likely been tried on by countless other women), but they must complete their purchase via the brand’s online shop because they don’t actually stock said sizes on the premises. A sales associate can process the order in-store, thereby eliminating shipping costs, but you still can’t leave with your purchase in hand because “the real you” isn’t sexy enough to carry one of Aerie’s bags—bags which feature that very phrase—throughout the mall, or so it would seem.

Size discrimination isn’t overt, but it is pervasive. Yet, while these subtle jabs strip adult women of their self-esteem, they’re far more detrimental to young girls in the long term, as the desire to fit into smaller, more socially accepted sizes could lead to an eating disorder down the road. People come in all shapes and sizes, and each should be celebrated, for people shouldn’t be defined by their body, but by their character instead.

Companies can do better. We can do better.

While I can only speak from the female perspective, I’m sure men and boys also face their fair share of body image issues. Though not often publicized, both genders suffer from body shaming. Have you experienced any such size discrimination? Share your story in the comments below! Because we can’t right society’s wrong unless we voice the concerns we’ve been holding inside all along.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)


Trashin’ Fashion: Five New Trends You’ll Loathe By the End of 2018

Source: Pexels

Fashion trends are ephemeral. Most pass by quicker than time itself. Some styles make an indelible impact, while others are lost in the shuffle. However, 2017’s most insipid trends — everything from cold-shoulder shirts and chokers, to rompers and crop tops — feel as if they’ve lingered longer than usual.

Thankfully, in mere days, 2018 will arrive, ushering in an entirely new array of styles that will aggravate the masses until they transition to the clearance racks. Though most of the trends on the horizon aren’t completely awful or unexpected, they’ll likely drive you insane by the time we ring in 2019.

Here are just five upcoming fashion trends you’ll loathe by the end of next year:

1. Lavender 

Source: Harper’s Bazaar

No one knows how to kill your favorite colors quite like the people who run the fashion industry. Of course, you’ll only be able to own one — maybe two — pieces in said hue without looking like a living, breathing Care Bear every day of your life.

2. Fanny packs

Source: Travel and Leisure

Despite the fact that smartphone radiation might be harmful to your health, fashion gurus want you to carry your mobile device closer to your reproductive organs than ever. But, you know, at least they’re not neon sacks of nylon designed specifically for mall walkers anymore…

3. Fringe

Source: Pinterest

While fringe can be fun in moderation, it’s not the 20s again (yet) and no one’s as fashionable as flappers once were. If you feel the need to give this trend a try, be careful. Be sure to ask yourself: Can I go to the bathroom while wearing this garment? You’ll be glad you did.

4. Plastic

Source: PopSugar

Remember how Aqua once declared that being wrapped in plastic was fantastic? Well, now’s your chance to live out those Barbie Girl dreams you’ve been harboring for 20 years. For those looking for an economical alternative, Target’s cheap, clear shower curtain liners should suffice.

5. Florals

Source: Harper’s Bazaar

“Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.” But, you see, they’re BIGGER this time! While the florals of yesteryear resembled the sickening drapes in your grandmother’s living room, these 60s-style patterns are IN YOUR FACE, so it’ll be impossible to ignore their existence. Just don’t walk too quickly, or else you might trigger strangers’ motion sickness.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

If You’re Going to Advertise Plus-Size Tights, Hire Plus-Size Models


While society pretends it’s become more body positive, encouraging women to “love their curves” at every turn, actions continue to speak louder than words. Just because clothing retailers cater to those deemed plus-size by the fashion industry doesn’t mean they remain sensitive to this marginalized group’s wants or needs., for instance, has come under fire for its recent advertisement featuring plus-size tights. The site, which sells inexpensive products directly to consumers from Chinese manufacturers, offers $2 tights that come in black or nude. But it’s how these “Plus Size Ultra Elastic Tights Stockings Women Sexy Shaping Pantyhose Socks” are displayed that’s causing quite the controversy.

Every image shows slim models stretching the tights up and over their petite frames in what one can only assume is the retailer’s attempt at demonstrating the product’s size.

Except the execution couldn’t be any more offensive.

While most of the images show the models pulling the material up around their shoulders or over their face, another shows the model standing inside one leg, presumably to demonstrate how far the product can stretch without running or ripping.


“What is the point they are trying to make here? That our thunder thighs are so big that their model can fit her entire body into a pair of our tights?” said Cosmopolitan UK fashion and beauty writer Laura Capon. “Round of applause for her, well bloody done. Now do you want me to model a pair or “regular” tights by wearing them on my finger?”

It’s unclear as to whose tone-deaf brainchild this was — has declined to comment to multiple media outlets about the images in question — but it’s blatantly obvious that the mastermind behind this shameful concept has no regard for the feelings of those who wear anything larger than a size eight.

If the company wants to sell plus-size clothing and accessories, why not appeal to said demographic by hiring plus-size women to model the products? Many would agree such a strategy sounds like common sense, but if that were the case, Twitter wouldn’t be up in arms over this subtle sort of body shaming—and rightfully so.

According to social media, might’ve lifted the images from ads for “magic tights” that were designed to withstand any condition without tearing. Regardless of the circumstances, made the decision to attribute these photos to the sale of plus-size tights, which deserves the subsequent outpouring of disgust. While the models themselves might be innocent, the site itself must be held accountable.

There are countless ways to body shame people without calling them out explicitly, and this instance fits those criteria perfectly. had the opportunity to embrace the plus-size community and employ models that might otherwise struggle in a fashion industry that has yet to truly embrace women who don’t fit the mold society’s created. Instead, the retailer chose to send its target market running in the opposite direction. Without an apology, will only reinforce the assumption that it doesn’t approve of these women’s bodies, and that’s the quickest way to alienate any and every shopper with an ounce of decency and compassion for their fellow humans.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Trashin’ Fashion 2017: Trends That Need to Get Canned

Fashion can be quite fickle. What’s popular one moment might be shunned the next. It’s difficult for anyone to remain trendy when styles tend to change with the direction of the breeze. However, then there are those trends that never seem to relent. They pop up out of nowhere and they refuse to disappear. Though potentially appealing at the start, their sickening prevalence turns them into an inevitable eyesore. Here are some of the latest styles that need to call it quits:

Chokers. Have you ever noticed that everyone who wears a choker looks like they’ve had their severed head reattached? Sure, some of these necklaces are actually quite pretty, but the ones that look like “tattoos” need to go. I used to wear one back in the day when they were first cool, but I never thought this trend would reemerge so soon. Take it from someone who’s been there—don’t wear one unless you want to look like some sort of zombie in all your photos from this time of your life.

Cold shoulder and off-the-shoulder tops. Shopping loses its appeal when every single shirt looks identical, and this year, none of them seem to have shoulders. Many have holes cut from the sleeves, hence the “cold” shoulder moniker. While the trend isn’t awful in moderation, it’s exhausting to find that every designer and brand can’t seem to diverge from this style. Off-the-shoulder tops are becoming equally as common, unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever worn one can attest to the fact that lifting your arms will leave you disheveled afterward. Clothing that leaves its wearer immobilized doesn’t seem all that fashionable to me.

Rompers. Behold, the perfect ensemble for adult babies everywhere! We all know they’re onesies for those who’ve outgrown their diapers, so don’t try and sugarcoat things by claiming rompers are comfortable. Yes, choosing an outfit might be easier because the top and bottom are fused at the waist, but there’s nothing convenient (or pleasant) about having to strip down to you skivvies every time you need to use the restroom. Plus, there’s nothing worse than coming upon an attractive dress on the sale rack only to discover it’s shorts.

Gladiator sandals. When sweat and sunburns are in the forecast, it’s rather ridiculous to wear cages around your calves. You cannot wear these sandals during prolonged periods outdoors because they’ll leave you with the worst tan lines imaginable. Plus, we all know they’re not made with absorbent material, so you’re bound to become a hot, sticky mess up and down your legs. Gladiator sandals aren’t even remotely attractive, so why suffer? Never sacrifice comfort just to conform to what’s “in” at the moment.

Crop tops. Technically, I’m not opposed to baring ones belly. If worn tastefully, crop tops can even look cute. But, in most cases, these supposed “shirts” are small enough to qualify as bras (for women of the A-cup variety, at least). Years ago, crop tops used to expose ones belly button—nothing more. These shirts still offered sufficient amounts of material. Now, however, even those with a moderately sized chest cannot wear crop tops without risking indecent exposure. NEWS FLASH: You don’t need to verbally body shame people to imply that their size and shape aren’t the ideal.

Now it’s your turn! Which styles should be banished for good? Share your choices and your reasons in the comments below!


(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

For Feminist Fashionistas, Has Modesty Become the Best Policy?

Source: Unsplash

When it comes to gender politics within the fashion industry, equality is only as deep as the pockets on your average pair of skinny jeans. Designers continue to break down barriers dictated by the gender binary. However, the persistent pocket disparity — men’s apparel features many spacious compartments, while most women’s styles don’t have any at all — demonstrates that when creating women’s clothing, form still outweighs function, highlighting the latent sexism that remains.

However, as the decade wears on, one specific trend has begun to emerge, indicating that women might be hoping to reclaim comfort and promote feminism simultaneously.

According to The New York Times’ recent feature, modesty has made its triumphant return. Vanessa Friedman writes that long sleeves and ankle-length hemlines now dominate the industry because, as we move into the last years of this decade, fashion now serves as the surrogate for our social and political discontent. Friedman explains that “clothes are an integral part of the debate over the freedom to make your own choices — whether about what you do with your body or who touches your body or what you put on your body.” Clothing still acts as an alternative mouthpiece, much like it has throughout history, except its message has changed dramatically thanks to the current state of affairs.

Source: Getty Images

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the innovation group at J. Walter Thompson, tells Friedman that the emerging trends exist in an effort to “reject the strictures of the male gaze.” While women once saw plunging necklines and transparent fabrics as vessels for embracing their sexuality, they’ve come to recognize that such styles ultimately put them on display in ways that contradict their underlying intentions.

“They are not about what men want anymore, but about what women want,” Greene adds. After years of embracing styles spawned by the male libido, women are opting for clothes that cater to comfort and security. Because, while comfort supports increased confidence, security provides strength in an era where women are still perceived as weak and inferior.

By gravitating toward modest styles, women are taking their bodies back. From Hillary Clinton’s symbolic suffragette white pantsuits, to the pussycat hats of the Women’s March on Washington, women’s clothing needs no comment for these choices speak for themselves. Fashion statements abound, but not in the ways we’ve come to expect. Instead of waiting for the next red carpet blunder or wardrobe malfunction, women now feel both fashionable and comfortable as they trade their crop tops for button downs.

Source: Getty Images

As Michael Kors, the esteemed designer, told The New York Times, he’s “convinced that there is something far more alluring about women wearing things that give them confidence, that don’t make them feel as if they have to tug at their hemlines or yank at their straps.”

While some women dress to impress men, and others dress to impress their female peers, many now focus solely on dressing for their own benefit. They’ve replaced their high heels with ballet flats because they regain balance both literally and figuratively when they’re on solid ground. They’ve traded their mini dresses for pencil skirts because they no longer feel they must flaunt their sexuality in order to command their femininity. Of course, while no woman should feel compelled to conceal her body because she fears the advances of predatory men, modest styles promise to empower women to be who they are, not who others wish them to be.


(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

When Empowering Young Girls, Actions Speak Louder Than T-Shirts

“Girl Power” isn’t some new concept—just ask the Spice Girls. But it’s certainly gained new momentum since the 2016 presidential election, as Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss to Donald Trump stunned the nation. In an era where unqualified misogynists can still gain the upper hand, it’s become increasingly important to teach young girls to go high even when “the man” tries to drag them low.

Yet, while our overall efforts are commendable, we need to take things to the next level. We need to stop talking and start doing.

Source: The Children’s Place

Source: The Children’s Place

Recently, The Children’s Place made an admirable attempt to bring girl power to the elementary set with an empowering line of feminist tees and tanks. Each piece features words and images that aim to bridge the otherwise glittery gender gap. They encourage girls to pursue male-dominated professions and forge their own path to success. Much like the inspirational quotes that litter Instagram, however, reciting such mantras and living their truth are two entirely different animals.

We can dress our daughters and nieces in pantsuits from the minute they’re born, and shout daily affirmations into the void the second they learn to speak, but our behavior will mean nothing if we don’t occupy these positions of power ourselves. Like those of minority races and religions, seeing yourself in the eyes of someone else helps you envision your own potential. We need to present young girls with role models that bring these ambitions to life. We need to be the women they look up to when they seek guidance.

Shirts may boost their confidence, but they’ll only learn to lead if they have worthwhile examples to follow.

Just as Hillary Clinton emphasized during her speech last week, change will only come if we get involved now—resist, insist, persist, enlist.


(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

“Real” Talk: Why Aerie’s Latest Campaign Lacks Sincerity

aerieThough “retouched” images continue to plague newsstands and online publications across the globe, one can no longer peruse the pages of their favorite magazines and catalogs without the keen sense that something just isn’t right. We are all increasingly aware of the fact that Photoshop now allows photographers to smooth out imperfections, enabling them to remove wrinkles from both clothing and skin, yet its undeniable presence across all media outlets has left many desensitized to the damage such alterations may inflict upon our psyches and our youth.

However, as more women start to speak out about the pressure to look “picture perfect” despite these digitized standards of beauty, we are beginning to see a resurgence of “real” photographs that demonstrate the true beauty of the female form.

In what appears to be a blatant attempt to increase brand awareness and attract new customers, Aerie, the underwear, loungewear, and fitness wear extension of American Eagle Outfitters, decided to embrace the issue by creating a new campaign that touts the company’s refusal to Photoshop any of its models. Referred to as #aerieREAL on a recent direct mail piece, the campaign features (supposedly) average women that have not been distorted in any way. Yet, while I want to appreciate the retailer’s attempt to shun the sleazy façade that fuels its competitors—namely Victoria’s Secret—the brand neglected to break down its own personal barriers and erase the stigma these images perpetuate.


You see, while the moles and slight stomach dimples unmistakably reveal that the models remain au naturel, Aerie forgets to acknowledge that these “real” models are just that—models. They are all incredibly fit, with each exhibiting the same basic body shape and toned physique. All are impeccably groomed, as not a single one has a hair out of place (if you know where…ahem, what I mean). And all are most definitely taped into their bra. (Have you ever tried on one of Aerie’s bras? Or any stylish bra for that matter? Trust me, if your breasts are even remotely rotund, one will fall out the moment you roll over on your side.) Not a single one of these “real” models looks like the kind of young, impressionable girl you may find rummaging through the sale panties at the back of the store.

Honestly, it’s difficult to embrace a campaign that claims “the real you is sexy” when these models look like cookie cutter copies of one another. Aerie clearly wants to maintain a certain image, and that image will inevitably alienate those this campaign was intended to reach. None of these girls have stretch marks. None have belly fat that droops just over the band of their undies. None of them have rippled thighs or bumpy armpits. No, these girls were chosen for their practically flawless appearance and their willingness to be “retouched” through makeup and body wax.

But, then again, what more can one expect from a brand that must stow its double-D selection within the confines of its dressing room? Aerie may be trying to break ground with this newfangled notion its conjured, but the retailer has many miles to travel before it reaches the point of inclusion and representation for all female body types.