“Just run to the mall and grab something to wear for tonight”
Plus-size women have all received this well meaning advice from their smaller friends. But for women above a size 12, there’s an invisible labor that goes into putting together outfits that the fashion world would deem stylish. We can’t just pop into a Nordstrom or Zara and buy off the rack. We have to hunt down pieces online, spend extra money for shipping, and carefully study measurements to find things our friends can buy with ease. Shopping is easy and fun when you’re thin, but for those of us above a size 12, it's a whole different experience. It is time for brands to confront the harsh reality faced by plus-size shoppers–a frustrating experience that damages self-esteem and hinders the establishment of lasting brand relationships. By neglecting to offer bigger sizes in stores, brands not only hurt their customers but also undermine their own growth potential.
Let’s paint a picture of a plus size shopping experience. It's a Wednesday night and you’re at home living your best single girl life at a size 18, when your bestie facetimes you. She’s excited, she’s been invited to a mixer where there will be plenty of eligible bachelors and you get to be her plus one. Now you’re excited—until it sets in, what will you wear? You want to feel your best but it's too late to order online. So the next morning you head to the mall, you start at Zara, nothing in your size. You try H&M next, after searching and searching you find two pairs of pants, but neither really feel like “you” but you may have to settle. So you head to Nordstrom, the plus size section is in the basement in a dimly lit corner. The selection is matronly and bleak to say the least. So you head to the main floor, where it's bright, welcoming and filled with all of the newest beautiful pieces. You grab all of the XL’s and XXL’s you can find and head to a dressing room. This is what you dreaded, nothing fits, maybe this one dress, if you keep it unzipped and put a jacket over it to hide the fact that it's nowhere near fitting. You are in tears now and you’re exhausted from trying to squeeze your body into clothes that are multiple sizes too small.
This may sound extreme, but this is the frustrating reality of shopping while plus-size. It is not enjoyable, it breaks down self-esteem and creates a disconnect that causes lasting harm. Remember, limiting choice, limits your brand's growth. When plus-size shoppers don’t see themselves represented in stores, they are denied the opportunity to connect with your brand on a personal level. Plus size women don’t want to be limited by choice, they have the spending power and want to use it.